When is a website not a website?

Websites are broken in so many ways that perpetuate through people building more websites. Confusing layouts, confusing navigation, bad writing, mazes of pathways, inappropriate design... The list of fatal errors goes on.

Changing your mindset changes what you notice, opens your eyes to pick different signals out of the noise.

Your website is not a website. So what is it? Tell me!

Your website is not a website. So what is it? Tell me!

Your website is a conversation

What kind of conversationalist is it? Does it talk of "leveraging creative assets" and "maximising innovation utilisation?" Is it stuck on broadcast or is it a good listener? Can it tell a story or does it reel off dry facts and figures?

Would you go for a drink with it? Would you "forget" to invite it to the company party?

If one of your website's visitors came to visit, how would you converse with them about your business? How does that compare with the greeting they get from your website's home page?

Your website is an orienteering challenge

You've been dropped in the wilderness, with no context as to where you've come from. How do you get your bearings? How do you work out where you are? Where do you go next?

You couldn't just press the back button. But your website visitors can. And they will – if they don't understand where they are, what they should do next and why they should do it. 

Your website is your robot sales executive

How many different voices and patters does your website present? Imagine being sold to by three or four different people at the same time. Who do you listen to? Or do you just leave?

Is your robot sales executive clear, helpful and effective? Or are there too many stakeholders demanding too many things of the poor overstretched machine?

Can your robot sales executive close? Or does it stop shy of asking for the sale?

Your website is your customer's fiercest advocate

Confident, opinionated, and with their best interests at heart. How does the advocate keep their trust? How does she listen to your customer's thoughts or concerns? How does he offer advice? 

How is she dressed? Achingly hip, suited and starched or slouchy sweater? Or is she in bin bags and a patchwork quilt? How would your customer expect their expert advocate to be dressed?

Your website is not YOUR website

You are not your customer. And even if you are your customer, you can't really imagine what it's like arriving at your website for the first time. You no longer know what it's like not knowing anything about your company.

Your website is for your customers, and they are the only people qualified to decide whether it's working. That's why you have to test your website with your customers, not base your decisions on the CEO's favourite shade of purple.

Do you observe and talk with first time visitors at the website? If not, why not? (Hint: there's no excuse.)

Your website is never just a website

Open your mind to all the lenses through which you can view your websites. You'll find new and surprising opportunities to improve them.

So, what other mindsets do you use when considering websites?