A good website is more than a laundry list of facts about your business. At its best, your website also tells the story of who you are and why someone should choose YOU instead of a competitor.
Telling that story effectively takes two different kinds of writing: fiction and non-fiction. Each type of storytelling has its own “rules.” Let’s start with the non-fiction rules.
As every beginning journalist learns there are five key components to a news story: who, what, when, where, and why. On your website, these components provide the same sturdy strength as your bones do for your body.
WHO: This tells customers your name, your expertise, and your qualifications. It can also identify you as a small OR large business, a Mom & Pop shop OR an enterprise with many employees, as an exciting newcomer to the marketplace OR as a trusted longtime company.
WHAT: This tells customers the details of what you do, any certifications or specialty trainings or abilities you have, and basically provides a taste of the work you are uniquely qualified to do. (See http://www.dbsroofing.com/green-roofing.html to see how a traditional company has embraced a new technology.)
WHEN: This shows your regular hours of operations, when to reach you, if you provide any sort of after-hours options for service.
WHERE: This includes your business location, base of operations, geographic area served, community connections (such as Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, etc.)
WHY: This tells potential customers why they should choose you. It can include testimonials from satified customers. (See http://www.higinbothams.com/tea-room.html for examples of testimonials.)
Effectively telling the story of your business relies on a blend of writing styles. Now let’s look at “the rules” of fiction.
PLEASE NOTE: Fiction does NOT mean fantasy. By using the elements of fiction, the story that is told on your website relies on descriptive words to emphasize the personal values that are the foundation of your company or business. Those descriptive words help build a relationship between you and your potential customer. They appeal to the “right brain”, the part of human beings that is more creative and connected.
Every good story includes the following elements:
Characters: Names and facts are just the beginning. By themselves, though, they are not enough. Every good story gives you a reason to like the hero or heroine. On the website for Christina’s Desserts, http://www.christinasdesserts.com/about-us.html, in the “About Us” section, the owner tells how she and her husband were led to start their business. Some websites tell the stories of a whole cast of characters by providing names, faces, and brief biographies of the entire staff. Dr. Joan Werleman’s website http://www.hanoverdentistry.com/meet-our-staff.html does just that. New patients can get to see the faces of the people they will meet when they visit the office.
Plot or story line: This is the place to share how your business started and how it has grown. Sometimes it does not begin with YOU but with the story about your customer. The opening page of Codori Memorials http://www.codorimemorials.com does just that. It emphasizes that every memorial that is designed tells a story about the person, about the family, that their company cares about more than just getting the names and dates onto a piece of granite. The opening page also gives all the essential information: location, hours, how to contact them. It is a beautiful marriage of fact and fiction that tells THEIR story as it invites you to become part of theirs.
Theme: This can be your mission statement, your promise to deliver, the articulation of what you have to offer your clients. A well-known men’s clothier promises, “You’re going to like the way you look.” Simme Valley Estates http://www.simmevalleyestates.com promises “Country living with in-town convenience.” It then goes on to SHOW the ways that is so with maps, model homes, interior and exterior features. With just a few clicks, it shows potential buyers all the reasons why it is a desirable community.
These are just some of the ways that good design helps you tell your story. Good design recognizes that an effective website does more than just give the facts.