Websites. That glorious thing that we all know we need because it drives traffic directly to our business. It’s how we show we are officially in business as a business today. We know we need one because we know that’s where the people are – online. We also know that it’s a part of our sales funnel and how it collaborates with social media. But like every other post in this series, we are going to go deeper into what your website says about your business and how you may present it in a positive light.
While there are a lot of choices for platform builders, the two main components we discuss with clients are budget and visuals. Depending on the platform you choose, the overall time spent on visuals and layout can change drastically based on your budget. With that, a lower cost platform to operate, is going to require more time devoted to layout and visuals than one with a higher annual fee. No matter which platform you choose, what you have is really a blank slate to build on. So, let’s start with that and then dig deeper.
What Does Your Website Need To Say?
There’s a phrase tossed around in marketing circles, “Facts tell, stories sell.” Your website should tell a story, who you are and what you do. And like many stories, your website should have several “chapters.” A home page is an introductory chapter, it should give visitor’s an overview of your business. But more than that, it should tell a story. Start with who you are and what you do but also think about why your visitor should care. Because the more they care, the longer they stay.
This is what is known as your “bounce rate,” how long someone stays on your site before moving onto another site. Ideally, you want your bounce rate to be low. This means your visitor spent some time on your site looking around before leaving. The longer they are there, the warmer that visitor is in your sales funnel. But we’re not looking at individual people who visit and why. Nor should your website be focused on one type of audience in your sales funnel.
Your website should speak to cold to hot audiences. As such, you will want to speak to both at the same time but in very different ways. Your hot audience needs a clear and direct path to what they are looking for. Give them clear direction to find what they are looking for because they are in the decision-making process. Whereas, your cold audience, those who may have found you through a search engine such as Google, they need a bit more. This is where your home page, and what you say on it matters.
Start with the facts, who you are. This includes any representation of your business, such as your logo and any visual representations that reflect your business, such as the restaurant may show a close up of a foot-long. With this, tell your audience a little bit about your business. What you do and why you do it. Think of this as your “elevator speech.” If they are interested, they will keep scrolling.
Tell A Story
From here, the story should go more in depth. Give more details about what the site is selling. If your company sells goods, highlight the products but be careful to not overwhelm the viewer. Remember, if they are interested, they will keep going. Selling a service, will be a bit different. Rather than showcasing goods, you will want to showcase the finer details of what you offer.
How this differs from your “elevator speech” is important. From our own website, the first paragraph is telling the visitor who we are, a small business marketing agency. The second goes into greater detail, specifically the services we offer, how and why. Remember, you are telling a story so build on what is already known and go into details as you progress.
Determining what to add to from this point is up to you. If you have testimonials you would like to share, you may do so. But remember to keep them concise. Pick and choose those that are well written and showcase your business is the most positive light. Not all testimonials are going to be useful to the visitor so if you are looking to add this, be sure to find ones that highlight specifics about your business.
And most importantly, make sure the transition time between the testimonials allows enough time for the viewer to read it. While it is tempting to have a lot of movement on the site, remember, people are here for information. They need to be able to read.
Don’t Forget A Conclusion
All homepages need a conclusion. People need to know when they have reached the end. Then if they choose to investigate your other chapters, they may do so. But creating a conclusion to your page and doing so in a positive light can be more difficult than expected.
Many small businesses do this by creating a contact box, a link to socials, contact information, or a combination of all three. While some may consider this the conclusion, it is imperative that your site include a footer with a copyright. To go without it, not only sets you and your business up for any kind of infringement from the information on your page, it also suggests ignorance and oversight. Neither of which present your business in a positive light.
Writing Your “Chapters”
As websites tell a story, your pages are your chapters. There are some key pages that should be on your website no matter how large your business is: Home, About, and Contact. As we have already discussed what should be included on the home page and contact is self-explanatory, let’s dig into the About page.
Your about page should not only tell visitors about your business but also about yourself. Include an introductory paragraph about yourself, give a little background and what brought you to where you are today. Then discuss your business and dig into your why. This is important because the visitor was already interested by your home page and clicked on your About page to learn more about you and your business. They are asking to learn more, what can you tell them and how can you make them care?
More importantly, why should you care. This may seem like a little thing, but in fact it can make a huge difference in moving a visitor along in your sales funnel. Think about the last time you wanted to know more information about something, and you received a response that didn’t really answer your question.
I love my child and genuinely want to hear about his day, but “it was pretty good” doesn’t really answer my question. Now while I may probe with deeper questions, such as asking how his math test went, your visitors are not going to do that. They may check out your socials, but then you are asking them to move away from your site. If they are already this far, they are interested. Don’t lose them this far in.
Your other chapters are highly based upon your business. You may have items for sale that can be grouped together into different types, or you may offer a variety of services. Creating pages for these items allows you to go into greater details of the specifics of what you are selling. Be aware that each different type of item should have a different page but like items should remain together. Such as, a restaurant may serve both hot and cold subs as well as sides. You can create one menu page, and separate submenus for each type of food offered to showcase the specific items for sale, the hot subs, cold subs, and side order items. Your menu should be easy to navigate and easy to read. This applies to both the example restaurant’s menu and your website’s menu. The easier it is to navigate, the more convenient it is to use. And, as you remember, we’re all about convenience.
Creating Stunning Visuals
We all know that websites are more than just text. There are visual components as well, and that includes more than just photos and videos. While photos and videos may be placed through the site as needed, the overall theme, color scheme, and sizing matters. So, let’s break these three things down and see how we can use them to present the text and structure started in a positive light.
The theme is the overall layout of your site. Where is your menu bar? Along the top? Or along the sides? Does it have text or symbols? Your theme should be appropriate for your specific type of business. While symbols are a great way to have your site look more app like, which many of us are familiar with and know how to use, does it align with your specific business or your audience’s expectations?
Remember, we are looking to ease a frustration. Think about your target audience, what would they be more likely to be comfortable with using? When in doubt, simple and straightforward fair better long term that what is trending.
The theme also often includes a color scheme that may be used. While ideally, you will want to utilize colors within your logo for consistency, you will also want to be careful of how colors relate to each other.
There are what is known as complementary colors. These are colors opposite of each other on the color wheel: blue-orange, red-green, and yellow-purple. When used together sparingly, these combinations make a stunning statement because they draw the eye in. However, when used together in a larger capacity, such as the overall color scheme of your website, they can be overwhelming and painful on the eyes to read. No one wants to use a website that is headache inducing from the color scheme chosen, when in doubt, use what the theme suggests.
Sizing includes all aspects of visual sizes. This includes not only how large your photos are on your site, but also how this relates to your text, the font and font size. Font should be easy to read and should stand out from your other visual components. Your text should not be overshadowed by graphics, but rather, they should flow together and complement each other. You should also be aware of color scheme for your text. If it is hard to read because of the hues chosen, the size and style of the font chosen, won’t matter.
Font and font size should only change based on the portion of the page you are working on. Such as, a title should have a larger font size than a paragraph. However, you will want to keep these different types of text consistent throughout your site. Including the menu bar. It may not seem like a big deal, but to have text sizing different in the menu bar presents that portion of the menu is less important or more important than other pages. Your whole menu is important.
In thinking about sizing, also consider the size of your buttons, how people navigate through your site. Disproportionately large buttons drive the eye away from the text – the information that visitors came to find. Whereas disproportionately small buttons may be hard to find or make the site difficult to navigate. While click through buttons highly depend on the size site you have and how it operates, there are also other buttons to consider such as, your social media icons. *
*Note: As websites are meant for both hot and cold audiences, like your social media accounts, and it is not only acceptable but expected to have both highlighted on each, it is imperative that if you link your socials to your website that they are updated frequently. Linking your site to unused socials shows inexperience and ignorance of all digital media and can present as the owner being overwhelmed.
Bringing It All Back Together
With the visuals and text in place, and both are clear, easy to read and navigate, your site is ready for eyes (assuming you have checked visuals on both desktop and mobile views and ensured everything is operational). But how do we get the visitors to our website other than from our social media accounts? This is where SEO (Search Engine Optimization) comes in. While this can be a very in-depth process as you grow, when you are first starting out, it is quite simple.
Each builder offers SEO capabilities, whether inherently built in or a plugin to be installed. Taking time to adjust your SEO settings allows search engines, such as Google, to narrow down a topic and sites related to that topic. As we know from our own personal use, the more detailed we can be with a search, the more accurate the results are. But what if we are just looking for something, or someone who can help with a project we need completed? This is where SEO comes in.
With SEO, businesses are able to use “keywords” that describe their business that helps search engines show your website to those people who are looking for your goods or service. This returns to what you do. In finding keywords for your site, be as specific as possible. Think about what your potential customers are looking for and how you provide a solution. Ideally, you want one word or phrase as your keyword. Depending on the platform you use, you may use multiple keywords per page on your site. Be specific and purposeful. Think about what people may search for.
Additionally, you may also have the ability to add a description to your specific pages on your site. This is the information shown to the person using the search engine. When using descriptions, be clear and concise as possible, this is your first impression, and may be the difference between someone going to your site over another.
Presenting Your Business In A Positive Light
No matter where you are at in your business or how long you have been in business, presentation matters. What’s more, even if you have fallen victim to some of the pit falls along the way, you can change the perception you are giving to others.
Think about yourself, your interactions, and what you are saying. Think about your audience and what they are saying. Get to know these people, because they are pretty cool people to know, yourself included. Remember, to get a little, you need to give a little, relationships go two ways.
From this, you can change the way you are communicating with others and present your business in a more positive light. Because as we now know, how you present yourself and your business matters. What you say and how you say it, from personal interactions such as networking events, to your businesses’ front facing details, and yes, even digital communities – presentation matters. It is attached to every other portion of your business. Presentation is EVERYTHING.
If you enjoyed this series, please check out our other blogs and check back next week for Social Media Etiquette. I will discuss those little things on your socials that matter, why they matter and how to use these platforms effectively.