Do Your Pages Talk TO Customers or AT Customers? Why the subtle shift in message makes all the difference

Successful businesses put their customers first.

It is crucial that the messaging and design of your webpages show that you value your customers, and their satisfaction is your number one goal. In order to begin to build this trust, when people visit your website they need to feel they are speaking to a person.

This means that you must have a conversation with your visitors.

Your webpage personifies your company. But you can’t do this if you don’t talk to people. You need to consider who you are speaking to and try to be relevant to them. Furthermore, the design of your webpage needs to reflect this messaging.

Design is a part of the message; the message is not part of the design.

— Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO, MECLABS Institute

In today’s Quick Win Clinic, waste disposal site Envirolaska has a poor design and doesn’t have any conversational text whatsoever. One might be tempted to alter the design to make the page look better. However, McGlaughlin advises to first get the messaging right, then work on the design. Begin by not only using complete sentences but start a conversation. Offer clear explanations of your service rather than making declarations.

Declaration alienates the customer.

As you watch the video, ask yourself if your webpages are truly putting the customer first. Are you talking TO your prospective customers or talking AT prospective customers? Furthermore, does your design support and enhance your message?

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2 Comments

  1. lauren says

    Can you give an example of language that’s to someone vs at someone? I understand the idea, but unclear how to implement it.

    1. Paul Cheney says

      Hi Lauren,

      I would describe it as a subtle shift in tone. At EnviroAlaska, for instance, there is a quote page. On it they talk AT customers in the title: Request Service Quote.

      1. It’s an imperative sentence. They are commanding the customer to do something.
      2. There’s no reason for anyone to act.

      Talking TO people means being respectful, and giving people reasons to do what you’re asking.

      Hope that helps. Let me know. 🙂

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