Read this before you design your website
Spend your money wisely when building your website
Building a website seems like a really important thing to do to grow your business . . . and boy, do I hear the stories of buyer’s remorse and other frustration from colleagues, clients, and prospects who spend gobs of money on their websites (oftentimes, their entire marketing budget), only to realize later that their websites just sit there, don’t really get them business, aren’t flexible to keep up with the ever-changing web and social media landscape, are expensive to maintain, don’t attract new leads or sales, etc.
Your Website’s Most Important Feature: Quality Content
The real bummer comes when people realize the most expensive part of building a website, if it’s done right, isn’t the cool design (though good design is important)–it’s creating great content that’s optimized well and structured to compel visitors to take some sort of action. Before you hire your next web developer or commission the design of your next website, consider what you want your website to “do” for your business.
Here are a few ideas about what your website should do for your business:
- Generate new leads
- Nurture your relationship with fans/prospects
- Support offline efforts (like booking speaking engagements, supporting PR efforts, etc)
- Sell products
- Support strategic alliances and affiliates
Make sure your website educates, informs, and is helpful to your visitors
Often, your website is targeting many different “buyers” at once: meeting planners, program chairs, media editors, strategic partners, and prospects for your offerings. Consider the needs and expectations of each of these buyers to ensure you’re making it easy for them to find the exact information they’re seeking with as few clicks as possible. Understand the buying process of your intended audience. People seek “help” with their problems when they hit key “thresholds” personally or professionally. It’s important that you know what those thresholds are, what kind of “help” they are looking for (do they want tips, to buy a book, to hire a consultant/coach, to buy into a program or seminar, etc), and what kind of trust you’ll need to inspire for them to choose you over other options in the marketplace.
This is a great opportunity to talk about your social media and blogging plan. In the How Should I Market Myself? program, these strategies fall under “Grassroots Marketing,” the foundational strategy in the marketing triad. It’s really important that your website serves as a platform that integrates your showcasing and networking efforts, giving visitors who are wanting to learn about your expertise and to educate themselves the opportunity to connect with all your social touch points. Toni and I will be doing some podcasts on social media soon . . . this is Toni’s genius and I’m excited to share her in-the-trenches expertise with you!
Because the online landscape is changing so much, so fast, I highly recommend using WordPress to build your website. It’s very, very user-friendly and has a huge open-source community of programmers who create mostly-free plugins to integrate cutting-edge functionality to your site’s design. Pretty much every VA (virtual assistant) I’ve ever talked to is familiar with WP, so you can easily get support in the form of trained admins –at this stage of the game, you can’t go wrong with WordPress. I also recommend building your custom templates with a framework like Thesis or Genesis –they really optimize your sites well for search, all built-in (they also employ lots of best-practice programming).bu