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« A Simple Usability Indicator: The Back Button | Main | Conversions and Making the Right Impression »

Companies Need to Connect with the User

One place where companies frequently disconnect from the user is when it comes to messaging. Here is the typical scenario: The user arrives to a web site and they're dropped into a company's online experience.  The copy on a web site usually goes something like this "Our ... We .... Our ... About Us." This can be classified as the "Me Me Me" syndrome.  Too many companies want to tell the world how they are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Please don't misunderstand me, I do believe you need to tell the user your capabilities and accomplishments.  But in order to be successful online you need to make sure you are focusing on the user.

Successful web sites take the approach of carefully crafting the online experience.  They craft their message to develop trust and provide the user with relevant information. This in turn makes it much easier to sell a product or service online.

I was listening to an interview with Robert Bly in which he talks about Bill Bonner's Four-Legged Stool. The Four Legs of the Stool are Credibility, Track Record, The Big Idea, and Future Benefits.  Use each leg to position your company and its products or services more effectively online.

Credibility
Unless you're a recognizable brand like Amazon or Yahoo, you will need to establish some credibility.  Do the things necessary to establish credibility and trust. One great way is to provide people with high quality information.  Make your user feel like you genuinely care about them.  Give them so much great information that they don't know what to do with it.

Track Record
Even though they aren't as effective as before, testimonials are a great place to start establishing credibility.  How has you product or service performed over time? Make sure your testimonials are benefit driven not featured focused. Users are interested in reading about what your product or process can accomplish for them.  "We saved $10,000 dollars by using the process outlined by XYZ Corp."

The Big Idea
How is your company or service different than your competition?  Describe the process or product involved in user centric terms.  Today everyone has a widget.  How is your widget better than other widgets? Perhaps you have a unique methodology that has evolved out of your product or service that can help people.

Future Benefits
If someone purchases your product or service how will it benefit them moving forward?  Tell people why it is worth investing in what you have to offer now and its impact in the future.  Show them how your product or service is going to create value  or save them money over time.

Make Sure You Use All Four Legs
The Stool is most stable on all Four-Legs (Credibility, Track Record, The Big Idea, and Future Benefits.)  It can still stand on Three Legs (Any Three of the Above).  But it will fall with only two legs.

You need to make sure your messaging is framed for the user.  Leverage your company's accomplishments, but in a way that allows the user to take notice; "Here are all the great things we've accomplished and here is how we want to help you ..."

If you can craft your web site using the methodology described you have a much better chance of being successful online.  Give user's what they seek and you will be rewarded.

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