Two summers ago, I fell back in love with biking. I hadn’t owned a bike in years and decided to start small and pick up an old Schwinn 10-speed off craigslist. The old Schwinn reminded me how fun and practical it was to commute by bicycle. But after riding it hard for a year, I realized that if I was going to commit to this cycling thing, it might be time for an upgrade.
Keeping in mind the strengths of the old 10-speed and picking out things I liked about other bikes I saw on the street gave me an idea of what I was looking for – I wanted the classic road look and a steel frame, but beyond that I was fairly clueless about what the market had to offer.
A few of my more in-the-know friends recommended Surly bikes, so I decided to give their website a look. I consider myself someone who relies on word-of-mouth marketing above all else, but I will freely admit that the content on the Surly website influenced my decision to buy one of their bikes. I eventually settled on a Surly Pacer, and wouldn’t dream of parting with it.
Now that I think about it, good website content has a lot in common with what I look for in a bike and what I like about cycling in general. This is why.
The more bells and whistles on a bike, the more there is that can go wrong with it. Even if I had an unlimited budget, I’d sacrifice the seconds I’ll gain from a space-age ultra-light frame for the durability of a steel frame. Your Web content should also get straight to the point and be presented in a logical and clutter-free format. Using fancy interactive graphic displays may be pretty, but ask yourself if it’s helping lead the customer where they want to be.
The simplest route from point A to point B
I enjoy commuting by bike because it takes a lot of variables out of traveling. I never have to fill up the gas tank and I always have a good idea of when I’ll arrive at my destination because I’m not fighting traffic. Your onsite content should also be arranged in a way that takes readers from one place to another easily. This is one of my favorite things about the Surly site. Information on their products is easy to find and all of their useful content that relates to how to use their products and general biking is organized on one page.
A well-constructed bike will respond well when you decide you want to turn, stop or accelerate. Good Web content should respond to the questions you might have. This is why I love thoughtfully designed FAQ sections. In the latter stages of my bicycle buying decision, I couldn’t decide whether I wanted a Pacer, Long Haul Trucker or a Cross Check. I didn’t have to ask Surly – they answered the question for me in one of their FAQs. An added bonus of a well-constructed FAQ section is the benefit of gaining traffic through long-tail searches asking the same thing.
Purity of the experience
Traveling by bike is a naturally pleasing experience for me – knowing you relied only on yourself as the source of energy to travel is quite gratifying. If your customers come away from reading your site feeling like they’e interacted with real people, it’s a win for you. Being honest about your products’ capabilities and even adding a little humor can help you connect with your readers on a more personal level.
If you need help, ask some of your regular customers what they like about your site and what they might change. Then, get on your bike and go for a ride.