The best way to improve your website experience: better communicate how you can help
Updated: Jun 26, 2019
Visitors don't want to read all of your content so skim read it (at best).
Focus your messaging on showing how you can meet the visitor’s overall goal, the unique benefits you offer and social proof that you can be trusted.
Remember that your stuff is a means to an end, and isn't nearly as important to your visitors as it is to you.
One of the biggest issues that many sites experience is a high bounce rate - a high proportion of visitors immediately leaving the site. There are many reasons why this can occur; from loading speed issues (data suggests visitors’ wait time tolerance is reached after about two seconds), site errors or unintuitive navigation.
However, the biggest reason for a high bounce rate is typically that visitors don't think the website can help them achieve what they want to achieve. Everything the site does needs to work to convince the visitor they are in the right place - not only that the website can help the visitor but that it can help them better than any of the alternative options available to them.
This is difficult to achieve because most visitors don't read the website in full, they skim read it. They are also typically looking at multiple different provider options at the same time, further limiting the time and attention that they are going to allow any single provider to convince them. This means that any communication to the visitor needs to be succinct and compelling, and simply finding a way to articulate this is a challenge.
One way to get better at writing a compelling hook is to see how other websites handle it. To this end, I've looked at the messaging of a group of sites that should, in theory, be highly proficient at this - and that’s website builders. I've looked at 10 of the most popular providers and noted how they try to communicate their suitability and stand out from the crowd. Some of them do it really well, some of them do it less well, and none of them do it perfectly, but there is a lot there to remind us of how it should be done.
Shopify - don't forget your visitor's underlying goal
One of the biggest bits of advice I can offer any website designer is that visitors don't want your stuff - not really. Whilst of course they want (in this example) a website, that is only because of what that website allows them to do - communicate with potential customers (amongst other things). If something else came along that did a more effective, or more cost-effective, job of communicating with potential customers (admittedly it's hard to think what this might be), then suddenly interest in building a website would decrease.
We can take this one step further - visitors don't really want to communicate with potential customers, they want to grow their business (and communicating with potential customers is one way of doing this). This is what makes Shopify messaging so effective - it recognises and taps into the underlying reason why people will be visiting. It shows that Shopify is aligned with the visitor on their ultimate ambition, rather than just the individual steps they need to take to get there, which builds credibility and, for some, an emotional connection. Overall, this captures the visitor's attention and encourages them to read on.
Constant contact - Don't forget the visitor benefit (your stuff is secondary)
A slightly less effective example comes from Constant Contact. This headline isn't bad by any means - it does try and communicate the functional benefit of speed - but it is clearly trying to sell visitors on what they have to offer (an AI web design tool).
Of course, sometimes, a website will want to sell a specific product, and need to promote that product in order to sell it. In these cases, the visitor benefit needs to be kept front and centre - but here the page leads with a pun first, and the most compelling articulation of the benefit second. The result is that many visitors will be left confused about what is on offer (AI web design tools are still very much in their infancy) or why they should care (more could be done to explicitly call out how much faster this is than other tools and methods available).
Webnode - Leverage social proof where you can
This example works because it does two things well. Firstly, it communicates clear benefits to the visitor - price, speed and usability (‘build one for yourself’). Secondly, it offers social proof for its service - in that 30 million users have already signed up.
Beyond demonstrating that this must be a popular website builder (and hence a good website builder), this social proof adds credibility to the benefits Webnode is trying to communicate. Offering anything ‘for free’ can be met with scepticism online, but having so many people take them up on the offer suggests there isn't a catch and this isn't a scam. It also shows that a diverse range of people have used this tool, proving that anyone can use it. Whilst website builders have enabled a great number of people to build their own websites, there are still going to be those who would like to but are unconvinced that they have the technical know-how. Overcoming this mental barrier will make the visitor feel empowered, likely leading to greater consideration and trial.
There you have it - three sites, three lessons. For reference, here are what the seven other website builders led with. All headlines are current as of 2nd June 2019.
Wordpress - Build a website, build a movement. Whatever you want to create, share, or sell, we’ll help you do it right here.
Wix - The place to create a professional website.
GoDaddy (UK) - Create a t’riffic website in under an hour / Find the perfect domain name
Blogger - Publish your passions, your way. Create a unique and beautiful blog. It’s free and easy.
Squarespace - Make it. Squarespace is the all-in-one platform to build a beautiful online presence.
Weebly - Build a professional website that grows with your business.
HostGator - Gator Website Builder - The first step to starting your business. HostGator’s drag and drop website builder is designed to be easy, eCommerce-friendly and perfect for your new business.
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