This Site is Boring
And that’s okay.
My goal for this site is to offer WordPress services and education in the clearest, most distraction-free environment as possible. If I threw up an image slider with stock photos of web devs on shiny laptops it might look pretty. Admittedly, those are cool. But here it would just be a fluffy distraction that I don’t want.
My philosophy of building websites has stayed the same since the days when it was strictly HTML (ok yeah, I’m that old). I start with the ultimate goal of the site, i.e., what result do I want to achieve by putting it up? And even though everyone who builds a website has different goals, they can be broken down into the same thought process. Everything you put on the site should evolve out of that main goal.
An Example, And I Do Have One
For example, let’s take this site I built for Sparky Firepants Screen Printing. Their two main goals for their website are to:
- get people to hire them to make custom t-shirts.
- help people learn about the brand and either:
- connect and want to learn more
- leave because they’re not a match
How do we make that all that happen just by putting up a website? The first thing we need to think about is how do we get the visitor to make the leap from loading the site to hiring them? The first functionality or flow that we need to create is to make it as easy and enticing as possible for site visitors to contact the shop and inquire about printing. In other words, generate leads. The second thing we need to create is a way for interested visitors to learn more and connect, even if it’s not an immediate sales lead. We need people to like and trust the brand.
While building the site, no matter what we do, we need to keep those flows in mind.
What do we need to build to make that happen? Let’s start with core things we absolutely need:
- accessible on any platform in any browser
- tells the viewer what it’s about (they offer screen printing services)
- contact info (duh)
- about page, something about the brand or people behind the company
- educational resources i.e., blog or articles
- secure and updated regularly
- easily found by search engines
- mobile responsive
- looks current and matches our branding
Now let’s look at some things we want it to have:
- examples of printed apparel
- a catalog to browse
If we didn’t have anything in the second category, we would still do okay. If we were missing things from the first category, our website might be a waste of time and money.
Functionality and Flow
There’s been a lot written about how a person’s eye scans web pages. I don’t doubt that it’s based on actual scientific research, but since everyone is different, everyone is attracted to different things. The best we can do is create enough opportunities in the flow of our pages, sidebars, footers and menus that we achieve our goal no matter where they look first.
Since the first goal of the Sparky Firepants site is to have visitors contact them, we want to make sure that contact info is on every page. We achieve that very easily with multiple options in the footer.
The second goal is to help them learn more about the brand, to like and trust them. For that, we added plenty of free education (blog posts), a well-written About page, free resources for apparel brands, and copy throughout the site that reflects the values of the company.
It looks so cool!
The very, very last thing we want to consider is how cool does the site look? Of course we want it to look awesome. A website that looks like it was built in 1995 wouldn’t attract great clients because they might assume that the company is out of touch (wouldn’t understand their needs), not doing well (can’t afford to update), or maybe even no longer operating (was the last blog post even written in this decade?).
How cool does it need to look? It only needs to look cool enough so people come away feeling like the company is solid and can be trusted. If you add too many bells and whistles just because they’re available, it may have the opposite effect on the visitor. Do you need a photo slider? Maybe. Maybe not. If it gets in the way of your ultimate goal of them contacting you, then it’s just unnecessary window dressing.
One thing I might recommend upgrading on the Sparky Firepants site is some videos of their screen printing in action. Video can be just fluff, but in that case, showing what you do, especially in a custom service, can be fascinating and fun to see.
Boring is in the Eye of the Beholder
Start with your goals. Stick to your goals. You’ll be fine.