Communications Lab #7: I’m launching a web site for my business, what should I watch out for?

This is the seventh post in what we intend to make a weekly series, brought to you by the Hub Communications Lab.  The idea is that you have questions about marketing and communications, while other Hub members have access to answers.  Submit your questions to tim.nichols@the-hub.net and then watch this space.   And if you need more info, let us know and maybe we’ll put together a workshop if there’s enough interest!

Too much information on the home page!  Here are five simple tips:

1) Start with one story.  Think of a web site like courting.  There are certain things that your new customer (i.e. a future relationship) needs.  Your new customer is unlikely a reporter so they don’t need everything right away. You need to enable them to peel back the onion.  Be interesting.  Tell them the one thing you want to be known for relative to what they are looking for.

2) Use traditional menu tabs to your advantage.  Your future customer has 4-6 questions they need answered.  Let your menu tabs act as buckets to direct them to the right areas so you don’t have to bombard them with everything.   Give your customer credit for using those tabs and use language that is intuitive, not overly clever for directing them.

3) Avoid visual chaos. Use color, font size and photographs to your advantage.  Does your eye go to one place on your home page (or any page) or do messages fight for attention?  The story you want to tell has to do with keeping your business alive.  Let them follow a path of information by using visual cues (bigger to smaller, brighter/more contrast to less) to lead them from the most important to least important pieces of information

4) Avoid links that re-direct away from your site.  Bring them deeper into the site rather than trying to prove credibility by associating with other advertisers, peers or partners.  Links and RSS feeds are great for getting search engines there but unless you are a content site, you want those lower level on the page so your audience sticks with you.

5) Think business first.  Why does your site exist?  Be ruthless about this prioritization.  Do people need info, to know where to donate or is your goal for them to join?  Do your research to understand how people become engaged with you and then use your web site to support that same pathway of informational engagement.

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