A website is a tool to help you create more life and/or connect with people.
It should be a way to facilitate change or sharing in some way. To the degree that we get clear on ourselves and our purpose, we can create a website that succeeds.
This will help you to see your website through the filter of one of the most important self-help books I have personally read. The Seven Habits of Effective People written by Stephen R Covey.
His mission is to empower and educate people about the things in life that are truly important and constant.
“There are three things in life that are constant. Change, Choice and Principles.”
Stephen R Covey
Stephen Covey on Choosing Success
So here I re-interpret The 7 Habits through the filter of creating and developing a website:
Habit 1 – Be Proactive
A good website takes the initiative and does not wait for the ok from the world to start or beg for any kind of special treatment. It is driven by a passion and sense that we can create our own destiny.
In a sense it means to be focusing on empowerment and drive. That ethic will filter into everything it represents whether it is a personal blog or a company website. The presentation, content and tone will be clear, unapologetic and confident.
Habit 2 – Begin With The End In Mind
Once you know where the site is going you can design it to suite that aim. Most people do it the other way around. i.e. Make it look cool and then hope that it fulfills the vague plans you may or may not have.
This means you avoid complacency and always look to improve and develop your site. It also suggests knowing who your audience is and not trying to appeal to everyone.
Habit 3 – Put First Things First
This means having the courage to put aside petty desires and whims and place your emphasis on what tells your story and/or communicates to your visitors most eloquently.
An obvious hierarchy, without any extra baggage means that your site will signal clearly what it is and who it is for.
Your site will be easy to read and have clear navigation with a minimum of flashy graphics and unexpected pages and/or pop ups.
Habit 4 – Think Win/Win
The spirit of Win/Win is vital to the success of any website. If you enter into your web project only thinking of what you want, it will come across as being self-absorbed small time and in a word, boring.
You must be able to provide some tangible benefit to the reader and provide solutions to their perceived problems. At the very minimum your site should be entertaining.
Habit 5 – Seek First To Understand and then to be Understood
Create a dialogue in which your visitors are encouraged to submit comments and suggestions. Be open to criticism and feedback.
Poll your visitors and give them incentives for doing so. This information is vital and if taken on board will endear your visitors to you. Once you understand your visitors views and concerns you can edit and refine you copy and site taglines to speak to these issues.
If your site visitors feel understood they will automatically be open to you and your message.
TIP: Create a free download that provides a simple solution to some of their main fears and or concerns and people will begin to think of you as a trusted adviser.
Habit 6 – Synergize
Together with your growing tribe you can work on soving your primary problems in a more elegant way than if you did it alone. Ask for involvement and input. Some may give useful criticism. Others may interact more often and passionately. These people are going to share your message with friends as well as help you grow.
It’s more fun working with a team that includes your customers anyway.
Habit 7 – Sharpen The Saw
Take time out to leave the computer and live! Breathe and stretch. Open your mind to new possibilities and options. Go for a run and listen to inspirational music or audio books. Watch Ted.com and draw in their spirit of innovation and discovery.
This new fresh you will bring more life and passion to the project. It will be there when you get back anyway and you will feel so much better for it. You could also remind your people and customers to do the same thing!
How do you see these principles or habits apply to the process of creating an effective website that complements your marketing strategy?