Knowing the answers to these three questions will help your site’s messaging stay focused and clear.

Before thinking about your site’s colors, fonts, images, and content, you should answer these three basic questions about your website’s messaging and goals. The answers will guide you throughout your site design process and help insure your site is focused and will get the results you want.

1. Who is your target audience?

Sometimes the answer to this question is obvious, but in many cases it’s not. Often companies and organizations will offer a variety of goods or services which target different markets. It might be best to split your site into two very targeted sites rather than having one aimed at two separate markets, which would be confusing.

2. What is your tagline, in non-marketing speak?

Have you ever visited a corporate website, studied their home page, and still had no clue about what their product or service was? I see this all of the time. Often, there are two reasons for this.

  1. The website didn’t bother to mention it succinctly. Companies can be so wrapped up in the minute details of their products or services that they forget to mention, in basic language, what they actually do on a fundamental level. Or…
  2. Their tagline consists of marketing gibberish which is virtually meaningless, i.e., “Enterprise solutions that adapt to your business needs” or something like that. Don’t try to sound fancy. Explain your product or service in one sentence of plain English and make that your tagline! It’s what everyone will be seeing on your home page and in Google search results. (You should include search keywords in that tagline, but that is an entirely different conversation about SEO).

Your visitors should be able to tell what your company offers within ten seconds of visiting your site.

3. What is the number one thing you want your visitors to do on your site?

This is another seemingly obvious consideration that is often overlooked. Folks want their site to have the latest widgets and animation effects, but don’t consider the fundamental purpose of the site. Perhaps you want people to:

  • fill out a contact form
  • give you their email addresses for future communications
  • purchase your product or service via your online store
  • donate to your organization
  • sign up to volunteer
  • call your business’ land-line
  • come to your physical store

Make sure your call-to-action is clear, and that your site clearly guides people to that goal.

The End Goal

The goal of these questions is to make your site FOCUSED and CLEAR.  The message has to be really dumbed down. I’m not saying that your visitors are dumb, but they are busy and don’t have patience to decipher vague websites and messaging, and they’ll move to competitors who can communicate clearly.

So, stay laser-focused on keeping your messaging clear and your call-to-action prominent and simple on your website! – Brian