Web Storefront

How do you design a great website? Think of it like a store.

Building a great website isn’t as easy as a Wix commercial would have you believe. Figuring out how to present your service or product in an engaging way that turns curious visitors into loyal customers is, in fact, quite challenging, especially if you’re doing it yourself. Success has very little to do with the web platform you choose, and everything to do with creating, presenting, and organizing great content.

Content creation is one of the first things I work on with my clients. To get their heads around how to best develop and organize their content, I ask them to put themselves into their customer’s shoes, and think about their website like a store. Let’s give it a try…

First, imagine you’re a shopper.

You can be any type of shopper. Maybe you’re out shopping on a Saturday and you just want to pop into a cool looking store and browse. Or maybe there’s something you need, like a new couch. So you’re shopping around, getting ideas about what would work best for you. Maybe you’re running an errand and you know exactly what you need to buy. Or maybe you’re going to a special event – like a book reading at a neighborhood bookstore, or a summer sidewalk sale.

Regardless of what type of shopper you are, you go into a store because the storefront has an inviting sign, and a window display that lets you know more about who they are and what they sell. Once you enter the store, the store is set up so you can easily find what you’re looking for (books are organized by genre, department stores by gender, age, style, etc.) There are signs and knowledgeable people there to help you, guide you, and answer your questions. If there’s a sale or special event, you received an invitation or heard about it from a friend, are excited to attend, and know when and where to go.

And if the experience is great and the product is great and the price is right, you’ll make a purchase. And you’ll tell your friends. And you’ll come back again, and again.

Happy Shoppers

Now, let’s think about your website.

Is your home page like a storefront?

Is there clear signage that let’s you know the name of your business and what you’re offering? Is it like a window display – inviting, and giving you a sense of what you’ll find inside?

Is your website well organized?

If I’m just browsing, is it easy to move around and get a sense of everything you’re offering? If I’m comparison shopping, can I easily detect what sets you apart? If I know exactly what I need, is there a quick and easy way to get that? How do I find out if you’re having a promotion or special event?

Is your content helpful?

Do you come across as an expert whose product or service will solve my problem or fulfill my need? Are you able to answer my questions? Do you demonstrate what sets you apart from your competition?

Is your product or service worth buying?

How is your product presented? How do I understand it’s value if I can’t pick it up, ask questions, or see the price tag?

Blackbird Iron & Design Project

Blackbird Iron’s home page has their logo, tagline, and phone number overlaying a photo of a metal door they made. You can call, click on the button to browse their portfolio, or you can scroll down for more. Visit their site to see how their content is organized and presented.

The “what’s in it for me” approach

New businesses often take a resume approach to writing content rather than a marketing approach. They tend to talk in the first person (using “I”, “me”, and “my”) rather than in the second person (using “you” and “your.”)

People visiting your website don’t really care about you. They care about themselves: “What’s in it for me?” So speak directly to them and solve their problems. Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you’re a shopper walking into your store for the first time or the 10th time. Are you excited about what you see? Easily finding what you need?

Getting people into your store

This store analogy assumes that someone is walking by your store to begin with. So how do you get them to walk by? Location, location, location. But that is a whole other topic in itself.

Here’s an article on driving traffic to your website that can help.

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