I’ve been working with a startup that has a platform for creating RSS subscribers and turning them into buyers (more on this soon). The website for accomplishing this has gone through an evolution that is telling and probably typical. We began feeling the need to explain the business and tell a story the moment a site visitor rolled a cursor over the logo on a client site.
We realized that the widget was making an offer, and then throwing up barriers to anyone who might want to take us up on the offer. Now, it’s simply “click here” and get what you want. The results have been dramatic — one site nearly doubling subscriptions in the first day.
There is, as was pointed out to me coincidentally by user experience consultant Bill Dorman, a difference between a website “user” and the site’s “audience.” The user wants what they want on a website and needs a straight, unobstructed path to fulfill that want. They don’t want storytelling, they don’t want excess information.
The audience, on the other hand, wants your story. They want to “get” the brand and discover more about you and your world. What the startup realized was that at this stage, we don’t need an audience, we need users.
The first challenge is to serve the user what they need, and facilitate the conversation with the audience. The real trick is to turn your audience into users, and to bring your users into the conversation.