- Alex Karei, marketing director for Webspec Design, blogs about web strategy.
“Focus on the user and all else will follow.”
That’s the opening statement in “Ten things we know to be true,” a collection of belief statements written by Google when it was a few years old. It’s a great list, but that statement really stuck out to me when I first read it.
If you own or market a business, you’re probably spending a lot of time every day doing one thing - trying to figure out one more way you can help influence a decision-maker to purchase your product or service. That’s not a bad thing. Without sales, you can’t sustain a business. However, in much of how we choose to market our products and services on our websites, we don’t always take the time that we should to stop and think about the user.
Some of you might argue that you are thinking about the user. For instance, you might be thinking about their problems and how to best present your product to solve them. Great! But that’s not what I mean. I mean, when you add 2,000 words of copy to explain how that product solves the problem, are you thinking about how annoying it is to read through all of the information you included to get the key facts? You might feel like all of your information is relevant (and it might be) but it’s probably not all required to convince the reader that your product is the one for them. And it could, in fact, be turning some of the users away.
Next time you choose to make a decision about your website, ask yourself these three things.
- Is what I’m sharing something the user cares to know? We all feel like our company history is the coolest on earth - but at the end of the day, someone who is trying to buy a new pair of shoes might not care that the owner designed them in their garage. That piece of information isn’t helping the immediate sale. That’s not to say that it shouldn’t be used at all, but in its proper place.
- If the user doesn’t know this piece of information, will they still buy from me? Most salespeople could talk your ear off about the benefits of a product. But, think about what kind of information is really needed for someone to choose your product over another on your website. A purchase that is, say, $20 doesn’t always need as in-depth information available as one that costs $2,000. And, the more information you include, the longer it will take the reader to sort through and make their decision.
- What kind of information are my competitors including? This does NOT mean you need to include the same things, but if your competitors have an entire section about their material sources - and that’s a crucial set of information when it comes to your product - you might want to think about including that information. That same concept applies the other direction, too. If you have long bios about each employee of your business, but it’s in no way differentiating you from your competitors, it could be something to consider cutting back on.
At the end of the day, my favorite question is a harsh one: “Who cares?” If you can’t (truthfully) think of a user who does, it’s time to think about cleaning up your content.