When it comes to your website the first issue to address is “what is your site about?” If a site visitor comes to your site, particularly to your home page, and they cannot answer that question than all is lost. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200…
Porn Gets This Right
An industry that leaves absolutely no room for ambiguity is the porn industry. I’m not suggesting you pause your activities here and head over to a porn site of your own choosing, but if you were to do so I can assure you of one simple fact – you would know that you were on a porn site.
But Dave… I Don’t Like Porn…
Okay – I get it. Porn is probably not for you, and more to the point, when you are addressing the “what is your site about” question most likely not you did not say the word porn. But the point still stands.
No worries, I was just using the extreme example of porn to make the point – of course as it happens the extreme example also does a great job in terms of answering the question. But then again porn has an advantage over most other businesses with regard to the “what is the site about” question in that there already exist very firm opinions surrounding this space so the question tends to be focused instead on “is this the RIGHT porn?” rather than “is this porn?” Most of us on the other hand don’t work in spaces that are so black and white so the “what is your site about” question is much more important to our visitors.
STYLE Helps Answer This Question
So let’s just say for the sake of argument that we all fully agree that our first obstacle with regard to our site is focused on answering this critical question. Design matters on many levels, and design has a huge impact on usability. Design also helps to address the “what is this site about” question in many ways so make sure that your text and your design are both pointing in the same direction and are both offering big clues.
For design ideas that impact “what is this site about” I’m suggest you look no further than a few of the more popular search engines – you’ll see that they ostensibly all solve the exact same problem, and yet they all offer different views on design.
So… design is a big deal. If you didn’t know any of those search engines ask yourself which one would you choose to use?
Substance versus Style?
So now that I’ve allowed for style (design), I do want to make a suggestion with regard to substance versus style, or perhaps more to the point, site logic versus style, and even more specifically with regard to site logic focused on the subject of this post – can you logically say that you have properly addressed the “what is this site about” question?
Don’t ever sacrifice logic on your website for style. You can do both, but if you only had to do one, most likely the right answer is to focus on the logic factors such as:
- “what is this about?”
- “does this make sense?”
- “is the site helpful to my visitors?”
Any time you can remove the guess work allows you as a site owner the opportunity to then direct the conversation towards areas such as value and differentiation – allowing your site to in some way carry the day.
There are a few sites that manage to go so design heavy with total disregard for site logic, and it can work for them, but that is a big risk strategy… Instead, again try to deliver on both site logic and style, but if you had to fall back to one area it should probably be site logic.
I know you love your site visitors and I know you mean well. This post is not about that. Instead what I’d like to suggest is that you spend some time focused on the universe through their eyes instead of yours. If they don’t know why they are there, they really have no reason to stay.