One Question Your Website Must Answer

Italy, Denver, this past weekend’s TT Certification, next week’s trip to Japan, a product launch, and my book writing have made for a busy start to Fall.

I’m due for a little downtime. So today, a guest post from my virtual mentor Seth Godin.

Seth is consistent. Every morning he shows up on my Blackberry with a daily message, much like how shows up every weekday for my subscribers. It’s good to be consistent.

Seth’s daily emails are sometimes long…and sometimes quite brief…but always make me stop and think about how – and what – I could be doing better.

He delivers impressive insights into both online and offline sales, and his predictions for the future have proved uncanny.

Today, he shows us what is working with websites. – Craig

From Seth Godin…

Approximately a million web years ago, I wrote a book about web design. The Big Red Fez was an exercise in shooting fish in a barrel. There was a vast and deep inventory of bad websites, sites that were not just unattractive, but ineffective as well.

The thesis of the book is that the web is a direct marketing medium, something that can be measured and a tool that works best when the person who builds the page has a point of view.

Instead of a committee deciding everything that ought to be on the page and compromising at every step, an effective website is created by someone who knows what she wants the user to do.

Josh Davis and others wanted to know if, after more than a decade, my opinion has changed. After all, we now have video, social networks, high-speed connections, mobile devices…

If anything, the quantity of bad sites has increased, and the urgency of the problem has increased as well.

As the web has become more important, there’s ever more pressure to have meetings, to obey the committee and to avoid alienating any person who visits (at the expense of delighting the many, or at least, the people you care about).

Without a doubt, there are far more complex elements to be worked with, more virality, more leverage available to anyone brave enough to build something online.

But I stand with a series of questions that will expose the challenges of any website (and the problems of the organization that built it):

Who is this site for?
How did they find out about it?
What does the design remind them of?
What do you want them to do when they get here?
How will they decide to do that, and what promises do you make to cause that action?

The only reason to build a website is to change someone.

If you can’t tell me the change and you can’t tell me the someone, then you’re wasting your time.

If you get all of this right, if you have a clear, concise point of view, then you get the chance to focus on virality, on social, on creating forward motion.

But alas, virtually all organizational sites are narcissistic and (at the same time) afraid and incomplete.

Answer your visitor when he asks, “Why am I here?”

So simple.

Your site should speak volumes to the people that land on it.

But more importantly, it should speak the right message at the right volume to the right people.

Don’t be afraid to upset people that don’t fall into your core customer demographic.

Speak to those hearts that matter, rather than trying to impress everyone.

You can’t do that.

Instead, you must…

Repel to attract.

Repel the 90% so that you attract the 10% of people that will help you create a wonderful business that changes the world.

Repel. Attract. Succeed.

Make your site right,

Craig Ballantyne
“All the breaks you need in life wait within your imagination. Imagination is the workshop of your mind, capable of turning mind energy into accomplishment and wealth.” – Napoleon Hill