What Your Website Should Be About

This is going to come as shocking news to many companies with a goal of product sales: nobody is going to your website to hear about your product. They just don’t want to hear about it. In fact, most likely a sales pitch is going to turn them off.

Marketing has really changed. As technology changes, so does our way of interacting with our world and our expectations. One might wonder why newspaper and book sales took off in the later part of the 19th century. The answer has nothing to do with books! The actual reason is that technological advances in lighting made it suddenly much more pleasurable to read in your house at night, when most people had time. (Have you ever tried to read at length by candlelight?) Why did the 50s see such an explosion in advertising as to produce those Madison Avenue types so colorfully characterized in the series “Mad Men”? It was actually advances in printing technology that allowed for an explosion in affordable magazines and subsequent advertising.

Now we are in an era where we spend on average more than 13 hours online each week. The standard approach as to how to market a product has changed significantly.

So, in this internet age what is it that users want to see on your site? What is it that is actually going to drive sales? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not long descriptions of your product. Even though you might feel quite invested in selling how good your product is, almost nobody is going to your site for that. In fact, people rarely even read much on websites. People go to product websites for two main reasons:

1. Get free information to make informed consumer decisions

2. See the trust-worthiness of the brand, as demonstrated by the site design.

Yes, people care more about the quality of the web design than anything you say about your product.

The free information should never be a sales pitch. It should be information - expert and non-protectionist. Meaning, don’t be concerned about sharing ideas and information. This is the information age. If they don’t find it on your website, they will find it elsewhere. When they find it elsewhere they will be more likely to trust that brand more –perhaps leading to their purchasing that brand’s product. An interesting book that further elaborates on this theme is David Meermen Scott’s, “New Rules of Marketing and PR”.

When describing how people actually experience web sites Steven Krug, guru of user interface design, in his seminal book “Don’t Make Me Think” describes the way people experience web sites more akin to something like driving by a highway billboard at 70 miles per hour. They don’t want to read (news sites being the exception). They want to explore, experience, see, and more than anything, click! So you better make it easy for them to click to the place where you want them to go. (This is where we come in to help).

To judge the quality of your product, what the users are going to look for is the quality of the design. In fact, according to a Stanford University Study 78% of online consumers view web design the most important factor when judging the credibility of a business. Seriously, it is no exaggeration to say that consumers visit your site just to see that you are professional enough and that you have your ‘stuff’ together enough to present a clean and well-designed site. Your site would be better served to have two well designed pages with little information than to have ten pages with excessive content.

The point being: keep it short! More is less.
Place your content within your informative blog entries and keep your content off your site’s main pages.

Now, that being said, concise and powerful content is far more difficult to write. Such is the burden that we bear in the web world).