Are You a Messaging Pack Rat?

Written by  on Mar 06, 2014

Last month, I moved across Denver from a house into an apartment. I had lived in the house for almost two years, and while that’s not an astounding amount of time in the grand scheme of things, it was long enough for me to collect lots of… stuff.

As something of a ‘serial renter,’ I’m accustomed to moving and the head (or back) aches that come with it. In order to save myself some trouble once I began moving, I used the circumstances as an excuse to do an audit of everything I owned.

Ready for a real shocker? This story, while true, is an analogy for your website.

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Room to room, I picked up things and asked myself a series of questions:

"Do I still need this? Did I ever need this? Have I used it in the past two years? Does this reflect who I am anymore?"

That last question may seem a little deep, but it can be the reason–even if only subconsciously–that we keep or pitch certain things.

Remember that old Bob Marley poster you had on your wall in college? Man, you loved that thing, but I’m willing to bet it isn’t still hanging on your wall anymore. 

Sure, you may still love The Wailers (and Colorado’s new laws) but that isn’t the message you want to send about yourself anymore. There’s no way to ‘subtly’ hang a poster on your wall, so it had to go.

The same idea holds true for your website, and even other elements of your business.

This isn’t about page content throughout your site (even old, outdated pages can be beneficial for SEO) but about the overall message your site sends. Elements like imagery, headlines, even a site’s organization can say a lot about who you are. Every once in a while, take an audit of these elements and decide whether you should keep 'em, store 'em, patch ‘em up, or pitch 'em.

Keep

Straightforward enough, right? If your site and the things on it still do a good job representing who you are, what you do, and why you do it, then there’s no need to change anything. 

Congrats mounted Detroit photos, you’ve made the cut. You can continue to hang proudly on my wall.

Store

Whether it’s due to the season, the state of the economy or something else, some of the defining elements of your site might be out of date, though they could be useful again later. Rather than completely overhaul what’s there, keep it tucked away in a closet or a storage locker (the admin of your website, or a folder on your computer) for use later.

Alright, Christmas lights, you can stick around, but just know that you’re not going up for a while.

Patch

Your offerings have changed a bit since the last time you updated your site, and the messaging and imagery are good but not great. Take what you’ve got, mix in a little T.L.C and bring it up to date.

Coffee table, you’ve been abused a lot over the past two years, but you’re still great at what you do (and I love that you have storage on the inside, too). You may need a once-over with sandpaper and a fresh coat of paint, but that sounds a lot better than starting over.

Pitch

It’s been a while since you actually paid attention to your site, or you’ve been so busy shifting the focus of your business that you haven’t had time to shift your messaging. Either way, what’s presented on your site doesn’t reflect who you are and what you do at all, which is not going to go over well with customers.

Scrap that headline and start over, and get rid of that business porn while you’re at it. Craft a message and use imagery that’s truly “you."

Sorry ABBA T-shirt, your time has come. My musical tastes– while likely still regrettable to a future me–have moved on, and I don’t plan on displaying your name on my chest anymore.

Get to it!

It’s never been easy for me to get rid of things, a point which my parents and their basement can attest to. Eventually though, something switches and that once strong attachment you had to an object is gone. Once that happens, letting go of it is no big deal at all.

The best part about auditing your website? No trash bags to deal with. No trip to the thrift store necessary. Updating your messages may take more brainpower to accomplish than pitching old junk, but you don’t have to be stuck in the dusty confines of a basement while you do it!

Nowadays, the internet is the biggest avenue by which people find and learn about who we are and what we do. If the messages your website sends don’t align with what you’re actually providing, you’re going to lose customers and money.

So, go on, get to it! Take a look at your site, page by page, and take stock of all the stuff you’ve accumulated in the years since it went live. Pitch those embarrassing posters from your youth, and maybe lose the shelf of middle school ‘participation’ awards, too.

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