Let’s talk about your website. It can do a lot of things. And your business is complex: it has a lot of needs. Focusing your website, and finding a clear purpose to hone in on, is one of the most important tasks ahead of you.
When you have a clear purpose for your website, everything on the website either achieves or doesn’t achieve that goal. Now, you have a filter to run every piece of content through, helping you to prioritize what’s important and what’s not.
What do you want to achieve with your website?
Think about the specific ways a website could help you to achieve your mission statement. While there’s a lot that can (and will!) go on your website, boiling it down to one simple goal will help you to prioritize. Here are a few examples:
Increase purchases of a particular product or service –If your top priority is selling a product, you’ll want to make it available for purchase online, and tune the website to increase sales of that product.
Passive Advertising and Marketing –Maybe you’re a physical storefront, and you rely a lot on face-to-face interactions with your customers. In that case, your website can drive traffic to your location, and increase the number of people who stumble upon your business.
Free resources and information – If your main purpose is informational or educational, you’ll want to set your website up so that the resources you offer are front and center
What is the main purpose of your website?
What is the main way users achieve this goal on your website?
I sometimes tell my clients to picture the perfect website visit. Someone finds you on Google, clicks through to your website, and does…what? This is called a call-to-action: if you wanted your visitor to take one action, what would it be?
Some examples could be: an email newsletter sign-up, a monetary donation, purchasing an actual product, taking advantage of a coupon, reading an article, and so on. We’re focused on the way that a user would actually achieve the goal you just laid out in the first step.
Now that you have a purpose for your website, it’s easy to plan for visitors to achieve specific goals that meet your purpose. The more visitors walk through your ideal flow and end up doing your call-to-action, the more successful your purpose will be!
Consider if there are any intermediate steps a user has to take before fulfilling your primary call-to-action (such as an account registration) — those will need plenty of promotion on the website as well.
Is there one natural action that would fulfill your website’s primary purpose? What is it for your website?
What is the best page to house this call-to-action?
With my clients, I call this the flagship page. Imagine a user could only see one page, to convince them to do one call-to-action, in order to achieve your website’s purpose. What would that page look like? It would probably be an extended pitch to convince the user to take that action!
You can sprinkle your call to action throughout the site (for example, every school website — ever — has an ‘Enroll Now’ or ‘Apply Now’ button featured prominently in their header!) but this page is the perfect pitch for your call-to-action. Everything on this page should be tuned to convince a visitor to take this action.
The better you tune it, the more in line your content is with your purpose, the better conversion rates (percentage of visitors who take the action) you will see.
One quick note — your flagship page is usually NOT your homepage. While you might link to your flagship page from your homepage, it’s often more useful to think of a homepage as a jumping-off-point for multiple audiences to achieve multiple goals. The flagship page is laser-focused on your primary audience achieving your primary goal.
What is the flagship page on your website? Have you tuned it properly to entice visitors towards your call to action?
If you apply these principles to your website, you’ll find yourself with a brand-new content strategy! Prioritizing and laying out your goals for your website help you to decide which content and pages is less important, and which content should receive top billing on your website!
Don’t take the “call-to-action” and “enticing visitors” language to mean you should create an annoying, pushy sales page that doesn’t respect your visitors. Language like, “Act Now! Don’t Delay!” just seems like a cheesy telemarketer, and most visitors will just tune you out and ignore your call-to-action because it looks like an ad: and that’s not the impression you want to foster!
As always, you can best apply these concepts when you respect your visitors and genuinely believe that the action you want them to take will be good for them: improve their life, make them happier, etc. Good content that respects your audience will not go to waste — and hey, we can take that starting point and improve on it with good web design principles.
For further reading, check out my previous post, “How to Tell Stories With Your Website”