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22. Introduce yourself 🙋🏻
How 6 popular websites choose to describe their product. Plus, a framework for deciding which approach to use.
Happy Sunday 🏔️
How are you spending your weekend?
After reading this long read, Waiting for the Weekend, I’ve been thinking more about how I spend my time on Saturday/Sunday. From the piece:
The lack of carelessness in our recreation, the sense of obligation to get things right, and the emphasis on protocol and decorum do represent an enslavement of a kind. People used to "play" tennis; now they "work" on their backhand.
I’m spending this long weekend finishing Anxious People (fantastic) and enjoying a few last cannonballs before the pool closes.
See you next week,
Thanks for being here. I write an essay about building products that serve customers and the business each week.
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Say hi anytime at email@example.com!
What does your one-liner say about your product?
Here’s one of my favorite questions to ask in user interviews:
How do you describe Product XYZ to your friends?
Through one question, you gain a lot of insight. What words or phrases do they use to describe your product? What characteristics do they choose to talk about? I’m often surprised at how the customer’s pitch differs from my expectations or, in many cases, our professionally designed marketing material.
I thought of this recently when reviewing’s post about website inspiration. He shared 10 new trends for building a differentiated web presence. The designs were interesting, but I was stuck more on the headlines.
What’s the point of a headline on your website? One answer is that it’s about describing your product in a single sentence or phrase. A few words to give readers a summary of who you are and what you have to offer. An elevator pitch for your product.
In the context of a website, the true purpose of a headline is to get your visitor to stick around for a bit longer. Take one more action. Engage just a few clicks more. Most website visitors stick around for a maximum of 15 seconds. This is your chance to earn more time.
With that goal in mind, here are some headline themes I’ve noticed and some food for thought about when a specific approach might be appropriate. I’ve pulled them all from a similar vertical — website-building tools — for easy comparison. It’s interesting how they describe themselves differently!
Trend #1: Describe the outcome
Turn your audience into a business
Of the many possible approaches, this is the one I expected to see. Speak not about what you offer but what you allow customers to accomplish. Lead with an action. It’s the Super Mario approach. Customer (Mario) + your product (Mushroom) = Magical Outcome (Super Mario).
Here’s another example:
Build with the power of code — without writing any
I like this example because it speaks to my Super Mario self (powerful with code) but separately introduces a bit of intrigue while overcoming a possible objection.
Theme #2: Reaffirm what you do
Everything to sell anything
Instead of speaking to the outcome, this approach reaffirms to customers that, yes, this is the product that fits their needs. It describes your product in clear language.
For example, imagine setting up an online store and landing on this Squarespace page. The homepage speaks to you (aspiring eCommerce builder) and confirms what you might want to know (we have everything you need).
Or, take this example from WordPress.com:
Welcome to the world’s most popular website builder.
A solid answer to “What is WordPress.com?” (a website builder) with a dose of social proof (“most popular”).
Theme #3: Introduce aspiration
This approach speaks less to the product or desired outcome. Instead, the focus is on an ideal or aspirational self. Take Shopify’s headline, for example:
Making Commerce Better For Everyone
The subtext goes on to speak about supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs. The vibe is mission-oriented and no doubt resonates strongly with specific audiences.
Or, take the homepage of Substack. Yes, the headline is action-oriented (Theme #1) but less focused on the action and more on the ideal. If Substack wanted to focus solely on the pain points of publishing online, the headline could have read, “Click publish. We do the rest.”
But they don’t do that. They talk about your “best work” and “subscribers.” This fits directly in line with their broader mission and vision. Independent writers and creators need better tools for monetizing and growing their audience. Or, as they describe it, “Building a new economic engine for culture.”
How do you decide which approach to use?
There are many ways to answer this question, but one framework I came across recently centers on stages of awareness. Michel Fortin simplifies it to the acronym “Oath.”
It’s a cool mnemonic to help you remember how aware is your market about the problem, their need for a solution, and of course, your solution specifically.
Here’s the breakdown:
O - Oblivious of the problem and solution. Your job is to educate them about the problem.
A - Apathetic about the problem. Not actively seeking a solution. Your job is to make the problem more concrete.
T - Thinking about solving the problem. Shopping around for possible solutions. Your job is to sell them on your solution.
H - Hurting. They’ve shopped around and are considering your solution specifically. Your job is to overcome objections and give them the information they need to decide.
This lens can help you decide how to frame your headline based on where your customer and solution land. For example, contrast Webflow (up-and-coming player) to Squarespace (long-time incumbent with name recognition).
If I’m Webflow, my job is to sell customers on my solution. I lean heavily into the Super Mario example. Make it action-oriented. Speak indirectly to the pain of not being intimately familiar with code.
If I’m Squarespace, I benefit from brand awareness. My job is to help you overcome objections and feel confident I’m the right choice. I focus on a common fear, “Am I going to have to cobble together multiple tools for this?”
Over to you
What’d I miss? I’m curious about things that stood out or other website trends you’ve noticed. I’d also love to hear about any other frameworks like OATH.