Tell Us Why We Want You
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Last updated 03 August 2016

According to a recent study, there are more than 100 hojillion websites on the internet. Due to the sheer number of options out there most people’s attitude when coming across a new site is:

Show me what you got

Unfortunately not every site shows me what it got (I mean has) so I immediately navigate to one of my many other options on the web.

I know I normally write about programming topics, but when you are programming for a business on the internet you tend to develop some opinions about businesses on the internet. As a result, I’d like to share my thoughts with you.

1. Tell us what problem you solve

The bare minimum you can do is state the purpose of your site. Nowadays most sites manage to do this. One thing I’ve found, though, is a misunderstanding of what the purpose of the site is. Take mindmup.com for example. I came across this by following a link from the blog of one of the developers there. It states it is “Zero-friction free online mind mapping”. This is good in that it states the purpose of the site. I don’t know what mind mapping is, though, so I immediately left the website. Don’t tell me what your program does (i.e. makes mind maps), tell me what problems it solves. For all I know mind mapping would be perfect for some problem that I have, but unless my problem is that I can’t make mind maps (or the ways I have to make them cause too much friction) then mindmup.com doesn’t help me.

2. Show us how you solve that problem

“Show don’t tell” is a common phrase you hear. Since I have a child I now occasionally hear the phrase “show and tell” as well. Either way it is good advice. Take a look at gusto.com. They effectively explain that they make payroll and benefits easy. But then, they don’t tell you anything else until you either select how many employees are in your company or click “skip this question”. Frankly, I don’t want to tell you anything about myself until I’ve determined whether or not you can actually solve my problems. Gusto.com is basically standing behind a wall and saying, “Trust us, we can help you! Just give us your personal details first.” No thanks.

3. Make it memorable

I can’t just be all negativity, though, so let’s look at a good example, basecamp.com. It not only tells us the real problem it solves (organizing all the people involved with a project), it shows and explains how it solves that problem. Not only that, but it does it with a cute little logo and fun drawing. It helps you remember which website it was you looked at a few days later once you are actually ready to sign up for something.

It can be hard to take a look at your own site with the eyes of a person who doesn’t already know the domain and know about your site. Thinking about whether you are truly showing us what you got should help.

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