Hey! What Does Your Business Do?

Ever receive a link to a business web site where you can’t figure out what the company does? The home page sounds like something from the company’s fancy and non-sensical mission statement. Unfortunately, many companies rely on content from their business plan and other internal documents.
I had a brief client who did this. The filler content came from the business plan. So what the company did wasn’t instantly obvious to the target audience. So I massaged the content, webified it, and shared a draft with the client.
She preferred the business plan. I couldn’t believe it. But then, she knew her business well and it would make sense to her.
I explained the approach I took and the reasons for them. It didn’t convince the company, so we agreed to part. Reflecting on the project, it was good that it didn’t work out. We weren’t compatible and it would’ve been a miserable project. Easier to get out earlier rather than later.
Different Businesses, Different Needs
A business web site should quickly communicate what it does. It largely depends on the company’s business. If it sells products, can you tell what kind of products? Is it a secure site? Reputable? I’ve seen too many commerce sites with no names or company details on their about page. This screams the site isn’t credible or trust-worthy.
Professional service businesses need to communicate what services they provide and include names and bios as people matter in this case. These sites should list companies and industries they’ve served. Testimonials are also powerful.
Designers do well in including a portfolio of their work on their web site.
At the end of every project, try to obtain testimonials and permission to publish information about the project (such as posting the design for a portfolio and publishing case studies). Better to do it as soon as the project ends while it’s fresh in everyone’s mind.
An Example…
IBM is huge and does many things. Its home page doesn’t begin to tell the company’s story. About the only valuable information is “Migrate to a mainframe.”
“What does a smarter planet look like?” implies the company supports more efficient technology — but it’s still a broad question and it doesn’t give me an idea of what IBM’s involvement is with a smarter planet. Click it and it provides jibber jabber about what people want to do.
The first couple of paragraphs are the only problem. The rest does a good job of showing a bulleted list of problems, the solution, and what IBM can do.
“IT managers, are you building or blocking transformation?” Click it and the page tells a different story that doesn’t quite connect to the headline.
Should you insult the manager? Or is it touching a nerve that managers will want to click the question? People will argue for and against this. Besides, the picture takes up too much of the page pushing down important content.
At the bottom of IBM’s home page is “What IBM can do for …” and lists different industries and careers to help the person go in the right direction. Smart move — maybe it should be more dominant on the home page? IBM does have a wide audience and this solution works in helping them along.
I like the home page image and the moving cars. It still takes up a lot of above the fold (area before scrolling) space — a problem with many sites today. It takes effort to find the heart of the content.

3 thoughts on “Hey! What Does Your Business Do?”

  1. Well, they were using the WRONG business plan! They should have used the One Page Business Plan(r), then everyone would be clear on what they did.

    I have to say that when I teach website classes, those new to the web ask me where their content should come from; I say it starts with a one-page plan.

    However, to create a plan you MUST know who your clients are AND what their pain is.

    What urks me are homepages, that are boring and all about the company.

    Give me some benefits of why I should read one more word on your site, PLEASE!

    Reply
  2. Maria, thank you for sharing your on target thoughts. Some clients who think their business plan makes good web content may get business, but they could get more if they do it right and make it about the user instead of a lot of blah blah.

    Reply

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