The Design Division

Why Are Service Websites So Dull?

If you have a physical product to sell online, then you can use images to give customers a good indication of what it is they’re buying. The same can’t be said however for when you’re trying to sell a service. That’s why many service websites can seem quite dull. In this blog, we take a look at how you can showcase your services effectively without putting your customer to sleep.

Hmmm. It’s a tricky one. The advent of the Internet has changed many facets of marketing, but a quick trawl reveals that it has not altered this situation all that much.

Namely, the issue is that when you have a product to sell, ie. a physical, usually 3-D ‘thing’ you have something of visual interest, that can provide good content. It doesn’t have to be a mid-engine sports car either, in the hands of a good photographer even a pencil can look interesting.

When you’re selling service, however, you often don’t have these gifts. True, a restaurant or a hairdresser may still have something to go on but what about financial or legal services? It may be a brilliant insurance policy or bank account, but it’s never going to look that stunning. And this remains as true for the Web as it ever did in the offline world.

The answer?

A touch of lateral thinking is needed. Think benefits, rather than features. In other words, happy couples moving into new homes rather than sheets of A4 paper on desks. A word of warning, though. Be wary of death by stock image overload. It’s accounted for many a web site. The same clichéd images trotted out again and again won’t do much for your brand. If at all possible, commission some original photography – with real people, preferably the kind of people you’re targeting.

Careful with the copy

The copy is all-important. But some of it is more important than others. With service websites, often selling complex ‘products’ like legal or technical services, there can be a tendency to go into ‘kitchen sink’ mode. Not good. One objective of the website is to stimulate interest and prompt action, usually to contact the company. For this, you need to provide significant content but you don’t need to include everything – that should be left for the hopefully subsequent face-to-face meeting.

Too much content can mean prospective customers can’t see the wood for the trees, and miss important features because they don’t want to wade through block after block of text to find it.

As I say, focus on benefits rather than features, ie what’s in it for them. Use headings, sub-heads and bullet points to break up text. Include some imagery to add visual interest, and be imaginative with fonts, bolds and italics. If you really do have to include a weighty amount of information, then break up into separate pages and sections. There’s no tight limit on the overall size of a site, but there is a limit as to how much people can assimilate on one page.

No jacket required

Remember we’re in the 2010’s now. Naturally, a company wants to look professional and authoritative, but accept that the world has moved on. We’re less formal than in days of yore. These days the PM even shows up on TV without a tie, while ‘hip’ characters like Richard Branson are business heroes. Web copy should be more conversational, and often written in the first person.

Brevity – not abbreviation

Another word of warning. Many technical sites read like acronym city. The computer industry is particularly guilty of this. You can’t assume that visitors will understand everything, even if they’re professionals.

For more insights into web marketing, call 0845 230 4810.