Why my professional page is the way it is
I recently created a page for my IT workshops and mentoring activities, and I’d like to talk about my reasons for making it exactly the way it is.
There’s many things in the world that I like and many things that I don’t like or don’t agree with. While I enjoy discussions with people who think the same way, ultimately, my question is always, “what can I do about it?”, because discussions alone aren’t going to change anything. I know that I’m not going to change the world, but something that I am able to do is change my world.
In this particular instance, I can change my world by making my page be exactly what I believe it should be. I wanted to create a page that tells visitors:
- who I am (or at least those bits that are relevant to the next point);
- what I’m offering;
- how much I charge;
- how to get in touch.
And that is really all I wanted to do. The result is a very simple page which, I believe, does exactly that and no more.
The site meets all the modern standards:
At the same time, it’s very minimal in its use of technology. It is literally just a single HTML page with a single CSS file and a single image. Could I have made it much more sophisticated, scrolling down for miles and miles, with pretty pictures popping up as you scroll and gradually revealing information? Yes. Did I want to? No.
I use private browsing mode a lot of the time, and I find that on virtually any site I visit, I have to agree to it setting a whole bunch of cookies (or jump through a series of hoops in order to decline them). I didn’t want my own site to do that, and so it uses no cookies whatsoever, and there are no third-party trackers that set their own cookies. In fact, I don’t even know what I would do with cookies on such a simple page. The only reason I can think of for cookies on such a page is for tracking visitors and analysing their behaviour. That is something I have no interest in doing. I respect my visitors’ privacy and I don’t want them to feel that they’re being watched.
One thing I really dislike is sites which pop up a dialog right in the middle of me trying to read the content, asking me for my email address to sign me up to their newsletter (I almost never sign up for newsletters of any kind as I wouldn’t read them anyway). If my frustration levels are high at that moment, it’s very likely that I will just close the site entirely and not bother reading any further.
I also didn’t want to start the page by trying to guess what my visitors are looking for. “Are you looking for X? Are you looking for Y? Are you looking for Z? Then you’ve come to the right place!” sort of thing. Each visitor will have their own reasons for visiting my page, and if it looks to them like I may be able to offer what they’re looking for, I trust that they can get in touch and we can have a more detailed discussion.
There is no trace of any kind of social media sharing buttons. There isn’t even a contact form. If the page resonates with the visitor, I trust that they are perfectly capable of sending me an email or, if they really want to, sharing it on social media without having “share” buttons shoved in their face.
I believe that all of these things allow visitors to keep their autonomy, instead of feeling that they’re being coerced into doing something they may not want to do.
Clarity and balance
I have done my best to make the content as clear and concise and to-the-point as possible and I have tried to design the page to be easy to read — both in terms of the content and in terms of how it’s displayed.
I am upfront about what I charge because I don’t want to force potential clients to have to contact me just to ask for the prices, only to discover that the price doesn’t suit them.
There are no testimonials on the page. I dislike testimonials for many reasons. I believe that the only exchange that should happen between me and a client is me offering my services and the client paying for them. I want my clients to go away after a session feeling that they don’t owe me a penny more than what they’ve paid. Likewise, I want to go away feeling that I don’t owe the client anything more than what I provided during the session.
Asking clients for a testimonial destroys this balance. I myself have had the experience of being asked for a testimonial in exchange for a free session. I felt that, in contrast to a review, I couldn’t be fully honest and had to make it positive. Morever, I discovered that the testimonial was written for me in advance, and while I was given the opportunity to make changes (which I did), I felt that I was being coerced into saying something I didn’t want to say.
While I could maybe address the balance issue by offering a discount in exchange for a testimonial, I don’t want to do this either, because I personally don’t find testimonials on other people’s pages useful. When reading testimonials, I feel like I’m only being allowed to see the five-star product reviews on an online shopping site. It’s the negative reviews that I find useful. There will always be something “negative” (bearing in mind that this is a very subjective concept) that can be said about a product or a person, and negative reviews give me the opportunity to decide whether this is something that I can accept or not. This is helpful because it means that I may be able to avoid a nasty surprise further down the road. Products that only have positive reviews make me very suspicious.
In summary, my design decisions are based on the following principles:
- no coercion;
- respect for privacy and freedom of choice.