Begin with the end in mind.
This has to be one of the greatest pieces of advice ever offered. Because if you don’t know where you’re headed, how can you possibly know when you’ve arrived? Or how to get there in the first place?
That goes double for your website.
The success of your website will be determined by the degree to which you ask yourself this one question:
What do I want people to do here?
Ask and answer this critical question and you will have the foundation for a winning site.
“What do I want people to do here?” gets at results. Here are some possible answers:
- I want people to fill out this form.
- I want people to pick up the phone and call me. (Are you sure?)
- I want people to attend an open house.
- I want people to register for a class.
- I want people to make a donation.
- I want people to buy my book.
- I want people to gain confidence that I am the right resource for them.
Combined with a clear understanding of your target market (“What do people want to do here?”), you have everything you need to create a website that gets results.
Uh oh. Is this you?
Ann, spot on as usual! Brilliant! Yes, I want people to do ALL of those things!
Danger, Will Robinson.
One objective per audience.
Websites get clunky in a hurry when you ask them to do too much.
Yes, it’s likely that you have more than one audience. And you want to appeal to all of those audiences. But you can’t do it all on your homepage. (Really, you can’t).
Say you’re building a website for an educational institution. You have prospective students, current students, alumni, faculty, and parents all visiting your site.
- For each of these audiences, what is the one thing I want people to do right now? (Yes, of course it can change later).
- Which of these things is most important to my institution right now?
- Are there one or two others that are almost as important to my institution right now?
The most important call to action goes on the homepage. Maybe there’s a secondary call to action in a sidebar or near the bottom. Everything else goes inside.
And I do mean everything else.
For this to work, you’re going to have to be very tough. Because everybody’s going to think their thing is the thing that should be put right on the homepage. Don’t do it! Stand your ground.
You will be rewarded with a website that does exactly what it’s supposed to do and generates results everyone will be proud of.