Here. Always have in your mind the answer to the question, “What is your business website for?”
There’s no point in continuing until you know what this is.
It can be anything you think is appropriate, but my view is that
the purpose of a business website should be to convince visitors that you know what you are talking about.
If someone runs a business which needs the services of your business, they will only contact you if they
a believe you might be able to help them
b are inclined to trust you with possibly embarrassing information.
They just won’t contact you unless these two criteria are met, however fit for its purpose the website is.
Most of the initial work is cutting out extraneous material.
Here is a suggested structure for a business website which assumes that its purpose is to convince visitors that you know what you are talking about.
The intended outcome is that interested visitors will contact you. At this point, the website has done its job. The website should not attempt to convince prospects to become clients. That’s your job.
By definition one page.
Visitors often do not first encounter your site via its home page. So, there are some general points about page layout below. If or when they get to it, the home page should therefore:
a be well organised so as to convey the (correct) impression that the website as a whole is well ordered and easy to use. If it isn’t, the visitor will (probably rightly) ask, “if you can’t get the website right, how well do you deliver your services?”
b contain a summary of your raison d’être—the reason your business exists—expressed in a way that demonstrates or, even better, partly demonstrates that you know what you are talking about. My own home page attempts to demonstrate to visitors that I know what I am talking by have a (rather large) heading:
Why emotional intelligence is important in the workplace.
The literally hundreds of articles, pieces, essays, resources and blogs on the site surely nail that one.
Note that this title (which is also the title of one of the articles) contains some fundamental key words, emotional intelligence, work and workplace—words I know prospects search for, and which are also in the name of my brand, and the name of this site (including its url): emotional intelligence at work.
It all fits together and is designed for the needs of the visitor even before they are a visitor.
A submenu of “problems”, issues or even interesting, relevant subjects, each expressed as “We are…” or “I am…”.
—I am having trouble managing my team
—We are struggling to grow our business
—I am becoming stressed and disillusioned.
You probably need five or six of these. More and the website looks exhausting and six is quite enough to enable your visitor to extrapolate: “if they can solve this problem, it’s worth calling them to see if they can solve mine, which isn’t on the list but looks a bit like number 4 and number 6”.
These are the reasons the visitor (or, at least, the prospect) visits your site. They have a problem and they want to know if you can help. If you don’t demonstrate that you understand the problem, or a similar one, and can talk engagingly on the subject, chucking in some ideas as you go, the prospect is forced to guess whether you can help.
The fact that this is often the case is not a reason for carrying on doing it. The reason that this is often the case is that service providers have been told they have to “big themselves up” in the, frankly, naive belief that the prospect can work it out for themselves. Given that the prospect rarely even knows what their real problem is, this is a recipe for miscommunication: the prospect still struggles, as does the service provider who wishes they had more clients.
The other reason service providers don’t talk in terms of the prospects’ problems is that it is actually quite hard to do. I know from own experience, as you can see on this site (this part is still unfinished).
That is precisely why it should be done. For people keen on having a unique selling proposition, here’s a good one.
Each submenu option leads to a separate page with that issue as its title (and url). To start with, you can just write a para about each problem. In time, add more content, add links and, of course, particularly add links to the stories on your site.
Putting relevant stories onto your site and providing links to them is the first thing you should do once you have put the “what’s the problem pages” up.
by Jeremy Marchant . © 2015 Jeremy Marchant Limited . uploaded 31 may 2015 . image: Free images