If Your Website Was a Person…

by on 10/14/2011 • 16 Comments | Online Marketing

Your Web site is the public face you give your customers. In many cases, it’s the initial touch point and a deciding factor in whether someone chooses to do business with you or if they skip right along to one of your competitors. Given it’s importance, have you taken the time to meet your site lately? Have you really?

Even though we design our Web sites with the best of intentions, sometimes we create experiences that we didn’t intend. Below are some Web sites I’ve run into recently in my travels. To help illustrate their flaws, I’ve transformed these sites into living, breathing people. Perhaps consider asking a friend to personify your Web site. Once they do, ask yourself – Would I be friends with this person?

Here, I’d like to introduce you to some of your sites…

The Salesman

He’s the guy your office you skillfully attempt to avoid in the hallway in fear he’s going to open his jacket to show off a line of knock-off Rolex watches.  Every interaction, he’s trying to sell you something. Buy this, look here, do I have the thing for you! He smells like a rustic combination of cigar smoke and spearmint Binaca and always leaves you feeling like you need a shower. In real life, you’d rather spoon out your own eyes than share an elevator with this guy.

On the Web, he’s the site that’s littered in ads, spins aggressive sales funnels, and always seems more focused in meeting his advertisers bottom line than really serving the needs of his customer. It takes a youthful level of dexterity to get off the site without tripping an AdWords landmine.

The Vapid Princess

Sure, she’s nice to look at, but don’t even consider asking her to do anything. Her brain won’t be able to render it. Ask for her opinion on something more than the weather or what happened on Bravo last night and she’ll stare at you blankly or service up an answer that has nothing to do with the question posed. It’s not her fault. She didn’t have to worry about forming a personality in high school. She just had to sit there and look pretty.

On the Web, you recognize The Vapid Beauty as that gorgeous Flash site that you can’t operate because it simply isn’t compatible with your device. It’s a designer’s dream, but a user’s nightmare when the information they’re after is tangled in a mess of pretty graphics, conversion traps and too-many options.  It’s nice that the site sparkles but it’d be nicer if I could complete my intended task.

The Creeper

When you go to the bathroom, SHE’S RIGHT THERE. When you pull into your parking space in the morning, she’s in the car next to you smiling. When you go to get lunch, there she is, waiting to pounce and pull you into another awkward conversation. The office creeper makes us feel a little watched and a lot of uncomfortable. They’re the person everyone wants removed from the office, if only it were legal to lock someone in a closet and leave them there.

On the Web, The Creeper is that little talking head that appears on the bottom of the screen offering to “walk you through the Web site”  or who and “introduce to site’s many features”. No one’s really sure why this option is necessary, but there it is, creeping everyone out along the way.

Mr. AWOL

I mean, you’ve heard he works for the company. His name is still on the company phone tree but he rarely makes an appearance in meetings or even at his desk. Instead, he’s at a doctor’s appointment, at his kid’s recital, woke up with a stomach bug, taking a mental health day, etc. You’ve decided the best option is to stop needing him for anything at work. Because he’s just not reliable enough. Who needs it?

On the Web, Mr. AWOL is the site that won’t load, the one that always crashes, and that never just works when you need it to. Even though your sure he would have a lot to offer if he’d just make it to that meeting, he’s always letting customers down by not showing up.

The Know It All

He’s that little guy in the IT department who knows everything and lives to tell everyone about it. He’s an early adopter on every social network, he has a list of Google shortcuts longer than the Constitution and he doesn’t use anything he can’t hack to pieces. If the question is “did you know”, you can rest assured the answer is a resounding yes. Because he’s in charge of IT, he also knows everything about you – what sites you’re visiting, your Gmail password, and the last five people you’ve dated.

[cough]GoogleFacebook[cough]

The Show Off

When she’s not at the office, she’s working on mastering one-handed juggling, studying the flight pattern of the pink-footed goose, and working toward the Guinness World Record for the most number of Twinkies eaten in a 24 hour period. Even worse, she wants to tell you all about it when you walk by her desk. It doesn’t matter you only passed by on your way to the water cooler. Now you’ll hear about all The Show Offs many “accomplishments”.

It’s the Web site that hawks the ability to do a bunch of really neat, but completely useless, things. You’re on the site to buy a new pair of jeans but they want you to play with their new widget, download their new app or enjoy their auto-play music. While you’re really happy for them that the Web has blessed us all with fun tools, you’re still only interested in the jeans.

The Intern

He’s really friendly and eager. Like, really friendly. And with a little more experience he may even become a valuable member of the team. Right now, though, he doesn’t inspire much trust. He means well and he probably doesn’t know any better, there’s just something about him that makes you think you shouldn’t trust him with that new client account.

On the Web it’s the site still rocking the 1990s Web design, the one littered with typos, or the site that hasn’t been updated since 2002. The products look okay and the people look really nice, but you’re still not sure the site could handle your credit card. Maybe you’ll wait to they grow up.

If your site was a person, what would it look like? Would YOU be friends with it?

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About the Author

Lisa Barone

Lisa Barone co-founded Outspoken Media in 2009 and served as Chief Branding Officer until April 2012.

Get social with Lisa at Twitter

16 thoughts on “If Your Website Was a Person…

  1. Unbelievably done. If every blog article was written this way, I’d probably never get anything done but I’d know A LOT! Keep em coming…

  2. Lisa,
    Great job writing an entertaining post that really hits the head on the nail for the different types of websites. I’m sure we’ve all ran into each type of person and website!

    Also reminds me a lot of how company’s use social media.

    A nice follow up post would be “If your business’ social media profile was a person..”

    -Rachel

  3. Always enjoy reading your posts Lisa. Very creative way at approaching this. One that struck me was the creeper. Seems to be a growing trend almost.. taking the interaction over the top. Now just time to sit down and figure out which or how many of these persona our site takes on and try to make our site the person everyone wants to talk to and feels comfortable with.

    Again, love the post.

  4. You make some great points here. Every website certainly has a personality and its up to the management to control the message that is being put out. The industry you are in may have already have a writing style. Its up to business owners to research what their best competitors are writing.

  5. Another one: “The Scandalous Patty”

    The woman at work who wears shirts cut a little too low, skirts a little too short and wears more makeup than Bozo the Clown. When it comes to the line regarding professional dress she’s pretty much on the wrong side, but keeps one toe on the line.

    These are the otherwise credible sites, selling less-exciting products and services, who feel that a little skin will sell the product. This malady usually begins in their advertising campaigns and creeps onto the site itself.

  6. Lisa,
    Wow! You have a gift Lisa, that’s all I can say. There are tens of millions of web personalities lingering in what I call, the Online Graveyard. These are websites stuck in suspended animation condemned to cyberspace until forever for their missteps, one of them being unlikable.
    Here’s an off the charts analogy to match this “off the scales” post; we all know a business partner is like a second spouse. You’d better damn sure like their personality or there’s a divorce coming down the pipe. Would you continue working with them if you didn’t mesh with their personality? I don’t think so. Silly Rabbit a website is another partner in YOUR business: Why would you expect it to survive without a winning personality? If one captain on your ship sucks, you’re in for a major swell. Thanks Lisa. Really. Wow. You’re a serious (great) writer. Have a great weekend!! Oh and the ‘know it all” is ALL too familiar. Ha!

  7. The Creeper! LMAO that one really got me laughing and the know it all.

    I can put personal faces to them LOL

    I think the 1-uper is missing..that person who is always trying to one up everyone 8)

  8. This is a great blog. I think my website is some where between “The Know It All” & “The Show Off” but after reading this I will be making some changes to better reorganize my information, delete some very good, in-dept but other wise useless knowledge & high light the most importuning part of my website and that is the jobs. Thank you.

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