Why you need to be clear on your website

First interactions with potential customers are extremely important. When someone comes to your website, you need to be clear about who you serve and what problem you solve. If someone does not find that information immediately, it’s very likely they won’t stick around long enough to find out. Be clear, not clever. One simple way to do this is avoid using sliding words.

clear and clean workspace

How my LDS mission taught me to be clear


I served a mission in Atlanta, Georgia. I was called to be English speaking, but about halfway through my mission I was switched to Spanish speaking.


That was a fun challenge and such a blessing in my life to be able to learn how to speak Spanish. But it also created some interesting situations since I didn’t speak Spanish initially and I was dropped right in to Spanish speaking homes.

My companion had been speaking Spanish for about six weeks and she had been taught from somebody who was native to Mexico but serving in Atlanta, Georgia. My companion only had six weeks with her and then she had to teach me. It made for some interesting situations.


One was that our Branch President, he used to say to me, “No hay de queso, no mas de papas.” If you speak Spanish, you’re probably laughing a little bit because you know that doesn’t really mean much in Spanish.  In Spanish, you can say “No hay de que,” and it basically means “no problem. Don’t worry about it.


But the word “Queso” means cheese and in their culture, you may actually hear the phrase “No hay de queso, no mas de papas”  which means “there’s no cheese, there’s only potatoes.” This might be used at a market where you’re buying tacos or gorditas or sopas, something like that. The vendors are more likely to run out of cheese before they run out of potatoes because potatoes are cheaper. So you might hear that phrase there, but this really isn’t something you hear very often.


So, instead of saying to us, “No hay de que” the Branch President would say, “No hay de queso, no mas de papas“.  I didn’t know what he was saying because he used it like you would use “No hay de que.” I thought it meant “no problem. No worries.” He was being cute and clever and he thought it was hilarious to hear me then say that phrase to other native Spanish speakers. When they said, “Oh, I’m so sorry” and I would say “No more cheese, just potatoes” They’d give me this look like, “What?”


Why you need to be clear on your website


In your marketing, it is always better to be clear than clever. You may have heard the Spanish fable where a young woman got up to bear her testimony and she thought she was saying, “I’m embarrassed and it’s the Bishop’s fault.” But in embarazada in Spanish means pregnant. So, “I’m pregnant and it’s the Bishop’s fault.”


Who knows if that really happened, but it makes for a fun story. And back to my naivete and saying “No hay de queso,” it was clever. It was cute. It was laughable, but it was not clear! In your marketing, you absolutely must be clear. 


If you can be clever and fun and cute AND be very, very clear that’s okay. But that is extremely rare. And in your marketing, you must, you must be clear. The words you use must be clear.


It’s especially important when somebody has just found you, Their first interactions with you must be extremely clear. As they get to know, like and trust you, you can be a little bit more cute and clever because they already know what you do. They already know how you can help them. Those first introductions to you must be clear. I want you to avoid clever and cute and try to be very clear.


Two real life examples of why you need to be clear


Let me give you a few examples. Recently, my family and I decided to put in an in-ground trampoline. I Googled “in-ground trampolines” and I want to tell you the very first thing I saw as I clicked on two of these websites. One website, the very first thing it said was “Engineered for safety. Fun guaranteed.”


Well, I was searching for trampolines. So I might assume that they’re talking about trampolines, but that phrase could apply to anything. It’s kind of clever, right? For engineering and for safety, but the fun is still guaranteed. But that could be said of a rollercoaster. It could be said of a hoverboard. It could be said of anything. And so it’s not very clear.


I’m looking for somebody who can install an in-ground trampoline in my backyard in Utah county. I looked at their website and I could not tell immediately if they sold parts, if they did the install, if it was a DIY kit, if it was just trampolines, if it was above ground or in-ground trampolines, I couldn’t even tell if it was trampolines initially. Their tiny little logo up in the top left showed me that it was trampolines, but that did not draw my eye initially. I had to look for it.


Second website I went to said “Safe and secure in-ground trampoline installation.” I immediately knew I was on the right website. Right underneath that it said “Utah and Salt Lake county.”


Super clear. I knew I was on the right website. Maybe at that point they could get a little bit more clever. If they said after that “engineered for safety. Fun guaranteed,” that would be a little bit different. The initial interaction must be clear.


I have another example. I Googled “small business accountant.” Now, I don’t need an accountant. I have one, he is fantastic, but for the purposes of this podcast episode, I Googled small business accountant.


 On the very first website, the largest thing on their website, drew my eyes directly to it was “let us help find the right fit.” I had no idea what they were talking about and I was almost certain I was not on the page for a small business accountant. “Let us help find the right fit.” Is it clothing? Is it the right fit for somebody I can date? I had no idea. 


The next one said “small business and tax accounting in Utah.” Bam. I knew exactly what I was looking at. Super clear. I knew I was in the right place. I’m going to continue reading that website.


Next one was “powerful tax strategies.” Okay. That’s a little better than the first. At least I knew it was about tax, but I didn’t know if it was for small businesses and the fact that it’s talking about powerful tax strategies made me think it was talking more about corporate. So they’re trying to get a little bit clever with words like powerful and strategy, but it just wasn’t clear enough for me to know exactly what I was going to find on that website.


Why you need to stop using sliding words on your website


And then the last website I found had a slider on it. Meaning, the very first thing I read was “All your accounting, payroll” and then the slider moved. And I couldn’t finish reading what was on that page because the slider moved. Please do not ever put sliding words on your website, especially at the very top of your homepage. Don’t do it. It is frustrating and confusing for your visitors.


So I read “all your accounting, payroll,” and then it moved. I didn’t know what it said. The next thing said, “See Ken Cleaver answer Matt Gephart” and then it went back to the first one. So at the end of that, first one, it says “all your accounting, payroll and tax needs under one roof.” That’s pretty clear, still doesn’t say small business, but it was pretty clear. BUT, I couldn’t read it all. before it moved.


And then the second slide, the full thing it said there was “See Ken Cleaver answer Matt Gephart’s tax questions.” Okay. Again, that’s pretty clever. That’s a cool thing, but I still don’t know that you can help me.


See how they’re trying to be cute and clever and fancy, and they’re sacrificing their clarity? It takes more time for their website visitors to dig and figure out if they can really help them with their problem. Please always choose clear over clever, especially at the top of your homepage.


I promise that if you make this one change, you will see an increase in conversions. Whether that’s more email signups, more purchases, or more followers. When you are clear, you will increase your conversion rate.

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This post originally aired as an episode of The Goodness Squad podcast. New episodes are no longer being recorded, but you can still listen to past episodes on your favorite podcast app.

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