How to design your website the Home Depot way

When you walk into Home Depot (or CostCo), there are so many different ways to find exactly what you are looking for. They might not be the prettiest stores, but there are signs and people everywhere to help you get exactly what you need. Your website should function this same way. Pretty websites are great, but a pretty website is not what helps people know how you can help them. 

Resources mentioned in this post:

woman shopping for the right thing

How your website is like Home Depot 


I get lost in Home Depot. Anyone else?


I can buy a fridge, but ask me to go find a Robertson screwdriver and you’re going to get a blank stare. I’m sure that there are many of you who can completely relate to this and there are probably others of you who are giggling a little bit about how little I know about home improvement.


I need a guide inside of Home Depot, otherwise I get lost. I get frustrated. Sometimes I even get angry and annoyed and I leave hoping that I never have to come back again or at least not very soon. Your website is like Home Depot and your website visitors are like me.


My dad is a rocket scientist. He has built rockets for many, many years. He has been a part of many projects and received top awards from NASA. He is incredibly intelligent and yes, sometimes that intelligence can be somewhat intimidating, but it has also been wonderful for our family.


He can build almost anything else. He grew up building houses. He fixes his own cars. He’s always working on some type of project and he always knows the answer. 


My dad recently retired from his job as a rocket scientist, but he can’t sit still. His dream retirement job is to work at Home Depot. Why? Well, because he loves helping people find the best possible solution to a problem that they have.


You need to build a deck? He’ll help you compare all the options and pick the best one. You need to fix the toilet? He’ll help you diagnose the problem, figure out if it’s something you can fix on your own, get you the supplies and tools you need to fix it. Or he’ll tell you when you might need to hire up.


Your website is like Home Depot. You are like my dad and your site visitors are like me, a Home Depot customer who knows nothing about home improvement. You, the patient, knowledgeable, and caring Home Depot worker – you know where everything is on your website, but I’m lost.


I come into Home Depot and I just need some nails. The signs, they help me find the nail aisle, but I walk into that aisle and I’m stumped and overwhelmed and confused because I had no idea that there were 50 plus types of nails. I’m embarrassed to ask a worker for help because I don’t want to admit that I didn’t know there were more than three types of nails, but I need the right type of nails.


So, I’m awkwardly trying to describe my project to a Home Depot worker. He’s kind of trying not to giggle. But my dad, he’d have noticed my distress before I even had to ask him. And he wouldn’t have even been tempted to giggle at my very simple questions. He would have come over and made me feel comfortable, normal, and welcome.


He’d anticipate the issues. He’d think of things that I wouldn’t have even  known should have been a question. And he’ll patiently guide me. He won’t give too much info because he doesn’t want me to feel the overwhelm that I felt when I saw that there were 50 types of nails.


Your website is like Home Depot. You are like my dad, you are the guide. And I am like your website visitor.


What if I went into Home Depot and there were no signs of what was in each aisle? I’d be even more confused and frustrated! Or what if those signs were in a different place? We all look for the signs up above, right? If you go to Walmart, Smith’s or Home Depot, the signs that tell you what are in an aisle are up above.


What if Home Depot decided to be clever and they wanted to be different and stand out? So they put the signs at the very bottom of the aisle. You wouldn’t even know to look there and you would be frustrated.


You have to think about your visitors when building your website


When you just throw a website up without any thought about who will visit or what they’re looking for or where they’ll be looking for it, you aren’t serving your audience when you decide that you want to be cute or clever.


So you put your menu in a fun place and it looks super cool, you aren’t serving your visitor. You’re confusing and frustrating them when you use really big words on your website. Say you’re a photographer and you use the word aperture on your website. It’s like the Home Depot worker who’s trying not to giggle while I’m asking my very simple questions.  He makes me feel uncomfortable, like maybe I don’t really belong there.


Remember if you want to serve your visitors, you need to be like my dad. You need to be patient. You need to be simple. You need to be clear. You need to give little bits of information at a time. You need to ask lots of questions.


This is how we create a website that is actually a service to our readers, a website that makes them feel welcomed. That makes them feel normal. That helps them get the answers they need and walk out of Home Depot with confidence that they are going to be able to solve their problem.


Why it’s not all about a pretty website


You need this mindset because we are going to be talking about website design in an entirely new way. We are not going to be focusing on how to create the most beautiful website out there. I have nothing against beautiful websites. I love them. They make great first impressions visually, but Home Depot isn’t successful because they have a beautiful store.


Their store is not that beautiful. Neither is Costco’s. Their stores are successful because they understand their customers which allows them to help more people. They have signs in the right place.  They employ workers like my dad who care and are patient and can help you solve your problem. That is the type of website I want you to build.


I want you to build a website that welcomes people, that makes them feel normal, even though they have a problem that guides them to the best possible solution for their problem. A website that patiently gives them a little bit of information at a time. That is the type of website that is going to allow you to truly serve and help more people. It is also the type of website that will make you money. 


Here’s the thing, there are way too many women out there who build websites that are simply beautiful websites that do not serve their people. And I want to fix this. It’s a real problem, and I want to fix it for you. And I want to fix it for other women, like you.


If you or someone you know is struggling with tech or design issues on your website, then Tech Check is where you need to be. That’s where I can help you, for free.

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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 listen to past episodes on your favorite podcast app.

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