To guide website visitors from being mildly interested in what you are offering to becoming clients and, ideally, your biggest supporters, your website needs clear paths to encourage them to take the next step.
If you have never had a website or have only created a website on your own without help, this blog post will explain the steps my clients and I take to go from our first talk to a finished website that helps their businesses shine online.
Service-based businesses usually have one or more pages that describe the services they offer. They should also provide enough information for people to take the next step toward hiring you.
Understanding in advance how your website will support your business will inform your website's design and content.
Every website needs a Contact form so that visitors have an easy online way to get in touch with you. Learn about what a Contact form should contain and where it should be placed on your website.
Like the reception area of an office, the Home page needs to contain enough cues to reassure visitors that they're in the right place and give them guidance about how to find what they need and what to do now that they're there.
When I was choosing easy-to-use builders to specialize in, I knew I wanted to specialize in Squarespace and one other website builder that offered a free version. When I compared Wix and Weebly, there was one difference that made the choice clear.
Heeding advice from a self-guided business course I'm taking, I sent out a survey a couple of months ago to my website design clients to learn more about their preferences and concerns. One of the questions I asked was "What were you most concerned about before working with me?" The two answers given most frequently were "How much it would cost" and "How long it would take."
Whenever I start working with a client, I ask the client to make one or two decisions to narrow down the design choices. The first decision I ask clients to make is to choose a large image that goes the full width of the page or choose a narrower image with some "breathing room" on either side. If they prefer a wide edge-to-edge image, there's a second decision. Do they want the navigation text to appear above the image or within the image? Making that second decision narrows down design template choices to just a few.
When you get started with Squarespace or Weebly, you are faced with a design decision before you even provide a domain name or a credit card number. As I browsed through many templates in doing work for clients, I started to realize that there was a pattern in the designs that could help me narrow down template choices for my clients. The decision about the main image on the website cuts down the choices dramatically.
For websites that are updated frequently with new design elements that are similar to those already on the site, Weebly is a great choice because you can copy individual design elements from one page to help you design another page. I use the Copy button to copy text elements to a new page when I need a similar piece of text. You can also use the Copy button to copy any type of design element to a new page, including images, slideshows, galleries, social sharing icons, or custom HTML.
On December 1, 2017, Squarespace changed which features are included in its lowest-cost Personal plan. Many simple customization and third-party integration features are now classified as Premium features, only available with the Business and Commerce plans. I'll have to take this into consideration as I talk with new clients about their options.
I specialize in creating websites on Weebly and Squarespace because they are two of the easiest do-it-yourself website platforms. One of the biggest differences is that Squarespace offers a Cancel button so you can dismiss all changes you've made to a page if you don't like them.
People have been asking me recently what they need to put on a new website. What pages do they need? What information do they need to include? It occurred to me that a website is like an old-fashioned bakery, like those I've seen in the North End section of Boston or in small European villages.
A coat rack is a central location in your house where all the coats, hats, and scarves are kept. It's a meeting place for all of that outdoor apparel. A website is like a coat rack that organizes all the marketing apparel for your business: your About Me information, your Services descriptions, testimonials, photo galleries, product pages, blog posts, a contact form, and links to social media accounts. So what are you waiting for? Get that long-postponed website designed and launched. After all, your home (page) is where you hang your hat.
One of the first pages you create for your website is the About page. It helps customers put a face and a story to the person behind the website. You don't need to be intimidated by the prospect of what to write. Think of it as a reply to "What do you do?" when someone asks you that question at a party.