Why Your Website Should Focus on Storytelling, Not Design

Why Your Website Should Focus on Storytelling, Not Design

Why Your Website Should Focus on Storytelling, Not Design

By John Jantsch


Your website is the hub of your online presence, and if that statement isn’t true for your business, it’s time to make some changes.

Your website needs to do some heavy lifting that must extend far beyond the likes of an interactive brochure that many businesses still use today.

It needs to tell a story that is engaging with a hero, a problem, a quest, a call to arms, and a promise of a happy ending. The problem with many sites is that they take an approach with web design as its foundation. With this direction, a business creates a great product or service, develops the processes for marketing that product or service and then hires a designer to create a glamorous set of web pages to display it.

At some point in the process, the decision makers determine they are going to need copy to go with that awesome design, and will eventually need someone to “do SEO.”

I am not alone when I say the path above is a recipe for disaster.

The purpose of your site

Your website must be able to attract the right prospects, as well as build trust, provide information, convert, nurture, and do so without friction or confusion.

It must be built with a narrowly defined ideal customer and a deep knowledge of their challenges and pains, and instant delivery of a strong message of differentiation.

Your site is the voice of your online presence. It must establish an emotional connection with your audience and draw them into your story. It needs to help visitors realize quickly that you understand them, and that you have what it takes to change their current reality.

Remember, this is a process, not just a web page.

Guiding the journey

Today, the buyer has the power and expects to find whatever they are looking for online. They research, read, shop, subscribe, revisit, compare, rate and review throughout their buying process.

Websites today organize behavior which requires strategy, storytelling, research, SEO, intention, and a design that facilitates what people expect from the sites they visit.

A storytelling homepage may include:

  • A message that grabs the reader right where it hurts (strategy message, SEO, trust)
  • Trust markers in the form of testimonials (trust)
  • A story about someone who was helped (proof, education)
  • A scannable description or two about products and services (SEO, education)
  • A story about the person and purpose behind the brand (trust, content)
  • More trust markers (more trust and proof)
  • A picture of what it could be like for the reader (content, aspiration, SEO)
  • Several compelling CTAs (trial, trust, nurture)

Here’s a good example of site that practices this approach. See how much more needs to go into a homepage than just design?

Why conversion matters

Every interaction with your site is a conversion of some sort. When a first-time visitor comes to your site, your goal is to convince them to come back (a conversion). When they come back, your goal is to get them to stay and read some more (also a conversion). When they stick around, your goal is to interest them in specific information that educates (you guessed it, another conversion). You get the picture, there are numerous ways to convert people on your site.

Conversions are tricky because every visitor is different. They have different stories, different knowledge about their problems and your solutions, they’re often at different points in the journey, and they have their own ways of making purchase decisions. The point of the conversion is to help them make the choice that seems right for them.

You must monitor and analyze engagement metrics on your website to understand what’s working and not working. It’s the only way to personalize the journey based on what you learn.

SEO from the beginning

Great web design starts with keyword research. Period.

Keyword research is an invaluable tool when it comes to developing strategy. It not only helps you determine popular search terms, it helps you better understand your ideal client, get a deeper grasp on their problems and intentions, and reveals clues on how they find, research, and source products and services like yours.

This information allows you to create the right structure for your website before you ever start choosing colors and fonts.

Content at the core of your site

Your website is a container for your content. While nice packaging helps a visitor find and consume your content, useful content is what drives the online machine.

Don’t create content for content sake, however. It must be developed with intent. You must have content that helps create awareness, builds trust, educates, converts and even content that stimulates referrals.

With storytelling, you also create context, and that’s the key winning conversion with your content.

Hire a storyteller

As you can see, you can no longer afford to view your website as a design-only process. It must be built with your overall marketing strategy in mind and that starts by engaging a marketing professional who begins with strategy and who can turn your strategy into a story that makes your content the voice of strategy.

If you want to talk to me about this idea send me a note with the text – I want to talk to a storyteller.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Website Design.

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