Are you making this big mistake with your small business website?
Do you really want your content drowned out by some flashy design? It reminds me of those commercials that have nothing to do with the product being sold…
A common mistake I see over and over again is designing a website, then creating content to fill it in. This is the number one reason* why most people have trouble with that amazing DIY template or theme. *Based on my unofficial scientific opinion, of course!
Sure, it looked great in the demo with the restaurant menu, but you’re a life coach. Totally different industry.
If you’re hearing crickets from your ideal client avatar, this might be why.
But it said multi-purpose, you say? Think about it. What’s the difference in multi-purpose themes and one-size-fits-all t-shirts? It’s rare that either will fit like a glove without the help of some smart designer, coder, or seamstress.
When you choose something – anything – that was designed for a different use, it’s like trying to cram your size 8 body into a size 2 pair of jeans.
Your website should always be designed around your content to avoid that muffin top.
So, here’s what you need to figure out before you go building your business website:
Create your content
I’m a web developer, not a miracle worker. I don’t magically look into my Magic 8 ball to show me everything that you could possibly want to include in your site.
However, I can guide you to make sure you have the basics. Because if you’re like most people, it’s hard to know where to start until someone teaches you.
You’ll need to answer three questions that all your customers want to know. Don’t let the simplicity fool you. It’s an easy lesson, but requires some reflection.
And you need to have at least three sections or pages on your website to answer those questions. So that you can catch the eye of that ideal client.
But first, let’s talk about how users are going to perceive your website. Understand this and you’ll create a better website.
User Experience 101
A well-designed website leads your user through a series of steps.
Make things easy for your visitors. They don’t want to think about what to do next.
Making every page or screen self-evident is like having good lighting in a store: it just makes everything seem better.
- Steve Krug, Author of Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
Keep your design simple and clean
This doesn’t mean boring or that your website will look like it was built in 2005.
Use fonts that make your content easy to read. Try to limit yourself to two font choices. One for headlines, and one for all other kinds of text.
Use accent colors to draw attention to your call to action (CTA) buttons.
Clarity over cleverness
Before I learned about effective and strategic web design, I was terrible about trying to make my words sound clever. The problem was that all I did was confuse people. Now I know why that didn’t work!
Don’t be too clever when naming your navigation menu items.
It’s much better to be direct and tell us what we’re getting. If you get too clever in your naming for these things, chances are you’ll lose customers because they can’t find what they’re looking for.
For example, label a resources page as RESOURCES. Don’t call it STUFF I LOVE because that’s ambiguous. Are you just sharing random things you love or are these actually resources that you use and recommend?
It can be hard to know when other people might think your words are unclear. So, ask for a second opinion. Get a business friend or ideal client to review your copy (the words on your website) to make sure that they know what they’re getting.
Now, that you ate your potatoes, let’s get to the meat…
If you’re anything like I was, this is where you start to panic. I still panic a little bit when I’m staring at that blank Google doc with a blinking cursor. I feel like it’s taunting me…
But really, don’t stress over this.
Your customer wants to know three things. That’s it. Three. Big. Things.
- Who you are
- What you do
- Who you work with
Who you are
Is this a business or a person? What is the website called?
Include this information in your logo and header as well as your about section.
In the about section, you can give more detail. If you’re a solo entrepreneur running a website under something other than your name, tell us that. Don’t use “we” when you really mean “I”.
What you do
Don’t try to get all clever with this. Make it obvious what you do. This means in your tagline, in the first thing a visitor sees. Maybe you’ve got a huge banner or hero image (in web design speak) at the top of your website.
Use this space to tell your potential customers how you can help them.
If you’re doing this on your own, keep it simple. Tell people who you are and how you help them. You might even be able to sneak in the third thing your customer wants to know…
Who you work with
Most of the time, people come to your site with a very specific problem. Let’s say you’re a dentist. I’m looking for a dentist, but I also need a dentist who can handle my problems. I want tooth-colored fillings (not mercury). But, I’m also terrified of dental work.
So, if you’re a dentist that can make this experience better for me, please tell me!
Let’s look at the difference between these two dentists: Dr. Mercury and Dr. Natural
Dr. Mercury’s website says… We do dental work – crowns, fillings, and cleaning. Accepting insurance.
Okay. That doesn’t tell me anything that I care about. Don’t all dentists offer those services? Does he use mercury fillings? What about my fear of dental work?
I’ve got too many questions running around in my head. So, I move on.
Dr. Natural’s website catches my attention… My practice specializes in removing mercury fillings to improve your health.
Wow, I’m interested!
So, I move to the about section where Dr. Natural goes on…
We also help patients with fear-free dentistry by…
YES!!! This is my dentist! I’m already calling for an appointment. Let’s find that contact page…
Now that you know what three questions your customers are asking, you’ve gotta sprinkle your responses to these questions throughout your website.
Include what your customer wants to hear in your:
- About page
- Services page
- Products page
- Portfolio page
- Blog posts
- Contact page
- Anywhere else it makes sense!
At minimum, right now, you can create a one-page website that includes these three sections:
- About section
- Services section (could be a Products section for physical and e-commerce stores, or a Portfolio section for photographers)
- Contact section
For extra punch, sprinkle in a testimonials or review section if you’ve got ’em.
And that’s it.
Now, get to work and take some action!
It’s time to say good-bye to crickets and helllloooo to more clients.