A Word About Websites


A website is your part of the shopfront in the planet-wide shop called the internet.

Let’s take for granted that you have done all the obvious, technical things with keywords and so forth to ensure that your site itself is visible. Now you need to work out the best layout for the site itself, the bit that people will actually see and interact with.

This is another step where many businesses go wrong because they still operate on older principles and dangerous assumptions. It’s quite likely that your own business’s website has been built around content creation based on the mantra that 'Content is king'.

But just as you wouldn’t build a home without a careful plan and firm foundations built long before you brought the furniture (your 'content') in, a website needs an architecture and preparatory steps. Structure matters when building a website. Why? Because

a) the various web pages within your website each serve a purpose and can help each other gain higher search engine rankings if interlinked correctly and

b) your website can create a vacuum that pulls customers in and around to all the right spots, connecting them up to all the points they need in order to make a purchase and receive a product or service.

Much advice is out there about how to build a website that is effective, but we’re going to treat that as though it is full of dangerous assumptions and begin with basic theory.

If you think about your website as a pyramid, you would probably assume that the pointed tip at the top is your home page and all underlying pages make up the base.

Instead, think about the tip as the point where the customer and product or service meet.

If your product or service is something that is deliverable through your website - a digital book or something of that kind - then the tip of the pyramid is where the customer actually acquires the thing.

This probably isn’t:

i) the home page

ii) the product display page (where the customer can read all about the product prior to ordering)

iii) the order page (where the customer enters his or her card details and clicks 'Confirm')

No, it would be the page where the customer downloads the item or the page where he or she receives a ‘Thank You’ note confirming receipt of the item. That is the 'apex' of your website, the point of closure, the entire purpose of the site.

The 'landing page' for your website, the page where most of your customers will initially find you, should be the most powerful vacuum-orientated page. This is where the customer’s search has brought them - they have been 'pulled' by almost physical forces to that point. It must be headlined with customer needs and its copy must be all about the customer.

Headline:

State the customer’s vacuum directly back at them.

First section of copy:

Write about the need, expand upon the headline and make it more intense.

Second section of copy:

Talk about what would happen if the customer’s need got bigger.

Third section of copy:

Talk about larger, neighbouring vacuums that could be triggered if the need got bigger.

Fourth section of copy:

Encourage the customer by suggesting that change is possible.

Fifth section of copy:

Let the customer know that a solution is within reach.

Sixth section of copy:

Match features of your product with the customer’s need.

Seventh section of copy:

Present your product in a way which suggests further depths and unseen benefits.

At this point, you would insert a link to the product purchase page.

Eighth section of copy:

Relate specific aspects of your product to specific needs.

Again, insert a link to the product purchase page.

Ninth section of copy:

Elaborate on needs and features, matching one with the other until the customer and the product get closer.

Obviously, add another link to the product purchase page.

Insert a 'Money back guarantee' to remove any element of risk involved with purchase.

Note that at al times your Primary Vacuum Filler should be visible, with a direct link to it for desperate customers.

And that’s your vacuum page.

On the product page, make it as easy as possible to enter financial details and make the purchase. Amazon mastered this years ago with the 'Buy with 1-Click' button, removing time-consuming chores for its public and speeding up its purchasing line.

Now your vacuum-filling page: the Download or Delivery page.

That really has to be as swift and trouble-free as possible. If it is in any way feasible, add in a 'special extra' and deliver the product in the most stylish and aesthetic way possible. This is to ensure that the customer’s experience of receiving your product is both memorable and simple.

Let’s look at an example of how this would work:

A Luxury Car Hire Company specialising in airport runs

Headline:

State the customer’s vacuum directly back at them.

'Worried that an uncomfortable, unreliable car will get you to the airport too late and ruin your trip?'

First section of copy:

Write about the need, expand upon the headline and make it more intense.

'There’s no more deadly deadline than a flight departure time. Whether you’re going on holiday or on a business trip, the last thing you want is a car journey that is too uncomfortable, too unreliable and too slow. You’ll really feel it as the time ticks away and your flight-time draws nearer and nearer.'

Second section of copy:

Talk about what would happen if the customer’s need got bigger.

'And then there’s the risk of traffic jams, breakdowns and being trapped in a car with a strange aroma and a driver who’s too talkative.'

Third section of copy:

Talk about larger, neighbouring vacuums that could be triggered if the need got bigger.

'Worse than that, of course, is the disaster of missing the plane and ruining your family’s holiday or not being there for your incredibly important business appointment.'

Fourth section of copy:

Encourage the customer by suggesting that change is possible.

'But it really doesn’t have to be this way…'

Fifth section of copy:

Let the customer know that a solution is within reach.

'Just around the corner is a service that is tailor-made to put your mind at ease.'

Sixth section of copy:

Match features of your product with the customer’s need.

'Top-flight Cars are luxuriously comfortable, valet-prepared for each journey and have all the latest GPS equipment to plan and utilise at least three alternate routes that will get you to the airport an hour before you need to check in by planning for any predictable delay.'