While just about every one of my clients would like to have a more dynamic home page, figuring out how to make this happen can be a mystery. By dynamic, my clients are usually referring to more movement: they want something animated on their website, that draws the eye. One common way to accomplish this is to add a photo slider to your home page. But what should you include in the slider?
At the Mighty Little Web Shop, we include an optional slide show feature in our professional services WordPress theme. Clients can add imagery and captions to this slide show, yet they invariably get stuck on the content. Their first guess is typically inexpensive stock photos or personal portraits. I see a lot of websites with unhelpful, and sometimes even unprofessional photos. I hear often that “no one is going to want to read all those words, add some photos!” There is a common misconception about text vs. photos — people think that websites SHOULD be graphic-rich, with the argument that visitors connect with photos, not words. This isn’t exactly true. When I’m vetting a $17,000 consultant, you better believe that I’m going to read every word — twice, in fact. Words matter.
However, there is some truth that images engage. Chosen carefully, they can set a mood or tone. They can suggest what the site is about. Case in point, when I’m thinking about buying a new coat, I want to see what it looks like. Further, I’m more drawn to a coat shown on a person (such as on the Eileen Fisher website), than a coat silhouetted on a white background (such as on the J Peterman website). I can see how it hangs and imagine myself in the coat more easily. In this case, an image makes sense. If I’m considering donating to a charitable cause, seeing who my donation serves, and how my donation helps, persuades me to donate more. If I’m buying a stand-up desk, I want to see a picture of it, to see how it works.
Professional services are different, when it comes to images. Unless there is an obvious and visual result to your service, it might be best to leave images off your home page. If you sell cosmetic surgery services, showing beautiful, flawless faces is inspiring, and therefore makes sense. If you sell accounting services, showing pencils, tax forms, and calculators does little to inspire or sell. You’d be better off articulating your brand positioning in your slide show, or listing your services (or better yet, the results of your services). If you sell management consulting services, showing people can actually be a liability. Chances are your clients are diverse, and any stock photo will not accurately reflect who you serve. Many service professionals put photos of themselves on their home page. And while this isn’t wrong, it also isn’t helpful. In order to market effectively, your website should reflect your clients, not you: your prospects should see themselves in your website. Showing a picture of yourself on your about page makes perfect sense. Anywhere else might not be particularly helpful in selling your services. If your services result in something beautiful and tangible, then the answer is easy. A web designer can show a portfolio of websites, an architect can show a portfolio of kitchens or buildings, and a landscaper can show beautiful photos of walkways and yards. Certain professional services can establish a mood using images. For instance, my acupuncturist could show a spa-like setting with candles and flowers to better convey how her services are delivered (I thought it would be more clinical, not peaceful and spa like!). Here are a few ideas to consider if photos wouldn’t make sense for your slideshow.
You could work with your graphic designer to create slides that contain marketing messages reversed out of your brand color, and beautifully typeset. We designed a slide show for a client who writes proposals for federal government contractors earlier this year. For instance:
- Articulate your target market (I work with professional service firms).
- Articulate the service that you offer (I design and build websites that attract more clients).
- Articulate the result (These websites are designed to provide a steady stream of new clients).
- Articulate how you are different than your competitors (You can purchase the services you need most, right now, without a huge investment).
List of Services
Alternatively, each slide can feature a service you offer, along with the benefit and the price. For instance, if I were to list my services, it would look something like this:
- WordPress Quickstart $1,000: Get your website up quickly and easily and start attracting new clients this month.
- Logo/banner $1000: We can refresh your current logo, or create a new, type-based logo, and then custom design your banner.
- Social media $1000: We can help you to professionally brand your social channels, based on your established brand.
You could speak directly to the pain of your prospects/clients on your slide show. We helped a wardrobe stylist with her WordPress slide show this summer. Alternatively, the Mighty Little Web Shop slide show might say:
- Is your website hurting your credibility?
- Have you tried to create your own website, and it didn’t turn out as well as you hoped?
- Have you stopped looking at your website, out of embarassment, and hope that your clients don’t see it?
- Do you struggle to try to figure out who to hire: a web developer? a web designer? a brand marketer? a marketing specialist?
- Are you concerned with the price of a new website,and how to hire the right person?
- Are you still annoyed with the way your last website turned out?
Your slider could simply provide social proof. You can let your past clients speak for you.
Whatever you decide, choose carefully, and always with a strong marketing strategy in mind. If you don’t know what should go into your WordPress Slide show, it’s best to deactivate it until you do. Make sure the show strengthens your credibility and connects to your prospects. If you need some help with this, take a look at our slide show design service on at mightylittlewebshop.com.