The tale of two websites

Occasionally someone says “I’d love to know what you think of my website.”

No, actually, you probably wouldn’t.

But don’t worry, because I won’t be providing any feedback about your site unless you pay me for it. You see, website analysis is part of what I do for a living. I analyze websites for effectiveness: Do they get across the message the individual or company wants to communicate to the intended audience?

Of course, the criteria for effectiveness vary. Does the accountant’s website look serious and well-organized? Does the artist’s site look creative? Does the interior decorator’s site look fashionable, and show plenty of large pictures of completed projects? Does the photographer’s website put attention on the photography rather than the words? Does the online store site make it a breeze to locate and purchase items? Is the writer’s website crisp and to the point?

This evening a writer I know asked a group of us to take a look at her new professional website. I clicked over to it and groaned. It was so…wrong.

New website? The design, colors, and typeface were tired and 10 years out of date, and the text went on, and on, and on. There was a bio on the “About Me” page, but also lots of redundant bio information on the text-heavy homepage. The headshot was boring. The writing style was bland and wordy. The subheds were corny. Worst of all, the bio of this 50-year-old writer included a long paragraph detailing ho-hum campus activities and student awards from 30 years ago.

No, I’m not going reveal the URL of this sad website. But I’d like you to see the website of a mid-career writer whose online presence is a paragon of effective communication. Oh, and you’ll love her new mystery novel, too.