Let’s talk about terrible websites, and how taking the steps to create a good website will make you stand out in the crowd. And I’m notstanding on a soapbox, because when I came to Frends Beauty in 2011…our website was pretty bad. It wasn’t terrible, but it was not intuitive, it certainly was not pretty, and it was built on some really old and unstable architecture.
As the new head of business development…one of my first suggestions was that we update the site. At any cost. As one of the oldest, most well-known, and well-respected industry companies, I knew that our online presence was a big deal and the impression that our website left on potential clients and clients alike was make-or-break. I understood that, for a new customer, the layout, format, functionality, etc. of our website will determine whether or not they choose to shop with us. So I had to be sure we put our best foot forward. We spent nearly a year working with a firm who helped us dream up a new logo, and a completely new website.
It paid off. Big time.
So we’re going to talk about YOUR website, and we’re going to talk about what you need to show your prospective clients. And we’re going to talk about what you DON’T need to show them. Ever. There are several elements any good website should have. There are more than we’ll talk about here but this ought to give you enough to be able to sit back and say “NAILED IT!” or “Yeah…my site needs some work.” And that is the goal here.
ELEMENTS OF A GOOD WEBSITE, ask yourself…
– Does your site have good visual design? When a prospective client visits your website, will they find it visually appealing? Is the format pleasing to the eyes, does it calm their nerves (keep in mind, they are looking to hire someone with whom they plan to spend a considerable amount of money)? Is your logo design intelligent and appealing? Do the colors of your website flow with your logo? Is the layout clean and intuitive? Is your font clean or is it absolutely ridiculous?
– Are your images clean high definition, high quality images? You’re selling your ability to make art on someone’s face, so your images should help you sell that. If you do not have any good images, consider finding a photographer and a model who can help you get those images for use on your site. It’s an investment that will pay off immediately.
– Does your website contain good, fresh, valuable and timely content? The content on your website is how your prospective clients will get to know you, your work, your personality, etc. The easiest space to present content is your blog. Is it tied into your website or are they separate? Do you have a blog at all? With the permission of your past clients, you should showcase your work on your blog as often as possible. You can never have TOO MUCH new, relevant content. But you can go stale…so make sure you always have something planned.
– Are you overselling yourself? No need to explain this one…
– Is your site navigation intuitive and simple? I’ve seen a lot of websites that have navbar links for things like individual blog posts, etc. Be careful not to overdo it here. Getting around your website should be akin to getting around your own house. It should be easy, intuitive, and comfortable. It should not be like trying to navigate blindly down the 405 South in Los Angeles during morning rush hour.
– Call-to-Action. Your website exists solely to sell your services, so don’t be shy about that. Make it easy for prospective clients to book an appointment with you. This could be a button, an image, whatever. Whatever flows with your visual design. Don’t overdo it, but don’t make people search for it either.
– Is your website mobile friendly? Around 30% of traffic on the web is from a mobile device and I will tell you right now, that number only stands to increase as mobile devices get smarter and faster. If your site is not mobile device friendly, change that…now. Now. NOW!
– Credibility. Who are you? Will anyone vouch for you? Have you won any awards? Did you graduate from any professional schools? Are you a member of any professional societies? Have clients written reviews for you? Show your prospects that you are who you say you are.
– Is your search function simple and powerful? There is nothing worse for a prospective client than not being able to find what they are looking for. It’s one surefire way to lose their interest fast.
– Can they contact you easily? The last thing you need is a prospect who wants to talk to you but cannot figure out how to. And a simple Contact Me form doesn’t cut it. I want to know your phone number, and your email address. A random cookie cutter contact form on a blank contact page is not going to cut it. (As an aside, regarding contact, you should also read this)
THINGS TO AVOID
– Music. Next to unexpected porn pop-ups at work, there is nothing more annoying than visiting a website and having your computer speakers blasting Michael Bolton or some insanely loud and fast EDM suddenly, out of nowhere, with no warning. It’s unprofessional, and it assumes that your prospects enjoy your same musical taste. It will immediately turn off a percentage of your prospective clients without them even having to lay eyes on your site if their first interaction with your site is their speakers coming to life unexpectedly.
– Social Media Links. Unless they are social media links to your business profiles where you routinely maintain a professional business atmosphere, avoid them. It’s far too easy to post hundreds of funny cat pictures or be suckered into a post about politics or religion on your personal profiles. Nobody who wants to hire you to work on their face, needs to know what you are eating for lunch, or how drunk you got last weekend. If you do not have business profiles on all of the social networks, simply avoid linking them all together.
– Mis-speeled word or bad grammer. Yes I did that on purpose. Have someone you trust read the content on your website because a second set of eyes always catches something. Now I don’t always practice what I preach, but whatever…you get what I am saying.
– DON’T STEAL OTHER ARTISTS’ WORK! As unfortunate as it is…this seems to happen rather frequently in the makeup artist community. An artist pours their blood, sweat, and talent into creating beauty…and another artist takes the image and puts it on their website. Do not be that artist. Just don’t.
– Your URL. I’ll take the company Wix as an example. They offer templates that customers can purchase, fill in with their own custom information and images, and publish a site. This can all be done in minutes. The customer can choose to keep the URL that it comes with which will read as http://www.customer.wix.com/ for example. Don’t do this. Instead, buy a custome domain name, and then forward your Wix site to that URL. It is very inexpensive, very easy, and makes a massive difference. You will look far more professional right from the beginning with a custom URL.
– Don’t use Adobe Flash. I’m not saying Adobe Flash is bad, and it can look really cool, but there are two big problems with it. First, anyone with a slow internet connection is going to have to sit through a really slow graphic intense load up time. In 2014 there aren’t a lot of people who have super slow connections…but still, you’ll be alienating them. And second…it’s not supported by Apple. That means people using iPad’s and iPhone’s (the #1 selling mobile devices) simply will not be able to view your site. Additionally, it does not perform well on other non-Apple devices. And remember, about 1/3 of all web traffic is mobile…so 1 out of every 3 people online will encounter trouble on viewing your site. That’s really bad!
I know that the Frends Beauty website is very good, but it’s not perfect. There are little imperfections all over the place. But it’s a massive upgrade from our old website, and we’re constantly working on this site to keep it fresh, relevant, and beautiful. Our goal is to deliver value to you, and that keeps us busy constantly making it better. We have a list of more than 35 website upgrades and projects we will be working on in 2015 to ensure that your experience on our site is as good as it can be. Does your website convey your talent? Does it deliver value to prospective customers? Ask yourself these questions, review your website, and make changes where appropriate. You will notice, they will pay off.
Until next time!