A company website can be a boring website.
With bland language, stock photography, and a lack of originality, most company websites will put you to sleep. The funny thing is, most of the companies I work with are in no way boring. They are cool, passionate about what the do, dedicated to their professions, and focused on their customers. Inventive and funny, they are the opposite of boring.
So how does this happen? Why do interesting companies have boring websites?
I think that it has everything to do with customer acquisition.
We’re told from the moment that we hit puberty, that we only have one chance to make a first impression. We have that one shot to impress someone, give them the idea that were not a complete loser, and that we’ve got lots of potential.
As teenagers, there’s not really a lot riding on that first impression (of course, it doesn’t feel that way at the time) but in business, there can be a lot more at stake. Because of the high stakes and obsession with first impressions, we make decisions about our messaging without really thinking about what will engage people. We control the message before we even know what we want to say. Focusing instead on not excluding people, over-promising, or providing specifics, we put together language that actually says nothing. On top of that, we take a very conservative approach so that we make sure that we are projecting professionalism, seriousness, and subject matter expertise.
Basically, we think that to make a good first impression, we need to remove all personality.
In the end, we’re doing more harm than good.
You are in a meeting and the presenter is going on and on about the coffee that the company buys for the snack areas. His voice is monotone, he stands in one place, his slideshow is just text, and he talks about the different vendors that he spoke to, the coffee packages available, and how–
Honestly, I’m getting bored just writing this…
That’s your website when you take out the personality.
Somewhere along the way, we got this idea that personality isn’t professional. Although we ask salespeople and other certain professionals to have one, as a general rule, someone who is funny, has a unique sense of style, and presents a different approach, we think this is unprofessional.
It doesn’t actually make sense. At the end of the day, we want customers to find something about us that’s different from our competitors to choose us. Whether its value, price, or customer service, we want people to discover what is different about our company in order for them to choose us.
Where are they to discover this?
The logical answer, of course, is online.
So how can we make that without personality? Without being unique? Without engaging the user?
There’s a group of people who have figured out this out: start-ups. Most start-ups have interesting, engaging, and sometimes fun websites. Bold, beautiful, and stylish, they are out to connect with the user. Mostly, at the end of the day, that’s all they have: a website. The are still working on the product and personality is the only way to connect with a reader and offer a glimpse of things to come.
Using photos of the staff, engaging bios, fun language, clever typography, and bold design, they convey the soul of who they are and what they are going to do. They sell you on who they will become.
Are you selling people on who you are now?
Look at your website. What does it say? Are there pictures of your staff, bios about who you are, insights into your culture? If your company is big into philanthropy, is that front and center on your website? If you run together or play paintball together, is that there? What does the company do together? What does it believe in? Why does it do what it does?
Root these things out and capitalize on them. If you don’t have any fun things your company does together, I think a conversation with HR is in your future.
At the end of the day, your company has a pulse and you need to capture it on your website.
Or your customers won’t become customers. They’ll just be bored.