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The Three Purposes of a Website: Brand, Product, & Information

Last Updated on Mar 14, 2011 by Jeff Lew

Believe it or not, many startups have a website, but do not truly understand what it is for. I’ve
seen startups that buy a domain and then put their software at that domain. No homepage – and
no explanation of who they are and what they do. Talk about confusing! I’ve also seen websites
that only have a homepage and try to put so much information on that page that you would have
to scroll down forever just to read it all. The typical person can only realistically take in about five
to seven things at a time. After that, it doesn’t even make it to the brain. So why overload your
visitors with a bunch of excess?

So let’s start with the basics. What is the purpose of a website? The real purpose of a website
is to build a brand image, sell a product (or service), and to gather information (to better position
yourself) to later sell your product or service.

A website should build the brand image. This is a concept that all business undergraduates
learn in their marketing class. Some corporations use a website to provide information to their
stockholders. A professional-looking website is key for a corporation to show to the visitor
that they provide a premium brand. What investor would want to invest in a poorly designed
website? Not many. Regardless of if your website is selling a product or not, you must maintain
at all times your brand image. This is the most important point to take home.

Second, a website should sell the product. Look at it this way: You can spend all of your time
online marketing and selling your product, or you can get a great website up and running and let
it take care of the online selling. Your website should be your salesman. It is important that you
duplicate your efforts with a website that effectively tells prospective visitors who you are, what
you do, and why your service is better than the other guy’s. If you get your website working for
you, then you can spend your time doing what you should be doing: Running the business.

Third, a website can be used to gather information. In this case, a website can be used to
gather leads. The best situation you can be in is where a visitor freely gives you his email
address. This is called an “opt-in” lead. These are important to get so you can provide more
information to this prospect down the road. A good example of this would be if you have a
product or service that is in the works, but not yet ready for final release. By creating buzz about
it on your website, visitors can opt-in to provide their email so they can be the first to get a hold
of this product.

So now you know the three main reasons for a website, you can have a more purposeful focus
when selecting content for your site. Building your brand image, selling a product, and gathering
information are the main reasons a startup should have a website. Hopefully this will help you
boost your brand and get you headed in the right direction.

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