Who is your website for?

Simon holding the word you and a question mark in each hand asking the question Who is your website for?

Most people’s websites tell visitors about all the wonderful things they do and all the wonderful work that they have done. But who does that serve? Who is all that information actually for?

It might be yours but your website is not for you. But neither is it meant to be for everybody else.

The purpose of your website is to reach a specific group of people: the people you want to work with.

The goal of your website is to help those people understand why they might want to trust and choose to work with you.

It’s not for you. Ideally, it’s not even about you.

It is unlikely that someone who knows nothing about what you do – and doesn’t want what you’re offering – is going to visit your website.

Much more likely is that your online visitors already know a little bit about you and what you do. That gives you something to build on. But still, if your website content is all about you, it can be a tough job to get people to understand what you can do for them and then commit to that.

As Seth Godin says,

“If they knew what you know, would they buy what you’re selling? If they don’t know what you know, then what do you want them to understand?”

Stop trying to appeal to everyone

It’s far better to focus your website on your visitors – What brought them here? What are they thinking, feeling, doing? What are their aims or goals? In other words, make it about them (and therefore make it for them).

You need to show people that they can trust you. Show them that you understand where they are, and that what you do works for people like them, getting them where they want and need to be.

You can create a website that does just that by considering the three questions that any potential client is asking themselves about you. These questions are

  1. Who does this person work with, and are they people like me?
  2. What does this person work with those people on, and does that match what I’m looking for?
  3. Why can I trust this person to help me get where I want to go?

These are the only three questions you need to answer before launching your website. Yes, there is plenty more detail and content you can add, but to get started, this is all you need to cover.

Websites: what not to do

The two main mistakes I see people making when creating a website are:

  1. The website is all about them, failing to explain what the client will get from working with them. These websites often feel very sales-heavy to me, like a pitch.
  2. The website is so detailed and long-winded that I’d need a day or two to find and absorb all of the information. (Buried in all this information, I presume, are the answers to the Who, What and Why questions above… but I’ll be honest, I’ve never really had the patience or the attention to read all the way through!)

There is a very simple check you can make to see whether your website is about you or about your clients. Scan the text. Do your sentences begin with “I” or do they begin with “You” or “We”?

It isn’t a hard and fast rule (and of course, you’ll have a few “I” statements in there) but it’s the “You”/“We” sites that tend to focus on the visitor and what they need and want.

But… This website is all about them and has loads of content, and they’re doing great!

Yes, there’s no shortage of ‘look-at-me’ websites that make the owner look amazing (and doubtless do wonders for the owner’s ego) and I’m sure some of these people are ‘doing well’ thanks to their website, making lots of sales. Some people are just looking for a leader to follow. If that’s your game, so be it.

Although, at the end of the day, your website can be an ego trip for you or focus on your clients and serve your business. It depends who your website is for…

In my experience, working with coaches and consultants, their websites are far more effective at attracting the kind of clients they really want to work with when they focus on those ideal clients (by answering the Who, What and Why questions).

If your clients are important (they are!) then make your website reflect that

Back to Seth’s quote at the beginning: what do you need them to understand in order that they can know what you know?

When you build your website content from the client’s perspective, you are helping potential clients get to a point where they can make an independent and informed decision about whether what you are offering is the right fit for them.

This might take a few goes to get right, and it can sometimes feel odd. But I encourage you to give it a go.

Focus on answering the three questions.

In conversation with new clients who have visited your site, you’ll find they ask different questions, new questions, and this will give you some insight into areas of new content for your website, or different ways of articulating your answers to those questions. It might also show you different directions in which you can expand the site content in order to tell them even more of what they need to know.

After all, your website is never finished. It’s only ever the current version.

Building a website can seem like a daunting task, and I hope the clear message of this blog post is that you probably need to include a lot less content than you think. To help you get started, I have created a free downloadable template outlining what sections you might like to include on your website’s homepage.

If you’d like to dive deeper than that then do consider my book, Reframing Marketing. It’s a 3-step guide to effective and ethical marketing, focused on understanding the kind of clients you really want to work with and how you can answer the Who, What and Why questions.

You can find out more about the book and order your copy at reframingmarketing.com