I hope everyone reading this post has already learned that you can't be all things to all people at all times.
I find this to be particularly true for your company's website. You cannot make your owners, your staff, your services, your projects, your equipment, and your business philosophy ALL be the star of the website.
- Whose attention do you want to attract and hold?
- Why are you targeting that particular audience?
- What characteristics define the members of that audience?
- What message do you want to give them?
- What action do you want them to take before leaving your site?
- What action do you want them to take after leaving your site?
Many years ago, I worked for an A/E firm that was having its first website designed. The design was being done by an outside entity. However, a third entity was paying the design firm as part of a mentor-protégé program. The design firm thought they should be taking direction from the firm that was paying them. So we had great difficulty getting what we thought we wanted.
This, of course, was in addition to the difficulty of deciding what we wanted in the first place. At the beginning of our process, we believed that we wanted the website to show everything we were, everything we could do, and everything we had already done. In other words, we wanted the website to be all things for all people. What we got was a very confusing website with navigation that was much more complicated than it needed to be.
When I joined another A/E firm a few years later, they were in the middle of a major website redesign. Because they had many new projects, giving them a reason to grow quickly, they were experiencing some difficulty in finding the best young engineering graduates to recruit. So they hired a great website consultant to reconceptualize and design a website that would appeal to the recent graduate (age approximately 21-25)—a site that would appeal to that person, holding their interest and getting them to look at everything the firm wanted to tell them.
They wanted to tell these young folks that the firm was a great place to work, a place where they would do "cool stuff" on interesting projects as part of their normal work day, using cutting-edge equipment and software to accomplish their required tasks.
The firm's leaders assumed that existing clients going to the redesigned website would take the time to find what they were looking for even though it was now in a different place and called something new. Or they would just call their project managers for help.
To a large degree, this approach was a success. The firm was able to locate and acquire technical talent. Existing clients who had difficulty finding information in the website wound up going to their project managers instead. And this helped to deepen the relationships between project managers and clients.
Bottom line? It worked because the firm answered the questions presented in the bullets at the start of this post. In other words, THEY HAD A PLAN!