Your website is not about you.
That’s always difficult to swallow, isn’t it? Even for us web designers. (Actually, web designers are the worst culprits of making their websites about them.)
Most business owners generally focus on one thing: how it looks. We want it to look good. Why? Because if our website looks good, we look good.
And that’s the biggest reason why websites FAIL, even ones that cost 10, 15, 20K+. You’re thinking about how gorgeous your website is, and your user is thinking who the hell is this, where do I go and how can this person help me? If they don’t get those answers in a split second they’ll hit the backspace button. No amount of beauty can prevent that.
The Perfect Website is a Balance of 6 Key Areas
Your website’s appearance is important, but it is not the be-all-and-end-all.
A good website (one that will deliver you leads and sales) is actually a balance of six key areas. A lot of websites will focus solely on one area or two, very few will nail all six.
These elements must work in perfect balance. Too much focus on SEO may mean your copy is flat and dull. Equally, too much focus on creative copy means your user (and search engines) might not understand what you’re talking about. Too much focus on appearance, sometimes means the user and their experience is forgotten.
You get the picture.
The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect Website
In this blog post, I’m going to tell you what those six key areas are, and how you can improve in all six areas.
No one can get these areas 100% right all the time because no website is ever done or perfect. By having an awareness of these areas and improving them, you will see much better results from your website i.e. more leads and sales!
Let’s get cracking…(also, this is one of our stupidly-long, ultimate guide blog posts, so maybe get a brew while you’re at it. And a cookie. Get a cookie too.)
The Six Key Things That Will Make Your Website a Success
To summarise this, here’s a humongous, fancy graph.
This is the biggie. If your users don’t know what to do on your website they’ll hit the backspace button in seconds.
Users need direction. Do you know those little feet on the ground that show you where to go in Ikea? That’s what you need on your website. Even if it seems obvious to you what to do, remember, you live and breathe your business. Your website users don’t. So they need a little handholding when it comes to your website.
Why Do People Get User Experience So Wrong?
There are two main reasons why people get user experience wrong…
- User experience just doesn’t occur to them
- Some people are more concerned with how their website looks
The first one can be tackled by gaining knowledge of user-experience and making simple tweaks to your website. The second reason is trickier to argue with.
We all want a beautiful website. But sometimes, we get so obsessed with beauty that our websites are nothing more than pieces of art – looked at and admired but do nothing to inspire action.
When creating a website, you need a good balance between appearance and user-experience. You can make a unique, beautiful or memorable site through your images, branding, icons, logo, fonts and colours. But when you step away from a standard website layout, that’s when you might hit problems.
Typical industries that struggle with this tend to be fashion, beauty, architecture, designers – anyone creative, essentially.
A Quick Wins Checklist For Improving Your User-Experience
If you want to improve your website’s user-experience straight away, here are some quick wins you can follow…
1.Do your call to action buttons stand out on the page?
Call to action buttons are buttons that say ‘download now’ or ‘contact me’ or even ‘click here’ – they get the end-user to do something. You want them to stand out, not blend in. Make them a different colour and leave plenty of white space around them.
2. Is your homepage broken up into sections?
You want to break your homepage up into sections, and each section should have its own topic (such as about a service you offer) and a clear call to action. Each section can include text, images and/or videos – just make sure they cover one thing. If not your end-user will get confused.
3. Do you have a page for each of your services?
Don’t cram all your services onto one page. Have a page for each service you offer and hone in on everything to do with that service – FAQs, costs, processes, benefits, overview, testimonials etc.
4. Do you give clear names for areas on your website?
A lot of pages or sections on your website have standard names like about or blog. So don’t call it ‘My Journey’ instead of ‘About’, as your end-user won’t have a clue what that means. Same with your services, give them clear to understand names in your main menu – not obscure or pretentious ones!
5. Do you have an annoying, invasive pop-up? If yes, get rid!
Imagine you’re browsing in a shop and a shop assistant taps you on the shoulder. ‘CAN I HAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS!’ You shake your head, but she then follows you around the shop repeating the same thing. “CAN I HAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS!”
You’d leave the shop, right? That’s the equivalent of an annoying popup that won’t go away.
6. Do your pages follow a consistent design? Or are they all different?
When we use website builders or get going with some nifty coding, it can be tempting to add our styles and layouts to every page. But if there’s no consistency in the design, then it’s only going to end up confusing your end-user. So keep your page designs consistent. For example, make sure your service pages follow the same layout.
7. Do you use relevant images that support the text?
Your images should reflect what the text conveys and vice-versa. Ideally, these images will be of you and your team and not just stock photos.
8. Is your content accessible?
Don’t be that guy who hides some of his content in exchange for an email address. We see this more and more. When you advertise free content, like a blog post, then ask someone to input their email in exchange for it, it’s just going to annoy people.
9. Are your internal/external links underlined or bold?
If you’re linking in your text, it’s a good idea to make those links underlined and a different colour or bold. This makes it super clear to your end-user that it’s an external link. It saves them missing it or accidentally clicking it!
Want the checklist everything you can do to improve your website and get more leads and sales? Click below to download!
Extra Resources/Content that Will Help Improve Your User Experience…
How to Appeal to More Than One Audience on your Website
Website copy is perhaps the most overlooked aspect of web design. Web design agencies don’t usually concern themselves with the words on the page, after all, it’s not in their remit. BUT, the words on the page can make or break a website’s success.
Your words are a way to connect with the reader – getting them to understand who you are, who you help, how you help and why you do what you do.
Why Do People Get Their Website Copy So Wrong?
There are two main reasons why people get their website copy wrong:
- They copy what their competition does
- They don’t know what they’re doing
It’s even worse when people copy off the competition…and the competition also doesn’t know what they’re doing.
The problem is, we can all write. And when we think we can do something, we often don’t spend time or money trying to improve it. For example, I technically know how to sing. I can move my mouth and a tone comes out but Martin still says the words ‘Dear God, please make it stop.’
But all is not lost. A lot of people quickly realise that their website just isn’t converting and will improve their writing or hire a copywriter.
The Quick Wins Checklist For Improving Your Website Copy
If you want to improve your website’s copy straight away, here are some quick wins you can follow…
1. Do you dumb down your service too much?
Be aware of your audience’s knowledge level. For example, we wouldn’t start by saying ‘Having a good website is essential for your business,’ because, well duh, our audience knows this. Get straight into how you solve their problem instead.
2. Do you use unnecessary jargon?
Equally, you don’t want to use unnecessary jargon. There’s a reason we won’t find CSS or HTML across our website because that means nothing to the end-user. Remember, you’re not writing for your competition, you’re writing for your target audience.
3. Would people know EXACTLY what you do when they land on your homepage?
As soon as someone lands on your homepage, you need to explain what it is you do – ideally in one sentence. And you need to do it in a way that is simple and clear. You don’t want your reader working too hard to understand what it is you do.
4. Is your about page about how you can help the reader, not just about you?
Your about page should be about how you help your visitor/target audience. A lot of business owners ramble on about their degree or experience or what motivates them. As much as this is good, it should not be the focus of the page.
5. Do your service pages go into detail about the service you offer?
There’s nothing worse than a bare service page that offers zero information. People want to understand as much about your service as possible before making a buying decision. You just discuss pricing, your process, features and benefits, the problems you solve, case studies and FAQ etc.
6. Do you avoid big, fancy words?
Don’t make your website sound like a thesaurus threw up it. It’s better to use simple language than make yourself look clever.
7. Do you use active voice instead of passive voice?
Active voice is far more engaging for the reader. So instead of saying, ‘The letter was posted by me.’ You should follow a subject/verb/object structure e.g. ‘I posted the letter.’ As you can see it’s much more engaging this way. Tip – You can easily identify passive voice if you can add the phrase ‘by zombies’ after the verb. Lessons were learnt (by zombies) – you’ll notice that one now every time a politician says it.
8. Do you include a clear call to action on each page?
Each page on your website should have a purpose, even you 404 page or your terms and conditions page, you should get your reader to do something. Make sure you include a call to action on every page.
9. Have you ignored your English teacher? (I’m looking at you, Ms Cooper)
Shock-horror, it’s okay to start sentences with but or and. It’s even okay to write how you speak. You don’t need to write formally and without emotion or personality. In fact, this is the opposite of what you should do. You should treat your reader like you’re meeting someone in a cafe and telling them about your business.
Extra Resources/Content that Will Help You Improve Your Website Copy…
What Should You Put on Your Homepage?
9 Ways to Create a Big, Bold Statement
How to Master Your Tone of Voice
What’s content marketing got to do with your website? Isn’t that just a separate ‘marketing thing’?
No, it’s not.
The biggest mistake people commit when their website goes live is leaving it. It’s the equivalent of building a shop in the middle of the desert. If you don’t get traffic to your site, it’s not going to perform. And the best way to get traffic to your website? Content marketing.
It’s also one of the best customer service tools you have.
Many of us don’t own shops, we have internet-based-businesses. We don’t have that helpful, smiley person to answer all our customers’ questions. This is why you need content marketing to do it for you.
Why Do People Get Their Website Content Marketing So Wrong?
There are two main reasons people get their content marketing wrong…
- They produce generic ‘fluff’ content
- They don’t promote their content
We can’t get away with producing mediocre content anymore. Everyone is upping their game, and that means more noise and more competition. You have to put effort into content marketing, going in-depth on one particular topic or question in order to get results.
You also have to spend as much time promoting your content as you do writing it. This is why it’s difficult for business owners to see a return of investment with content marketing. It can take hours out of your business. It’s worth, if you can, outsourcing the promotion of your content.
The Quick Wins Checklist For Improving Your Content Marketing
1. Do you answer a specific question in your content marketing?
Good content marketing answers a specific question. This could be how much do copywriters charge? Or ‘How to bake a vegan Victoria sponge? Every good piece of content marketing should answer a question that someone has asked.
2. Do you showcase your content on your website homepage?
People aren’t ready to buy from you straight away, but what they will do is consume some of their free content. The problem is, you need to get your end-user to your free content. A good way to do this is by displaying your content on your homepage.
3. Do you showcase relevant content on your website service pages i.e. related to that service
On each service page, display content that is related to that particular service. For example, if you’re a therapist, you’d lino to content only about hypnotherapy on your hypnotherapy service page.
4. Do you link or give a shoutout to others? If so, have you told them?
If you link or talk about another person in the industry, have you emailed them personally to tell them and ask them to share it? Or have you tagged them on social media promotion? It’s a good way of getting more traffic to your site!
5. Do you have content for every step of the sales process?
A lot of people focus solely on ‘traffic content’ i.e. content that gets you website traffic. But do you also write content that appeals to those who are ready to buy? E.g. how much you charge, what your process is etc.
6. Does your personality come across through your content?
Do we get a sense of who you are through your content? Does your personality shine through? It doesn’t matter what platform you use – blogging, video or podcast, having some personality will get your end-user to connect with you.
7. Is your content actually helpful to your audience?
Do people really want to know about the latest client you’ve landed and how great you are? Probably not. Your content needs to be helpful not a sales pitch.
8. Do you have a call to action in your content?
Many of us forget to add a call to action to our content. This could be something like subscribing to your Youtube channel, downloading a guide or booking a call. Either way, getting your audience to do something when they’re consuming your content!
9. Have you included social sharing buttons on your website content?
Social media sharing buttons make it super-easy for your end-user to share your content. If you’re blogging using WordPress you can also use ‘click to tweet’ plugins throughout your post too. These allow your reader to tweet something written by you, and it saves them time in coming up with their own message!
10. Have you given an actual opinion?
We see a lot of content that kind of summarises facts and figures but doesn’t offer much in the way of an opinion. But readers want answers and if you’re an expert in a particular industry, then people want to know your opinion. Don’t be afraid to put it out there.
Extra Resources/Content that Will Help You Improve Your Content Marketing…
What is a Learning Centre and Why Do You Need One?
If Your Content Doesn’t Scare You, It Won’t Work
Want the checklist everything you can do to improve your website and get more leads and sales? Click below to download!
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
Search Engine Optimisation isn’t something you ‘do’ to your website one time. It’s a continuous process. Every time you add a new page or blog post, it should be optimised.
Unfortunately, SEO is presented as this mythical process that only super-techies can master. This isn’t true. Yes, there are advanced SEO strategies, but for the most part, basic SEO is simply good website administration. It’s not exactly sexy stuff, but you don’t have to be an SEO consultant/web designer or techie to do it.
Just having a basic understanding of SEO and applying that to your website is more than enough to achieve good results from search engines.
Why Do People Get Their Website Content Marketing So Wrong?
- They think SEO is too technical, and don’t invest any time in learning how to do it
- They think they need to use super-advanced strategies or get a bit obsessed with SEO
The first one can easily be tackled by learning the basics of good SEO. We like to think of it like this, good SEO is all about good user experience. Google wants to provide the best service to their customers, so they only show the websites that provide the best user experience. If you focus on user experience, a lot of the time, your SEO will be fine.
The second one is something we see a lot of. People get obsessed with SEO. They want to understand it all. Know the algorithms inside-out. Now, there’s nothing terribly wrong with that apart from it takes valuable time out of your business and it can impact on other elements too. If you’re focusing on the technicalities of SEO, are you producing content or writing good copy? Or just trying to get backlinks to your website? Ultimately, people get obsessed with Google when they should be obsessed with their customer.
Our advice is to make sure you build your website with an understanding of SEO. And make sure you keep on top of it regularly. But don’t get so obsessed with it that it impacts negatively on other aspects of your website.
The Quick Wins Checklist For Improving Your Search Engine Optimisation
1. Have you included a keyword in your URL for each page?
Your URLs for each page of your website should be clear and give the end-user (and crawler) a good idea what the page is about. It’s a good idea to use your keywords here if you can. And you don’t have to worry about making it a sentence. The shorter, the better. E.g. www.example.com/copy-course-beginner
2. Have you done any keyword research?
Finding out what people are searching for is pretty useful when it comes to your content marketing strategy. But more importantly, it’s good to find how people phrase their questions or topics when they use Google. You’d be surprised, as it’s not always what you think. When you have this, you can use your research to help you with your content.
3. Have you included keyword(s) in your H1, H2, H3 etc tags for each page of your website?
In order to make headings on their website, A LOT of people choose to edit the colour/size/boldness of the text. What you should be doing is using your Header tags to break up sections on the page. With H1 being generally what the page is about, all the way down to H3/4/5. This method allows search engines to understand what information is on the page.
4. Is your title tag under 55-60 characters?
A title tag is displayed in search results and when sharing on social, and it’s important for usability and SEO that you create these correctly. It’s best keep your title tag under 60 characters. And use your keywords too!
5. Have you included your ‘long tail’ keywords in your content marketing?
We tend to have a habit of going after one big keyword like ‘small business copywriter’. But we can miss out on a lot of traffic if we don’t consider other ‘long-tail’ keywords. Now, these might not be searched for as much, but they’re more targeted. For example rather than ‘copywriter’ focus on ‘copywriter for creative entrepreneurs’
6. Do you use your keywords naturally throughout your website copy?
Don’t stuff your copy with keywords, instead use them naturally throughout your website copy. But do have an awareness of them before you write your website pages. You’ll notice little opportunities to use them.
7. Is your website mobile friendly?
It’s great when your website works well on desktop but does it work on a mobile device too? You don’t want your end-user pinching their screen to see all of your info. Or images overlapping text! Plus, you will be punished in mobile search results
8. Do you separate words in your URLs with hyphens?
Make sure you separate your URLs with hyphens between words, such as copywriter.com/website-copy This is because Google views a hyphen as a word separator. It doesn’t do this with underscores.
9. Are your URLs short?
Keep your URLs as short as possible. Long URLs confuse search engines. For example, use: businesscoach.com/consulting rather than businesscoach.com/coaching-and-consulting/my-consulting-services
Extra Resources/Content that Will Help You Improve Your SEO…
The Biggest SEO Mistakes You’re Making and How to Fix Them
Hiring an SEO Agency vs Doing it Yourself
How to rank your service page higher in Google search results
5 Ways to Check Your Keyword Rankings
Although, yes, I have argued that appearance isn’t the be-all-and-end-all, it’s still important.
People are much more likely to trust an ‘attractive’ looking website than one that looks like the 90s threw up on the page. But it goes deeper than that. Your website is a representation of who you are, and it should reflect your brand. This is what makes you memorable. People often say to us ‘oh you’re the guys with the pink and green website?’ or ‘you’re the guys with those pop-art images, right?’.
The design of your website doesn’t necessarily have to be brash or loud, a simple black and white, modern website can stand out just as much as one full of colour.
It just has to reflect who you are and what you stand for.
There are a couple of things people get wrong when it comes to their website’s appearance…
- They don’t know what looks good and what looks terrible
- They’re the same as everyone else
Before anyone designs their own website, we recommend they understand the basics of what makes good design. Even if you’re not a designer, things like consistency of fonts or plenty of white space on the page can make your website look so much better. More importantly, it’s a lot easier for your end-user to navigate your website, if you follow some basic design principles.
The second problem is quite common. We often see websites in similar industries that look exactly the same. A lot of female entrepreneurs, for example, use pastel and gold colours and script fonts. This usually happens because people use website themes, and many themes look the same.
The Quick Wins Checklist For Improving Your Website’s Appearance
1. Is your text a minimum of 16 pixels?
No one wants to read tiny text, so what is it with some companies doing it? Do your end-user a favour and be kind to their eyes!
2. Do you have a maximum of two fonts?
The general rule of thumb is, use one font for 95% of all your text and one font sparingly for your main headings. Any more than that is going to look too messy for your end-user.
3. Is there plenty of white space on each page?
White space is your friend. People don’t want to be greeted with war and peace when they land on your website. Break things up with paragraphs, bullet points, headings and images.
4. Is your text clear to read?
Do you know that pretty squiggly font you love so much? Yeah, don’t use that. It’ll be difficult to read! Google actually penalises you too if it can’t read some of your text. Pick clearer, easy-to-read fonts instead.
5. Do you only centralise text for a maximum of two lines?
Centralised text is difficult to read because the starting point of each line is different. That’s why we say use it for a maximum of two lines, any more than that, left align it.
6. Do you use visual hierarchy?
Headings/important sentences/calls-to-action should be larger, bolder, more colourful and have more whitespace surrounding them. Avoid too much bolded and/or underlined text on your website, as this takes away from the important elements.
7. Is your branding consistent?
You want all your web pages to have coherent branding with consistent colours, fonts, imagery, positioning of your menu and logo etc. For example, you don’t want cartoony images mixed with real-life photographs, or different colours on different pages. This is jarring for the end-user and they have to work harder to understand your message.
8. Do you have an image carousel on your homepage?
We usually advise against having an image carousel (it can be quite jarring for your end-user) but if you have to have it leave at least three seconds between each slide.
9. Stick to a maximum of two/three colours
Ideally, you want to use two colours throughout your website with a bold call to action or button colour to get people’s attention.
Want the checklist everything you can do to improve your website and get more leads and sales? Click below to download!
Extra Resources/Content that Will Help You Improve Your Appearance…
15 tips to Make Your WordPress Blog Posts Less Boring
It’s unfortunate, but people don’t generally buy as soon as they land on your website. They have a million things to do, and buying your product or service might not be a priority for them straight away.
It’s therefore wise to capture someone’s email address before they leave your website. That way, you can keep in touch with them, build trust and just generally remind them that you exist until they’re ready to buy.
There are two major issues we see on websites to do with lead capture.
- People don’t make any attempt to capture someone’s email
- People make too much of an attempt to capture someone’s email
It’s certainly tricky finding the balance between the two. If we’re honest, our biggest mistake has been number one. We’ve always put content out freely, and we’ve felt a little icky about asking for an email address. But, this isn’t just about the sale, it’s about delivering your end-user a good service. Most of our email subscribers like to keep up with our blog posts and they like to know about special offers.
Don’t feel guilty about asking for an email address, as long as you’re helpful when you email that’s only going to be of benefit for your subscriber. And if they don’t like it, they (should!) have the power to unsubscribe at the click of a button.
The alternative is business owners who harras their website user’s for their email address. Pop-up, after pop-up, a call to action after every paragraph, content that appears public but is in fact only accessible through giving up your email address.
Don’t do this. It’s just irritating to your end-user. No one built a good relationship with anyone by continuously harassing them (except that weird bloke off 50 Shades of Grey but we’ll just ignore that).
The Quick Wins Checklist For Improving Your Lead Generation
1. Do you offer a newsletter? If yes, think about how you advertise it!
If you simply advertise it as a ‘newsletter’ then it won’t encourage your end-user to sign up. Tell your end-user what’s in it, what the benefits of it are and how often they’ll receive one.
2. Do you offer a content upgrade or some form of a lead magnet on every blog post?
On that subject, would you like to download this as a handy little checklist that also goes into more detail? 😉
Ideally, every piece of content on your site should have a ‘content upgrade’ that people can download. If not, at least feature a suitable lead magnet for your readers.
3. Have you updated old content (such as blog posts) with your latest lead magnet?
Got something specific going on like a webinar? Don’t forget to update your older content with a link to your latest lead magnet. You’d be surprised how much this works for very little effort!
4. Do you promote your lead magnet on your homepage?
Don’t forget to feature a lead magnet on your homepage too. Make sure you do this in the first third of your homepage so people don’t miss it. It’s You can do this subtly, but it’s a good way of attracting email addresses.
5. Have you added contact forms to all of your service pages/case study pages/portfolio pages etc?
Capture people when they are in the mindset of wanting to work with you. Add contact forms to each of your key pages such as your service pages or case study pages – you’ll be surprised how many people come from those pages and not your contact page.
6. Do you ask for the least amount of information possible?
When asking someone to fill in your contact form, book a call, download a lead magnet, do you ask for the least amount of information possible? Long forms put off your users. Requesting phone numbers also turn people off (they think you’ll phone and sell!)
7. Is your lead magnet easy to follow and implement?
A free lead magnet should be relatively straight forward and offer quick wins (like the one we offer here ;)) What you want is for your end-user to get a quick, easy win from your lead magnet, that way, they’ll trust you know what you’re talking about.
8. Do you use landing pages for your lead magnets that sell the benefits of it?
You actually have to sell the benefits of the lead magnet! Yes, it’s free but you’re asking people to invest their time in something. You need to tell them what problem the lead magnet will solve. Do this by using a separate landing page that shows the benefits.
9. Have you created a thank you page when someone signs up?
When someone signs up for your lead magnet, redirect them to a thank you page which tells them when they’re likely to receive it and what to look out for in their inbox. Also, get them to take another action here, such as follow you on social media, or mark you as not spam!
Phew. There you have it, our ultimate guide to the ‘perfect’ website. And we say ‘perfect’ because, in reality, we cannot get all six things 100% right all of the time.
Extra Resources/Content that Will Help You Improve Your Lead Generation…
The Ultimate Guide to a Lead-Generating Website
How to Capture Leads On Your Website Without Being Annoying
How to take payments online for services. PayPal vs Stripe vs SamCart vs GoCardless
But having an awareness of these things, and implementing as much as possible when we can, can make a huge difference to the leads we get from our websites.
If you’re wanting to get more leads and sales from your website, then check out our membership. Our membership helps small business owners build AND grow their websites, so they generate leads from your ideal clients.
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