Stop thinking about your website. Think about your visitors. Think about what they’re thinking about. Think about what you want them to be thinking about. Think about how to change what they’re thinking about to what you want them to be thinking about.
Most of your visitors aren’t thinking about your website, at least not in any meaningful way. They’re thinking about the stuff on your website. Most people call that stuff content. That stuff is you, or if you’re a business that stuff is your brand. You are your stuff. It may be the tip of the iceberg and a gross oversimplification of who you are and what you do, but in the eyes, hearts, and minds of your first-time visitors, that stuff is you. Stop thinking about your website. Think about your stuff.
Now that you’re thinking about your stuff, stop and ask yourself, does your stuff *do* anything? Is its primary purpose informational or functional? If you stripped everything away, all the pretense, all the cleverness, all the web 2.0 design fads, all the SEO’d page titles and stock photography, what would be left? A button that does something or a message that communicates something?
Regardless of whether your stuff is informational or functional, make sure it works on a napkin. Literally, go get a pen and a napkin and show off your idea, message, or feature. If it can’t be explained on a napkin, then you have not distilled it into a potent enough concept to be brought to life as a website—or as anything else.
I hope you’re getting the picture. You’re website doesn’t matter nearly as much as the stuff on it. And if you think your stuff *is* a website, you’ve misunderstood me. Twitter is not a website. Craigslist is not a website. Anthony Robbins is not a website. It’s functionality, it’s content, it’s stuff. And it just so happens to be available on a website.