Multiple websites (pros & cons)

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Buoys will be buoys

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My general recommendation to clients is to have a single, central website however there are obviously circumstances where it does make sense to have multiple websites; let’s look into that.

With many of the businesses I deal with they have a suite of products and services and they all broadly fit the same target audience. So the purpose of the website is to help attract that audience and then sign post them to the information they need. The homepage plays a pivotal role in this; treading a fine line in terms of the information on display. We need to carefully select what needs to be presented on your shopfront window. Less is tends to more here. Let’s not shout at and confuse our audience.

By having a sole website we reduce costs in managing and maintaing the multiple websites. That much is clear.

When to split?

However, we need to be very careful here – the website does not exist simply to make our lives easier (as business owners); they exist to engage with our target audience.

Sometimes a business has multiple target audiences (e.g. middle managers AND teenagers); this would typically be for different products and services. This causes a big problem; a website designed to engage and resonate with middle managers is a different beast to something designed to embrace teenagers. And it’s not as simple as saying “oh, we’ll just change how the section of the website looks for that audience” – the website needs a global design; an overarching tone of voice etc; that can’t completely change on a per-section basis – what a disjointed nightmare for user experience that would be!

Divide and Conquer

No, in the above circumstance, I think we should be looking at splitting off one (or more) of these services onto their own dedicated website. By doing this we free up the design, the content, the messaging constraints so that the website (in its entirety) can resonate perfectly with that (and only that) audience*. Think of it from the punters point of view; if they land on a website which is specifically about their needs, in a language tailored to them then the experience will immediately be more valuable & relevant.

(* whilst keeping true to brand guidelines)

Yes this creates expense in that we need a new site created (with all the associated costs) but there’s no point in trying to pretend that this situation doesn’t exist. We just have to pony up and address the problem opportunity.

Joel

p.s. there can also be a strong SEO reason for having multiple websites; especially if you’re trading in highly competitive marketplaces. However, my typical recommendation is to try and focus on what’s right for your punters (rather than Google).

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