Too often I come across websites that have an identity crisis. They don’t know what they are, what they are trying to accomplish, and worst of all they don’t know what their visitors want. If your site suffers from this identity crisis, keep reading. You’re going to learn a few things that will transform your website and make it much easier for you to convert visitors into fans and customers.

Oh, yes and Dear Reader: this article is helpful for those of you who have a website and those of you who are planning to launch a website.

The purpose of all websites is to convey information. That information is intended to elicit a response. The response could be literally anything: to ponder the information and take action in our own lives; to share the article, to fill out a form, to buy a product. For their purposes, business owners are trying to convert website visitors into customers. They want their visitors to take an action, namely to fork over their credit card number.

How should you best design your website to accomplish the task of helping visitors take action? The answer is really simple. Answer their questions. If you aren’t answering your web visitors questions, you are failing them, you are wasting their time, and you are losing customers.

In college I recall my favorite professor – my speech professor – explaining the principles of extemporaneous speaking. In his view he felt that no matter what topic he was presented with, he could locate three issues he could discuss that related to it. It’s the old Rule of Three. I have used that Rule of Three as a web developer for years and it’s served me well. You should use it as well when designing your website. But how?

Here’s how:

  • Ask yourself what your target web visitor will be looking for on your website.
  • Identify three things (questions) that they would be likely to ask about your brand.
  • Make sure you whittle the list down to just three questions. No more. You may have less, but you should never have more than three. They usually come to your mind automatically.
  • Provide answers or solutions to those questions on your home page. Clearly and almost so simple that it seems obvious.
  • Whenever you’re adding any content to your website (especially the home page), ask yourself, “Does this further help answer the three questions?” If not, then why are you doing it?
  • Build all your efforts on your website (and social media) to answer the three questions.

Here’s a real-world example. Years ago I was the Web Manager for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is a very recognizable (to sports fans) entity that serves as a Museum/Tourist Destination as well as the place where the greatest players in baseball history are honored. We identified that the three questions our site visitors were most interested in were: (1) How do I get to Cooperstown? (2) Who are the Hall of Famers and how can I learn more about them? And (3) Where can I buy stuff from the Hall of Fame? Subsequently we built sections of the home page to specifically answer those questions, such as a Plan Your Trip to Cooperstown area, and a Hall of Famers section, as well as including products and an Online Store button prominently.

What are your Three Questions? Do your customers want to learn about your products? Find out the cost of your products? Maybe they want to find out how to get to your location (very likely if you have a physical location) or what your hours are. Identify the Three Questions and answer them. Craft your content to support those answers. Ask yourself, “Why am I spending time on X, if X isn’t helping my customers answer questions?”

Remember, a question from your visitor indicates interest. But an unanswered question is a barrier to them becoming a customer. If they cannot find the information they’re looking for (and fast) they will click the back button and be gone.