Website Design Series
Week 2: Your website story
The first step in deciding what you want your website to BE, is deciding what you want your website to DO. First and foremost, your website should tell a story. Even the most basic e-commerce website has a story to tell. Your story should always be formed with the intention of building a community around the products or services that you sell.
This principal is counter-intuitive to many people’s thinking and understanding of their website. Why take time to build a community when I really want to just sell. We are programmed to “SELL!, SELL!, SELL!”. Pushing your product or service on your homepage and telling everyone how great your company is, seems like the obvious course of action. But what if it wasn’t? What could be gained from taking the time to educate your website visitor. Provide for them a place to find answers to their questions. Provide an insightful resource area. Create a website with ever-changing content and a strong social media component. A website with high quality video content and unique perspectives and thoughts.
A website that could successfully accomplish the challenges listed above, will always stand out in the crowd. I recently experienced this first hand, when I was shopping for a garden hose.
A garden hose and a website story
I recently was shopping for a basic garden hose. One that I could use to water my soon-to-be vegetable garden. I started my search on Amazon and quickly realized that there were a lot of options. Within a few minutes of searching, I realized that I had a lot more questions than I did answers. The material of the hose was important when considering the chemicals that could leech from the hose and into my vegetable garden. The diameter was important when considering the attachments I would be using. The durability and warranty also were now factors I needed to consider. The problem however, was that each product description page on Amazon, was just “selling” their product. I read over and over how great that particular product was compared to its’ competition. However, nobody was taking the time to educate me or answering the questions that I had.
So after 40 minutes of research on Amazon, I started a new search on Google. I stumbled on a few very poorly designed websites, that offered no real solutions. But then, I found a needle in a haystack.
The needle in the haystack
Eley offered a far superior buying process. I discovered a company website that was dedicated to building high quality hoses, parts and accessories. I spent the next 20 minutes learning about their company, process and quality products. The resource area offered customer support, videos, manuals, tips on maintenance and much more. I had all the answers that I needed. I found a website that told a story. Their story was complete, confident and extremely helpful. Their homepage had videos and testimonials alongside product information. Everywhere I looked I saw words like warranty, customer support, and the Eley difference. They had high quality videos from the company founders and owners. Every product had professional photography and detailed specifications. They clearly took the time to craft their website story and the results showed that commitment. I was sold…that is until I saw the price.
They had me hooked
Their prices were expensive, at least according to my budget. Some items were as much as 2-3 times the prices I had found earlier on Amazon. They weren’t cheap and I wasn’t sure I could make the leap. So, I found myself back on Amazon. Scrambling through hundreds of search results with no clear direction. I finally found one or two items that seemed to “rise to the surface” against their competition. The prices were not cheap, but still not as expensive as the Eley line of products. I spent some time considering my options, but in the end decided that I was willing to pay for quality. I placed my order with Eley and have been confident of that decision ever since. Their website did an incredible job of clearly telling their story. From the family based business, to the years of experience and their dedication to quality. I knew I was buying history, experience and quality. Their website story convinced me of that.
Crafting your website story should be the first step in the website design process. It is critical that you take this time, because it will pay off in the end. The visitor will always understand a well crafted story and who doesn’t love a good story.
Coming In Week 3: Website Types and Options