Is your website elitist?

Have you ever been to a technology website and not been able to figure out exactly what the product or service does (or indeed, if the company is offering a product or a service)?

Despite the fact that I’ve worked in the tech industry for a long time, this still happens fairly regularly. Even when I can figure out what the company does, I often cannot determine who they are selling to.  Are they selling to the enterprise? The small or midsized business? The consumer?  Some combination of the above?

It’s usually because the website is so filled with jargon and industry-talk that only people already in the industry are likely to understand it. Sometimes, it’s exacerbated by poor writing. And it’s typically written entirely from the perspective of the solution provider, not the potential customer. When a visitor cannot figure out if they should be there, they feel excluded or unwelcome – and leave.

This problem is too common with B2B technology sites.  It might result from a result of a decision to focus primarily on narrowly-defined prospects  people already steeped in your industry and product space.)

Even if that’s the case, a ‘technology-elitist’ website excludes many visitors who might be beneficial to your business, including:

  • Prospects who are early in the decision cycle and have not yet learned all of the jargon
  • Possible influencers of your target prospects
  • Executive level staff (above your target prospects) that focus on the big picture, not the details
  • Technology journalists and analysts not yet familiar with your specific industry or solution set.

Even if you’re pitching a complex, highly technical B2B technology solution, you can avoid being obtuse about what you’re selling.

First, make sure you explain clearly why people would be interested in your solution. Describe the benefit, not just the technology.  And don’t get so vague (“Making business faster”) that it doesn’t really say anything!

And if you want to reach multiple constituents, offer people a clear path to the content they need from your home page – let them self-identify on your website by clicking a link for small businesses, or for consumers, or for specific problems that they may have.  Then take them to a page that addresses those specific needs, so they won’t have to hunt around the website.  You might create content paths based on industries, roles, business size, or specific problems you address. Not only does this welcome the user to your site (rather than excluding them), but it accelerates their discovery of useful information.

One Comment on “Is your website elitist?

  1. Naturally, I have had to write web pages (and literature) just like this. It’s frustrating. But even IT professionals are getting fed up with dense prose. AND they need easily-understood messages that they can use themselves to sell solutions to other decision-makers.

    Thanks for such a great justification for good, clear web copy.

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