Let’s talk about websites, because they are kind of my jam! In my 20+ years in the industry, I learned a thing or two of what works when it comes to websites, and what doesn’t. And today I’m sharing all my best tips with you!
#1 Keep It Simple
This can be easier said than done, but if you’re unsure what to do design-wise or what to put on your website, I would always say keep it simple, especially when you’re just starting out. For example, if it’s your first website, you probably don’t need an elaborate tool for students to book a call with you, you could simply use a contact form that people can use to send you a message.
The same principle applies to how you structure your website and the design. Keep it simple and you’ll make your website visitors happy, and it’ll make your life easier as well. It’s so easy to get stuck because you want everything to be perfect and just right, and before you know it you’ve been working on your website for 6 months or longer already.
Accept the fact that you can update your website at a later time and that it doesn’t have to be perfect – done is better than perfect. I would also recommend staying away from fancy add-ons and features when you’re just getting started, as you probably don’t need them yet. When it comes to design, limit the use of fonts, colors, and animations, which can distract and confuse your visitors.
#2 Content First
In a nutshell, I want you to spend more time on the copy of your website than on the design and how it looks. Most people do it the other way around – they spend days agonizing about the color of a button and the fonts, and when it comes to writing copy they just throw some sentences together.
It’s not that the design of your website isn’t important. Of course you want to have an attractive website, we all want that – myself included! However, the copy is what will convert your website visitors into paying clients. It’s your message, the words you have on your website, that will get them to want to sign up and work with you.
I really think that you can get away with a ‘not too great-looking’ website if your messaging is right and your copy is targeted and on point, but definitely not the other way around. So, plan some time for this step and really think about what you want to say on your website – you could even get a copywriter on board.
When it comes to writing for your website, try not to have long, loooong paragraphs of text. Instead, keep it short and to the point and use short paragraphs and bullet points to make the information more scannable and likely to be read. This is because we don’t read websites like we read articles or a book. Instead, we tend to scan the content, which means it needs to be shorter, so readers can quickly glimpse it when they look at it.
This is why paragraphs and sub-headlines are really important, as well as checking your grammar and spelling before publishing your site. It doesn’t have to be perfect, so a few small mistakes are OK – it’s when your copy is full of mistakes that it starts to look lazy and can be irritating to the reader, which won’t reflect positively on your brand.
#3 Tell People What You Do
This may sound obvious, but so many people forget about this. Just because you know what you do and what your offers are doesn’t mean that your website visitors will. It‘s important to let people know who you are and what you do right away so they don’t feel confused when they visit your website.
In your headline on your homepage, the first words that your website visitors read shouldn’t just say: “welcome to my website” – this isn’t going to explain anything to anyone. Instead, you could say something like “Helping busy people stretch and relax with yoga. Group and private sessions in South London.” The point is to make it clear what you do, and who you’re working with/want to work with.
I also recommend that you put your 3 main offers on your homepage, with the headline ‘work with me’ or ‘my offers’, for example. You would then list 3 things next to each other that are most relevant to your website visitors. This is important – most relevant to your website visitors, not necessarily to you.
For example, if you’re a yoga teacher, you might have people coming to your website who already know you, and they just want to know the schedule for when you’re teaching. So ‘Schedule’ could be the first offer. Then maybe you offer private sessions or coaching calls, this could be offer 2. You may also have a digital product that you’re selling, like an online meditation course, this could be offer 3.
I like to keep it at 3 things because this keeps it easy for your website visitors. Again, as I said before, you want to keep it simple. If you have a list of 10 things you do on your homepage, this would be a lot of information for people to get through before they get to your content. With attention spans getting lower and lower, people just wouldn’t read all that – let’s face it.
Keep it to 3 offers here, and you can have your other offers on your offer page – dedicated purely to everything you’re offering. Here you can list them all, and people who go to that page are probably interested in this content and want all the information they can get. It’s important to then focus on a way for people to take the next step with you.
Sometimes people use their website like a library chucked full of content. They then forget they need ways for people to join their email list or buy from them or contact them. You need to make sure you are clear on the next step.
#4 Obtain A Good Domain Name
Your domain name, also known as your website address, is the entry point to your website.
Here are some tips for coming up with an optimal domain name:
- Choose one that‘s easy to spell. Try not to use slang, made-up, or extremely esoteric words. If you want to use your name but it’s difficult to spell, you may have to reconsider. For example, my name isn’t common and it’s not easy to spell, but I think it’s okay. There are definitely names that are significantly more difficult to spell, and where I would recommend using something else besides the name.
- Keep it as short as possible. The shorter it is, the easier it is to remember and type correctly.
- Be creative when it comes to your domain extension. I recommend that you try to get a .com domain name unless your business is in a different country and language besides English. This isn’t always possible and it’s also okay to use something like .co or even a creative name like .yoga. This won’t affect your Google ranking, but of course, it’s more difficult for people to remember because .com is so common.
- Avoid numbers and hyphens. They are harder to remember and less elegant and memorable than word-only domain names and could be misunderstood when vocalizing the domain name. Though this also depends on the language, in Germany hyphens are quite common.
- Research the domain name. Google it to see if a similar website address already exists online, and make sure it does not contain any registered trademarks.
When you have your domain name, the next step would be to purchase your hosting if you want to set up a self-hosted website with a site like WordPress for example (this is what I teach in my course Blissful Websites). You can also sign up with a website builder like Wix or Squarespace.
#5 Keep Control Over Your Website
You need to know how to change things on your website, how to add a new offer, update something, or delete a page from your navigation menu. This doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself, but if you hire someone to build your website for you, (like me for example) make sure that he or she shows you how to update your website.
You do not want to be dependent on someone else for every little thing on your website. It’s OK for the big things, like adding a page for a new project, because you can plan for this in advance. For little things like text changes or a new event, trust me, you want to be able to add them to your website as fast as possible and not wait for weeks until your website person has found time in their schedule.
Whatever platform you use, whether it’s WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, Joomla, or something else, make sure that you can find your way around your website. Sometimes I think people see a website like a flyer – you launch it, and then you forget about it. It’s final and you don’t have to touch it anymore. It’s like it went to print, and that’s it.
This couldn’t be further away from what you should do. I’m not updating my website all the time, but I see it as a living thing. For example, I add new blog posts every week and I make sure that it’s well maintained and updated.
So, there you have it – 5 tips to get a website your business deserves.
Obviously, there are a lot of other things you can do to get a great website, but if you keep those things in mind you’re already way ahead of the game.
What does all of this mean for you? First off, I just want to make sure you’re not asking the question, “Do I really need a website, Susanne?” because, yes, yes you do. In this day and age, you definitely need a website. I call it your central hub, your online home. You never, ever want to rely on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube as your central hub.
These platforms can change dramatically today or over the next year and you are going to lose your momentum. Do not bank on anything that is not yours – I think you need a website 100%. I don’t think you need a super fancy website – mine’s not super fancy, it doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles – but it represents me well. It’s easy to navigate and it’s streamlined and I think that’s what’s important here.