There’s a lot of it about. Sites where someone has a bucket of info and just keeps throwing handfuls in the general direction of the audience.
They haven’t thought about what those people need to know or how they need it presented so that they feel welcome and get the benefits.
That’s not communication. That’s being a megaphone robot. (There’s one on the right, look.)
You want to help people and make things happen, right?
Then make a site that’s about respecting and serving your audience at least as much as it is about you.
You can chuck up a website with a bunch of blurb pretty easily these days, if you just want to tick the “get a website” box. But it won’t do much actual work for you.
There can be luck and magic in communication. But mostly it happens through understanding and skill.
Communication habits that hold people back
Some sites have a few one-way bits, and others are mostly that way. It’s rooted in very understandable human thinking and behaviour on the part of the site owners – usually one or more of the following.
- They find anything “techy” offputting or even scary, so they try to engage with computer-based communication tools as little as possible.
- They forget to put in time and attention to look at their pages from the perspective of their audience. Or maybe they’ve never learned how to do that.
- They assume – probably without even realising – that their stuff is so important that people are obliged to read it.
- It’s not on their radar that presentation matters, so their message-package never reaches the audience.
- They simply don’t check stuff before broadcasting it. Then writing and layout mistakes pop up like weeds.
Any of that ringing any bells? Be honest! (You don’t have to tell anyone.)
Here’s some reassurance: popular, successful sites often do these things too. Even ones talking about communication topics like online marketing or personal branding. We’re all human.
That also means that if you take the principles of good communication on board, your foundation can be at least as good as theirs.
The thing is to be humble before the skill and treat it as a learning process. For me, certainly, I know and see what I do because I’ve done stuff in the past and later gained the perspective to do it better. If you ignore it as unimportant or think you know all there is to know, that’s stagnant.
Communication is not techy or macho
A lot of people around the web will tell you about copywriting, search engine optimisation, blogging, getting traffic, social media, conversion, analytics…
And that’s all useful and important stuff, at the right time and in the right quantity. But it sits on top of the fundamentals.
You have a message you want to transmit. Your website is your home base on the internet. It’s the only place where you have (if you choose) complete control over what you say and how it’s presented. Other stuff piques people’s interest and channels them to your site. There you can transfer ideas from your mind to theirs – if you get it right.
All the techy stuff is a means to an end. This is about communicating with people. And if you’re someone who’s more used to looking inward, or to working with people rather than computers, perhaps that’s a more encouraging prospect. If you think through what you want, implementing it yourself or working with someone to do so should be easier and more productive.
Making a website that communicates
Here are some of the main areas to dig into.
- Do you have mental blocks about the process? Or are you resolved to learn what you need, find help when you need it, and get to where you want to be, a step at a time?
- Have you thought through what background messages you want to give about yourself and what you do, to frame what you talk about in specific posts and pages?
- When someone visits your site, in the first few seconds while they’re deciding whether to stick around, what do they take in? Will they pick up alarm signals that scare them off? Have you shown them what they need? Is there clutter you need to clear?
- Do they get the important basic orientation about what the site’s about and what kind of person you are?
- Are you showing up as a human being, with authentic appeal and a story?
- Does your visual design convey the right messages?
- Do you know how to write for the web? Do you have a good writing style and voice?
Ways to follow up
Not much to cover then! You may be wondering how to get started. Don’t be alarmed, citizen!
Check out blog posts in the You and your message category, like:
- How to write for the web to turn visitors into readers
- 6 ways you block yourself from communicating your message
Website foundations for stories in action is an e-course in pdf format that covers the points mentioned here. It’ll help you draw readers in and get the right messages across.
If you want more live input with your site, check out the Website review service – we can hop on a call and I’ll talk you through the message your site is giving and what improvements to make.