It’s Not Me, It’s You

Imagine clicking over to the Sears web site (, and instead of seeing today’s product specials and links to various departments on the top page, you were instead treated to an in-depth examination of the Sears mission statement.

Or, what if you visited the Boston Globe web site (, and instead of seeing today’s headlines up front, you saw a picture of the newspaper’s editor and a summary of her qualifications.

Obviously, these are ridiculous examples. Why would web sites that exist to sell products or provide news coverage, hide this important stuff behind a wall of boring, self-promotional information?

I have no idea. But this is exactly what many companies do.

Instead of organizing their home page from the perspective of, “What’s best for our visitors?,” many sites lead with information about themselves, and clutter the top page with photos of the founders, mission statements, press releases and elephant-sized logos. Many sites today even have an “opening Flash demo” (a short animation that plays before the home page comes up), that is of little interest to anyone — with the possible exception of the Vice President of Marketing and his mother.

The result: Visitors find nothing of immediate interest, click away, and never come back.

Fact: The top page of your web site will get five to ten times as much traffic as the second most popular page on your site.(I managed a site a few years back where the top page received three times as much traffic as the entire rest of the site combined.)

If you think about how often you go to a web site, look around, and then click away without digging any deeper, it’s easy to understand why this is the case. It’s also easy to understand why it’s so important to give a great deal of thought to how you use this precious real estate.

Here’s my suggestion: Think about the pieces of content and functionality within your web site that are the most useful or interesting or relevant to the audience you hope to attract. Is it the interactive appointment scheduler you’ve built? Is it the ability to request a quote or order a brochure? Is it the latest white paper you’ve written on a topic of burning interest to your customers?

Whatever it is, put it front and center on the top of your site, and move the “boring stuff about us” out of the spotlight. Your visitors will stay longer, and will thank you for putting their interests first!

My regards to your mother.

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