Web content gets scanned, not read. Remember that your reader has a goal.

That goal isn't entertainment. It's the answer to a question. How should I understand my problem? Can this company help me with it? What's my next step?

Yes, sometimes the reader wants information, and in those cases, you should provide it. But, all too often, web pages provide neither guidance nor information, just a lot of vague boasting.

Prove your value through clarity, don't just claim it.


Website: facility capital planning services

This company had strong expertise both in on-the-ground building inspections and in financial modeling. It wanted to get both of these parts of its character out, while clearly delineating its services, particularly as it sought to expand to new building types.

I interviewed extensively to get their own sense of themselves, and wrote all the copy on the site. The Our Work page catches what they feel makes them distinctive.

 

Product pages: life sciences market data

Companies overestimate how attractive product descriptions are to potential clients. Still, there will come a time when a prospect wants a quick summary of a product. Don't boast about how great it is. Focus on what it does.

Product page: medical device markets

Unless you had the sense to name your product after what it does, you need a tagline up top that lets the reader know. You think it's obvious what your product does? It isn't.

Subheads make it scannable, and may be all someone reads before deciding between no and maybe. Casual visitors also tend to read any image captions, so make those count.

 

Case study: providing clear product information

At a company that produced reports on medical device markets, a lot of website traffic came from "long tail" search terms, specific to the market being covered, such as "hip implant markets" or "peripheral vascular devices in China".

As each report was posted for client access, an abstract page was generated dynamically from the report boilerplate. The abstracts were long, almost unreadable, and gave no indication that each represented a product that could be purchased.

I reformatted them, gave the report authors style guidelines, and added a response form. This resulted in almost daily queries, up from none before. They had not been getting full value from their content.

Note: these pages were really skinny, formatting limited (no bullets!), and graphics not technically possible.

Report Abstract Page: Before

Problems:

  • No indication anywhere that this is a product available for purchase. Most search traffic came directly to these pages, without going past the homepage or other explanatory materials.
  • Report description is a gigantic block of text.
  • Questions and answers are also packed into blocks
  • Covered market information is just a long, undifferentiated list
  • No means of response provided.

Report Abstract Page: After

Solutions:

  • Clear indication that these reports are available for purchase
  • Short report description
  • Scannable market questions and answers
  • Scannable covered market information in table form
  • The response form was in the right column (not visible in this view)