It’s a conversation that I have over and over again and it usually starts with “What do you want to say on your website?” when I’m taking a brief from a client.

The answer varies a bit, but almost always includes things like:

  • We want people to know about all our services/products.
  • We want people to understand what we do.
  • We want people to trust us.
  • We don’t want to appear to be a small company.
  • We want people to ring us up and buy.

All these seem reasonable things to want and I can see you nodding in agreement!

Now could you just take off your Website Owner hat and put on the Website Visitor one?

So you’re visiting a website that you are interested in for some reason – what do you want to see?

  • A list of things you can buy
  • The details of all the things you can buy
  • Accreditations and testimonials
  • A lot of creative description on the About page

Are you ready to buy now?

If the reason you visited the site was specifically to buy something the answer will be ‘yes’.  But what percentage of website visitors are planning to buy before they even enter the URL or click a link?

Most people are looking for information.

  • They may have met someone from your company at a networking event, conference, exhibition or other business event and made enough of a connection to want to check you out.
  • Some people have searched for a particular key words to find out about what kind of products or services are actually available and get an idea of prices or specs.
  • Some people have been delegated by their boss to do some research on a particular subject and have no intention of buying anything at this stage.

So how much effort will they put into reading your carefully crafted copy?

There are three key elements:

  1. A website that looks professional – and up-to-date in design.
  2. Good, strong headlines and section headers that hook the reader in and entice them to read more.
  3. Enough information to satisfy the reader that you are ‘their kind of organisation’ and can deliver what they’re looking for.

Clearly if you want to sell products off the website you’ll need enough information on each one for people to understand the specifications – and a price.  However, if you’re selling services people buy YOU.  That means your website needs to in your voice and a good reflection of your company values and beliefs.

Most important of all it needs to tell people WHAT THEY GET – not what you do.

If you really want to impress visitors to your website you need to understand why your existing clients like using your organisation.  Ask some of them – and ask them what changed for them when you’d provided them with what they were looking for.  THAT’S what other people want to know – what it’s like working with you and what the results are likely to be.

It’s all about reader engagement – not just presenting information.