By Marianne Gonne
Injecting personality into your website is one of the most effective ways to convey a human touch. Visitors are interested in accessible, unintimidating websites just as we’re drawn to friendly, easy-going people.
But not all of us are blessed with effortless charm. Likewise, many websites exhibit off-putting traits.
Is your website suffering from any of these common “personality disorders”?
1. Narcissism (or, Excessive “Self-Love”)
You can spot a narcissistic website by endless declarations of “we do this” and “we believe in that.”
Yes, you need to convey your vision – but not in a way that leaves your visitors out in the cold. There should be far more statements about “you” rather than “us” or “we.”
Take the emphasis off yourself and speak directly to your customers. It’s all about what you can you do for them.
2. Histrionic (or, Attention-Seeking and Inappropriately Seductive)
Powerful headlines are a great way to grab attention. But don’t make promises you can’t keep.
If you promise your product will make someone rich or happy or skinny, you’d better be able to deliver.
Outrageous claims can ruin reputations. There’s nowhere to hide on the internet – all it takes is one person to find out that your promise was a lie, and you’ll be exposed on review and social network sites.
Forget the attention-seeking histrionics, and focus instead on providing value and building trust.
3. Obsessive-Compulsive (or, Excessive Rigidity)
We’ve all seen obsessive-compulsive or excessively rigid web copy. Something like: “We pride ourselves on our core competency and corporate values.”
Jargon is not just incomprehensible to most of us, it’s also deeply annoying.
Loosen up and learn to write in Plain English, which is all about clarity, brevity, and the avoidance of technical language or “businesses.”
4. Passive-Aggressive (or, Negative Attitudes)
Your website is not the place for doubt or negativity. You’re on the global stage, competing against thousands of other businesses.
That means presenting your company in the best possible light.
If you need to be honest about something, do so in a way that turns a perceived negative into a positive. A perfect example is Avis’s classic slogan: “We’re Number 2, so we try harder.”
Tell your visitors why you’re special, and they just might believe you.
5. Anti-Social (or, Lack of Interest in Social Relationships)
If you haven’t tapped into social media and networking, then you’re not merely anti-social – you’re downright self-sabotaging!
Social media sites are satellites for your main website, working powerfully to:
* Improve your industry clout
* Gain greater control of your online image
* Improve your organic search visibility
* Expand your market
Between Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google +, there’s a good social media fit for even the most reluctant anti-socialite.
You don’t have to master them all. In fact, you shouldn’t. Find the network that best suits your market needs, and engage.
6. Self-Defeating (or, Willfully Choosing to Fail)
Your website is self-defeating if it’s not built around established goals with corresponding calls-to-action. Without these, your site is like a rudderless ship at sea.
On each page there should be clear prompts encouraging your visitors to undertake desired actions. If you’re selling products you need a “buy now” or “add to cart” button. If you have a service, you need “find out more.”
It’s even better if you use incentives such as “sign up for free tips” in order to capture visitors’ email addresses. If you don’t have an opt-in facility, you’re willfully losing sales.
Email is the critical link between casual visitors and future customers. Used effectively, your email list can become one of the highest return assets of your business.
A “Healthy Personality” Website
So how can you ensure your website is free of “personality disorders”?
Here’s a healthy prescription:
* Shine a light on your qualifications, achievements, and creativity.
* Where possible, offer social proof.
* Demonstrate your understanding of your target market.
* Tell stories.
* Prove you care about your audience by asking questions.
* Be proud, but humble.
And always always always put your customers first.
Marianne Gonne is a freelance writer, copyeditor and marketing-savvy wordsmith. She helps writers improve their skills and make more money.