5 tips to build a successful website
In my experience working with hundreds of SMB’s, they all usually say the same thing, “I have no idea what I’m doing so I’m going to trust you because you’re the expert”. Now, usually this is any web designer or developer’s dream to hear a client say this so we can take charge and get the website launched. However, after creating over 500 websites for clients in all different industries, this can also be a recipe for project disaster for both the web person and the client.
It’s a large mistake for any company to believe that a designer or developer is going to be the expert in their particular industry. And business Or, that because they know how to build a website they will also be able to convey the company information to the ultimate online success and conversion of the user.
A developer or designer’s goal is to make sure that when people get to your website, they know who you are, what you offer and what sets you apart from competitors within seconds. This is usually driven by your business goals for the website. So whether that is to call you, fill out a form, or purchase a product, those main points or “calls to action” (CTA) will be placed in multiple areas throughout the website. Usually the placement of these CTA’s have best practices in mind based on research in how users engage with a website. This is called a “high-conversion layout”. It’s arguably the best website design for lead generating sites, meaning that it’s working for you to make money and not the other way around.
There are so many different ways to build a website. Having users see the value in your company and want to move forward is the goal for any successful online presence. So, whether you are on your own DIY web journey with available tools, or are looking to hire an expert, here are some tips that I think every client I’ve had so far would have appreciated to know ahead of time.
Tip #1: Get your content together, in pages!
Leading with my point about users wanting to quickly know who you are, what you offer and what sets you apart from competitors, start your writing here! Most business owners could talk all day about their company and all the different innovations they are working on. But let me tell you this, it might sting a little, but they just don’t care. At least they don’t care yet.
Most of the time, unless you answer the question that the user is looking for, consider them just another percentage to your website’s “bounce rate”. That’s the fancy term for they didn’t find what they were looking for fast enough and so they have left your website to find it on someone else’s. OUCH!
So, my suggestion to you is create a company mission statement, as you should with any business you start. From this, people should understand what your company is about and what your main goal is. Remember, you do want to think from a WIFM perspective(What’s in it for me?) as it needs to be compelling. It’s never a bad idea to skim through some of your competitors content and see how they are doing it for some ideas, but NO COPYRIGHT. Some content ideas might be any experience you have, what you are doing better than the rest, how your business started etc. Lucky for you, the number of pages needed on website are dwindling down. About 5 pages to be specific and you only need about 250 words per page for it to be SEO-friendly for search engines like Google. Best practice page examples are: Home, About, Services, Gallery, Contact, Testimonials etc.
Tip #2: Images are the window to the website’s soul
There is some truth to that statement! There are many studies that talk about how important high-quality images are to the overall look and professionalism of the website, including the increased potential of conversion.
I know what you’re thinking, “Stock images are cheesy, too expensive, and nothing portrays to my business.” Images are so much more than just a visual reference to text. I tell my clients that images can also portray the “feeling” you are trying to convey when a potential new customer first lands on your website. Also, you can use images to show who your main demographic is. For example, if you are a Women’s Counselor that mostly helps women over the age of 30, you aren’t going to put a bunch of teenager’s laughing throughout the website.
Other than the fact that there are TONS of FREE high quality stock images available online to use, don’t take for granted the magic your smartphone camera can do. I know people that ONLY use their phone for pictures on the website. And, if you’re too far gone from getting yourself a smart phone, I’m sure that you have someone in your family like your niece or grandson that can help take pictures for you – it’s been done!
One of the best things about using your own pictures is that it really does make a difference in the branding of the website and canhelp it look more personable and less generic. However, there is nothing wrong with using stock images. If it works, it works!
So, when started to build your website, be prepared to gather some images together that might give better reference to your text, give more of the “feeling” you are trying to convey, or identify who your main demographic or customer is.
Tip#3: Don’t overthink it
You can forget about doing the other 2 tips if you don’t get a handle on this one. Overthinking is the stifle of all creativity and it’s usually stemmed from doubting ourselves too much. Sometimes we care too about what others MIGHT think before we even get something into the wild.
I’ve followed multiple different processes in my career on how to handle the collection of getting a customer’s information together to start building a website. Let me just tell you from experience, if you can’t get it pulled together in a week or two (mostly related to scheduling), you probably aren’t ready to move forward with your business and are still in the discovery phase. Otherwise, the website will not pull together very well, and it’s going to become a very unhappy and grueling process to get the website launched without a million questions on why everything is set up the way that it is.
RELAX. If this is truly something that you are passionate about, which hopefully you’re passionate about your business, the information will come. The classic mistake that people make is thinking their website needs to be perfect before launch and that’s a reflection on your own perfectionist self. Believe me when I say that the work starts AFTER the launch of the website. And that’s because your website revisions should be defined from the feedback of your website visitors, otherwise you are wasting your time.
Your business did not grow over night and neither will your website. It’s just as evolving as your business should be, so change it away! But AFTER you get real feedback that would ultimately affect someone from “clicking” something on your site verse someone “bouncing” from it.( See Tip#1 again for info on bounce rates)
Tip # 4: Don’t forget website scale!
Don’t underestimate that Tip#1 & Tip#2 are still daunting tasks, even for me! But even with all the gathering of content, don’t forget to also think big picture.
My boyfriend has this poster up in his office that says “ship in days, plan in months and dream in years” He swears by these words and the success that they bring when running product for a billion dollar company. I’m going to take him seriously and tell you to do the same! Keep it simple and actionable, but don’t forget to think about scaling your website and what you will have it do in the future for your business.
If you’re hiring a company to build your website, ask how they are creating the website and what platform that they are using so you can understand how website maintenance will be done in the future.
Also, you do want to think in terms of “functionality” or what you want the website to do. Adding on more things for the website to “do” can become very expensive. Whether you’re having someone code it from the ground up (These websites are well over $10,000), or you’re using an open source platform like WordPress.
Booking calendars and buying things online are features that you can add to the site and automate things for your business online. So make sure that you have the opportunity to work those things in when you are ready to take those next steps. Otherwise you’re looking at a major headache down the road when you try and grow your platform..
Tip #5: Don’t second guess yourself
It can be hard getting something off the ground! Sometimes even reaching out to people for help can complicate the process for you.
Have faith and trust that you’re going through the right stages to get your closer to your dreams. I can tell you right now that going through anything that you don’t understand or know about is uncomfortable. That’s why it’s important to ask lots of questions if you don’t understand something and do as much industry research as your brain can handle. (A few Google searches on best practices to get online will give you a few ideas). Keep your core competencies close and really make sure you have a clear vision for how people will work with your services.
If you’re interested in hiring me for your web design services, let’s connect! I look forward to talking with you soon..