I hear it all the time, when I say, “Where can I find you online?” The response typically is: “Ohhh, just find me on Instagram, that’s where I’m most active!” And while I LOVE the app and I’m on Instagram, whenever someone says this, I immediately think about how so many of us are relying on social media to share, sell, and serve when that’s not what the platform is really built for. What I want more people to do is to shout their website from the rooftops.
Your site isn’t just something that should live in your Instagram bio, your site is YOUR domain, your home on the web, and it is an intentional destination that should give people an experience the moment they land on it. So if you’re not currently screaming your URL from the rooftops, then this episode is for you!
We’re going to talk about the elements that make up a GREAT website. This checklist will help you create or redesign your own home on the web to make it a place you’re proud to send people to. Let’s walk through some checkpoints and things you’ll want to include or keep in mind as you create or redesign your website this year, so that it makes the best impact and keeps people coming back to your door—virtual or not—again and again.
Do You Need a New Site?
First things first, let’s figure out if you really do NEED a new website? Sometimes it feels like our attention is needed in so many places while running a business, and while a website can be very important, there are often things that come before creating or redoing a website, like building out your offer or product suite, or getting proof of concept, or getting people results or building up a community on social media or an email list.
I reached out to my friends at TONIC and asked them to give us some advice and insights to help you figure out if you need a new website.
Their advice? Ask yourself these 5 questions and keep track of how many “yesses” you tally up:
- Does my website fall short of the level of my work or brand?
- Am I embarrassed anytime someone asks for my website URL?
- Is my website holding me back from what I want to accomplish?
- Does my website feel like it doesn’t fit who I am?
- Is my website not bringing in the quality of leads I want?
If you answered yes to just one question, you might just need a few tweaks to your website and some of our tips might guide you in where you’re falling short. If you answered yes to two or more, it’s likely time for a more complete refresh, and if you answered yes to all five? That’s a greenlight for you to getter-done and focus your efforts on a website design that reflects all you are and have accomplished in your business!
Quick plug for my friends at Tonic! If you’re lost on where to start or looking for a new website, they make THEEE most gorgeous and fully customizable website templates and they don’t require any HTML know-how.
Tip #1: Map out the customer journey
A great website isn’t about your ego or telling the world how great you or your offer is, a great website is based on the customer’s journey and making it as easy breezy as possible. You want people to land on your website and get to whatever they need with the fewest amount of clicks and time possible.
That means when you design your site, you want to think about things like having copy that tells them exactly where to click to find what they need and buttons to easily land on a purchase page, sales page or contact page without searching. You want to think super intentionally about your homepage and fill it with calls to action that guide them down the simplest path to find whatever it is that they are looking for.
I always think about that journey and envision what it would take for a stranger to hear my name and go all the way to purchasing one of my programs or listening to this show. How can I guide them to whatever they are looking for quickly, clearly, and easily! I remember the first time I intentionally did this, it was when I was still shooting weddings but also launching the education side of my business so I had two very different clients: brides and entrepreneurs and I had to figure out how to lay out a page that would serve them both without it being confusing. I mapped it all out from my home page to my menu to my contact form with pen and paper and then we worked on my site to make sure it could serve everyone well without losing them in the process!
Tip #2: Be strategic and clear
Right when someone lands on your website, before they even have a chance to scroll, your website headline and subheadline should state exactly who you are, what you do and who you do it for. Remember, if people are jumping off within a half a second, you want to give them clarity the moment they land so they know they are in the right place and stick around.
I see a lot of people try to get cutesy with their homepage headlines and subheadlines, I used to be one of those people and trust me, I get it… It’s fun to be clever or witty or creative, but I promise there are other places to do that with your website copy! When it comes to the FIRST words someone sees on your site, they need to be clear and concise.
You want your headline to pack a punch or at least confirm that they landed on the right site and so if they can’t figure out what they’re looking at or what you do right away, they’ll probably bounce. You want your headline to read more like a nonfiction biography, less like a mystery novel.
If you’re struggling here, lead with: Who you are, how you serve the world or what you create, and who you create for! That’s a perfect place to begin!
Tip #3: Make your About page super compelling and connective
The About page or your bio page is THE most visited page on websites, so you want to make sure yours is GOOD. I love that people click to the bio pages the most because it shows how much people care about the humans behind the work! It’s something we easily forget in a world where we’re so focused on what we create but proof that YOU matter!
With your bio page, I’d focus on less of an autobiography of awards, degrees, accolades, and accomplishments—and more of an honest account of who you are, why you do what you do, and what connects you to your target audience. Sure, some of those accolades may boost credibility and they can play a small part on your page, but most people would much rather hear your origin story and your turning point and your WHY than what you majored in! Lead here with serving them not with boosting your ego!
Research shows that the majority of people buy based on emotion. So when we can connect to a story or a person, it helps build trust and feel as though we know them in some way. When creating your bio page, think about how you can connect with people beyond what you do! You want them to care about your offer, yes, but when they connect with and care about you, it changes the entire transaction and humanizes their experience!
Tip #4: Make it super easy to reach you
You WANT people to be able and invited to get in touch with you! That’s the goal of your page! While most websites have a contact page or form, I still see a lot of sites that make it nearly impossible to get in touch or to reach out.
I recommend having a super straightforward contact form that’s quick and easy to fill out and leaves the work up to YOU, not the client. Have multiple places where they can click to get in touch, include all the methods they can reach you whether it’s through a form, email, a phone number, even a chat box.
Just whatever you do, make it easy and inviting! Like some contact forms require you to fill out 17 fields and give over all kinds of information that might not be applicable for the person inquiring, and while that might be valid for some business models, for most, it’s so much better to just leave a space for someone to provide their name, email, and their message so that the invitation to get in touch is a no-brainer for them and from there, you can guide the conversation and do the heavy lifting!
Tip #5: Anticipate and answer questions before they’re asked
Your web page should be thought of as a solution! When you’re actually sitting down to write your website copy and design your page, think less about sharing alllll the shiny bells and whistles and features of your offers or all the perks of working with you and think more of how you can answer questions or help someone qualify themselves as the right fit for what it is you offer.
While it’s tempting to lead with the shiny things – and those items do serve a purpose and should have a place on your site – that type of content shouldn’t be the meat of the words someone reads. Your website should help people to understand your offer, connect with you or the company, and qualify themselves as a buyer.
So instead of focusing on the features of your offer, sit down and write out commonly asked questions or pain points or problems that your target audience is struggling with that you or our offer solves and use those as the starting point for your copy! If your site can show that you understand the problem and you’ve got a solution that’s easy to understand, man, that’s the magic!
Show that you have a deep understanding of what your target audience might be questioning or worried about to build trust and offer validation! On top of using this strategy for your website copy, you can also use it to create an FAQ section or page so that if someone has specific questions about booking you or purchasing your product or what a process looks like, they can head there and look for the answers before reaching out.
Tip #6: Utilize long-form content
I’ve been talking a ton about long form content on this show because I think it’s one of the most underutilized mediums for creators out there and it’s something that has moved the needle for me for over a decade. Long-form content is referencing things like podcast episode, blog posts, or even YouTube videos, content that is longer in length and lives on longer than a social media post.
Along the lines of Tip #5, you want to create resources that answer your prospects question before they can even ask it and so for more in-depth questions or processes that your audience might be curious about or searching for, it’s helpful to build out a content or resource library in the form of blog posts, podcast episodes or YouTube videos that you house and categorize on your website.
Think of the common categories of topics people come to you about or that you address in your work, and then pick the medium of content that feels best for you to stick to consistently and long-term, whether that’s audio, video or written. This will give you places to send people to when they have a question and this content will also be searchable meaning it’s a major SEO booster for your website! When you regularly upload specific, helpful content that serves your audience material they’re already seeking out and looking for, it helps you answer their questions and in the process it paints you as an expert or authority!
Tip #7: Keep things concise and strategic
Every single piece of content and copy on your website should have a purpose. Nothing should just be “filler” or stand-in content… if it doesn’t have a specific use to inform, engage or call someone to action, then it’s gotta go!
For example, since we know the bio page is the most clicked on page on most websites, what other information or calls-to-action would be important to have there? How can you make that page purposeful? Where should someone go after they learn about you? Think about ways that you can guide their path! I always think of the line “no dead ends!” meaning you don’t want someone to complete something without an invitation for what’s next!
Ideas here include adding a button to contact you or a footer with a related freebie or resource someone could access. It could also be a site banner of your top offer at the top of a given page, or a canvas with your most downloaded opt-in! The skies the limit here in how and where you can invite someone and of course, a place to get in touch and subscribe to your email list is the most valuable way to capture someone, so that you can continue the conversation elsewhere.
Go through every page on your website and make sure there are calls to action that fit the page content and make sure there are “next steps” for someone on each page. According to SmallBizTrends, 70% of small businesses lack a call to action on their homepage, which is an insane stat and a massively missed opportunity!
We can’t assume site visitors know what to do or where to go, people don’t always know the next best steps to take, so invite them with clear, direct language to “sign up for an offer” or “get a free download” or “subscribe today” and be strategic and thoughtful here!
Tip #8: Build online authority
Establishing your expertise or credibility can be a huge way you can build trust with someone new! This is something you can work towards if you’re just getting started, but let this be a goal for your future website if it’s not the right fit right now.
Building authority could look like having a “featured on” section that showcases brands or publications that you or your company has partnered with for those a bit more advanced in their business, or even as easy as client or peer testimonials and reviews.
Don’t believe me when I say this is important? According to Nielson, 92% of consumers are more likely to trust non-paid recommendations like reviews than any other type of advertising. And a Bright Local Study said that 88% of consumers trust user reviews just as much as personal recommendations from friends or family.
Sooo, if you’re wondering if reviews or testimonials or press features are important for your website, the answer is a resounding YES! People look to other people’s recommendations and experiences to validate whether something is right or wrong for them, and they want to see that feedback before making a purchasing decision.
Social proof like testimonials and reviews actually simplifies your customer’s journey and reduces the number of steps before making a sale while simultaneously building their trust in their own purchasing decisions!
Tip #9: Utilize a keyword research tool to maximize SEO from the start
SEO is Search Engine Optimization and for a long time those words sounded like gibberish to me! It’s something a lot of people think they will get around to but rarely do and it’s a massively missed opportunity when it comes to having a website. In fact, one of the biggest reasons to have a site is to be searchable!
Say it with me, SEO is not dead. And you need to consider it when putting together your website copy, plain and simple. Using different keywords helps your website show up when someone searches for you or what you offer. If you’re not sure where to start with SEO, tools like “Wordtracker” or “SEMRush” can help source and decide which keywords and phrases to focus on in your website copy.
And The Beginner’s Guide to SEO by MOZ is another solid tool for those who want to learn more about SEO! There are other easy ways to figure out words or phrases to use for your site or for the content you create. If you’ve heard me talk about Pinterest in any of my trainings or past podcast episodes, you probably know you can conduct keyword research there too by putting in commonly used keywords and phrases for your business or industry into the Pinterest searchbar and then seeing what autopopulates in the search dropdown menu as a result. These results can help you see what people are searching for and can also inspire the content you can create to serve as a solution for their searches!
Tip #10: Make sure your website is optimized for mobile
Trust me, gone are the days when mobile design was an afterthought. More than 50% of web traffic comes directly from mobile users, so simply put, your website needs to be mobile friendly! Many designers and templates prioritize this nowadays, but it’s still something worth checking and focusing on honing to be sure people can have a pleasant user experience whether they’re on their phone, tablet or desktop. This is one the reasons I love Tonic sites so much is because their prioritize mobile design and their mobile versions are just as pretty as their desktop sites!
It’s important that the experience is universal no matter what device someone is logging in from and if you think about where you’ll be sending most of your traffic from (likely social media which is generally consumed on a mobile device!) it’s important to design and test the usability from every type of device. Make sure before you hit publish that everything works as is intended on mobile! Don’t forget this critical step!
Tip #11: Make e-commerce easy
The goal is ease of use here and if you’re selling products, It should be EASY for people to see what products you have to offer, and the process to buy them should also be easy and require minimal steps. You want to make their path to purchase as easy as possible!
When setting up your products, have plenty of photos, specs, and details about what you are selling. You can even include things like animations or video tutorials or other visuals in your online shop. And don’t forget to explain the details or fine print like pricing plans, return policy, and where to contact support for any questions or help. The more information that can answer potential questions before someone can even ask them, the better!
The Big Picture
There you have it! The 11 ways to optimize and make the most of your website! Do you feel ready to tackle a beautiful and client-centered website now? I hope you can use this checklist as a guide rather than a rulebook, because ultimately YOU know your target audience and their needs and desires better than anyone.
The most important thing is speaking to and connecting with anyone who lands on your page, and making it smooth and easy for THEM to connect with you. This is your home on the web so have it ready for hosting 🙂 Keep it simple and straightforward and infuse your personality and spark, and I have zero doubts it’ll be a knockout.