Not all websites can be about pleasant things. Life isn’t all about pleasant things. Businesses don’t all specialize in pleasant things. When you’re dealing with tough subjects, you really can’t just add a picture of a puppy and leave it at that.
Take for example a website for a company that provides home health equipment. The truth is, people needing home health care may be feeling some stress, and even some distress. People don’t rent hospital beds because they saw one in a sexy commercial, and bedside commodes aren’t impulse purchases.
If your business provides caskets, or crime scene cleanups, or adult diapers, you have some special challenges in creating a lovely website.
Traditional marketers’ first thought on these subjects is usually to go with euphemisms. Instead of “raised toilet seats” we consider saying things about “comfort.” But no one is going to Google “comfort” when they need a raised toilet seat.
Go ahead and do your keyword research in the usual way, and call a spade a spade.
Acknowledge the concerns
While you’re being forthright, admit that there are things to worry about, and take the opportunity to be reassuring. We know that arranging for your parent to have a bedside commode is likely to come along with stress and worry. We can use sentences like these to stress the benefits of the service while acknowledging the difficulties customers may be facing:
“We know that this may be a challenging time for you and your family. You shouldn’t have to worry about the quality of your home health care equipment, or about being able to use it correctly.”
We then move neatly on to the high quality and excellent training our company offers.
Let images do some of the work
For home health equipment, we want to mix clear pictures of the equipment with cheery pictures of people. We gathered up images of happy older people kissing in their wheelchairs, people wearing portable oxygen systems while they play golf, and bright young people romping beatifically with crutches.
For the visual design, we chose happy colors to offset the sometimes somber nature of the products and services we’re showing. None of this will confuse the search engines, which pay attention primarily to the words. Our alt text for these images will be “wheelchair” and “portable oxygen system” and “crutches.” The look is strictly for the human visitors.
Be especially thoughtful about usability
When the users of your site are likely to be ill, upset, or distracted, it becomes particularly important to make the navigation easy and obvious. Accessibility also becomes even more essential.
Care is required for effective web content about tough subjects. Fortunately, if it’s your business, working with tough subjects has given you some skills and compassion that will help you convey the needed mood to your copywriter.