Today’s topic is a tender one because our websites can make us feel very vulnerable.
Particularly if you're just starting out online and confused about how to get results—or even what results you should be getting. Or perhaps you’ve been in business for a while and your website no longer fits your goals or opportunities.
Whether you've invested a lot of time or money, the pain is the same. A nonfunctional or poorly designed website has the potential to drain you of both.
So, if this sounds like your situation I'd like to offer some guidance to help you determine:
- Whether your website needs a redesign
- What role your website actually plays in your business
- What to do if you paid for on a website that no longer fits
- What to consider if you’re thinking about hiring a website designer
So go grab a cup of tea (or a stiff drink;) and let’s do this. Let’s get to the other side of this uncomfy (but necessary) conversation so you can stop feeling business guilt or shame and move your brand (and business) forward with a fresh perspective.
Does my website need a facelift or a funeral?
The only way to get clear about this is to ponder these questions with absolute honesty:
Does your website convey precisely what you do and who you do it for in less than seven seconds?
Does your website showcase what makes you unique compared to others who offer a similar product or service?
Does each page on your website naturally guide people to the information you want them to have and the actions you want them to take?
Is your brand (logo, color, positioning, offers, language) current on your website?
Does your website display properly and work efficiently on mobile devices?
Does your website easily integrate with productivity tools that make running your business and your life easier? (i.e. appointment booking, class scheduler, bookkeeping, client organization, etc.)
Are you able to implement and test a variety marketing strategies using your website? (i.e. webinars, online classes, e-commerce, landing pages, etc.)
Does your website look, navigate, and function in a contemporary way?
Can you make simple updates to your website without help from a developer?
Do you feel confident referring people to your website?
If you answered mostly no’s, then it’s time to consider a website makeover. If you didn’t answer yes to any of the questions, it’s probably best to start afresh.
What is the role of your website?
Most of my clients operate service-based businesses and their websites are primarily used to promote their services and generate leads from prospective clients. Their websites are specifically designed to perform these functions.
I believe great business websites support and empower the action you take both on and offline.
It’s easy to get drunk from the kool aid that makes us believe our businesses need to happen 100% online—from generating prospective customer leads to closing sales. That might be true for some types of businesses, but that’s not always the case. This certainly hasn’t been true for my business or the majority of my clients who are getting new customers and making money shortly after their sites launched.
Sometimes, the fastest track to business clarity and success is hustle and grit offline—supported by a website that positions you as a credible and legitimate pro in your industry. If you’re taking action and making connections both digitally and in the real world, people will check you out. And when they do, you want your website to take them by the eyeballs and lead them exactly where you want them to go—hopefully discussing how they’ll move forward as your new client.
How you market and promote your business on and offline has a huge impact on your results. There are plenty of strategies to experiment with so be sure to set up goals and systems to track your progress and engagement. This will help you fine tune your efforts for your audience and niche.
It’s crucial that your website is effectively designed to support your business building efforts.
To sum it up, there’s simply is no substitute for good old-fashioned action on and offline backed up by a website that's ready to build trust and guide viewers to what's important.
But I spent so much time and money on this...
If, by this point, you’re pretty sure you need a redesign but feel slightly sick about it because you poured a bunch of time and money into your current site, I feel you. I really do.
I’ve been on the phone with many prospective clients who feel resentful and regretful of what they spent on sites that produced disappointing results. They feel like they’re watering a pot of dead flowers in hopes of fresh blooms.
Getting comfortable with the idea of starting over isn’t easy. But you need to understand a business concept called sunk cost and why basing future business decisions on sunk costs can be an obstacle to your success. A sunk cost is money, time, or energy that has been spent and cannot be recovered. No matter what you do, it’s gone. Abandoning sunk costs can feel painful, but making decisions from that pain is not empowering.
Letting go of sunk costs is hard. I know from personal experience.
This article from Psychology Today offers twelve tips and questions to help. The one I found most useful was:
Are you sacrificing other opportunities because you are stuck with the sunk cost?
In other words, are you giving up the possibility of future success by sticking with something that is leading nowhere?
Should I hire someone or redesign my site myself?
As a website designer I’m sure you expect me to advise you hire someone. Ahem...like me:)
But truthfully, I don’t think everyone needs to go this route. Some people have the time and patience to figure things out. Plus, it’s a skill that can definitely be learned. For people who enjoy expanding their art and technology skills and love to write, designing your own site might be a fun and enriching project. And there are resources galore to teach you how.
While there is a learning curve, if you’re willing to put in the time and energy, I believe you can do it. In addition, platforms like Squarespace make the creation of clean, modern websites very doable for non-technical people.
However, if you know you’re someone who most definitely does NOT enjoy tinkering with technology. If you continually change your mind about colors, images, and copy. If you would rather focus on what you’re really good at and have someone else strategize the flow of your site around your top business priorities, then you’ll be money ahead hiring it out.
How to select a website designer.
I think choosing a website designer for your business feels as vulnerable as selecting a babysitter for your newborn. Trust is the most important factor.
Here’s a list of things to pay attention to—whether you’re interviewing me or someone else:
How much do they ask about your business? Are they doing more talking or listening?
Great designers will want to know intimate details about your work, your personality, the experiences of your journey. How else can they create a site that uniquely positions your business and supports your goals if they aren’t extremely curious about every aspect of what you do?
Does all their work look the same?
Check out their portfolio. Does everything they create look pretty much the same, or do they have the ability to translate different styles and vibes across a variety of projects?
Do they understand online and offline marketing? Do they understand search engine optimization?
It’s not enough to have a pretty site. Your website needs to support your marketing priorities and business objectives. SEO takes time (and your ideal designer will certainly avoid making grand promises about propelling you to the front page of Google in short order), but your designer does need to understand SEO best practices for new websites.
Do they have an organized system to take your project from concept to complete?
A good website designer will want to make your life easier, not more complicated. A structured process is essential.
Will you own your domain, your content, and your raw art files after the project is complete?
You don’t want to be held hostage after working with someone. I can’t tell you how many times new clients come to me with frustration because their former designer won’t release raw logo files, transfer their domain or site ownership to them, or help them transition in any way. It’s beyond unprofessional.
How will future updates work?
Will you need to pay your designer to do things like make small changes, add pages, or embed videos? Will you be in charge of making backend updates or will they happen automatically (as they do with Squarespace)? Will they teach you how to easily manage and maintain your site? Small business owners need websites that enable them to be flexible and agile as their ideas and opportunities expand. Be sure you get clarity on these issues to save yourself headache down the road.
Who will write the copy?
Design is very important, but good copy is crucial. Google bots will crawl your site on a regular basis and they won’t evaluate your graphics, but rather the words and tags used in your copy. So make sure you know whether your designer can include expert copywriting services if you need them.
Your website is an investment in your future.
On some level you realize this, which is why decisions about your site often feel big and difficult. I hope today’s post inspired some clarity in this department and ultimately prompts you to make some positive choices to help you move forward with your business—whether we work together or not.
If you’re curious, my website design rates range from $1500 to $5600. I create custom packages to fit a variety of budgets and I love helping soulful entrepreneurs set up websites they simply love!
Learn more right here >>