I’ve looked at a lot of startup sites and one common flaw is that they can’t bring themselves to tell you what they are starting up.
The intensity of their passion is so huge and overwhelming that it doesn’t occur to them that visitors might not already be aware of it.
I looked at the site of one of the entrepreneurs I met at a recent Lean Startup Circle meeting. It has pictures of a drop of water and light bulbs dangling from wires. “Water & Energy Monitoring,” its says in dark type against a dark blue background. Under the company name is a subhead: Saving Water, Saving Energy, Saving Money.
This is the first text block on the site:
Here’s a little quiz: what was envisioned? What are these guys selling?
After reading this, the visitor still has no idea what the startup is offering. And in this case, you can search the site and never find out what they were doing in the garage for all those years. It’s an app and a gadget, but in order to find that out, you have to look at three repetitive videos totaling 13 minutes, and you have to be paying very close attention.
But the site gives you no information that would give you an incentive to devote that much time to it.
It’s common for startups to want to first impress you with the long laborious period of development that led to the disruptive innovation. They also want to virtue-signal about their motives.
When trying to write about themselves, they stiffen up and write pedantically. In my site analyses, I use the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease index, which scores their introductory text block at Grade 18, Ease 15, which is terrible–about as easy to read as the footnotes in a post-graduate statistical analysis textbook. Not what you want for your marketing campaign.
And if visitors do trudge through this paragraph, they’re rewarded by learning nothing whatsoever about whatever it is that you’re offering.
If you’re offering something new, start with your best benefit–not with a generic abstract preamble.