Different Ideas For Your Website

I probably wouldn't look at so many websites of potential clients except that I enjoy doing that, right before I get on the phone with them. Sometimes I'll then reference something I've seen, only to typically hear something like this: "Oh, yes. That doesn't actually capture the current iteration of our firm. We need to change that."

If I can be honest with you, I'm really perplexed at how bad some of your websites are. There's just no excuse for it. (Over the last four years, ours has devolved into a poor reflection, too, which is why a new one is close to launching.)

So that's the first point: chances are good that your website is a poor reflection of your brand and your capabilities and what it's like to work with you. It really should be fixed, and I'll give you some ideas in a minute.

The second point is this: the correct response to a website update is not to overthink it. To that end, I really wish:

  • You'd forget about the tech for a minute and focus on the UX of the prospective client.
  • Allow for distinct CDJs (consumer decision journeys) so that prospects—who are each different—can see what they want, choosing that journey: all the fine print...or inspiration from big name clients...or what the process looks like...or all the options they have. These cover the four personality types that'll be reviewing your site.
  • Limit the influence on the new site to two or three people, max. The more people who have a hand in the process, the more unremarkable the final product. It needs a clear POV and it needs to take more risks than a larger group will be comfortable with. This is not the time to give frustrated talent carte blanche.
  • Employ constraints, as in "alright, the three of you go away to this AirBNB for an extended weekend, and emerge with everything done except the coding." If you want to keep iterating, fine, but view that as a "growth driven design" process.

Alright, enough of that. I'd like to point out the things that I think nearly every website gets wrong. I hope you'll be open-minded to these ideas and incorporate as many of them as you agree with:

  1. There should be two, very distinct CTAs. The first, and one that most of you have, is to "contact us if you'd like to speak about a project." In other words, the prospect is raising their hand and giving you permission to sell to them. But what if their preferred response is something between "I'll just leave this site" and "please sell to me?" That middle ground is to sign up for your regular insight emails, and that should never feel like they are going to get a newsletter that no one wants to read...or a sales call. The primary CTA should assume that the prospect is intrigued, but not yet ready to open two way communication. Using the language of this earlier article, they would be at the beginning of Stage 2 and not the end of Stage 2. The primary role of your website is to allow the prospect to learn more about you and explore a relationship, and if the website does its job, they'll think it's in their best interest to get regular emails from you. And when they get them, they'll appreciate them and not unsubscribe.
  2. Your vertical or horizontal focus should be front and center, like you're very proud of it. I've beat this to death, so I'll leave it at that.
  3. If you've done any speaking, even if to local unpaid audiences, have a speaking page. It promotes thoughtful authority rather than someone with commission breath. Include several portraits, a half dozen topics, fee ("which can sometimes be waived"), etc.
  4. Describe and show as much finished work as you like, but the real differentiation that prospects will savor is the messy process undertaken before that beautiful finale. Even if you have to make stuff up to preserve client confidentially, it's far more comforting to see images of the team thoroughly exploring alternatives and then rejecting some of them. You can capture that on a white board, with sticky notes, or something Trello-like.
  5. Give prospects a more discrete "something" to buy. It should be diagnostic/research in nature, have boundaries around it, be named, and help them see that they'll have some real meat, quicker and less expensive than they might expect. Think of this as what you'd otherwise give away in a 90-page proposal deck.
  6. Give prospects the homework to see on their own if they are a fit for working with you. This one is a bit much and a tad uninviting, but you get the idea.

Alright, so then what would you deemphasize? That would be the purpose and culture stuff. It's relevant for prospective employees, but every website seems to have it, and none of it means all that much. More on that in an upcoming article.

On, and every recommendation in this episode on "The Secrets to a Killer Website" is bad advice, so definitely don't follow any of it!

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