creating awesome websites blog 2019 hd

Creating Awesome Websites In 2019

       “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.

2. About
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.

3. Reservations/Appointments 
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.

4. Contact/Subscribe
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.

6. Menu
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.

9. Maintenance
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!

Love + Gratitude-
Nina xo

Passion Squared This On Demand Life HD

This On-Demand Life

“The future of business lies in experience architecture and you are the architect.” Brian Solis

Today is Cyber Monday, which was created in response to Black Friday when e-commerce became a thing. And can you even believe that was in 2005? Exactly 10 years ago. Ten. Years. Ago! And now look at the world. E-commerce has now become on-demand anything. Think the W Hotel, whatever, whenever. Wow!

As I was scrolling through Instagram last week, I happened upon an ad, yes, an AD, done well, and seemingly timely and relevant to me, good job ad.

This ad was for Zeel, what I will call the Uber of Massages, yes, in home massages on demand. Breakthrough? No. Not now at least, as we are living an on demand life. And e-commerce has become more than just a transaction; it has become a way of life. We are consuming 24/7 via our mobile devices. All day, every day. We are even paying for our beloved Starbucks with our phone, without a wallet. Think about that. No money is exchanging hands. None.

Whether its someone to build my Ikea desk, thank you Task Rabbit, to someone to do my grocery shopping, thank you Instacart, to someone to deliver late night snacks, thank you Eat24, to someone to whisk me around town, thank you Uber, to someone to run an errand while I have the flu, thank you Postmates. On demand everything. And lets not even get started on Amazon’s new Prime same day delivery. Thank you Amazon.

The world has changed. Again. Just when you thought having a website and a presence on Yelp, Instagram and Facebook mattered, that now feels like so 2013.

With 2016 around the corner, it is imperative that we really take a serious look at our client’s digital experience if we want to stay relevant. Period.

This on demand life is creating experiences that are so seamless and awesome, there is almost no question as to why we would not just pick up our “phone” and click “book now”.

Here is a little “on-demand” quiz for your biz…

Can I book from my “phone” easily? And I mean awesomely! No bugs, easy to read, awesome to experience.

Do I have a responsive website (mobile + tablet friendly) that allows for no more than one click to connect with me?

Are all my links on my social profiles relevant? Meaning, why would you have the URL of your Facebook page on your Insta profile? I want a phone number and on online booking link.

Is your payment processing seamless and easy? Email receipts? Online sales?

Is your confirmation process seamless? And I mean without me having to pick up the phone?

Is there a system, which allows me to review your biz, not because you want a 5 star review but because you care enough to hear about my experience? Is it a one-click process?

Is it easy for me to share my experience of your biz with my friends? Like in one click?

Based on your answers, my challenge to you is to audit your entire online and offline experience, and create a plan to crate an experience so awesome, your clients truly enjoy engaging with you and shout it from the rooftops to all that will listen.

If you are thinking, screw that, I like the good old fashion way of doing business; here is what I will say…

This is NOT about changing face-to-face experiences; it is actually about making them better. This is NOT about not picking up the phone, this is actually about engaging on clients terms, not yours.

This is NOT about today; this is about being in business tomorrow. The world has changed, as have the clients seeking salon and wellness services, so my passionate plea to you is to open your mind, and focus on building the new, not fighting or defending the old. My challenge to you is to see the entire client journey from discovery of your business to entering the door of your business. What does that experience look and feel like? It matters.

Adele may try to call 1000 times, but your current and for sure your future clients won’t. #fact

Love + Awesomeness-


PS: All of the above on-demand services I mentioned are all ones I highly recommend. Of course.

PPS: If you are looking for some tools specific to the salon market, I blogged about that here and here.

don't get mad get a system

Don’t Get Mad, Get A System

“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” Jeff Bezos, Amazon

It never fails, each day I see a post on Facebook or Instagram about a professional being mad at a client for canceling, no-showing, etc. The fact that I just wrote that I am seeing this on a social platform should be enough to get your attention.

My great leader for over 25 years and forever mentor John Paul DeJoria taught me a simple concept. “Praise in public, coach in private.” So I ask, why in the world would we use a public platform to put our clients on blast, or better yet, why would we ever put a client on blast? I mean, they are our clients after all. Now I am not talking about abusive clients, I am speaking about clients in general.

If you find yourself in this cycle of never-ending angst, what it tells me is you simply have not found a system or process that works for you.

Here are some things to consider…

Get A Booking System
Do you have a system that works for the client and yourself? And you see, I put client first. As if it does not work for them, well, then, we have nothing to discuss, as you will have no clients.

A system could be as simple as…
1. Appointment Booking
2. Pre-booking
3. Online Booking
4. A dedicated phone line that has a human on the other end during business hours (which you get to set)

As a client, telling me you have 500 text messages and you are sorry I have not heard back is not the way to build and grow a business. It’s not my problem, it’s yours. So please don’t make it mine. I’m the client. Remember that. If the experience sucks, you’ve lost me. And the experience begins at discovery of your business. Before booking. Think about it.

Appointment Communications + Confirmations
1. Clear, easy to find and understand booking agreement
2. Text and/or email confirmations

Look, its 2015, almost 2016, so if you are not using an email and/or text confirmation and communication platform, it’s time for a wake up call. So lets consider this blog your wake up call. As an owner, its your job to make the clients experience seamless, not the other way around, and I want reminders, and I want communication, but I want it the way I want to consume it, text and/or email.

And as far as policies and agreements go, if I cannot read it, see it, and find it easily, then it’s on you as to why I did not know about it. So web design comes into play here, as does email communication and even good old-fashioned face-to-face verbal communication.

You see, as a business, it’s our responsibility to make the client journey with our business an awesome one. Not one of back and forth texts, ignored texts or emails, setting alarms to call you, or jumping through hoops to get an appointment. Nope, sorry, most will go elsewhere.

In the end, in order to create an awesome experience for our clients, we must focus on their journey. From discovering our biz, to reaching out, to booking, to confirming, to finding it, to parking, to paying, to pre-booking, all of it. So take the time to think about the journey, and do the work to make it awesome, for both you and your current and future clients. Oh, and one last thing, remember that we are on our mobile devices 24/7, so whichever system you choose to create, it must be mobile friendly, or you have lost me, again.

Change the system, change the result.

Love + Awesomeness-

PS: One of my fave go to online booking platforms is Schedulicity as they have everything you need plus the best client care. My awesome haircutter @sugarskulls uses Schedulista, which I love the user experience as a client. And of course, if you are looking for a more intensive software package, there is always MindbodyMillennium, STX and many more.


Are You There Salon? It's Me, Client.

Haircuts For Sale On The Internet

“Your job is to not embrace new technology with arms wide open, but instead understand it and learn which disruptive technologies separate you from existing and potential customers.

What’s unique about “connected” consumers is that they find and share information differently than their more traditional counterparts. They make decisions differently than the everyday consumers you’re used to engaging as well.

But keep in mind, the connected do not displace your traditional customer, they simply expand your opportunity to grow your business.

Brian Solis

5.5 Vidal Sassoon Scissor 635

(image via ProShop)

Many of us thought it would never happen. With all of the changes in our industry, the one thing that gave us comfort was that our services would never be able to be sold online.

Well I am here to tell you those days are over, and today, you can buy a haircut, a color, a style, and a reservation online.

Does this scare you or excite you? Your reaction means a lot about how you thrive in the era of social business and the connected customer.

Intent. Search. Discovery.
My biz hero, mentor & crush Brian Solis says it all begins with intent and search for the connected customer. And I will add discovery.

You see, in today’s world, people are looking for haircuts, colors, facials, session stylists, make-up artists, educators, how-to videos all online. Your job is to become a discoverable business. And you become discoverable by engaging online, via your website, your Facebook page, YELP page, Foursquare page, Instagram page, etc, etc.

Can I Make A Reservation?
Whether I am an existing client looking for convenience, or a new client looking for a salon, can I engage with your business on my terms or yours? My terms are I want to engage book when I want to book, and that may mean at 11PM when you are sound asleep.

Mitzi Spallas Hairstylist

(image via Mitzi

Can I Buy A Haircut?
Most salons do not think they are in the e-commerce business. But I would disagree. You can be in e-commerce if you choose to be. You have so many awesome things to offer for sale and the technology available to offer them.

Here are just a few things you can offer online…
1. A reservation
2. A gift card
3. A package or series of services

How Do I Sell Online?
This is the awesome part. There are so many platforms that make it so easy for us to sell our products and services online. If you are a larger salon with a POS system like MindBody, Millennium, or STX, it’s quite likely they offer online booking, gift card sales and package sales.

If you are a smaller salon or independent stylist without a formal POS system, there are platforms like Schedulicity, Style Seat and more. Many of them also offer custom Mobile Apps and Facebook Tabs where a client can book their reservation inside of Facebook or from their phone or tablet, awesome, right?

Play The Discovery Game
This is a fun and easy way to assess how discoverable you are on the Web and how easy or difficult it is for the connected customer to do business with you. Try it.

1. Take a good, hard look at your website.
Does it make it easy for me to engage with your business? One or two clicks to a reservation? Images of your salon? Can I learn about the owner, the team, and read your story? See your work? How to engage with you both online and off?

2. Google yourself and your business.
Can I find you? Try different keywords like “best salon in Los Angeles”, “hair color experts”, etc. Of course, use the keywords that most fit your business, story, etc.

3. Search for your business on YELP. (and Google Places, CitySearch, etc.)
Do you like what people are saying about your business? Can I see pictures of your salon, your work, the team? Can I find your website from YELP? Your hours?

4. Search for your salon using Facebook Graph Search
Can I find you? Do you like what your Facebook page says about you, your brand?

You can continue doing what you are doing, and getting what you are getting. And if you are happy with that, awesome. But for the rest of you who are ready to grow, engage, and evolve, the sky’s the limit with the evolution of social business.

I would love to hear your comments and feedback on this post, please feel free to share on here or reach out to me directly.

(created and shared with love from Nina)