Building a website that reflects how you want your business to be seen is really important. If you build your site yourself you can often find that you become ‘website blind’. You only see what you want to see. You know where things are and assume your customers will too. You’ve followed my advice and taken a fresh look at your website.
But often this isn’t the case and you lose customers because your site isn’t as clear as you think it is.
Here’s the solution to that problem. Ask a trusted adviser, friend, colleague or better yet your ideal customer to take a look at your website and answer these 10 questions:
1. What was your first impression when you entered the website?
You have a measly 50 milliseconds to impress new visitors to your website. That’s how long it takes them to decide whether to stick around or not. Seriously! So if your site doesn’t catch their eye immediately or takes too long to load they’re gone… Make sure your ‘Call to Action’ is clear and they know exactly what you do on your site within a few seconds.
2. Does the website match my offline business?
Branding is everything. If your website looks clunky but you are selling high-end goods and services no-one is going to buy them. If you’re trying to attract professional clients but your website looks like a child has designed it (god forbid it includes Comic Sans) then you’ll lose the sale. Is your branding consistent across all of your assets – digital and printed – and does it match who YOU are?
3. Is there any important information missing?
Just because you know what you do and how to find you doesn’t mean you’ve made it clear on your website. Believe it or not, 51% of people think “thorough contact information” is the most important element missing from many company websites. And that includes you!
4. What one thing could I add to make the site better?
We often miss a key piece of information that users are looking for. Perhaps it’s an image or a link but you don’t see it because you’ve gone into website meltdown. This is a broad question but you’ll be amazed what gems your friends can suggest.
5. Is my pricing clear?
Now, this topic is one that I have many discussions about. I truly believe that you should put some pricing on your website – even if it’s ballpark figures. You don’t want to waste your time explaining your pricing to customers when they contact you. If they know up front then they can make a decision whether to call or not. No pricing = too expensive in many people’s opinions. I just don’t have time for that.
6. What do you like most/least about my website?
Do more of whatever your advisor says they like about your site. Perhaps it’s great blog content or awesome graphics. This questions should be an easy one to expand on.
OK, so the answer to what they like least may sting a little if your adviser is being really honest with you. But here’s the thing:
“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” – Bill Gates
7. Could you find all of the information you needed?
If you do more than one thing you could ask your adviser to complete a simple task – such as booking an event or buying a product (you can always refund this later or run it in ‘test’ mode on some platforms). Feedback from a real consumer will help you greatly as you design how your site works. You could also ask them how long it takes to find a specific item that you think is your biggest seller. This can be really telling when it’s hidden away on your site!
8. Does my site look good on all devices?
As of February 2017, mobile devices excluding tablets accounted for 49.73 percent of web page views worldwide. Get your adviser to check out how your site looks and functions on a desktop, phone and tablet to make sure you’re not missing out on a huge chunk of business. Upgrading to a mobile responsive site may seem like a big investment, but it will pay for itself quickly if you’re missing out on half of all users!
9. What should I write more about?
Blogging is a great way of keeping both current and prospective clients interested in what you have to say. It also shows that you know what you’re talking about in your own industry. Are you making the most of your own knowledge? Perhaps this is something to devote more time to?
10. Is my website easy to navigate?
38% of users will leave a website if they can’t find what they are looking for easily or the layout is unattractive. Having to click through page after page to find what you are looking for is tedious. And with more and more users accessing the web from their phones, making navigation easy is paramount. You could ask your adviser to check the navigation on different devices to make sure all are working well.
So, there it is. My quick list of questions to ask to really get your website working for your business. Let me know how you get on and if you need any help bringing your site up to scratch, you know where I am.
Font and typography have always been an important part of design and document production – from leaflets to magazines, from websites to posters. In fact, many of the typefaces we are familiar with can be traced back centuries such as Garamond (1490), Baskerville (1757) and Bodoni (1780). The typeface you use gives your written words their character and sets the tone of your message.
I am a huge fan of using different typefaces. You can frequently find me browsing the latest gorgeous additions from websites such as Font Bundles and 1001 Fonts. We are so fortunate to have access to such a massive collection that there is honestly no reason at all to use Times New Roman for every single thing you create. Unless you REALLY love it.
However, just because there are thousands of fonts available to you doesn’t mean you should use them all – well not all at once anyway!
Here are my two simple steps to using fonts on your website and within your brand in general:
Set the Tone
Decide what tone you are trying to set and choose a font category to match. The four categories are:
- Serif (such as Times New Roman and Baskerville Old Face) is the traditional font dating back to Mr. Garamond’s day. These fonts convey a conservative and safe feel.
- Sans Serif (such as Arial and Helvetica) is more modern and convey a minimalistic and clean feel.
- Script (such as French Script and Edwardian Script) are elegant with a handwritten feel and lots of loops. They convey sophistication but can be difficult to read.
- Display (such as Comic Sans and Papyrus) are big and bold and convey fun. They are great for headings and posters but not so much if you want to be taken seriously.
Think about the type of business you run and the type of customers you have. These will help you decide which font categories would work well for your brand. Your fonts should be fit for purpose and match the look and feel your business has, just as much as the colours and design do.
You can mix and match these categories to great effect, but choosing too many fonts can be a huge mistake – which leads me to my second point:
Simplicity is Key
“I strive for two things in design: simplicity and clarity. Great design is born of those two things.” ~ Lindon Leader
Most designers will agree that sticking to a maximum of just three fonts is a good guide for not just websites but in all design. Each font has italic, bold and italic bold options making a total of 12 variants for you to choose from. Then you can change the size and colour too. Pick a fancier font for your headings and display pieces and then stick to Serif or Sans Serif the rest of the text.
Whatever fonts you choose STICK TO THEM throughout your brand. The confusion comes when businesses use one font on their website and another in their literature and emails. Find a font that works for you and use it for everything to build consistency and trust in your brand.
And finally, take a look at some of your own favourite brands for inspiration. It’s important to create your own look, but there is no harm in seeing how the companies you admire already do it. Getting clear on your own tastes helps you create a brand that reflects who you are!
For anyone with a product-based business, selling online is relatively straightforward. In fact it should easily cover the cost of maintaining a website in the first place. But for those running serviced-based businesses, recouping the cost of your website may seem impossible.
However, here are three easy and proven ways to ensure that not only does your website bring in more physical business, but that it pays for itself every single day…
If you run workshops, speaking events or courses, consider setting up an online booking system for these. People who would not otherwise email or call will often book online through your website. This is one of my favourite ways to book because it is instant and can be done at any time of day. Integrate your own calendar of events or use services such as Eventbrite or TicketSource to manage your bookings. For smaller events, you can simply add tickets to a shop on your website (such as on the Create platform). Sharing these through your social media channels will spread your message further still. For my own Digital Training I use a WordPress plugin called Events Manager Pro. It links directly with my Paypal account and allows me to track bookings straight through the site for both online and offline payments.
Become an Affiliate
Affiliate marketing is BIG BUSINESS! If you use a product or service and you love it, then why not consider becoming an affiliate for them. Every time someone clicks through your website to theirs and makes a purchase you get a small percentage of that sale. Each affiliate program is completely different and I would only ever recommend signing up for programs that you honestly believe. It’s your reputation on the line as much as theirs! I’m an affiliate for Create because I love their website builder and use it for lots of my clients and also for Danielle LaPorte as I LOVE her products. You can also find affiliate programs for many of the larger online retailers such as Amazon or you could think of setting up your own program for others to recommend your products and services!
Sell Digital Products
If you have a program or book that you can sell online as a digital product then this can also bring in a great residual income. It often requires very little effort (after you’ve created it of course!). Just be aware that if you are located in the UK and sell to a consumer in any other EU country, you will fall into the messy business of VAT-MOSS. Now I’m no expert on this at all so it’s worth checking out the HMRC Website and speaking to your accountant. It applies to supplying things like ebooks, templates, apps and purely online courses. You can get around this by selling through a third party that is already set up for VAT-MOSS such as Etsy. They collect the VAT and pay it for you. I actually run a hobby business completely set up with digital products and it’s definitely worth it.
Implementing just one of these ideas on your website can cover the annual cost of your site without costing you too much time or effort. And of course there are many, many more ways to leverage your website such as membership sites, creating a YouTube channel, creating apps and licensing your own programs – this list is just the tip of the online iceberg!
Christmas is a great time to connect with your customers and clients and is also an excuse to have a bit of fun!
So why not try one of these festive marketing tips:
#1 Surprise your VIPs
Give your top customers or clients a special Christmas surprise – whether that’s a free product or gift or simply a handwritten note to thank them for their custom over the year, your thoughtfulness and recognition of their loyalty will make them feel like they are important to your business and will keep them coming back. If you’re new in business then this list can simply be your most frequent interactors on social media or via email. Whoever they are, make sure they know you think they’re great.
#2 Run a Competition
We all love to win prizes – especially when there may be a festive treat involved! It doesn’t have to be big to spark people’s interest, but offering an entry into your Christmas prize draw if they sign up to your email newsletter or comment on a Facebook post can be a great way to get your customers interacting with you.
#3 Create an Online Prize Hunt
Another simple competition idea is to run an online treasure hunt to get people to interact with your website. You could ask people to find the plum pudding or the treats you have around the site and then email in with their answers. As long as people know what they are looking for then it can be great fun!
#4 Hold a Party
If you have a physical location then putting on a party for your clients or customers can be a great way to keep your business in their minds. This could be limited to your VIPs as another way of surprising them or you could invite everyone who signs up to your newsletter list or who has been a customer in the past year to come along. This very much depends on how many people you think will show up!
#5 Create a Survey
Surveys can be a great way to find out what you clients and customers really think of your business and if you team it up with the chance to win something then you are bound to get people to share their views with you. Think about what it is you want to know and use a free online survey creator such as Survey Monkey to collect the responses.
#6 Sing Silly Songs
One of the funniest things I’ve ever done is create a Halloween video with some colleagues over on JibJab. You simply upload your faces and paste them on the characters and you are all turned into characters on an e-card that often includes hilarious dancing. They also have Christmas ones as well so you and your colleagues can become elves, at least for a short while!
#7 Offer an Early Bird Discount
If you know that Christmas is going to be super busy for you, give an early-bird discount for sales or services in November and let your customers reap the rewards of getting their Christmas shopping done early. Not only do they grab a bargain, but you get more business and hopefully avoid at least some of the last minute shopping that happens. On that note, I actually received an email order at 9pm on Christmas Eve one year so you are not ever going to help everyone be more organised!!
#8 Sell Gift Vouchers
You may already be thinking of this for your VIPs but offering all of your clients gift vouchers is a really great way to say thank you for their loyalty over Christmas. Keep the validity short to ensure they use the voucher early in the new year and this can really be a great way to pump up your clientele in January and February. Customers tend to spend more than the value of the voucher and if they don’t use it at all it hasn’t cost you anything either so these really are a great way to celebrate at this time of year.
#9 Write a Christmas Email Series
Send out an email a day for the 12 Days of Christmas. This could each include a special offer valid for 24 hours only or offering special tips and advice over the festive season. Choose something that fits with your industry and have some fun with it.
#10 Send Custom Candy
Sweets and candy are always winners in my book, so why not create some custom candy with your business details on it, or simply a Christmas message. There are plenty of companies out there doing customised food including putting your logo onto m&ms!! Give these to customers in Christmas baubles or create your own crackers for a simple but memorable gift.
There are so many different ways to surprise your clients this Christmas so I urge you to make the effort and spread some festive cheer.