You Actually Can't Have It All

I know what you're thinking.  What do you mean I can't have it all?  I can hear the slightly panicked note in your voice.  And see the slightly crazed look in your eye.  You're practically glaring at me through the screen.  

Because you - like me - have been brainwashed (I'm looking at you Hollywood) into believing you CAN have it all.  And even worse, you SHOULD have it all.

First what does having "it" all look like?  Well, it's probably a little different for everyone but I think it goes something like this.

You live in a gorgeous spacious dwelling in the location of your choice.  You have a loving, supportive, attractive partner who doesn't have a single annoying habit.  You have well-behaved beautiful children who will be kind, successful people that find a way to make a difference in this world.  You have a practical, yet sporty car (that's also eco-friendly because you totally care about the planet).  You have a perfectly coordinated wardrobe that looks like you stepped out of a fashion magazine (instead of febreezing your jeans and pulling out yet another black t-shirt).  Oh and you love your work and are extremely successful by all traditional societal standards.

You have time for work, parenting, exercise, volunteering, your partner, meditation, your hobbies and your friends.  You lead an exciting social life and of course you jet off to exotic vacations at least twice a year.

Sounds great right?  Isn't that what we're all supposed to be shooting for?  Except I don't know anyone for whom that's a reality.  And if you had time for all of that you would probably have to give up sleep altogether.  Do you know what sleep deprivation does to a person?  Take my word for it - it isn't pretty and you end up the opposite of productive.

So let's agree that we CAN'T have it all and stop trying so damn hard to chase someone else's completely unobtainable fantasy.

Let's use this realization as an opportunity to examine our priorities.  What matters most?  (Clearly for me it's not the wardrobe)  Once you decide what's MOST important (okay you're allowed 2 or 3 things) chase THAT and let everything else fade into the background.  

Now that I've waxed poetic about life - let's take the same principle and apply it to your website.  Specifically your Homepage.  Because this is a HUGE pet peeve of mine.

You can't have it all in life.  And you can't have it all on your Homepage either.

There are a multitude of cluttered Homepages out there.  Multiple columns and boxes and graphics and offers.  Businesses are trying to have it all - right there on one page and it leaves your visitor feeling a little overwhelmed.  Where do I look first?  Where should I click?

A cluttered Homepage that's trying to "have it all" can leave visitors hitting the back button.  Like too many competing voices in a crowded marketplace.  They just want to get the hell out of there.  And all of that amazing copy you just invested in will get lost in the chaos.

Instead of those skillfully engineered words leaping out and drawing in your potential customer; fostering that emotional connection that can pull them in the direction of a sale (or donation) the visitor is overwhelmed by a sea of possibility.  Your visitor is distracted.  And a distracted visitor ignores those carefully crafted messages.  Which is bad news for your sales.

You do NOT want your visitor's eyeballs hop-scotching all over the page trying to decide where to go and what to look at.  And that's only if you're lucky enough to have them actually stay.

Just to recap...

The primary purpose of a Homepage is to clearly and simply explain who you are, what you do and what makes you unique in 5 seconds or less.  The second job is to help your visitor find what they need as quickly as possible.

Your customer's agenda comes first.  And YOUR agenda only gets mentioned after you've satisfied theirs.  Just like if someone was to walk into your store, you'd ask what they were looking for or how you could help right?  You wouldn't just start shouting about a dozen different products and by the way, we're featuring 3 different deals for a limited time only.  That person would turn around and walk right out.  

You need to pick your priorities - just like in life.

And let everything else fade into the background.

Bottom line: the only place you can have it all is the movies.  Where for 2 hours you can live vicariously through a carefully scripted entirely fake world that ends happily ever after.  Just don't get brainwashed.

Because whether it's life or it's your Homepage you need to be very clear about what's MOST important and make those things front and centre.

Then let everything else fade to the background.