**Updated March 2023: The author of this post, Katie Taylor, is now the founding owner of The Outsourced COO- your savvy solution for less hustle & more help for your growing organization. You can learn more about her current offers by visiting her at outsourceyourops.com or on Instagram at @outsourceyourops. You can also contact her directly anytime here.
A year after launching my first website design I found myself with a more clearly defined niche, ideal client, and service packages. You know how it is in the beginning of business when things are changing rapidly as you work out the kinks to clarify what really drives both passion and profit.
I was ready to create a website design that I absolutely loved promoting and that was going to do its job in attracting and converting the right clients quicker, and helping provide an exceptional customer experience from the first moment someone connects with me online.
This should be the expectation of your website, not an exception.
“I looked at your website… Can you send me your pricing guide? I’m going to need a brand new website and marketing help. I see you offer both. Here’s my email…”-inbox message after launching my new website
You can see from the message above how my new website did exactly what I need it to for my ideal clients to receive the right information and confidently move forward to connect with me directly. Your website works around the clock for your business – if you set it up successfully to do so.
A few days later I booked a cold lead, deposit included, just hours after she discovered my website.
—>In this blog post you’ll see what these principles are and exactly what role they play in ensuring your website design is wholly developed for performance and outcomes that leave you feeling plain giddy with excitement!
Read on to learn:
and loads more!
The 3 Main Objectives :
Keeping these in mind, let’s talk about what you need for the website design of your dreams. i.e. the website of your dreams is the one that helps you grow the business of your dreams.
That sounds pretty perfect right now, doesn’t it? Of course it does! So let’s keep going, shall we?
***This is Part One of a Two Part blog series on 10 Proven Principles for Preparing Your New Website. CLICK HERE for Part Two***
Have you ever rearranged the furniture in your living room and afterward realized how much better you like it, and wondered why you hadn’t done so sooner? The truth is, we often don’t realize what has been missing until someone puts a better solution right in front of us.
Brand development may not call itself out on your website design explicitly, but the sites focusing on the right details beforehand, will have stronger, more consistent results, and with far less effort on your part.
Why is that, you wonder?
In short, a properly developed brand identifies and articulates important details that help you convey the right message and experience to your audience.
The truth is, we often don’t realize what has been missing until someone puts a better solution right in front of us.-Katie Taylor, Abundant Collab Co.
Colors communicate emotions to our brains. Our brains are always trying to understand information as easily as possible. If something is too hard, our brain just pushes it away for later. The wrong colors might convey the wrong message and send amazing clients in a different direction.
You’ll want to use colors that represent you and your business as well as the desires of your clients and customers.
See how I used colors like brown, green, blue, and cream to communicate to my ideal clients, I share more on this Instagram post.
Think about that favorite little black dress of yours, or black leggings if that’s more your style, both are closet staples in my book. Now think about how you change the entire look with the shoes and accessories you pair with them. That’s what color can do for your business. From the time your business shows up, its saying all the right things to all the right people.
If you don’t already have a quality logo in your digital toolbelt, now is probably the time to invest in one. The investment can range anywhere from $25-$1500+, depending on who you work with and what your specific needs entail. When you work with a marketing and web designer like me, it’s something I offer as part of your larger website design service. It can be hard to communicate with multiple, separate contractors on projects simultaneously. When you have the option to streamline, it’s worth considering.
Logos help to create consistency, credibility and help your audience easily recognize you across social platforms or in person.
Something else to consider with your brand would be the types of tones and textures used within your business. Incorporating those into your website design will help explain what it is like to do business with you in person. You don’t want anyone surprised later on, or to feel misled.
It makes the most sense to look around and note what you see in your actual place of business.
Is it bright? Are they tile walls or brick? Do you (or your employees) wear blazers or joggers? Do you love trinkets and murals or white space and organization?
These types of details can carry march themselves right on over into even the subtle details of your website to create depth and character that creates quicker connection with your audience.
I hired a photographer to help me capture the right kind of photos for my website design and to use on social media. One of the things we discussed prior to the shoot were adjectives that I use to explain my business. This is something I use with my own branding clients and it is not only incredibly fascinating, but wildly effective.
Sharing these adjectives provided a consistent vision with my photographer, and anyone else who might be part of the project. Brand photoshoots are big projects, and keeping everyone involved on the same page with the necessary and desired outcomes is essential. You don’t want to spend time and money on something like this and then not get what you really needed out of it.
Having quality photos as part of your website design creates immediate connection and lets potential customers begin to understand themselves as your client. Photos of you, your business, your team, any products, specific scenery, and even work-in-motion photographs help convey a stronger, clearer message.
A clear message sells best. No matter what your services are, they will sell better and faster this way. Cute and clever messages are fun, but fun doesn’t equal sold.
The job is simple. Quickly convey what you do, who its for, how it helps and why someone doesn’t want to miss out on doing business with you.
Photos can convey a vast variety of information. A photo of a hotel conference room meeting looks entirely different than one of an exposed brick studio space with some fresh drip coffee brewing in the background.
Think about what photos you’ll want to create in advance. As someone who works from a small home office, with kids close by, and rarely more than some leggings and cozy tee I had to carefully consider how to create authentic photos to represent the work I provide, how I interact with clients, and what it would feel like to work with me… even if it is all through Zoom.
Choosing some intentional props in advance is one of the best ways to tell a story to your audience. A story is simply showing potential customers what it would look like if they were working with, buying from, or booking your business.
It doesn’t have to be excessive and if your photo shoot takes place at your business location, your surroundings tell most of the story for you.
If you decide to rent a space for your shoot, like I did, I brought props that helped my viewers understand what it means when I help them with their marketing, brand or web design. I’m not a high tech agency, so my props were more paper materials, mood boards, and a Mac laptop.
Wardrobe can be difficult for many when preparing for professional brand photography. What we wear daily might not photograph well. A good photographer can guide you through simple practices to figure out what you can wear that feels true to you and your business, and will show up on camera to represent you in the best way possible.
One of the most helpful things my photographer did, was to pair my outfits with scenes in advance. Then we could decide what photos would be best captured in each scene and what outfit made sense.
For example, I wore my glasses for photographs representing more of the creation, focused, work and a fun skirt for celebratory, lifestyle poses. I threw a black blazer on for some photos with my computer so show a more authoritative side, and a great top for more “everyday” style shots. A blazer or sweater is a great way to change an outfit with minimal time and effort.
When I was a 5K director, there were countless details to prepare prior to the event day with 6000 attendees. One of my greatest lifelines was to prepare as many details in advance as I possibly could. That way, on the day of the event I was mentally and emotionally available for all the questions and decisions that inevitably come up when organizing and leading a large event.
So when I heard someone give the tip around organizing your jewelry in advance, to easily remember if the red earrings go with this outfit or the next, it was a no brainer.
You can use little garment bags like you get with your Noonday Collection or Kenda Scott purchases and hang them on the outfit hanger. On the day of your big shoot, you’ll have one less thing to remember. I bet ziploc bags work just fine too. When you have a background in non-profit, you learn a thing or two about effective solutions.
Be sure to think about where you’re located. If you live somewhere with seasons, you’ll probably want photos with that sweater if you plan to use any of the photos on social media at a later time in the year, and vice versa if your photo shoot takes place during the chillier months.
If you live somewhere with seasons, like I do in Ohio, you don’t want all of your website photos to show you in your favorite summer dress and sandals. So consider shoes like booties or mule slip-ons that aren’t a dead giveaway to the current season and look great year round.
After putting so much attention and effort into photos that are going to do well in communicating to your audience and representing your brand, let’s make sure you don’t end up with 54 photos of you on a bar stool in a slightly different position. You do not need an entire portfolio of headshots for your website.
You need photos of you, set in scenes similar to the work you do. So be sure to include some versatility, movement, and “in the moment” style shot ideas with your photographer so they know what to look for and how to make it look good.
My photographer and I shared a Pinterest board together with boards for photo inspiration and another specifically to photo poses. This made it easy to assess and solidify strong visual elements that I would use later with my website design process.
Clear copy comes from a well developed brand message. Knowing your customers’ priorities, values, fears and desires helps you articulate a message specifically for them. Oftentimes the biggest reason owners object to this idea is the fear around “losing out” on other customers because the message is too specific.
However, brand strategists and educators like myself will help you understand the overall business benefits to attracting more of the right customers rather than anyone who might be willing to pay. Serving the right customers increases efficiency, overall quality of experience, improves profit opportunities and reduces expense and project waste.
When I was preparing my re-brand, I talked with another local business friend. People she looks to hire (b2b) are some of my ideal customers. I had the idea that these businesses would be more likely to work with traditional marketing agencies, and I needed to approach copy from the angle of showing why I am a more optimal option.
However, she shared with me that they actually aren’t investing in marketing at all. I was able to see that it wasn’t that I needed to earn their business over a competitor, it was that I needed to educate them on the value they are missing out on by not having an active marketing plan.
Something as seemingly small as that can change an entire message model. Look for ways to do your own market research before investing in a message.
Once you know what you need to say, say it simply. Allow your message to be something that is easy to understand and remember. If there are large words or unfamiliar industry jargon taking over your copy, the reader will forget it almost instantly. A simple message is one that someone is able to understand immediately and can repeat to others on a moment’s notice.
Resist the urge to show authority to your colleagues in your website and focus on your reader’s emotional journey. If they feel seen and understood, you’re well on your way to having them as a new customer.
If you’re not familiar with Storybrand I can not recommend it enough in message development. A wholly-developed message must take into consideration the following things:
▶ who your customer is
▶ what it is they want
▶ what they’re problem is and how they feel about it
▶ how you empathize
▶ your authority on the matter
▶ how you’ll help
▶ the successes if they choose your business
▶ who they become as a result
▶ the risks if they don’t
If you touch on each of these matters in your website copy, you will surely notice a difference in your results.
Lastly, its important to distinguish between necessary information for your website design and how much is too much or too little.
Consider what information your audience is looking for and needing to know before reaching out or engaging with your business and what information is best for after you’ve established a conversation. Likewise, if your website design leaves a lot of essential holes the reader will probably never reach out. That’s why referring back to something like the Storybrand framework will help you prevent that from happening.
I’m letting some experts get right the point on this one for you…
“The alternative to good design is always bad design. There is no such thing as no design.” –Adam Judge
“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” –Steve Jobs
Ya with me? Good! Let’s break this down for you right now.
Start by examining your negative space. My guess is your website design could use some breathing room between copy and images. White space helps viewers see information easier and understand how to process it more naturally.
If your designer laid out your site for you, trust her and don’t go squishing things in to make room for more. If you need more room, figure out what you need it for and ask your designer to help you make this happen without compromising the quality of your site.
Clear and simple navigation will extend the time viewers spend on your website, the percentage of the content they see, and increase your total conversion rate. Keep menus or navigation bar at the top of your website design with only the minimal essentials and any other miscellaneous links can be captured in your footer.
Give people somewhere to go next instead of making them guess. Your site is best experienced in a particular order. Well placed Site Buttons are priceless guides. When done well your viewer can feel like they’ve had an entire conversation with you from their arrival to the point when they reach your purchase or contact page. And avoid using too much variety within your Button Texts or the reader will feel like there’s 50 chapters to your website instead of the few well-thought out pages that there are.
Try to avoid dead-ends within your copy and pages. This would be a point where your reader concludes one section on your site but isn’t sure where they should go next. Remember to be their guide the entire time. If they’ve read the home page, should they go to your services page next? If they’ve read your services, do they want to see a portfolio or go to your Contact page next.
Make sure you capitalize on your About You page with information relevant to those you serve. Think of it as “How I help you…” rather than someone on a first date who chatters endlessly about themselves the entire time. This page is still all about your viewer and the journey they are on to understanding why they should ultimately choose your business to help them.
A good contact form will impact how many inquiries you receive. If it’s too long or asks questions the person can’t answer immediately they are likely to leave your form mid-complete and you may never hear from them again. Strategic questions can help your audience pre-qualify and save you time from receiving inquiries from leads who simply aren’t a good fit.
The first four principles to your new website design are:
1 brand development
2 quality photos
3 clear copy
4 the right layout
***CLICK HERE FOR PT 2 OF 10 PROVEN PRINCIPLES FOR YOUR NEW WEBSITE***
Click here to see these principles in action on my own website and to book a consultation call if your business is in need of a new website with the features we’ve just covered above.
Now you get why this is a two-part series, that was a lot of information, I KNOW. If you’re wondering how to even begin incorporating these principles into your upcoming website design project. Here are 3 key questions you can use to get started.
1 Do I have a clear brand foundation that will allow me to share a message to the right people about what I/we offer and why it’s for them?
2 How can I use photos to show off the quality of my business in all the right ways?
3 Do I have the time and energy to devote into creating a website design that not only looks stunning but will strategically grow my business? If not, what does it look like to hire someone to help me?
I hope you’ll walk away from this post feeling equipped with the right knowledge to take chare of your website project with confidence and excitement. You’ve now got a great toolbelt of tips to DIY or to seek out the right service provider to get the job done right for you.
I’ll see you here next time — until then, know I am always cheering for your success!