Have you ever felt scared and excited at the same time?
Have you ever put in a position where you knew you had to spend more money than you want to but you know you just have to do it?
That’s part of Sarah’s story. She was let go from her job in 2013 with a nice severance package. She looked for a job for a short time but she always had a dream of being her own boss.
So she took the money she had from her severance and pulled the trigger to start her own business.
One of the very first things she knew she would need is a website and marketing.
Sarah had no idea how to build a website let alone what to put in it. So she talked to a few web designers and decided on the one that seemed the most knowledgeable and could answer her questions.
One year later and $4,000 gone, she felt she had absolutely nothing to show for it. Her offline marketing was doing okay. People were coming to her through some networking with a local Chamber of Commerce and others from some word of mouth.
But it wasn’t nearly enough and she was counting on the internet to be her ally and it just wasn’t living up the promises she had believed about the web.
Disappointment, frustration and resentment were setting in.
Her web designer was no longer able, or maybe willing, to help her without more money.
She doesn’t mind spending some if she feels it will help but she’s lost confidence that her website will make a difference for her now.
What went wrong?
Was there something Sarah could have done, or could still do, that could make her website highly successful for her business and help her achieve her financial goals and dreams?
What Can Sarah Do to Make Her Website Work for Her Business Instead of Against It?
When I was in web design and development I had to learn to listen for the real issues and questions that my prospects and clients had. Rarely were the real issues ever on the surface. It was just an assumed “unspoken” known.
“We want a website that will either introduce us to new leads who become new customers or we want immediate online sales.”
Just like Sarah, the reality is that many businesses have spent a lot of money on websites that just don’t work for them the way they had expected them to. So they end up settling for what they have and are content because who wants to keep throwing thousands and thousands of dollars at something that is not working according to expectations.
If your website isn’t fulfilling expectations do you assume that the problem is with the web designer? Maybe it’s the technology?
The truth is it probably isn’t either or maybe it’s both?
So what are the problems and how can we solve the critical issues for you?
4 Part Blue Print of Successful Websites
Behind every successful website there are four things that have to happen so that you can have the website of your dreams.
#1 – What is your Consistent, Identifiable Message?
In a recent study titled “2015 B2B Web Usability Report” it said the #1 reason that people leave a website immediately is because of a lack of a message.
It wasn’t technology, load speeds, or layout (not those things are important because they are but they may not be as critical as once thought).
While you know your business inside and out, that doesn’t mean you’re visitors or prospects do.
I hate to bust bubbles but the unfortunate reality is that many business don’t know their business inside out.
How do I know that?
Because when I work with them they can’t succinctly tell me what business they are “really” in. They can tell me what they do but they can’t tell me how what they do benefits me in a relevant, compelling or interesting way.
Just like in person, the people who meet you for the first time on your website don’t want long explanations about how wonderful you are or anything that has to do with something other than why they are on your website.
They want to understand how you can make a difference for them or solve a specific problem.
They want to know if you can meet a need or fulfill a desire or dream.
When it comes to messaging too many of us are stuck in an old mass marketing paradigm where we share information too broadly and as a result we don’t say anything meaningful or helpful to our visitors.
So how do we discover our core message that separates us from our competition and brands us in the minds of our website visitors?
By learning the following:
- What business you’re “really” in from the consumer’s point of view?
- What are the tangible values that people experience through your business and how do they feel about those experiences?
- What “specific” problems does each tangible value solve?
- Who are you “specifically” solving the problems for?
- How is your product or service “a” part of “a” solution?
Once you learn the detailed answers to these questions you can begin to see the common themes that make your message stand out and relate to their needs.
The very first problem Sarah had was that she didn’t have a message for her audience and it was crippling everything she was trying to accomplish.
#2 – What is the Purpose of Your Website?
Once you’ve identified either the problems you solve, needs you meet or desire your business fulfills and who you do it for; you can then turn to define the purpose of the website.
Because Sarah didn’t understand her audience or the problems she solved for them she created the wrong type of website with the wrong focus.
There are several different purposes for a site and each one determines the layout and how they are presented to deliver your message.
What are the purposes of a website?
Your website’s purpose will always be one or a combination of the following purposes:
- Marketing a product or service
By education I mean are you focused on “really” educating people. That can mean a lot of different things from being a “how to” resource to teaching people things about a particular niche or subject.
By information you’re giving people specs or information on your company, products or services.
By marketing the website may take a combination of education or information but it’s purpose goes beyond those two purposes to actually asking someone to do something; like buy from you, come into your place of business, call you, fill out the form to pre-order, etc.
By ecommerce are actually selling something on your website that people purchase.
Sarah built the wrong website, with the wrong purpose for the wrong audience. It was no wonder she wasn’t getting anyone telling her that they found her on her website.
#3 – Hiring the Right Web Designer / Developer
Hiring the right web designer is critical to your success. They are going to create the face and brand of your business online so it’s imperative you know what to look for in a web designer.
Not only did Sarah not have a message or understand the purpose of her website, she made the critical mistake of hiring the wrong web designer.
While her web designer was competent, he was not qualified to help her communicate and message herself to her audience.
I’ll share below what most web designers do and don’t do and what you should be looking for; but suffice it to say many web designers will try hard to impress you in the sales process.
Some will over-sell themselves and their abilities to help you achieve your goals.
Many are techies who love code and design but they aren’t even good at messaging their own business let alone yours.
That’s not what they are trained to do. They are trained to build your website according to what you tell them you need and want.
Does that mean they won’t have good ideas and recommendations?
Many absolutely will and you should listen to what they have to say. If they are good web designers they are continually learning, researching and discovering new ideas or technologies that will help you.
But they can only do for you what you have done for yourself.
Remember, they are running their own businesses. They are not employed by you and their commitment to your business is do what they said they would do and you agreed upon.
Here are four critical questions you must be able to answer about each one you interview:
#1 – Do They Understand Your Industry?
#2 – Do They Understand Your Business?
#3 – Are They Up-to-Date in Their Industry and Can They Make Recommendations?
#4 – Do They See Themselves as Your Partner or Just Your Web Designer?
In order to hire the right web designer you also must understand what a web designer does and does not do.
Good web designers do not:
- Create your message or decide upon your content and they shouldn’t be asked to (Note: that’s what someone like me does ).
- Do SEO or social media. They are web designers skilled in a specific task for a very specific need.
- Create video producers for your website.
- Write or proof read your content or blog articles.
- Take control of your domain name or hold you hostage.
- Rush your project or delay your project unnecessarily.
What do great web designers do:
- They communicate and work with you throughout the process and beyond.
- Create the look, feel, color palette and layouts for different pages of the site as determined by the content.
- Ensure that the site is ready for launch and that everything works the way it’s supposed to work.
- After launch they support their work and ensure that the site remains working the way it is intended to.
Hiring the right web designer is critical to your success!
You can learn more about this and download a free web design interview kit on my article titled “How a Web Designer Can Make a Profound Difference for Your Business!“ (opens in another tab).
#4 – Build Your Website Around Your Message and Purpose
The final step in the blueprint pulls it all together. Now that you have a clear message, know the purpose of your website and have hired the right web designer it’s time to give them the content they need to make your website a reality.
B y now it may obvious to you that clarity and focus is critical to the success of a website (Learn more about clarity and focus by visiting the Begin Here page (opens in another tab).
If it sounds complex or overwhelming that’s okay. The key is to continually simplify the complex. I always start with the scope out the site first and create the sitemap on paper (or screen) that will make up the pages of your website and how each page relates and flows from to one another.
Your content should be built solely around your message and your prospects.
Working side-by-side with your designer (and perhaps an expert consultant like myself) you should have a fully functioning and operating website in no time.
That is as long as you and your designer are on the same page and have the same expectations.
Are You Set-up to Fail Like Sarah?
Sarah’s online presence and website was set-up to fail before it ever started because she didn’t know what to do.
She thought just building a website is all that was needed.
Do you feel like Sarah?
Are you frustrated, disappointed and not bringing in the sales that you need or want?
Would you like to learn how to pull all of this together in more detail?
If so, consider joining me in my live webinar.
Specifically, I will go into:
- Messaging: Identifying your audience and how to offer a solution to their problems
- Crafting a purpose for your website
- Hiring the right web designer/developer
- How to design a successful website around your message and purpose
Learn more about the upcoming webinar.
I hope to see you there and be sure to bring a pencil/pen and paper and take lots of notes and be ready to ask lots of questions afterward.
If you were to visit my blog for the first time I’m sure your impression would be like so many others. You would think I’m extremely successful due to the loyal community that I have built. I was in a way because of what I had achieved up to that point. I created a course around what my audience wanted that would help them learn how to build their own loyal community. Relationships are a huge part of growing your blog but there are so many other factors that go with this as well. I didn’t want to be known just as the “Engagement Superstar”, a title that was awarded to me several years ago. Although I’m very good at helping people with building relationships there is more to having a successful blog than just that. I wanted to work with a certain target audience but that’s not who I was attracting. Don helped me understand what I was doing wrong and how to make my message much more clear so that I would start attracting that particular crowd. Thanks to Don I’m on the right path, I can see the changes happening and am much more excited about my future.
~ Adrienne Smith www.adriennesmith.net
If you have a questions, thoughts or want to make a contribution to this article, please share below in the comments and let’s have a conversation about finding the right web designer for your business.