Delivering your SMB Message via the Web

Wednesday, January 4, 2006
Posted by Brawlin Melgar

Delivering Your Website's Message
by Mark Daoust

It never ceases to amaze me just how many websites lack a clear, well-presented message. There are literally millions of different types of websites. Whether you sell leyden jars through your website, offer advice on how to remove a hornet's nest, or are advertising your own personal services, every website regardless of how obscure or how mainstream must convey a message. How well you convey your message will ultimately be the factor which brings you fame or failure.

The Many Factors of a Website

Unfortunately, the Internet does not lend itself to simplicity. As with any form of communication, there are many factors that are involved in conveying a message. If you are engaged in a conversation, your body language, voice inflection, and the words you choose all impact how effective you are in relating your message. A website is not much different. Your website's layout, the colors you choose, the navigation you setup, the images you choose for your website, whether you use more images than text, and even the style of font can all help convey a message. Creating an effective website takes careful consideration of all of these factors.

Above all these factors, however, it could be argued that no factor is more important than the website copy. Website copy is the actual text used on your website that you use to deliver your message. This is the text that your visitors will read, and this is the text that you will use to deliver the heart of your message. The other factors of your website although important should ultimately compliment your website copy.

Unfortunately, writing for your website can be a tedious, boring, and sometimes frustrating job. Some people have a natural knack for writing, but most of us trudge along trying to defeat the next inevitable bout of writers block. Worse yet, when we finally do get some website copy up, we promise to never change it just so we can avoid the process of writing.

Writing Your Website Copy Requires a Clear Vision

Even though writing your website copy can be a painful process, it is undoubtedly a necessary (and extremely helpful) process. We have already discussed how websites are built to convey a specific message, and we have also discussed how the text on your website (the website copy) is the primary means of delivering that message. In order to assemble your website copy, you first need to know exactly what message you want to convey.

Every website owner should be able to answer the following questions:

1.What is my website about?
2.Who am I targeting with my website?
3.What is the purpose of the website?

These questions are extremely basic, but it is surprising just how many website owners cannot answer these questions in a short, succinct manner. Ask yourself these three questions right now. If you find yourself pausing to think about any of these questions, then you need to spend some time defining 'your vision'. As an example, consider the following answers I would give for Site Reference:

1.What is my website about?
a)Internet Marketing, Website Development, Search Engine Optimization, and General Website owner issues.
2.Who am I targeting with my website?
a)I am targeting website owners with a slight bias towards the newer website owner.
3.What is the purpose of the website?
a)To educate and assist website owners through articles, forum discussions, and webmaster tools

Notice how each question has a quick, clear, and concise response. Granted, if you asked me those three questions a year ago, I would not have the answers so well laid out, but over time 'my vision' has cleared as I grew to know my business.

If you are not able to answer these questions, or if the answers you gave to these questions don't seem to be quite right to you, then consider spending some time thinking about your busin