“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Leonardo da Vinci
NOTE: This blog was originally written in 2013! OMG. So much has changed, and SO little has changed. I decided today was a good day to update it. Here we go!
Having a website today is like having an address and phone number was in the 80’s. As a small business, we seem to know we need one but we don’t necessarily know why. And as I always say, thanks to Simon Sinek, start with why. When we understand the why, the what and how come more naturally.
So why do we need websites today? First off, they are our home base, our calling card, our address and phone number, our identity. They express our image, brand, voice, purpose, promise and most importantly, allow visitors to engage and take an action with our business. Remember the great Instagram and Facebook blackout of 2019? If you learned anything from that day, I hope it’s understanding that the only online platforms you actually own is your website and email marketing.
BEFORE building or re-building your website, get clear on what outcome you are seeking, user experience you want to create, your budget and the content you will want for your site.
User Experience + Outcome
What action do you want visitors to take? Look at your menu, book an online reservation, read your about section, call you, see your salon, meet your team?
What is your budget? Today, there are many awesome templates. I love Squarespace and WordPress, and both are affordable. In addition to the template though, be mindful of any custom programming or design you may need. Remember, this is your image and brand and is many times the first impression potential new clients will have of you. Make it awesome, but you do not need a website that breaks the bank.
Where is your content coming from? Do you have a copywriter, do you have hi-resolution professional images? Do you need them? Many manufacturers provide these types of resources if you need. But remember you are your own brand, and need to communicate that via your digital + social pages. Most importantly, less is always more, so think more images, less copy. Always.
9 Super Important Things To Consider
1. Mobile + Responsive
Over 50% (now 70%!) of social + digital sites are visited by mobile and tablets. Just think about how you personally engage online. So that means in order to have the best user experience, you must have a mobile responsive site, which means it “responds” to smartphones, tablets and laptops/desktops. It’s just knows how its being accessed, like magic! If your website/booking experience sucks, you are losing opportunities in both search, user experience and potential new clients.
People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it, as the awesome Simon Sinek says. Take the time to craft a meaningful story that expresses your purpose and promise and make it easy to find on your website. This includes pictures of the people behind the screen. Humans want to connect with humans.
It’s 2013 (it’s 2019!), and the connected customer wants to book a reservation whenever they want, not just when you are responding to texts. And seriously, you need to set boundaries for your own mental health, and that means not being on your phone 24/7 answering text messages.
Love it or hate it, if you want to stay relevant and grow, it’s time to make it happen. No excuses. To determine the right platform for you, begin with a list of GOTTA have’s, get clear on your needs, and ask for referrals from people you trust. Then begin your research on each platform. Many have similar features, but not all have what you will want. So get clear on that first.
Seems logical, but many times it’s hard to find a businesses hours, address, phone, etc. Be sure it’s easy to find. Also be sure to add a plug-in from your inbox (email) marketing platform so you can build a database of clients who want to subscribe to your newsletter and more deeply engage with you. Remember, your website and email list are all you really “own” in the social and digital world.
5. Social Links
Today’s connected customer wants to engage on their terms. Be sure your social pages are visible and the links are working. Content sharing plug-ins are awesome if you have images and videos on your site that are share worthy.
Having a simple and clear menu is super important for any service business and one of the most popular pages on many service biz sites. Remember, people are visiting your website to learn more and possibly take an action with you, make it clear and simple. In regards to adding pricing to your menu, there is no right or wrong answer on that. Much of it has to do with your preference, brand, and business model. Trust your gut on this one.
7. Language + Key Words
Be mindful of the language and key words you use when writing copy for your website. This includes how you title the images on your website, page titles and descriptions. Why? Search engines job is to deliver relevant results, and if you write like you speak, and your words are relevant to what your business is about, you are more likely to be discovered in search results. Remember, this is a human to human experience.
8. Measure + Monitor
Be sure to add FREE Google Analytics to your site so you can measure and monitor traffic, popular content, traffic coming from social pages like Facebook or Yelp, etc. You can learn a lot about what is working and what can work better and where to focus your energy. You may be spending hours a day on Instagram to find out your referral traffic is coming from Yelp. For instance, in the last year, our traffic from Instagram Stories has surpassed traffic from our link in bio. This is good info to have when we make decisions about where to place our efforts.
It’s always good to update your website at least quarterly, if not monthly, to keep fresh images, changes in services, new team members, check links, etc. Search engines also love fresh content so if you have a blog/podcast/vlog on your site, even better, as long as you actually are consistent with blogging, podcasting or any fresh, relevant content.
Remember to keep it simple. Clean. Clear. As the awesome Brene Brown says, clear is kind, unclear is unkind. This goes for leadership, culture, communication and even how you design y0ur website.
Are you ready to learn more about creating more awesome with your social + digital marketing? Join S School, our online school for creative entrepreneurs, where we have classes on websites, email marketing, brand storytelling, social media and more. Click here to learn more and join us!