6 June 2006
Hard choices make good websites
By Andrew Clifford
To make your website simple and direct you have to focus on a simple message. You can't be all things to all people. You have to make hard choices about what to leave out.
Your website needs to focus on
- what products you offer
- what customers you target
- what benefits your products will bring
- the call to action for your website visitors.
You need a short list of things to include, and a long list of things to leave out.
To show you what I mean, here is the short list of what the Metrici website includes.
- We offer a web-based tool (Metrici Advisor) that supports a method for long-term management of IT systems (System Governance).
- We target IT managers in end-user organisations, who have responsibility for the long-term management of multiple IT systems.
- We present how our products "answer your questions" about the state of your systems and the actions required to improve their long-term effectiveness.
- We invite our readers to take a 30-day free trial of our product.
Here is the long list of what we could say but leave out.
- We do not offer our more general consultancy services in system governance.
- We do not explain how Metrici Advisor can support assessments and evaluations in other subjects.
- We do not offer Metrici Advisor as packaged software.
- We do not target project managers, who could use Metrici Advisor as a tool for reducing cost and risk in a single project.
- We do not target other IT consultancies, who could incorporate our products into their services, to deliver more value to their customers.
- We do not present how Metrici Advisor could be used as a product configuration tool.
- We gloss over how much cheaper our products are than using human experts to assess every project.
- We miss out how our products can help manage outsourcing contracts.
- We do not cover how our products can support IT restructuring after mergers or acquisitions.
- We do not cover how our products can help regulatory compliance.
- We do not explain how system governance can add to company valuations by quantifying the asset value of business systems.
- We do not stress that we are happy for potential customers to contact us and arrange a face-to-face discussion.
- We omit to mention that anyone can use a guest logon to our service, to have a quick look round.
Deciding what to leave out is really hard. You have to miss out some of the best parts of your products. You have to ignore some customers. You have to omit some benefits. You have to cut down the options for what your readers do next.
Having a clear, simple focus makes your website easy for your readers to follow. You will lose a few readers because of what you have missed out. But you will retain many more.
It is tempting to leave all the content in, and let the readers choose for themselves. But they will not choose. They will see your website as vague and confused, and leave. If you want an effective website, you must make hard choices.
Next: Lead the reader, follow the reader
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