Give Your Site a Definition
by Jamie Kiley
On your own website, it's obvious to you what your company does and what your site is
all about. However, the odds are high that your visitors won't automatically know that
information the first time they come to your site.
It's up to you to sum things up for your visitors so they can immediately understand
the basic focus of your company or organization, as well as the services you offer.
That's where a site definition comes in. A site definition is a concise, objective
statement explaining what a site does. (If the term "site definition" is new to
you, there's a reason--I coined it!) It's basically a one-sentence summary of the focus of
Here are a few examples of good site definitions:
"Your source for in-depth computer hardware info"
"Job search for technology professionals" (http://www.dice.com)
"Website evaluations from a scientific angle" (http://www.stinkagefactor.com)
Sometimes, you can get away with a super short definition. For example, the definition on
our company's website (http://www.kianta.com) is just two words: "Web
The site definition should generally appear in the upper left corner of the page near
the logo. It shouldn't be an obtrusive part of the design, but it should definitely be
available for visitors to see.
Placing a site definition on your pages has two benefits. The first one is for
yourself: A site definition helps you stay focused. When you force yourself to summarize
your purpose in a single sentence, it's a 3-second, easy-to-remember plan for where your
site needs to go and what you need to work toward in your own planning for your site. This
can help prevent you from getting off track and winding up with a disorganized, unfocused
The second benefit is for your visitors. A site definition explains in a single phrase
the basics of what visitors can find on your site. This is crucial, since many visitors
will not have a clear understanding of what your company does. Your copy can help with
this somewhat, but sales copy is generally unobjective, and it can take a while for the
visitor to understand what it is you're selling. Although it is important to have
sales-oriented copy, sometimes visitors just feel like saying, "But what do you
Here are three tips for writing an effective site definition:
1. Be objective.
If you aren't objective in your definition, the definition will lose credibility. Avoid
saying things like "We're #1!" A site definition is not the place to use
persuasive, hyped-up language.
2. Be specific.
A definition isn't the same as a tagline. Taglines are usually catchy phrases that
don't necessarily help visitors understand your services. For example, XO's tagline
(http://www.xo.com) is "Not just talk." This phrase doesn't actually define
anything, so it doesn't help visitors understand the company. The same is true with Nike's
tagline, "Just do it."
3. Don't use jargon.
If you use terms that don't make sense to your visitors, the definition isn't going to
help, because the definition itself will have to be defined. Try not to use words that
aren't part of everyday English.
The exception would be if you know your target audience will understand some jargon.
For example, if you have a website geared toward programmers, it's ok to use the term PHP.
Although that term isn't an everyday word to most people, it is an everyday word to a
There are a few cases in which you probably wouldn't need a site definition.
Occasionally, a site's main page makes it so obvious what the site sells that a definition
isn't really necessary. However, this is rare, even for well-designed sites. It's
difficult to explain what your site is all about as clearly and succinctly as you can with
A site definition would also not be necessary if your domain name is very descriptive.
For example, UnixHoster.com or petproducts.com. These domains give a fairly good
indication of the services provided on those sites.
Aside from these exceptions, most other sites would benefit from a clear, concise
definition. What's yours?
There are 605.6 million people online. Can they find your business? Jamie Kiley creates
powerful and engaging websites that make sure YOUR company gets noticed. Visit http://www.kianta.com for a free quote.
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