I sat at my desk staring at my business website and I thought about everything I wanted to change. As a marketing and web design consultant I redesign client websites to increase their sales, conversions and brand image. When working with these clients I consider color theory, typography, photography, mobile strategies and business to evaluate websites. I finally realized my very own business website needed to be remodeled but for some reason I felt like it was not a big deal. In 2013, after completely overhauling inphocusmedia.com I thought it was at least near perfect and for the other fixes I wrote them down and said to myself “I will get to it eventually”.
Meanwhile the longer I waited to update the more people viewed my unoptimized website. As a designer I did not view my own project with the same urgency as clients. Why not? I realized that I was being a bit arrogant.
Don’t be arrogant
As designers, developers, online marketers, copywriters, SEOs and SEMs it is easy for us to become arrogant in our respective areas of expertise. It is understandable we have years of hands on experience, stay up to date on all the technology trends and have a healthy flow of incoming business so we have to be doing something right. Not exactly.
During my MBA studies I spent many nights writing 25 page papers. I would read the paper over and over and I would say to myself that the paper was “perfect”. The word perfect was relative to the time I invested, after all I started with a blank slate and worked to write all those words, plus I reviewed the paper over 4 times so it had to be correct. I let my classmate review the paper and he came back with some edits. Though I told my classmate thank you, I was really thinking “you are just being negative, I already looked over it”.
“do we subject ourselves to the same criticism that we provide to clients?”
In a similar fashion the same occurs when it comes to our business websites. We (digital marketers / creatives) know the best practices, we read blogs like CopyBlogger, Moz, and use our knowledge to improve websites for others but the question is, “do we subject ourselves to the same criticism that we provide to clients?” In my case I would say “Of course I am critical of my website, I am my own worst critic”, yet and still my website was sitting on the net for months not optimized except for the occasional incremental improvement.
Understanding Your Current Approach
Lately I have been reading books, many books. I do not think I have read this much since my time in college. The main difference this time is I am reading books that have a direct correlation to the daily activities of improving my business. The two books that really opened my eyes are, Double Your Freelancing Rate by Brennan Dunn and The Elements of User Onboarding by Samuel Hulick. These books allowed me understand I have taken the wrong approach in the positioning of my company as well as learning how to better communicate the value of what my company has to offer.
“People want solutions to their problems.”
In the past, my approach involved simply showing others the what I have done previously. People want solutions to their problems they do not care about how much you know or how much you can offer, what really matters is can you get the job done and do the job well.
The Wrong approach
When you first visited inPhocusMedia.com, there was a heavy emphasis on our abilities. We were able to create marketing campaigns for clients which involved strategy, web design, print design, branding and social media campaigns. The business was positioned as a one-stop shop for all client needs and even if we did not offer a service we would find a way to offer it and accommodate our clients.
The only problem with this method is it screamed “Look at what we can do, we know a lot”, that was the WRONG messaging. The proper messaging should have been: “You have a business problem and we have an answer, though there are many paths to arrive at your answer we will provide you with the most optimal path”.
How many businesses, startups, freelancers, and entrepreneurs are out there that have the wrong messaging and positioning on their websites? You may be getting by doing WELL but you could be doing GREAT.
The Right Approach
So what can you do in order to improve your website and make sure that you are communicating to the proper target audience? Here are some things that I have considered in viewing my own website that will help you as well.
Know the core value proposition of your company
Think about Apple, all of the products they are rolling out are not brand new products people have never used or heard of. Apple simply has their own rendition of technology and places an emphasis on design and simplicity. Every time they come out with a new product they know the design has to be sleek and stunning and the functionality has to be simple to appeal to a wide variety of customers.
Once you can narrow down your true value, then build everything to be focused around that value. If you are an accountant with an accounting website your value is saving individuals time and money so design and write website copy that leverages that fact. If you are a web designer you can communicate what you have to offer is a website that can capture a brand and generate funds for a business, not simply: our designs look great.
Speak about the benefits
Not everyone is able to visualize how using your product or service will make them a better person or a better business. So when showcasing the features of your product/service you will want to discuss how someone’s life or business is improved by using your product or service.
Asana.com does a great job with this subtly showing the benefits. Asana is a task management software as a service (SaaS) company and the first thing you see on the homepage with a picture of a team of people with the statement “Teamwork without email”. They are leveraging a benefit of using their software is you do not have to email people back and forth to complete a task.
Make it easy for people to sign up and connect
If you are similar to me then it probably has been a while since you have signed up for your own service or considered the onboarding process of your new clients/users. Go through the process of how many steps it takes to sign up for your service, fill out your contact form, or purchase a product on your site. Write down every step and then work to reduce those steps. This can be an easy way to increase conversions and to reduce the amount of steps, which in turn will make it easier to sign up.
You may not be “The One”
“your website can always be improved”
If you know anything about optimizing a website and increasing conversions then you know that your website can always be improved. With each improvement you make a new opportunity for further improvement will arise. If you ever think your website can’t do any better then you are incredibly biased and you are lying to yourself. Of course if the numbers show you are doing well then great, if not then think of what other areas can be better as a whole.
Let’s face it if you created the website then you may not be the best person to evaluate whether or not it can be improved. Also if you use the website on a daily basis of course you know where everything is but what about that new person that wants to sign up for your service, or that new person that wants to buy your product, do you know what trips them up on your site?
Getting someone who is outside of your company can provide insight that you would otherwise not observe. If you need any help with getting a fresh set of eyes on your website I am available to help with this.
All are excellent points. I feel that my biggest obstacle was the approach like you were saying. I didn’t feel that what was being emphasized was who I actually was. It’s just great to see other designers that have accomplished some of what I’m trying to accomplish deal with the same issues and come out on the other side. I love permission givers!
I am finding more and more people who are of the same mindset and are mixing in their unique personalities with their business goals but still remaining professional.
We are on similar paths facing similar issues let’s continue to learn and grow together. Thanks for checking out the article and sharing your thoughts!