In this snapshot of Sookio's recent small business webinar on website wins, the team explains how a change of perspective is the fastest route to making your website dramatically more effective.
Your website is not a filing cabinet
To start off, we’re not even going to talk about your website. We’re going to talk about your audience. Who are these people? And what do they want?
There’s this common mistake that everyone makes – whether you’re new to it or have been managing website content for years – and that’s being unable to see it from any perspective other than your own.
The website quickly becomes this dumping ground where you overexplain your services, you paste in longwinded documents in full, or you throw in all sorts of redundant information purely because you have it to hand.
I’ve been in numerous conversations over the years where business owners and comms people roll their eyes when they hear that people can’t find what they need on the website. They’ve put the information there, what’s the problem! Who are these idiots?!
But it’s this condescending approach that results in visitors clicking away from your site in less than a second, heading for somewhere that gives them clearly laid out, helpful information that helps them do what they want to do.
It reminds me of a phrase I used to hear when I was running workshops on writing for the web with Government Digital Services: Your website is not a filing cabinet.
Correct! It’s not a filing cabinet, it’s a mechanism for telling people what they need to know and helping them buy your products. You can dress it up as much more than this. But at the core that’s what it is.
It’s so easy to become emotionally attached to your website, overwhelmed by it, even intimidated and scared to touch anything in case it breaks. But so often they can be the very first glimpse a customer gets of your business, and can make the difference between making a sale or the customer moving on.
So it’s always hugely important to think about it from their perspective, not your own.
What do users want from your website?
Think about pain points.
What challenges are your customers facing at the moment?
What problems are they trying to solve which led them to go on Google and end up on your website looking for answers?
A useful exercise to try is pinpoint your users’ needs. Try this framework:
I want to…
So that I can…
Thinking about public sector services, this could be:
As a UK resident, I want to get on the electoral register so I can vote
If you’re a university:
As a student hoping to study politics, I want to see if you offer this subject so I can apply
Or me, in the first lockdown in 2020, stuck at home at springtime:
As a homeowner, I want to know if the local garden centre is open so I can buy some plants
And I’ll tell you something interesting. It was really hard to find out this information. Really hard!
I had the same experience again coming out of lockdown number three.
As a woman who likes to look well groomed!...I want to find a local beauty therapist…so I can get a pedicure.
And that was impossible to find out too. The interesting thing was that with some further rummaging around, the information was there on people’s Facebook pages, but not on their websites.
Facebook pages are great for people who have already used your services, but for attracting new customers, you need that essential information on your website.