Do You Want To Grow Your Website Or Do You Want To Be Cool?
I shall ask that question again: Do you really want to grow your website or are you trying to have the coolest website on the block?
This article is inspired by my experiences visiting a number of websites over time and finding the introduction and the entire homepage so vague and ambiguous that I am unable to tell what the website is about. I see this quite often
I had another such experience recently and that was what finally made me decide to write on the subject. Here is the introductory text on the homepage of the website in question:
For what we were, are and will be…
Xyz is a content company, with a passion and belief in representing the Black African experience in an authentic and relevant way, by the people most credible to tell these stories, us.
That is followed by a “Join us” button. That is all there is on the homepage.
Really? Join you? I don’t have the foggiest notion of what you do – of what you are inviting me to join.
I have deliberately blocked out the name of the website, as this article is an academic exercise – an opportunity to teach an important lesson. This is not a website review. As such, the name/identity is not important.
Still trying to figure out what exactly the site is offering me, I checked the navigation menu for a link that says, “What we do” or something of the sort. There was none. There was literally no way for me to find out what this website offers a visitor unless I join. Bad move.
One of the greatest challenges in formal and informal interactions is the illusion that communication has taken place. We are used to spinning cool-sounding words that pass across no definite message to others. And then, we assume that we have communicated. But communication is intentional and clear. The presence of words does not mean communication has happened.The presence of words does not mean communication has happened. Communication is intentional and clear. It leaves no room for ambiguity. Click To Tweet
To grow your website or be cool?
Do you really want to grow your website or do you just want to be cool? To be sure, your website can be both cool and clear with an easily understood value proposition. But too many times, we are hung up on being cool.
If a visitor arrives at your website, spends time on the homepage and remains clueless about what the site can do for them, you are doing it wrong. You are definitely likely to lose a repeat viisitor.
Yet, I see a lot of this fancy stuff…vague and ambiguous homepages and introductions, and for a long time, I wondered why the website owners do it, because it clearly does not work. It is like pissing in your own pants in public. Or shooting yourself in the foot.
Why spend a lot of money setting up a website and then use your own hands to do yourself?
Well, I figured out a bit of why they do it. They think they are Facebook. Or Twitter. They want to be cool like them. But they are doing it wrong. Neither of those websites has an ambiguous introduction on their homepage. Let’s have a look.
Here is the introduction when you arrive on the Facebook website:
It is a concise introduction. In other words, it is short and clear. It captures what the website does. There is nothing vague about it. The message is clear.
What of Twitter?
Again, this is a concise introduction. There is no beating around the bush about their value proposition. This is a site about keeping up with information and having conversations. And then, there is a call to action – join or login.
Let’s check one more popular website, SoundCloud:
SoundCloud takes a slightly different route – offering you content to sample right on the homepage, and then at the bottom of the very page, there is a concise message that tells you what you can do with the site, followed by a call to action. It is an effective strategy. Experience is a good teacher. What better way to sell the site than to offer a taste and then introduce yourself?
Focus on things that grow your website
I do hope you see the pattern: even the most successful websites, all of which are already popular and all of which regularly get users via referrals, are not vague about what they do. Their homepages are very intentional and have clear introductions. What those websites do is made clear right there and then so visitors can understand it and make a decision.
For most types of public websites, you cannot afford to have a homepage that is ambiguous about your value proposition. Do not rob your website of the opportunity to grow. Take a closer look at your homepage today. How intentional and clear is it?
PS: Follow me on Twitter, where I tweet a lot of random, often non-conformist, stuff. I am there as Moverick.