This is a story about our own website. But maybe, just maybe, it applies to your website too.
Before I get started, I need to make an admission. Our website has suffered from neglect recently.
You might say that this is good news, because it means we’ve been busy working for our clients.
Except that’s really not true. I mean, it is true that we have been busy doing work for our clients, and that is good news, but it isn’t good news that we’ve been neglecting our own website. That’s like a dentist failing to brush his own teeth. It’s not pretty.
Come on. We’re a web agency. The least we can do is keep our own website in good order, right?
So, the first thing we did when we re-assembled in the office at the start of 2012 was put our heads together to work out what our website ought to be saying, and how it ought to be saying it.
We spent quite a bit of time thinking about how to make our website better reflect:
- what we do as a company
- who we are as people.
Yesterday we had a brainstorming session (which you can see in glorious timelapsicolor here). That got me thinking about a more fundamental question: what is our website really for?
Here are some possible answers:
a) Generating new enquiries that turn into sales.
b) Building a brand that in the long term helps generates enquiries, which turn into sales.
c) Communicating with, informing and entertaining our existing clients. (If we keep them informed and entertained, maybe they’re more likely to bring us more work in the future, and they’re more likely to tell other people how great we are, too).
d) An outlet for our own creative / blogging / mouthing-off tendencies … – hopefully at the same time helping with (a), (b) and (c).
OK, so that’s a start.
But maybe I should have re-phrased that question. Instead of ‘What is our website for’, maybe I should be asking who is our website for?
Basically it is for two people.
That’s right, folks. Our whole website is basically for two people.
For convenience I’ll call them Person A and Person B. (You can call them Alice and Barry, if you prefer, but I’ll stick mostly to A and B.)
Person A (that’s Alice to you) is looking for a web agency. She needs a website built. She hits Google, and flicks through 5 or 6 Birmingham web design agencies.
We’ve got less than 10 seconds (some say it’s more like 2 seconds) to persuade her to not to close our tab and move on to the next search result. Whatever she sees when she lands on our website has got to be almost-instantly compelling.
That gives us time for just a handful of words or images to make Person A say:
- “Ah, that’s exactly what I wanted”, or
- “Wow, I’d never thought of that before”, or
- “That’s really interesting, tell me more”, or
- “That’s original, that’s different” or
- “That made me laugh“, or
- “These guys sound smart“, or
- “I trust these people”, or
- “I like these people”, or
- “These guys really know their stuff“, or
- “It could be fun working with these people”, or
- “I’m hooked, I just HAVE to click on the ‘more’ button to find out what comes next”
We want to hit at least three of these “sweet spots” in a single short sentence or graphic. If we can do that, we’re heading in the right direction.
OK, let’s park Person A for a moment.
Now along comes Person B. That’s Barry, remember?
Person B already knows about us. Perhaps Person B is an existing client, or perhaps he heard about us from someone else who is.
Can we give Person B a reason to keep coming back to our website? Blog posts, white papers, cartoons, tutorials…
Really, we’re still trying say the same thing as we were saying to Person A (that we’re interesting/original/fun/smart/trustworthy/likeable/knowledgeable/experts) — but with Person B we’ve got a little more time in which to to say it.
The homepage has got to be mostly about Person A.
(We can give some signposts for Person B, but Person B probably already knows where to look for what he wants, or he’s prepared to spend a few extra seconds looking for it. He’ll learn to look on the blog for new things.)
So the question is: when Person A (the person who we’ve got 10 seconds to hook) lands on our homepage, are we trying to sell her what we do, or who we are?
Well, both. Ideally, we want to tell her what we do, in a manner that tells her who we are and what we’re like, both as a company – and as human beings. In about a dozen words or a couple of pictures.
Difficult, but not impossible.
In my next post, I’ll run through some specific ideas we’ve had for capturing Person A’s attention on our homepage.
Here’s a preview (still in its raw, fresh-off-the-ideas-mill, not-yet-passed-through-our-design-team’s-hands, form):