What do people mean when they say they want an ‘exciting’ web site?

I’ve been speaking with a few clients recently about the style of their web sites.  There is one word that keeps coming up in conversation – the clients all want their web sites to be ‘exciting’.

What fascinates me as a writer is when I ask them what they mean, they don’t actually know.  Usually, they define ‘exciting’ through being ‘not boring’.  They want pumped up buzzwords, they want cute cliches or variations on the old direct marketing classic … ‘but wait, there’s more!’

But, in web terms, the opposite of ‘not boring’ isn’t ‘exciting’.  It’s ENGAGING.

For example, if I was writing a web site for a funeral home (which I did last year), the reader doesn’t want the web site to be exciting.  They don’t want to read phrases like ‘a wonderful experience’ or ‘everything you’ve ever needed from a funeral home … with pumping music … and a 25% discount … and you get a second coffin for free!’

What the reader wants is for the web site to engage with them at their level, answering their questions and giving them the next step in their process.

That applies REGARDLESS of your industry.  If you’re in tourism – and engaging with someone means exciting them with the experience of staying with you – then do it.  If you’re in manufacturing – and engaging with someone means showing how much time of money you’re saving them – do that as well.

When you’re using a web site to do business – think back to how you ended up doing business with them.  Was it the pizzazz of the copy or was it the value proposition?  Was it the flashing headline or the fact the business/product/service would do a great job for you?  See?

I’m not suggesting being flat or inward-looking with your web copy.  But please, try to avoid being ‘exciting’ for the sake of it.  You’ll turn your web site into the online version of late night TV ads selling the AbCruncher 5000.  And it won’t work for you.  Unless you’re selling AbCruncher 5000s.  In which case, you’ve got bigger problems to deal with.  😉

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