My Web Maestro

The Quickest Way To Get Ignored On The Web

Posted on by Nathan Lyle

If you’d like your website to be completely ignored by everyone, make it a copy of your company’s old brochures. Use lots of sentences like “Our primary goal is to provide synergistic business solutions” and “We utilize proactive approaches to create win-win situations” and so on. Don’t forget to include a photograph on the main page of a generic board room with successful looking people from your favorite stock photo collection, or even better, pulled randomly from a Google image search.

Here’s the thing… no matter how large your audience (target market) is, your website is only ever going to speak to one person at a time. When you get on an elevator and someone asks you what you do, I bet you don’t ramble on for five minutes about synergy and creative solutions. If you want your website to succeed, at just about whatever your goal might be, you need to engage your visitors on an individual basis. When you use the old-school corporate lingo, you might as well be poking them in the eye. (Though that would at least gain a strong response, whereas most mission statements slip past the attention of anyone not directly involved in writing them.)

This makes some people uncomfortable, because in a sense it means having to create relationships. That’s not something that’s always done very easily. One of the great things about the Web, however, is that a website allows you to provide many different ways for a person to interact, effectively letting people choose their own relationship with you. This lets you widen your net farther than what you could ordinarily accomplish with a salesperson in a crowded room of customers.

Envision your website as having a single goal. (Sales, contact, etc.) Your main entry page should provide a handful of primary choices, each of which can lead to a slightly “tweaked” version of the next step, and so on, customizing the chain to match different personalities. (You can accommodate both the person who loves to read zillions of details, and the person who wants to just click it and be done.) You can have more than one goal for your website, but the fewer the better. The more you put in front of someone, the harder it will be for them to choose. Many studies have confirmed this effect.

Tools exist that can help you hone these efforts. Google’s Analytics allows you to set up goals to measure how effective each specific approach is working. You can set up multiple ways on your website of getting to the same end point and see which are more effective.

Another common mistake is to spend a large portion of the main page or most visible pages going on and on about you, your company, it’s history, photos of the board from 1951, etc. Having an “about” page is a good thing to do, because being able to find actual information about a company can be an important step in convincing someone to spend money. Studies also indicate that the “about” page is one of the most clicked on pages of the average website. However, you want people to choose to be reading about you. Compare it again to a conversation with a person. If you meet someone and they immediately launch into a life history, you’re likely to tune out. If you take turns asking questions and providing information, a relationship is created. And in the end, that’s what you really want.

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About Nathan Lyle

Nathan is a father of four, an amateur musician, and an aspiring photographer. He started programming in 4th grade on an Apple II+ and many years later spent much of his college years freelancing website design for college departments. Nathan is a veteran of the Browser Wars, and will gladly talk at length about the changes he has seen in Web technology if you accidentally ask him.

Visit Nathan's Website or View all posts by Nathan Lyle


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