Every website has a purpose. A vision. A reason for people to come and visit and more importantly a reason to come back. Essentially you need a value proposition that visitors want. For 99% of websites today that has to do with content. Content could be the written word, pictures, audio, or video. Each type of content has different levels of engagement. Some is informative. Some is entertainment. Some makes us angry. Some makes us cry. Content, at the end of the day, is the essence of the World Wide Web.
Pick a niche. Successful websites pick a space to play in; they focus, and stick to it only adjusting when necessary. When websites try to be all things to all people, either in a vertical industry, or just in general they will always have problems organizing their content in a manner that is acceptable to the visitor. Visitors will become frustrated and leave. Niche sites, on the other hand, can stay focused and deliver high-quality content in an organized fashion.
Examples of successful niche sites:
- Mashable – social media news
- TechCrunch – technology news
- Huffington Post – news, gossip
- VentureBeat – venture capital, start-ups, and entrepreneurship
And while theses are examples, they are not the only sites that fill these niches. So there is indeed room for everyone. The only question is where do these sites provide a value proposition, or a differentiation factor. Is it to break news? Provide insights and opinions? Aggregate information into one site?
Value Proposition. This will vary from site to site and from individual to individual. However, for a good website to keep visitors coming back, a value proposition must exist. When that value proposition is around content, the content itself is the proposition. It has to be well written, relative, timely, aggregated, and in some cases protected. Sites like Wall Street Journal have had a content value proposition for years. In fact they are one of the few last standing with that business model, though some like the New York Times will re-introduce a paid wall in January 2011.
I’m very partial to the types of sites that can aggregate industry news and information in concise ways. That’s why I think sites like Mashable and TechCrunch end up being daily visits for me. Both sites eloquently write about industry news about social media and technology respectively Sometimes they break news, sometimes they share rumors. I also really enjoy resource sites like MarketingProfs where it isn’t just news, but research, best practices, user community, and even a membership proposition.
For Project Trinity, let’s think about combining the best of both worlds. The site will be specific to a vertical market that can build traffic based on that niche audience. It will feature content, resources, and even a gated community of content and features that are exclusive to a subscriber base. So what industry should this site address? What industry do you see right now that has a void that needs filling? Give me some ideas in the comments.
There has been a lot of flack over Facebook and their decreasing control and increasing complexity of privacy for their users. Several industry leaders have started a revolt and put out an open call for a new site to be created. While I’m not in a position to build such a site (that is what the Dispora Project will do), Project Trinity is my exploration into building a robust, user focused website.
Over the coming weeks I’ll be sharing ideas about this website and the process I’m going through in conceptualizing it. I’ll be sharing links to resources and tools that are interesting in providing value and a business model. Future posts will include:
- User Interaction Graph
- Privacy Concerns / Permissions
- Content Development and Support
- Engagement Strategy
- Features and Functionality
- Integrations with and Between Other Sites
- User Experience Design
- Revenue Sources and Models
- Platforms, Architecture, and Performance
- and much more
Maybe Project Trinity could be something real someday, but that isn’t the intent here. It is to discuss the components of building a website that is full featured, engaging, social, and content focused. In other environments I have to be diplomatic and receptive to ideas and decisions made by others. Project Trinity is my project. It is how I would do it. I hope you come along for the ride and participate in the discussion.