or is it just pretty?

In my business, I often come across businesses without a website. Almost equally, I find businesses with websites that don't work.

For the former group–businesses without websites–it's pretty easy to convince their owners that they should have a website. After all, your website can work for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 365 days a year.

For the group that already has a website, but it doesn't work, what do I mean by that?

Most paid-for websites function but they don't work. Put another way, they're pretty and offer neat little widgets and gizmos and whatnots, but they don't really act as a silent salesperson for the business.

Of course, if your website had one sole purpose, it would be to sell your products or services. At the very least, it would be a lead-capture site, where prospects could find your contact info and store hours.

Let's expand on this a bit.

Having a website has a lot of benefits to a business: It can help you establish your brand, reputation, credibility, expertise, and authority. It can also sell for you 24×7. Plus, it can help you capture prospective leads so that you can be proactive and contact them after they express interest in what you have to offer.

Obviously, there are many good things about having a website. But think of it like this: Your website should serve one sole purpose. And it's a purpose you have to define.

Do you want it to sell for you? Market for you? Capture leads? Be nothing more than a signpost telling people how to contact you?

In other words, what do you want visitors to do once they get to your site? If you want them to leave their contact info, then your website serves the purpose of lead-gen and you can market to them via direct mail, telephone, and/or email.

If, on the other hand, you want them to pick up the phone, then your website really is functioning as a receptionist or telephone operator/greeter.

You can extend these scenarios to define many more roles your website could fill.

So, ask yourself this: When a visitor comes across your site, what action do you want them to take? (And, by the way, it could be multiple things–just make darned sure you don't get too scattered in your focus.)

What is the one next thing you want them to do? You are trying to sell them on something–their next action.

THAT is the purpose of your website.


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  • Most often then not the purpose of a site is to get your trust on a subject that is common to both the owner / company and the visitor. It seems that some sites want to give advice or help with some type of training and others want to sell you on a product or service. Either way the internet was based on sharing and there is going to be a lot of obstacles to keeping it from openly sharing. Some things like movies and records are already at full on battle mode when in comes to digital sharing. It will be a long a hard war for those involved as the advantage is clearly on the outside. Yet the money will soon disappear for those who are not embracing the inside track (mainstream) of the digital marketplace. Sorry to go off topic here, yet the purpose of a site has so many options. Good post 

  • IMO (and this is a real 30k-foot view here…but I'm just talking basic principle), the purpose of *any* website should be to get its viewer – the potential customer – one step closer to pulling out their wallet and spending money with you.
    How it does this will vary wildly depending on the niche, business, type of site, product or service offered, etc.  (A site for a local plumber will have a totally different plan of action than a squeeze page for your info product.)
    Of course, that's NOT to say you shouldn't be providing massive value to your reader – b/c you should.  Just be sure that the value you provide doesn't end up just being for nothing.

  • @ davenose–totally agree. Lots of purposes, but put generically, it's to get your visitor to take the next step, whatever that step may be. The point is that you, the website owner, ought to be guiding the visitor down a specific path–the patch YOU choose, not them.

  • @ matt–Yep! It's great to be a nice guy but damn, you shouldn't subscribe to the adage, "Nice guys always finish last!" Because if you do, you're the nice guy and your last 🙂

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