I created a research project to answer the question “What do Spiritual people want?” by looking at the websites of the Spiritual Masters of our time and specifically the section “above the fold” (what do you see when you land on the page.)
To get a more balanced idea, I chose a sample from people I know and resonate with, and from teachers that I don’t know or don’t resonate with.
I will share my conclusions at the end.
1. Deepak Chopra
At the top, his website features a slider with three options:
– book about meditations
– book about Metahuman
What stands out to me is that the design feels fresh and up to date. There is a clear thing for me to do once I land on the page: either look into meditations or get one of Deepak’s books. Otherwise, I can dive into the top menu or scroll down for more.
The words that jump out are meditation, Metahuman, infinite potential.
2. Eckhart Tolle
As soon as you land on the page, you are greeted with a pop-up inviting you to join the Private Membership Community. I believe the target audience is people who already know Eckhart and would love to connect with a community around his teachings. I say this because except for using the word “FREE,” there is no other incentive to click the “Learn More” button. And it also uses a photo of the teacher.
Once you close the pop-up, the entire top section is filled with a call to signup for a free audio miniseries. I like that you can’t miss what it is about: “liberation from the pain-body.” Even if you don’t know what the “pain-body” is, you still have a pretty good idea of what it may be like. And as you read more, it is about negative emotions, energetic blockages, and so on.
The website does an excellent job of communicating quickly what it is about and for whom clearly.
My only concern is with using the pop-up. I believe the page is trying to solve a problem that I also have: how do you respond to new people landing on the site that are maybe looking for a pain-free life but at the same time also offer something for long-time fans that might be looking for a deeper connection? Right now, there is no harmony between the two, and I believe it causes some distractions and visitors bouncing off.
What jumps off the page: clear messaging, pain-body, free, emotions, presence. It is clear what you have to do.
3. Gabby Bernstein
So far, this is the most focused website. It has an obvious purpose for the visitors who land on the page: promote the “Dear Gabby” podcast. A pop-up jumps out, giving rewards for those to subscribe and review the podcast—an effective way to generate engagement. I notice here that both the pop-up and the top section are aligned in purpose; there is no disconnect. Well done.
What jumps out at me from the page:
- the use of bold colors – a departure from the softer palette on Deepack or Tolle’s site
- Gabby is the clear image of the brand with a full-body shot
- they use jagged distortions in the pop-up – which is interesting! – it suggests disharmony, but at the same time, it makes it stand out amongst spiritually oriented sites. I wonder if this is used because of user testing or they have another reason behind it.
- words: “become the happiest person you know” – I like this tag line a lot
What is hidden but still at the very top is: “New? Start Here” – which is an excellent way to solve the problem I mentioned earlier: catering to both new and regular visitors.
4. Dr. Joe Vitale
The design choice for this website feels incredibly dated to me. That being said, I suspect there is a good reason for this design. Maybe the target audience is older people who remember how the web used to look back in the 90s.
But one thing we can know for sure: if this website did not work for Joe Vitale, he would change it!
What jumps off the page:
- the very distinct look of the page
- words like: life mastery, zero limits, personal revolution, the wealth within
5. Dr. Joe Dispenza
What I love about this webpage is the video at the top, with very inspiring images, music, and titles. It helps to create an immediate emotional connection. Unfortunately, all that is wasted because there is no call to action that I can see. As a visitor, I am left wondering what I am supposed to do next?
What jumps at me:
- happy and emotional people
- powerful words – unlimited, magnificent, empowered, whole, supernatural
- at the top, there is a small call to action that says: “Get Started with the Formula.”
6. Michael Roads
I have a performance comment to make here: as soon as I try to load this page, I am greeted with white space for a while, then a spinning animation, and I need to wait a bit for the page to load: in my book that is way too long to wait for one picture and a bunch of text.
Ignoring the performance issues, here is what I observe: this is a personal brand website. It features a large photo of the author (which takes up the whole screen on a mobile device) and then a text block that starts with “Introducing myself…”
Maybe the purpose of this site is to be a greeting card, in which case it does a good job. But if it has have a different purpose, I don’t know what that is from glancing at the top of the page. There are no visible buttons or other calls to action.
What jumps at me:
- Michael’s image is just beautiful – full disclosure: I love his books, and based just on that, I think he is an amazing human being. So I am biased.
- The logo with the infinite and the heart merged into one symbol: simple, clear message, brilliant design!
- Unfortunately, no words are jumping at me from the page. If I cheat and scroll down, I see the following section starting with “What is Life?”. Now, that is a powerful question, and maybe that should have been the top section.
Digging deeper into the introduction, I find things like: modern mystic, spiritual teacher, the illusion of separation, realms of consciousness. Good stuff, but hidden in the text.
As with Joe Vitale above, if this site would not work for Michael, I believe he would change it. So I have to conclude that it meets the purpose for which it was created.
7. David Icke
The feeling of this page is that of an online newspaper. I immediately noticed that even though the site is called “davidike.com”, there is no picture of the man in the top section. This lack of personal photos is different from all the websites I’ve looked at so far.
What jumps at me:
- the use of labels for articles and videos (green and yellow) that overpower the titles of the articles which should get a higher priority.
- the image at the top was not click-able – you have to click the text to open the article – which is not obvious
- it is clear that it is a news website, and unless you already know David Icke, you will not know what kind of news until you read the titles
The first impression is that it looks like Netflix. The top banner clarifies that it is a video site by using the familiar “play” button as the image. This website is a paid service since they offer a free trial. And once you read the small text, you get a better idea of what this is about: videos that will empower you to take control of your life, health, and wellbeing.
I believe that using “Welcome to Iconic” as the big title is a wasted opportunity to communicate something more meaningful. If I didn’t already know what kind of videos I would find here, I would have a hard time understanding that at a glance from the top banner.
Under the top banner is a gallery of available videos. That feels a bit crowded and busy, making it harder to focus on the items. But you can see David Icke, words like “magic,” “healthy,” “fasting” so you begin to get an idea.
9. The Dalai Lama
Again this looks like a personal brand site where visitors already know what to expect, so there is no need to inform them. You do have a big title to clarify what you are looking at, and then a big picture of the Dalai Lama with the call to action to look at the photos. The imagery is beautiful, but I wonder if looking at the pictures is what most people visit the website for.
I believe most people landing on the home page would find the next section with the “Latest News” and “Upcoming Schedule” more valuable.
What jumps at me is the lack of any explanation. It is assumed that you know about everything on the website already. So maybe this is more of a news hub and less of a teaching site.
10. Thich Nhat Hanh
Once the webpage loads, you are greeted with a pop-up inviting you to subscribe to the newsletter. The imagery is beautiful and cursive, the signup button is evident with high contrast, and the title is very inviting: “Bring Inspiration to Your Inbox!” Who doesn’t want that? You don’t need to know anything about this monk to decide if you want inspiration in your inbox or not. I believe they did an excellent job here. What is missing from the pop-up is a place to type in your email address. That will happen on the next page, adding more friction. I don’t understand the reason behind that.
Closing the pop-up, you will see a slider with beautiful images of community and uplifting messages.
There is no button to click, so my eyes wander around and land on the “Donate” button at the top and then on the message “planting seeds of compassion” with the beautiful cursive writing.
I believe the design does a good job setting the mood with the warm images and cursive text sparingly, but it then fails to have a clear call to action. However, the images and text are interesting enough that invite you to explore more and eventually find some actions you can take on the site.
What jumps at me:
- words like: compassion, humanity, generosity, giving, mindfulness
- beautiful images focused on community
- text overlay is sometimes hard to read, but the font is big enough, so I will be ok with that
- the scriptwriting of the tag line is very beautiful and softens the sharpness of screen fonts
11. Celestine Vision – James Redfield
The top section is an invitation to join the Celestine Community. And even if you don’t know what that is, the sub-text explains it clearly. What is missing is the clear indication that you need to tap/click the image to open the community page.
And a fun fact: as you hover the mouse over the image, a small box shows up informing us that this is the “SALES PAGE BANNER.” This slipup is why you need to have image titles that make sense for your audience, not your developers.
What I like here is the clear focus. There is not much you can do, and it is clear from the design what you are expected to do on this page. Using “ALL CAPS” almost everywhere is not something that I would do, but the text is easy to read, so it works in this case.
What jumps at me:
- the words: celestine, community, books
12. Don Miguel Ruiz
At the top, the part that draws your attention is a beautiful image talking about: “Reflections: a path to authenticity.” Unfortunately, you cannot click on the image, and there is no button that I can find. I find this strange because the subtext says: “an apprenticeship program with…”, so the implication is that you are invited to join this program.
What I like about this page is that it is so elegant and straightforward. However, it is too simple as it lacks a call to action button.
I don’t know the purpose of the site, so I cannot comment if it is working. It has a store, and one of the products is the program, so it is puzzling that the top banner does not link to it. I am sure that once this becomes a problem, they will update the site.
What jumps at me:
- the beautiful image
- words like: authenticity, apprenticeship, spiritual teacher
13. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
This has the feeling of a modern website. The top banner has smooth transitions. Each slide has a clear call to action. And there is a tiny bouncing arrow at the bottom that gently instructs you to scroll down for more.
The message is also clear: a vision of a stress-free and violence-free world—a voice for peace and human values.
What jumps at me:
- all the slides feature a picture of the Guru
- the call to action is easy to understand, so you immediately know what this site is about what you can do here
14. Rhonda Byrne
She has a very simple and streamlined website. The title of it is “Feel Good” with short teaching under it. I like this a lot! The first thing this website does is to create value for you by teaching something really simple that you can apply immediately. It also sets the tone for what to expect from the rest of the experience. You either are intrigued, or you bounce off. There is no call to action in this top section, and I believe this is by design.
What jumps at me:
- the words “feel good” – they immediately draw you it – it’s like a command that feels good 🙂
- the close-up images for Rhonda Byrne – provide a nice counterbalance for the text section
15. Paulo Coelho
The site for Paule Coelho is a blog site, and I think he makes that very clear from the top banner that has his name, his picture, and the words “Stories and Reflections.”
What jumps at me:
- the very simple design
- a sideways look – instead of a front-facing image
At the end of this research project, I realized that my premise was flawed. You can’t learn what spiritual people want by visiting the website of the spiritual leaders of the time.
Some websites focus on providing teachings and tools, while others focus more on the personal brand.
The common thread that I noticed was the writings around human nature and expanding of our consciousness. Things like being free of pain and fear or mindfulness or infinite potential.
I did not learn what spiritual people want, but I did learn about various ways our spiritual teachers make themselves and their message available to the world.