When a person arrives at your website they may already know exactly who you are and what you do; due to having had previous dealings with your business. Others will come to your website with very little or even no knowledge of who you are.
For these people visiting a website can be a treasure hunt rather than an enjoyable experience, as a website can forget to state the most basic of information; who you are and what your business does.
Forgetting the basics
The problem exists because many involved in the process of redesigning a website actually know too much. On one hand you have the client who clearly knows their business inside-out and on the other a web agency or designer who has done a good amount of research that their understanding of the business is far advanced from that of a regular customer.
In understanding so much about the business it's easy to write or read content without noticing that the language used is written in such a way that it expects a certain understanding from its reader. Instead a website should cater for those that have less understanding; especially if these types of people are still customers you wish to attract.
So to make sure that all your users understand the kind of business you do it's important to state simply the services you offer. For example our website has the following:
"we are a full service digital agency specialising in search engine optimisation and web design"
Not only do we have this high on the homepage in a good sized font we also highlight the key services within the text to make sure things are as clear as possible. This means that anyone visiting the homepage of our website, and also have an understanding of what SEO and Web Design are, will clearly understand the services we provide.
The e-commerce exception
With e-commerce or product based websites it's not strictly necessary to include such a clear explanation of the business, though it can still be a useful addition.
Instead there are three things we've always recommended that be included in an e-commerce website; basket, search and product. These three things above all others, and when combined together, quickly communicate a website is selling products online. Also, if the products shown are well balanced they can communicate the range or type of products that a website sells.
Don't make me think
If your website confuses people or doesn't make the right information easy to find then the website has failed to achieve its potential. When reviewing a new website try to look at it through the eyes of a new customer, does it describe who you are and the services you provide?
Only once you have these basics in place can you then move onto communicating why a customer should choose you and why your business is the perfect fit for them.