I am working with a good friend on developing her web site. She is a respected industry insider and at the top of her career. Almost all her business comes from word-of-mouth and referrals.

As we discussed options for her site, the conversation turned (quickly) to why people would visit the site and what we wanted them to do based on their visit.

Most visitors will be coming to the site either because someone said “you have to talk to this person, check out her site” or because they Googled her first contacting her.

The goal of the site had to be to get them to call and set up a meeting because all her business starts with a face-to-face meeting.

Given that goal, our first approach was to consider an informational site with the usual “client list”, “bio”, “services”, and such. Then we considered a more aggressive “selling” strategy to push visitors to pick up the phone.

In the end neither of these seemed right given that most visitors are already interested and qualified. It seemed to us that the purpose of the site was to “credential” her rather than “inform” or “sell”.

From this we came up with a new (for me) conceptual model for the site — “Credentialing”.

Credentialing probably goes in three stages:

1. Is this person legitimate? Can I trust them and would I want to do business with them? Professional site design, solid site structure, and quality copywriting should get us past this hurdle.

2. Does this person have experience? The content (bio, clients, case studies, etc.) will wow anyone not already familiar with her distinguished career.

3. Does this person have ideas that can help me? Are they still at the top of their game or resting on laurels? To credential her ability to think, to add value, and to be on top of current business issues, blogging was the obvious way to go.

While a “credentialing site” might not look that different from a typical free agent’s web site, this insight has allowed us to open up all kinds of possibilities for the site and has (importantly) told us what not to waste time on.

Most interesting for me, the process of defining customer needs and the business benefits of meeting these needs has changed this from a chore to an exciting exercise that is allowing her to rethink her business. And blogging will provide her with an outlet for big ideas she’s been percolating but never felt the desire to work into book format.