You might be wondering if your business even needs a website. You might be doing great right now without one! Sales are good, leads keep coming in and your Facebook page is providing enough information to customers.
If you don’t plan on growing your business significantly and if you have little or no competition in your market, you could probably get away without having a website. If that’s you, if you don’t need more customers or revenue, don’t bother reading this article. You’re doing great!
But if you want to grow your business and if you have competition in your market, you need a website. Keep reading.
Think about the last time you entered the “buyer’s intent” decision making process. You decided you needed something, let’s say to book a spa treatment in Miami during your vacation, and you started the process to find the right spa. First you probably asked friends or family that have been to Miami if they have any recommendations. If your people had recommendations, your next step was to check them out yourself. If not, then you’re off to good ol’ Google! Either way, you’re sitting in front of a search bar typing “best spas in Miami” or the name of the business your friend told you about.
You are on the internet looking for more information so you can make a decision and take action.
Now let’s say that you typed in “best spas in Miami” and you found an article that lists out the top 5 spas to go to while you vacation on Miami. What a great start! Now you copy and paste the spa names directly into Google.
The first spa you search has a listing on Google Maps and you can see it’s close to your hotel. Excellent! It has a good amount of Google reviews and most of them are positive. So you click on the box in their profile that says Website. It takes you to their Facebook page. You think it’s a mistake so you go back to Google. But all the links for that spa take you to Facebook. So you scroll through and look at their info box to find their business hours and hopefully a list of their services. They have a menu of services attached as a file on their page. It looks good. They have what you want. So you scroll through and see their latest posts. It’s not terrible but you don’t really get a feel for what the spa is like.
So you head back to the list and search for the second spa in the article. The first search return is a link to their website. It takes you to a page with photos of the facility, testimonials from clients. They have photos of the staff and the services they offer. There’s a page with all the treatments they provide and a way to book an appointment online. You have a couple of questions about the facility so you check out the FAQ and get them answered. The spa’s website is on-brand and you can get a feel for what it would be like to be there.
Now pretend you are the owner of these spas. Which of these online experiences would you like your customers to have? The Facebook one or the one that delivers a complete on-brand experience?
If your business exists only on a social media platform you’re missing out on a very important piece of your customer’s journey. If you aren’t online at all, you are invisible.
Now that you’re totally convinced that your business needs a website, let’s figure out what direction to start in!
What can a website do for my business?
An online presence can do a lot of things for your business. Defining your audience’s journey will help you refine the experience that you need them to have and help them get there. At a minimum, this is what a website can do for your business:
- Helps you get found. Have you heard of SEO? Of course you have! Even if you don’t totally understand it, you know it’s important. SEO is how spas in Maui get found when people type in “best spas in Maui”. If you don’t have a website, people searching online will not find your business. They will find your competitors instead. Your competition thanks you.
- Boosts your credibility. Think back to that spa-in-Maui scenario. Which spa felt the most reputable? Which business do you think invests more in their customer experience? Which one answered your questions? A website is your space to legitimize your business during the decision making process of your customers. It’s how they get to know if you’re the right business for them.
- You can sell your stuff there. 24/7 availability for people to buy your products. 24/7 access to book your services. It’s how people can give you their money. Cha-ching!
- It’s an important part of the customer journey. If you’ve spent any time at all on your brand strategy or mapping out your business plan, then you’ve thought about the experience you want to give your audience. You’ve also researched the steps they take to make decisions about purchases. So you know that they are looking online – not just for you but for your competitors. Give them an excellent, on-brand experience that makes them choose you.
- It showcases your brand. Is Facebook blue one of your brand colors? Does your Instagram grid really showcase what your brand is all about? Can you do all the things you want to on your Facebook page? You can’t personalize a customer experience on someone else’s website.
- You own the space. This ties in with #5. Your website is yours to customize, personalize and strategize!
- Saves you time. If this doesn’t seal the deal I don’t know what will! Your website is where you can set up systems, automate processes, answer questions before they even ask them, tell your story and make sales – all without you having to lift the same finger over and over and over again.
What type of website does my business need?
Just like your business, websites aren’t one size fits all. First you’ll need to understand what the customer experience is meant to be on your website. Then you start with the type of website you need to build.
- Authority, or portfolio, website. Authority websites serve as a business’s online presence. It is where potential customers come to see the work you have done and learn how to get in touch with you. Leads are generally created offline. Someone has recommended or referred you to them and now they are coming to your website to learn more and to start an inquiry. Sales also happen offline. Businesses such as interior designers, builders, photographers, web designers and artists benefit from an authority website type.
An example of an authority, or portfolio, website I’ve designed is for my clients enjoyyourseound.com. She is a Voice Coach and her business helps anyone who wants to improve their relationship with their voice. Check out her website to get an idea of what an authority website looks like and if it would work for your business.
- Lead-generation website. Just as the name suggests, this type of website is designed to generate leads. SEO and targeted marketing play a big role in the development of this website. Sales, however, still occur offline. These websites are found by people with “buyer’s intent”. That is, they have entered the decision making process to purchase and now they are deciding if your business is the right one for them. Coaches, legal services, personal trainers, bakeries, virtual assistants, counselors and restaurants generally utilize lead-generation type websites.
Take a look at Space Cow Bakery’s website I designed for her brownie business. She needed a place to disseminate information to customers, and I created a site that has all the necessary information to bring in more leads who visit her at markets or custom order for their special occasions.
- Sales/e-commerce website. These websites generate leads and make sales online. If the website has a cart function, it fits into this category. E-commerce, or sales, websites are the most popular.
This type of website is not only for e-commerce businesses who are selling and shipping a product, but also for businesses where a service can be scheduled and paid for online, even if the service is delivered offline. For example, you can book and purchase your massage in advance at the spa in Miami. The service is delivered in person, but the leads and sales are online. This is the type of website I created for Erin Neuhardt.
The most popular of these types of websites are online stores. Some of my favorites are The Succulent Shop, Farmgirl Flowers and American Eagle.
- Utility website. Businesses whose website is their business have utility sites. These websites function as a tool, rather than a browsing space. Think Airbnb or Facebook. These are utility sites.
What does my website need to have?
Your web designer will guide you through and take care of these things for you as she or he is creating your new site. Use this list today to see how your current website stacks up. Do you have and are you leveraging these elements of a healthy website?
- A simple, easy to spell URL. The same rule applies here as it does to the practice of naming your business. Make sure people can spell it by memory. At least they should be able to sound it out when typing it in the browser bar. If your URL is a word that leaves out vowels or is spelled in a weird way, people might not be able to find you. Or if your URL is super long, people might find it tedious to type in. Short, sweet, easy to spell is the way to go!
- A clear description of who you are and what you do. Within seconds of landing on your page, a person should know what the website is all about. It should be clear, it should be above the fold and it should be easy to read. Visitors to your site should know right away that they are in the right place. If it’s confusing or if they have to dig to find who you are and where you are, they will leave your website under the assumption that you are not the business they are looking for. That would suck!
- Easy and clear navigation. Just like the ease of knowing you’re in the right place, the ease of finding what you are looking for should be just as clear. People come to expect certain things on a website: FAQ, Contact, Store, About, Blog, Follow, Subscribe, Services – these are words we associate with websites and what our brain looks for when we scroll and scan. You can take some creative liberties here to stay on brand, but don’t make it confusing. There’s a protocol we expect when browning a website – navigation bars, menus and buttons. We understand each site is built differently but we also need some familiarity so we feel comfortable while browsing.
You need to also be clear on the journey you want visitors to take. Don’t make them guess where to go next – guide them there! There should be a natural flow to our visit. Make it make sense and take us down the path to becoming a customer.
- Easy to find contact information. Make it easy for prospective and current customers to get in touch with you. Customer service can make or break someone’s experience with your brand. Whether you prefer a direct email or a contact form, make it clear on how customers can reach you.
- Social proof. Your website is part of your customer’s journey. They are on your website to learn more about you and to “get them over the hump” in their decision making process. Social proof is powerful! Include testimonials and reviews on your home page, services page and anywhere else that feels appropriate for your brand. Also include a link for existing customers to return and leave you a glowing review! Hand them the link to your Google reviews on a silver platter, don’t make them search for it!
- An obvious call to action. It’s part of your customer experience and the journey you want them to take while on your website. You want them to take an action. What is it? What needs to happen before that? Map out the journey you want them to take. Where does it lead them? What actions do they take along the way? Learn more about you. Discover the history of the brand. Take a quiz to see what service suits your needs best. Sign up for the free information. Get on a waitlist. Add to cart. Book an appointment. Don’t give them a million things to do. Lead them to one. Reward them when they get there.
- Quality content. This might be the most important of them all. Kidding, they’re all equally important! But if you want to get them to bookmark you or never close the tab that you’re open on, this is how. Quality over quantity is your siren call. Whether it’s a compelling About Me story, super powerful quotes or insights, blog posts that they want to come back to refer to or images that inspire them – give them something of value that makes them want to stick around.
- Good SEO. This is the intimidating one. Good SEO will help you get on page one of Google. Your web designer can assist you. Quality content is the secret ingredient! There are tons of good resources on the internet on how to tackle SEO. You don’t have to be a super expert SEO goddess, but knowing the basics will boost your rankings and bring big returns.
- A secure site and good tech support. If people get warnings that your site isn’t secure, they won’t do things like enter in their email address or credit card number. Do your due diligence in securing your site. And keep up to date with the backend of things. You want a friendly user experience and if widgets break or fail to load, you’ll lose credibility. A good web designer provides these services. Make sure you hire one that provides tech support even after the project is over.
- On-brand and user friendly design. If your website is garbage, people will think your business is garbage. They come to your website to decide if you are the right business for them. If they can’t get that information, they will move on to your competition. Website design can be simple. But it has to be strategic. And it has to feel good to visit. Your website is probably part of your customer’s decision making process. It helps them decide if they want to give your business their money. Your website should help them feel good about giving you their business. It should check all the boxes of making a connection, giving information, sharing value and positioning your brand. It is a digital representation of your business and your brand. Every impression is important. Don’t mess this one up!
Should I hire a web designer?
I’m a web designer so of course I am going to end up telling you yes, you should hire a web designer! And the reasons why are things you already know: we save you time, we are experts, web designers can elevate your website above a DIY job and we already know how to do those 10 things I mentioned above.
Did I mention we are experts? I know how to create a framework, design unique branding for your business and navigate all the technical stuff that makes a website great.
So yes, for all the reasons you already know, a web designer can do great things for your business.
But you still have to consider your budget, your timeline and how involved you want to be in the project. A lot of business owners are hands-on creatives and the DIY route is in their blood. That’s why I have a library of resources and articles at your disposal to help you understand Wordpress and web design better from the very start.
I’m also a hand-on creative type. Which is why I love it when my clients are super involved in the process. You have ideas and I love them all! You be awesome and I’ll figure out the technical stuff!
I also know business owners who are very good and love what they do but experience a brain fart when asked about website stuff. You be awesome and I’ll figure out the rest!
Ps- I never get brain farts when it comes to branding and website stuff. It’s my zone of genius and the fuel to my soul.
My VIP days are designed to be as involved as you want to be. I take your ideas, at any level, and run with them. Then you sit back while I do all the hard work for you. At the end of the day, or two, you’ll have a refined branding strategy and a new Wordpress website that’s so beautiful you didn’t know it was possible to do something so incredible on the internet!
So yes, to all of the above.
☑️ Yes you need a website for your business
☑️ Yes there are different types of websites depending on your business and your goals.
☑️ Yes I can help you decide.
☑️ Yes there are certain things you need your website to have and do
☑️ Yes I know how to do all those things
☑️ Yes you should hire a web designer
☑️ And yes, we should chat because I already love all your ideas!
So What’s Next?
If you’re even thinking about getting a new website, book a free call. Then head to your website now and go through that list of 10 things. Do a little evaluation of your website. See what needs to be improved on, what needs to be added and what just isn’t working any more. We will talk about it on your call.
You have a great business! Your website should reflect that. It should be one more tool in your toolbox that helps you crush your business goals and achieve your dream life!