You’ve probably figured out by now I’m a big proponent of “less is more.” And Allison Graham’s website, which I talk about in the latest episode of “What’s Missing From This Message?,” is a great example of it.
Whether you watch the video or look at her website now (she’s continued to tweak the site since I made the recording), you can how she uses a few “less is more” techniques that would benefit anyone’s website:
- She opens with a headline that clearly articulates an outcome her audience is already looking for. This quickly establishes relevance (“Yes, that’s me!”), and then curiosity (“How?!”).
- She indicates how she can help her audience achieve that outcome (she references her problem-solving framework). This helps make her message concrete (“I have an actual way to do this”) and builds additional curiosity (“What’s the framework? How does it help me achieve those things?”). The audience now has her minimum viable message: how she delivers something people want, via a means they don’t expect.
- Notice that she uses no jargon or proprietary language “above the fold” (what you can see onscreen without scrolling). In the previous version, she introduces a great metaphor (which I still love), but in her follow-on edits, she’s focused her message even more clearly on outcome and approach.
- She uses a succession of six sentences to create her minimum viable case that the design dictates you read in order (which I think is brilliant). In the video version, she’s using a metaphor to do this. In the current version, she’s explaining it directly in these sections:
- Here’s what your world looks like right now (this helps narrow her audience to those whose experience matches up)
- This is what will likely happen if things continue this way (this likely confirms her audience’s suspicions, narrowing them further, and helps establish her credibility, as it’s written from the perspective of someone who’s seen where the issues in the first sentence can lead)
- I don’t solve this the way you might think I do (this immediately sets her apart and again creates curiosity)
- Here’s the point of view my approach represents (notice she isn’t saying what she does here, she’s defining what drives it)
- Here’s how my approach connects with your desired outcomes (this links the copy to the opening and creates curiosity to learn more about it)
- Here’s what the results will be, even above and beyond what you were looking for (this helps move from the promise, “I can help you solve X problem,” to possibility—”You’ll gain Y and Z, too.”
- She sums all of that up in the headline of a new section (this both summarizes the previous section and connects the next one tightly to what’s she’s said before)
- She adds a video for reinforcement and variety (the video covers a lot of the same ground of her copy, but by doing it in video form, she’s confirming the information she’s shared so far, and adding the additional information of how you feel about Allison after watching and hearing from her directly)
- She follows that main intro with a call to action (she probably could have introduced the CTA earlier, but I like it here, as it represents the first opportunity for someone to confirm they like what they’ve seen and heard)
- She includes a series of relevant, high-level testimonials as a bridge to more specific information (at this point, if someone is intrigued by Allison’s approach, they likely want to get some confirmation of others’ experiences and impressions; that helps validate both the audience’s curiosity and Allison’s approach)
- She gives a high-level and visual summary of her approach (the copy gives her a chance to add in additional benefits—you’ll be able to use this approach on multiple topics—and to confirm the results; the visual gives people a quick introduction to the topics and how they connect [I’d still like to see a little more information on what those three steps entail])
- She places her bio after she’s finished presenting her message, and gives you an option for how much you see (she leads with what her audience cares about most: how she’s going to solve their problems; if they’re interested in that, then they’ll want to know more about her)
- She follows with a high-level outline of her offerings (this lets the audience say, “I have that problem, I intrigued by your solution, I believe you’re the right person… now tell me how I can work with you.”)
- She ends on a simple call to action (this repeats the earlier CTA, but now, by using the calendar link, she’s making it ultra-clear what the next step is and making it ultra-simple to take it)
The reason her website does “less is more” so well is that, for Allison, “less” isn’t just about the number of words. It’s about the meaning of them. Even more importantly, Allison understands that she needs to lead with what the audience cares about and in the order they care.
After all, for Allison’s website and yours, it’s the audience that needs to take action, so it’s their needs that should dictate what you say, where, when, and how.Less isn't just about the number of words. It's about the meaning of them. Click To Tweet
Please note that many of the links are affiliate links, which means if you buy a thing I link to, I get a percentage of the cost, and then donate it to charity.
Sometimes one of the benefits of taking a look at someone else’s site is seeing what might be missing from your message, because it isn’t missing in theirs. That’s the case with this week’s episode of What’s Missing From This Message? Where we take a look at Allison Graham’s website. She’s a speaker and author on resilience.
Let’s walk through Allison Graham’s site and see what we can see. All right, first thing, I just love the color of this. I mean, first, visually this feels very different than a lot of sites that you see. So let’s see what she’s got right up top. “Obstacles won’t stop, so we must shift our reaction to obstacles. Then we can feel hope, build resilience and be productive through tough times without destructive stress. I’ll show you how. Let me tell you about the ice cube that became a snowman,” and then, “Scroll to discover.”
The first thing I would say is that the first chunk and the second chunk don’t quite fit together for me. I don’t understand what the connection is between the first piece, the first paragraph, and then the, “Let me tell you about the ice cube that became the snowman.” Now I happen to know, because I’ve seen this site in earlier versions, that it used to just say, “Let me tell you about the ice cube that became the snowman. Scroll down to discover,” and it didn’t have that block up top. So let’s talk about how it exists now and kind of the pros and cons of the two different ways to open it.
The first thing I would say is that I would love to see a separation between, “The obstacles won’t stop. So we must shift our reaction to obstacles,” and then this piece, and particularly the, “I’ll show you how,” because there’s just something strange with the eye tracking that makes it kind of hard to read right now as centered text with all of those pieces to it.
If I apply to this the standard that I try to apply whenever I’m looking at a message, which is, does it tell me immediately either something that I want and/or a way to get it that I don’t expect? It does, but the emphasis on the things that I want are actually in the black text, and so they’re probably not what I would see first or read first. I’d probably skip from white text to white text.
The stuff in the black text the, “Feel hope, build resilience, and be productive through tough times without destructive stress,” those are the things that I want, and I’m excited that she’s going to show me how. But again, this kind of combination to then event immediately go to, “Let me tell you about the ice cube that became the snowman,” it just feels like a strange combination of things here.
I think there’s lots she can do here to make this flow a little bit better. The first thing I would suggest is potentially drop the black text out of here so that people go from reading, “Obstacles won’t stop, we must shift our reaction to obstacles. Let me tell you about the ice cube that became the snowman,” kind of gives me an opportunity to kind of dive in and learn a little bit more. The benefit of that is that it kind of really starts in a very intriguing way and allows people to have this experience that I’ll show you in just a minute of scrolling through Alison’s site to start to get a little bit more insight into what she’s talking about.
The downside is unless I am looking already to shift my reaction to obstacles, I may not immediately understand that this site and therefore Allison, is for me, and I may not have the patience to just explore and discover what she really means. Again, this is back to the thing that we often talk about here. I often talk about here about the trade-off between casting a wide net that doesn’t convert very much to a narrow net that has a much higher conversion rate at least to the right folks that you’re looking for. So that’s ultimately a question for Allison. What she’s trying to do with the site.
If she doesn’t do that, then I would suggest leading more with … If the reason why she added this paragraph was that she was getting feedback or she had the feeling that she wasn’t telling people quickly enough what it is that she did, then what I would suggest is that she flips the emphasis of the black text to the white text. So that she’s leading with, “Are you looking to be productive through tough times and without destructive stress. Do you want to feel hope again? Do you want to build resilience? I’ll show you how the secret lies in how we shift our reaction to obstacles because the obstacles themselves won’t stop. To give you an insight into what I mean here, let me tell you about the ice cube that became the snowman.”
Now that may not work with the beautiful, simple text that she’s got here. That may be too much text, but that gets at the type of flow that I’m talking about. So however she starts, I really hope she decides to keep this explanation of the ice cube and the snowman, because I think it’s really effective.
So let’s take a look at that. As we start to scroll through, it says, “Imagine your tasks and obstacles as ice cubes and your job is to melt them. Okay. That makes it clear to me. All right. Next, imagine a huge pile of snow that represents anything that steals your daily capacity, such as worry, drama, self-judgment, not saying no, resentment or change fatigue. Great. All right. Mentally, I’ve got my ice cubes, and my job is to melt them. I’ve got a huge pile of snow that represents anything that’s going to steal my ability to get in the way of doing my job. “Melting ice cubes is easy.” I agree. “People make it harder by packing snow around them and turning those ice cubes into snowmen.” That makes a lot of sense. We’re kind of saying, “Okay, she’s representing that I’ve got these tasks. If I just had myself, I could get these tasks done, but there’s all this other stuff that’s getting in the way that gets packed around them, and that’s why it’s hard to get tasks done.” Okay.
The extra snow complicates work, causes destructive stress and steals performance capacity from talented leaders and their teams. All right. I’m loving this. I need to give you insight that she and I had already talked previously about this section. So this section we’ve already worked on a little bit. I love where it is, and I think it’s working really well.
“Using my universal problem-solving framework. I teach professionals how to blast through the snow.” I just love how she set up this beautiful analogy. It’s very clear. “I’ve got my tasks, your ice cubes. My job is to melt them. There’s all this snow in the form of all of these things gets in the way of them. I need to blast through the snow. Allison’s going to help me do that with a problem-solving framework. What’s the result? The result is leaders get more done and are happier doing it even in times of challenge and change.” I really, really love this. I don’t have actually a single comment to make this part stronger other than make sure she’s leading into it in a way that makes people want to read this part because it’s really so powerful.
Then she’s got, “Tactics and inspiration to build resilience so you can unlock daily emotional, and mental capacity to do and be more.” Then she’s got this video, which in essence summarizes what she said on the site so far, just gives it little bit more context introduces herself, and it’s kind of for the folks that like to watch rather than just read. It also, like I said, gives a little bit more context to the information she’s given so far.
I think that since so much of the information repeats, what she’s got, part of me would love to see some tip to that, either in a caption or something that allows me to understand, “Why would I watch this video?” Because that’s the only thing that’s missing for me from this section is, “Tell me why I want to click on this.”
Again, in that text maybe, or maybe an additional piece of text that gives me some additional context that tells me why it’s worth it to me to click the video. “What information will I get? Why is it useful to me?” Just a little piece here. The “Book a call with Allison,” here, it gives us all right, here’s a call to action. So if I’m convinced so far this is intriguing, I want to know, great. Even if I’m not ready to do that yet, she’s now planting the seed that that’s the call to action that she wants me to take.
She follows this by a series of really strong testimonials from folks. I think this is a great place to go because basically they’re allowing her to show that she’s done this work. People are very satisfied with it. They’re from organizations, all sorts of different kinds of organizations and people.
Now at this point where she’s following up is more information about what is this problem-solving framework that she mentioned before. So she says here, “Once you’ve learned the concepts within this three-part method for problem-solving, you can overlay the framework onto any issue to get solution focused faster.” Great. “Clients use this to stop destructive stress in its tracks, avoid burnout, and to minimize capacity sucking barriers to performance. Situational awareness, self-awareness, solution activation.” I love this one, two, three. The only thing that I think might make it stronger is give me a little bit of a description underneath each of these three things so that I have just a little bit more information about what they are. Also, by the way, it’s a little hard to see that these are actually different. Just a little bit of additional text will help your viewers see this, not just three steps, but actually that you’re moving from situational awareness through self-awareness through to solution activation. So again, just add a little bit more text there.
Then we’ve got a little bit of an introduction to Allison herself. I like how she does a short bio. You can add a little bit more. This is a great technique. So people are like, “I like a little bit of information. Don’t need anymore. I want more information.” This is great. I like this technique. It’s a real clean, easy way to add detail. Then she goes into how she delivers it. So if you’re saying “You’ve got what I want, I love this idea. Testimonials are making me feel more confident about you. You’ve got the credentials. Now I want to know how I can work with you.” I love that this comes next. So organizationally, I think this page is very, very, very, very strong. When she talks about “Here are the depths of service varies depending on your needs and desired outcomes.”
So she does stand-alone engagements. Tells us that. Again, we’re just going to scan this. Leadership programs, scalable training, online learning, executive coaching. Makes it really, really clear. I think the only thing that isn’t clear is what’s the difference between a stand-alone engagement and something else. Might make sense to put the stand-alone engagement at the bottom so that it’s a little bit clearer that a stand-alone engagement is something different because it’s less concrete than the other one. I would tend to start with the concrete ones, and then once they’ve got those options, then they would want to see what the stand-alone options are. Just a thought.
I think the leadership program, scalable training, and the fact that she’s got video examples of each is brilliant. I think that’s a great point here. And then I think here’s where she’s adding that little bit of context that I’d love to see on the video earlier. She’s basically saying this one, for instance is a speaking demo. This is an online program sample. So you get the sense of what you’re about to watch.
Now she’s paying off that thing that we saw earlier, “Let’s start with a phone call. Schedule a conversation today.” I love that she’s got something right on the page to let people go, “Yes,” immediately, “I want to do this,” and she’s paying that off with an ability to schedule right away. Really, really solid.
And then she finishes off with her contact information more generally. So this is a really strong page. I think that the only things, particularly for her to work on, just little extra things that help the viewer, the reader, the user, get a bit more context around what she’s talking about and how and to consider how she’s opening in order to get people to that great parable of the ice cube and the snowman.
What are the lessons you can draw and take to your own content? Well, this is a page where the message has all the pieces that we’re looking for. She’s got a really interesting approach through the ice cube and the snowman. She’s been really clear about her powerful framework and all the different ways it applies. She’s got something that I want. She’s made it clear what it is that she delivers, how, and she does it all with this, again, this unexpected approach to how she thinks about resilience and problem solving and all of that.
So what you can do with this for yourself is to think through, “All right, do I have those elements, and are they as cleanly and simply presented as they are here?” Are you giving your reader, your audience, the context that they need to understand why you’re moving from one section to another to help them understand what the information is that you have in front of them? Are you doing all of that in a way that really reflects who you uniquely are and your unique world view?
I think Allison does that last bit best of all. The site looks like no one else’s. She used this parable, which is really quite different and then balances out this kind of very unusual approach with such clarity around what she does and how, that I think she’s done a really great job helping to make sure that the people who are compelled to give her a call are exactly the right people that she’s looking for.
So take those elements and see how you can use those to fill in what might be missing from your message and make them even stronger. Want me to take a look at your message? Send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, I’m Tamsen Webster of tamsenwebster.com. Thanks so much for watching.
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