You’ve probably been there: You’re having a conversation with someone and they’re going on and on about a something that happened to them, or a problem they’re having. You’re listening attentively and waiting to share your perspective. But as soon as you do, they quickly shift the conversation back to them. At that point, you check out.
It’s a classic conversational pattern. As human beings, as much as we aspire to be others-focused we’re trapped inside our own heads. Our focus innately settles on how we see things and how things affect us. It’s our nature: The “I” or “me” is always in the foreground.
That’s a concept too often overlooked when it comes to organizational websites—whether business or nonprofit. You may have a fantastic site with a cool design and catchy copy, but if you’re not focusing directly on the visitor your website is falling flat.
The Secret Ingredient For Cooking Up A Successful Website
The one thing too many websites are missing is the “you”. There’s a lot of talk about “us” and what “we” can do, but there’s not a lot about how those things help “you”. How they make your life easier, save you time and money, or benefit your life or business.
It’s the equivalent of the conversation discussed above—except your organization is the one yammering on and on with disregard for the other person in the conversation. As a result, your website visitors are checking out.
How Can You Sprinkle In This Ingredient To Improve Your Site?
If you already have strong core content on your site that says everything you want to say, most of the time it’s not too hard to add in the “you”. You just have to look at each page of your site and shift the focus. Here’s an example of how to do that.
Example of how to shift from “we”-focused to “you”-focused content:
We spent years developing our innovative process to create shelving that holds more weight for industrial warehouses.
Have you struggled to find shelving for your warehouses to hold your heavier items? Eliminate that problem with our innovative shelving that enables you to store all your items—no matter how much they weigh.
How Does The “You” Concept Apply To Nonprofit Websites?
If you’re a nonprofit, you may see the example above and think this doesn’t really apply to your website. After all, you have to tell people about what you’re doing to make a case for support, right? Sure, but there are different ways you can frame it.
As any seasoned fundraiser knows, the reasons people give aren’t always about simply helping “them”. It’s also in large degree about the “you”. How can “I” help? How is “my” contribution making a difference? How is supporting this cause going to make “me” feel?
These are all thoughts that typically go through the mind of the donor—whether consciously or subconsciously. By appealing to the “what’s in it for me” mindset, you having a better chance of connecting with donors.
Here’s a nonprofit example of shifting the focus to the “you”:
Through our Feeding Nations program, we provide food to struggling communities trapped in dire poverty on all seven continents.
By supporting the Feeding Nations program, you will play an important role in helping to feed starving families around the globe.
The “we” is even more dangerous on nonprofit websites because it creates a feeling that it’s about the organization—rather than the cause, the volunteers, and the donors. Unlike businesses, nonprofits want to create a sense of teamwork and collective effort. Focusing on the “you” as opposed to the “we” will definitely help you do that.
Does Your Website Have The Right Ingredients For Success?
If your website has this problem, don’t feel too bad. It’s incredibly common. In fact, there are probably more “we”-based sites out there than “you”-based websites. They important thing is simply recognizing the problem and correcting it.
Here are some tips to help you quickly check to see if the “you” is missing from your site, and how you can work to fix it:
- Go through your website and count the “we’s” and the “you’s” in the content. If you have more “we” than “you”, you have a problem. A good ratio is 2:1 “you’s” to “we’s”.
- Just using the word “you” isn’t enough. You have to make sure your site really speaks to your customer/donor needs and pain points.
- Have someone in your target audience take a look at your site and tell what does and does not speak to them. What content do they care about? What is meaningless to them?
Like a recipe, creating a powerful and impactful website involves a number of different ingredients. You have to make sure they’re all included in the right amounts. If you make the mistake of leaving out the “you” or not including enough of it, your site is all but guaranteed to leave your visitors with a bad taste in their mouths.