As an entrepreneur, you are constantly working on your business. And you know how important it is for every aspect of your business—from your product or service to your messaging to your marketing to your customer experience—to reflect your brands personality and promise. Your website is no exception.
Your website may be the first experience that a potential customer has with your brand so you want it to work as hard for your business as you do. It can be your best sales person—or your worst, if not done right. You don’t have to have a super fancy, complicated or sophisticated website, but you must have one. It gives you a place to send people. It provides legitimacy for your business. It says, “This girl is serious and this business is legit.” It welcomes people into your business and explains what you are all about on a large scale. It is yours to own. It allows you to communicate with your customers. It promotes trust in your brand. It gives your customers a platform to connect with you.
Your website is very important.
But it can also be a scary and daunting task to create. All important things are. So let me help break it down to take the fear away and provide a simple 5-step checklist for you to use to assess the current situation of your website and begin making your website work as hard as you do to grow your business.
Whether you are starting from scratch or giving your site a facelift, you want to make sure that you have a clear and strong branding strategy. I highly recommend you work with a designer to develop a brand look and feel. You will want to use this throughout every aspect of your business: your website, marketing, logo, social media, product packaging, business cards, etc.
Your website design should reflect the brand of your business and have your visitors feeling exactly how you want them to feel. In order to do that, your home page should be:
Clean and clutter-free
Easy to navigate, with all of the important information in plain sight and easy to access. At a very minimum, be sure your site has a Home Page, an About Page, a Contact Page and a way to join your Tribe (see step 5).
Easy to read—fonts, colors and images are all critical design elements that not only represent your brand, but take your visitors on a journey through your site and help tell the story of your business. Choose them thoughtfully, carefully and with intention. A good designer can help you with this, or there is plenty of design inspiration on Pinterest, Instagram and beyond.
If a visitor enjoys the initial look and feel of your website and decides to stay and hang out for a bit, you must ensure that your content is worthy of their time. Colors, fonts, and images will bring them in, but your words, offers, and content will make them stay.
You don’t have to be a New York Times Best Selling author, but your content does need to be engaging, authentic and true to your brand. Your online voice needs to match your in-person persona. This is how you build loyalty and trust.
If you can’t find the words, I recommend hiring a copywriter to help. The right phrasing and flow will make your website sound professional, feel authentic and drive sales.
And the same goes with the images that you are using. There really is no excuse for using bad, sub-par photos in your branding. If you sell a product, hire a professional photographer to take pictures of them. Or make sure that you are taking quality, well-lit images yourself. Even if you have an amazing product, if it looks terrible online, no one will buy.
If you sell a service, use stock images that match your brand. Be sure to either pay for the photos from a legitimate stock house or utilize free photography resource sites that allow you to use their images license free. Never, ever copy and paste images from Google. That is serious copyright infringement and, basically, stealing.
It is very important to have a professional headshot taken to include on your site. People want to see you; it makes them feel like they know you. And the way you look reflects the brand of your business. Make sure it is the best version of yourself (but watch out for too much Photoshop; you still want to look like you). If you don’t have money to hire a photographer, try trading with them. Offer them your products or services in exchange for headshots. It’s that important. Seriously—you need a professional for this.
It is also incredibly important for your website to be mobile responsive. That means if someone visits your site on their mobile phone or tablet, they will have an equally excellent experience as if they were visiting from a computer. Almost all website platforms have this capability—either built in or as a plug-in—however, you need to make sure that the mobile design looks great, flows well and captures all of your key messaging.
If you don’t give your mobile design some attention, you will be losing out on potential customers. So many of us use our phone to check out businesses, and if that experience isn’t aligned with your brand promise, you may never get a second chance.
If you are working with a designer or developer, be sure that this is something they are committed to completing within your contract.
Search Engine Optimization sounds super technical and complicated, but it really just means that you have added the important and right keywords into your site so that if someone uses Google to find what you have to offer, you will show up in that search.
Be sure to do your research on what the right and most powerful keywords are for your industry and business and then give them to your designer or developer. It takes some time to do this work, but it is extremely important. There are plenty of online training courses that can walk you through how to choose the right words, as well as professionals who can create a full digital and social strategy for you.
Whichever route you take, make sure you make time to do the work. If done right, it’s a great way to get free marketing for your business.
As I am sure you know, it is a risky game to rely on social media platforms as your only connection to your tribe. With algorithms changing as often as they do, you really have no control over those connections. That is why it is critical to build your own email list. Getting your tribe to willingly give you access to their precious inbox allows you to develop a relationship with them that you can control. But you must respect this relationship. Don’t just put up a “subscribe” box on your website and expect people to jump right in. You need to provide them with something equally as valuable as their email address. Offer a free download, tips, VIP access, knowledge, inspiration—anything that will be worthy of them joining your tribe and giving you access to them.
Spend time on this one and offer something that is of great value and fits with your brand promise. It can be the start of beautiful relationship.
A great tip is to include your sign up box as a pop-up but also in the footer of your website. That way it will be accessible on every page, but not be annoying.
Whether your website is simply four pages or a robust online store, if you pay attention to these 5 elements, you will ensure that anyone who visits will get a clear and accurate representation of you and your business. Your website is your online welcome mat so be sure it gives the right message for your brand.
Kellie Taylor owns Taylor Street Designs, a branding and website design company that believes your online presence should work as hard for your business as you do. We also believe in bravely pursuing your passions and fiercely fighting for each other.