Design Dilemma: Who’s The Website Really For?

I had the distinct pleasure of not only helping to organize and promote Atlanta’s 2016 WordCamp event, I also got to present on one of my favorite topics. Because my slides were designed to illustrate my point, not really to deliver the information included in my presentation, I thought it wise to write up my thoughts on website design and the balance required to create a website that both appeals to a target audience and actually conveys who the site owner is and what he or she is all about.

Before I dive in, here’s a link to the slides to accompanied my discussion:

Design. Especially Website Design, Can Be A Contentious Topic …

My presentation was NOT a step by step guide or how-to tutorial. It was more of a philosophical discussion.

I don’t know how much you read online, but I’m pretty voracious. And more often than not, I read articles and opinions which state that your website MUST be all about your ideal client, your target market, your “avatar.”

I said that my take might be contentious.

I DISAGREE, in all caps, with the idea that a site isn’t about its owner. Your website is ABSOLUTELY about Y-O-U! As a matter of fact, the first three letters of “your website,” are Y-O-U.

The way I see it, prospects, projects and even long time customers come and go. But your relationship with your own online presence, your brand, your business, has to stand the test of time. If you want to build any lasting brand recognition, anyway!

Are You The Superhero Of Your Own Website?

Consider this … if you’re not all that jazzed about your website, your brand’s online home … how jazzed do you think you’re going to be with the leads and prospects that site generates?

You spend a lot of time on your site. Shouldn’t you enjoy that site. If the thought of working on your own site makes you yawn and need a nap, then it’s time to consider a change!

It’s a conundrum, certainly. Is the site for you and your business? Or is it ALL about those whom your business hopes to serve in the future?

In order to be one it must also be the other!

Know, Like, Trust … The Trifecta!

Those seeking to do business online want to do business with someone they feel they know, like and trust.

Someone is the key word in that sentence.

Is there a someone within your site? Does your website have any personality at all?

Does your website say to those who see it, “here I am, the very person with whom you want to collaborate on your project?”

The Fake Faux Pas … It Will Haunt You For A Long Time

The people you want as clients are smart. It doesn’t take them long to sniff out a fake persona.

Once you’ve been sniffed out as a fake, as insincere, as NOT real, the chance that prospects can learn to know, like and trust you? It’s long gone!

[clickToTweet tweet=”Once the smell of insincerity sets in, you can’t really get rid of the stink!” quote=”Once that smell of insincerity sets in, you can’t ever really get rid of the stink!” theme=”style4″]

Balance Is Sooooooo Beneficial!

A site that is both for and about YOU and for and about your client requires balance.

You must balance:

  • professional with personality
  • practical with pretty (form with function)
  • corporate with creative
  • industry with imagination
  • and a lot more something with somethings …

Too much of any single component will affect and alter that balance.

Without the proper balance your site can’t nail that know, like, trust trifecta.

Too clinical, lacking any personality? Hard to LIKE.

Too personal? TMI? It’s hard to see you as a professional or peer, which makes it hard to build TRUST.

Too generic? Too like EVERY other peer or industry site? Hard to KNOW why they should choose you or your business.

Lack Of Originality And Reality In Younger Female Designer Sites

I then had a bit of fun discussing the “staged photo” phenomenon which is all the rage amidst younger female designers.

I received many a laugh as I described artfully arranged clumps of aromatic herbs tied with pretty pink bows, gold scissors with no gook on the blades (meaning they’ve never opened anything), as well as open cosmetics and bowls of glitter.

More laughs ensued when I brought up the idea of a “real desk” photo series. On my “real desk,” you’d find numerous coffee cups displaying a variety of different “skins,” a squirt bottle to discipline my office assistants (cats) and gummy garden variety scissors with the not so pretty blue or orange plastic handles.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t leave my lipsticks uncapped on my desk. It’s rather un-hygienic, especially when you consider my office assistants would probably find a way to lick it. And open nail polish? There’s a disaster waiting to happen, and ruin my carpet.

Why are so many using their websites to pretend to be someone they’re not? Why are so many emulating an aesthetic that can’t be upheld in reality?

Check out the stinky faced slide. Can you smell the insincerity?

You CAN Differentiate!

Without detracting or distracting from your message, your end goal.

You CAN Stand Out!

Without stepping over the line or burning any bridges.

The last slides detail some of the different spots where your website can showcase some personality. Including:

  • color scheme
  • typography
  • tone of voice
  • your about page
  • ETC.

Any Questions?

I was absolutely thrilled when I got so many great questions throughout my presentation (I’m not the kind of presenter who makes people wait until the end). I’d love to answer any questions you have about ensuring your website is both about Y-O-U and your audience. The comment section is open, ready and waiting. Fire away!

Design Dilemma: Who's The Website Really For?
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1 reply
  1. LaShanda
    LaShanda says:

    Great article Mallie and great WordCamp Atlanta presentation as well! Your message truly resonated with me and left me with lots of take-home pearls that I’m applying to my sites as we speak.

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