It’s 2016 and you may have already noticed: your people’s expectations are higher than ever.
You’re probably wondering why I’m not feeding you caviar right now as you read this (“And make it Beluga!” I hear you gracefully howling at me.)
In all seriousness, after years of Marie Forleo’s uber-polished videos (does that woman not have ONE blemish EVER?!) and bigwigs/marketing influencers/probably-even-your-grandma releasing branded, on point everything lately, we’re all getting pickier.
We may all meditate and drink kombucha (every now and then), but more often than not we’re still falling for the health coach/marketing genius/etc. who looks the slickest. Because we’re still just humans.
It’s the equivalent of going for the guy with the most symmetrical facial features (and hottest arms, amirite ladies?) when browsing online dating sites, just in terms of business. Big arms/slick website.
Or think of when you’re at Whole Foods picking out a multivitamin supplement — design and packaging go a long way (longer than we may wish to admit) and you may even find yourself paying quite a bit more for the prettier glass bottle.
It’s evolution in the online world. So I’m gonna help you adapt.
Here’s how to make your website look professional from the get-go, even if you’re DIYing for the first time:
Make your biz purpose clear
Who are you? Who do you help? How do you help them? Don’t make anyone guess. You’ve got 3 seconds to make a powerful impression and intrigue the peeps who need you. Get concise and clear.
Can you see her? Frowning as she browses the interwebz hoping to find you to help her with that thing you’re so damn good at doing?!?! Make sure that when she lands on your website, it’s clear as as a hurricane that you’re the one she was looking for this whole time.
Because this isn’t a hobby, this is your business. Check out these 6 web design rules for a website that converts.
Have a solid About page
You’re gonna need a strong bio that makes you sound legit (because you are, obviously). Don’t be shy about stating your qualifications, training, degrees, and so on.
Sure, you can mention your puppy Spartacus and that you prefer to name your plants after philosophical geniuses and historical figures (Simone de Beauvoir and Leon Trotsky in my case, ahem) but the important shiz should come first.
And speaking of About pages, remember that they’re more about your ideal client than about you. So talk about how you help your ideal client before divulging 1,001 details about your amazing self.
My genius copywriter friend Jamie has a rad freebie to help you write your About page, and my other genius copywriter friend Hannah has a kickass paid guide on writing your About page — go check both of them out!
Flaunt that social proof
Testimonials, baby! Whether in a testimonials page or — my favorite — sprinkled across your website (especially your services/products pages) you gotta show these off.
Use real names and headshots when possible, and if you include their website URLs (which is a sweet idea) just don’t make them clickable (remember: don’t make it easy for people to leave your website).
If you’re so new that nobody’s hired you yet, that’s okay. Can you get testimonials from former bosses? People in your industry who’ve been around the block once or twice already?
Keep it focused
And by this I mean: don’t blog about how Spartacus eats Simone and Leon’s leaves and barfs ‘em up next to your sofa while you’re trying to watch
Family Guy documentaries in peace. Unless you’re absolutely certain it’s relevant, that is. Keep your lunch (and Spartacus’s) on Instagram where it belongs. Your website is for your biz.
So on your blog? Talk about what matters to your audience. Speaking of which, blog for your potential and existing clients, not for your colleagues — for instance, just say no to jargon. Go here for more expert advice on writing copy for your website.
Make it easy to learn more and contact you
Have an FAQ page up or an FAQ section in your Work with Me or equivalent page. This will not only help break down the barriers between you and the client so they’re more likely to hire you, but also make you look legit and like you’ve gotten these questions before so you’ve thought ‘em all through and have the answers your audience is seeking. BAM, don’t you look like quite the pro!
Don’t hide your contact form — in fact, give it its own page and link to it from your navigation (a.k.a. menu bar). And for Xena’s sake, test it to make sure it works.
Invest to show you’re serious
Let’s get real: if you’re just starting out and you don’t have the funds, DIYing is better than nothing (here are some website basics for beginners, by the way).
But as soon as you can make an investment? Make a freakin’ investment in your business. Looks aren’t everything… except they kind of are.
How many times have you landed on a website where the person claims to be successful and able to help you do the same… except they’re not even trying to look the part? The kind of website that’s kinda screaming, “I just started out and am pretending I’m light years ahead.” Maybe the photos are all selfies with bad lighting, or the copy’s as bland as plain oatmeal (seriously, nobody’s gonna eat that shiz plain), or the whole website’s a mess straight outta 1998.
A sloppy website just makes you look bad and, more importantly, it’s driving your would-be customers into your competitor’s eagerly welcoming arms.
And it’s not even about looking pretty, because pretty alone isn’t gonna sell — it’s about strategy. About crafting an intelligent design based on your business values and your audience’s psychographics that will help you actually drive sales (because again, you’re here to run a business, not a hobby. We’re here to change the world, damn it!).
So here’s what you can do: ditch the wordpress.com BS (do it right and go self-hosted for legit points, design freedom, and fun with plugins that’ll let you do evvverythang). And go for some light branding as soon as you can, to get a cohesive look going with colors and typography that make sense for your biz (pssst… here’s how to make a mood board for your website), hopefully a smart header if not a logo, that gives your website a profesh feel, not that oh-look-it-appears-my-toddler-has-projectile-vomited-his-crayons-all-over-my-site! Also-we-’ve-got-a-bunch-of-fonts-that-will-make-any-designer-cry look.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s 2016 and your people’s expectations are higher than ever. So when you’re ready to level up, book a call with Website Superhero.
What’s one thing you’ve seen on a website that’s swayed you to hire someone? What about something that made you go HELL NO and click away?