Your business needs a website.
Are you absolutely sure you need a website?
Your business may make a tonne of sales through direct customers and a website may add little or nothing to that. For some businesses, a Facebook page or shop is enough of a presence.
Many businesses create a website because they think they should have one — and often spend thousands of dollars. They never actually recoup that money because the website doesn’t actually bring them more customers or amplify their impact.
A low-quality website is not ‘better than nothing.’ But a good website can be a great asset —if you invest decent time and money into making it awesome. If it’s not part of an overall marketing strategy then you probably shouldn’t build it.
Focus on the need. Get clear on the ‘who?’, ‘what?’ and ‘why?’.
“Websites are famous for being your storefront in the digital age.
Every expert will tell you you must have a website to capture leads. And that’s true…if you’re building an e-commerce or online business.
For other types of service based business, having a website can be a distraction from the real work you need to be doing: getting clients.”
If you build it they will come.
If only this was true!
Too many people create their website and assume people will stumble across it, because why wouldn’t they? It’s so beautiful. But the web is a big haystack, and your needle just one among millions. How is anyone going to find it? Building a website won’t automatically revolutionize your business – unless you actually promote it!
So how do you plan to promote your website? Social media? SEO? Google? Email? A billboard in Times Square? Word of mouth?
Geek up on digital marketing and search engine optimisation (SEO). Carefully chosen keywords alone won’t guarantee you Google ranking — there are dozens of indicators that search engines use to rank your page. One of the biggies is quality content and links from authority websites. What’s your content plan?
Thinking website? Think website promotion plan first.
“Some people think that simply having a website will bring them untold riches. Another, related myth is ‘publish great content and Google will reward you for it’.
While well-written, in-depth, well-researched content is a must, you have to promote it—and to the ‘right audience’.
Strategically promote your content using social media, email, outreach, video, and any other methods available to you, including paid ads.”
Someone else can create your content
Leave the hard stuff to the expert right?
Wrong! When it comes to your business, you are the expert!
Content is your website. A pretty shopfront only gets people in the door — it’s what inside that counts! Website content needs passion. It needs to communicate the why, who and how with authority and authenticity. It needs to reflect you and your business values and vision. And that goes for words, images and other media.
If you hire a pro, remember they’re not mind readers. They need to really get you, and get what you’re creating. Give them raw content to hone and polish, not a blank canvas.
Think quality, simplicity, creativity. You don’t just want visitors, you want loyal fans who’ll connect with the real you.
“If you have a web site, you are a publisher. If you are on social media, you are in marketing. And that means that we are all relying on our words to carry our marketing messages.
Quality content means content that is packed with clear utility and is brimming with inspiration, and it has relentless empathy for the audience.”
Your website has a finish line.
Your website may have a launch date, but this doesn’t mean it’s ever finished. In fact, it never will be!
A website is never a ‘set-and-forget’. Like any relationship, it’s a work in progress. There are constant updates, revisions, improvements, and creative tweaking.
Your website is a living system — and living systems rely on regular feedback. How are visitors giving feedback about the website experience? Blog comments? Surveys? Sharing on social media? How are you measuring the success of your website? Analytic tools like Google Analytics, Heap, Hotjar or Mouseflow help analyse visitor interactions.
Thinking website? Think measure, learn, and update.
“It will never be perfect. It will never be finished. Websites are designed to adapt and change over time.
So don’t worry about making everything just right before you launch. Just make it live and keep working on it.
The best day to launch a new website is the first day it’s better than the old website!”
Your website must be perfect.
Do you want a real live website — or a dusty manuscript in the bottom drawer? Your website is never going to be a book, so you don’t need a polished manuscript before publishing. You just need a story. And it can even be a draft.
In Lean Startup business terms a ‘Minimum Viable Product’ or MVP has the bare minimum features for launch. MVP’s are cheaper to create, net early sales, and offer feedback from your audience. If it doesn’t fly, you haven’t lost much. From your MVP you measure, learn and update.
Same goes for a ‘Minimum Loveable Website’. It has all the basics to start building an audience. Celebrate this step, gather feedback, and plan improvements to make it even more loveable. Let it grow organically, and escape the perfectionism trap!
And whatever you do, don’t forget to hit ‘Publish’.
“Perfection is illusory in the first place, ask any developer, marketer or digital person worth listening to.
Better to suspend the fear, get the project going – and keep the feedback coming.
Fix it fast, but don’t feel the need to perfect it now.”
You can develop your content last.
Don’t focus on fancy design, theme or platform before first considering content. That’s like designing a house without knowing what you’ll do in each room!
You don’t create your website and then ‘squeeze in’ the content. Content is your website — and not just the words. Content includes images, videos, podcasts and other media. You’ve got a lot of options, so think about how best you can tell your story.
Content is the way you communicate and connect. It’s often the first and last impression you make on potential customers. It should be knowledgeable, unique and targeted to their wants and needs.
First write, imagine, experiment, draw and sketch your content. Then let design decisions flow from this.
“Do a content audit before you get too far down the line with your project.
Working back from specific business goals take the time (this can take days or even months but is worth the effort) getting a feel for the online conversations about your industry.
Spot trends that you should be a part of. Look for gaps that only your brand’s unique expertise can fill.
Your website is all about you.
Ever noticed how genuinely confident people don’t need to spruik themselves? Your website should be the same.
The first thing your website visitors need to know is that you understand their problems, care about them, and can actually solve them. Then they need to imagine the benefits they’ll enjoy once their problems are solved.
Of course at some point your website visitor will want to know about you, and check out your products or services. But never forget — they came to your website to solve their own problems, not to understand every nuance of your own business.
People read web pages.
The more the merrier, right? Not necessarily. Website success is defined by how people engage with your website — not the raw numbers walking in the door.
How long are people staying on your website? If you can hold someone’s interest for 30 seconds, that’s a good start. If your visitors aren’t sticking around that long, it might be because they’re not actually interested in your offering.
Remember, quantity does not equal quality. How are you making sure you reach the right audience? And then, how is your website helping to convert this audience visitors into engaged users, customers and/or fans?
Most of us want to be popular, but your website doesn’t have to rule the oceans. It just needs to be a big fish in your particular pond.
“One of the most important things you can do is to put as much thought into your sub-headings as your page title.
When someone is scanning your content (which they always do) you need to entice them to stop.
You need compelling sub-headings that attract their attention and get them to stop scrolling!”
Design is about looking good.
Many people think design is about making their website beautiful. There’s nothing wrong with beautiful—but good design is about more than pretty colours and logos. Good website design is about creating a website experience that’s functional, enjoyable and meaningful. It’s about planning the smoothest way to introduce you and your offerings to visitors.
Is your website easy to navigate? Easy to follow? Simple and logical? Easy to scan? Approaching design this way lets form follow function, and ensures your website visitors have a great experience.
Thinking design? Think functionality and usability.
“Sure, it may look pretty, but if a site visitor can’t find the information they need or can’t figure out what the business actually does, that website does nothing for the business.”
More visits equals more business.
The more the merrier, right?! Not necessarily! Website success is defined by how people engage with your website.
Think of website visitors like shoppers in a store. They need to stop in the store rather They need to be greeted first, and only then encounter the merchandise and point of sale.
Does your website meet and greet your visitors? Or can they slip away unseen? Do you have any welcoming gifts or ‘tasters’ for them? Where do you want to direct them? What conversations would you like to have with them? What actions do you want them to take?
And are they actually the people interested in your offering? Quantity does not equal quality. The more engaged your visitors, the greater your impact.
“Take as many hits as you like and multiply it by a 0% chance of purchasing and you still end up with no sales. What matters is not just the number of visitors, but also the quality.”
White space is wasted space.
Forget building a website that is cluttered with dense text and calls to action (Click here! Go there!). Think Google homepage. Think Apple. The white space is as crucial as the logo itself.
White space is the gap between and around text, images, and other content (not necessarily white of course). White space directs the gaze where to look, and in what order. It’s the subtle traffic controller, keeping the pathways clear and easy to follow. White space is powerful precisely because of its absence.
Think slick magazine, not infomercial. Think movement. White space weaves the web page elements together. Think Zen.
“White space might be the single most important element when it comes to getting users to look at a design.
Space can help draw the eye in, create an area of focus and establish the right mood for a design.
Great use of white space can help create a design that’s engaging, friendly and highly usable.”
Pop-ups and opt-ins don’t work.
While annoying, evidence suggests pop-ups definitely work. A ‘yes’ click is a connection made – so much better than an invisible, one-time guest. Nikki McGonigal [link here], a food craft blogger, used pop-ups to drive a 1,375 per cent increase in subscribers over just 8 months. And another blogger, Darren Rowse from ProBlogger [link here] used pop-ups to attract 400 new email subscribers per day.
Choose your pop-up wisely. Match your pop-up to your audience and product. Give away something that helps your visitors. Test before using any pop-up. Is it easy to close? Does it hassle second-time visitors? Check out the latest Google penalties on some mobile pop-ups.
“When used correctly they [pop-ups] can have a serious effect on your conversion rates, increase your email list, boost lead generation and sales and result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in increased revenue.”
Websites are cheap and easy to build.
A website is not an add-on. It’s the real business. It needs resources, and a realistic budget. Energy in equals energy out. Tenfold.
Your website is like a house build, with you as the site manager. Unless you’re skilled in copywriting, research, design, branding, online marketing and SEO then you’ll need a team. In most cases, investing in solid foundations and professional help will earn you money in the long run. It will also save you time.
Like any house, a website requires ongoing maintenance. Reviewing and updating of content, adding new features and troubleshooting all takes time and money. Are you going to do it yourself, or do you need to budget for this?
Check out this handy article to help you figure out how much your website build may cost.
“It’s not so cut and dried in the service based space to what cost of website is necessary.
In my experience what has to cost money is brand clarity, functionality, digital assets and linked software… its the whole digital presence and digital marketing knowhow that costs more than a functional, lovely website.
These all need to be factored in to the web-making process. Who you work with on understanding how your website can work for you makes a big difference”
Success happens overnight.
The world isn’t sitting around waiting for the launch of your website. Believe it or not, it’s only the centre of the universe for you and your team! Remember that ‘overnight successes’ — like Twitter, the iPod, Gmail and Amazon — are actually years in the making. Hit mobile game Angry Birds was Rovio’s 51st game attempt. It saved them from bankruptcy.
Mega-successful web entrepreneur Neil Patel says content marketing (aka your website) takes 2 years before gaining traction. Ranking well on Google particularly takes time. Pace yourself. You’re in it for the long run. Tend your website like a garden. Give it attention, time, inspiration, and perspiration. It will bear fruit.