10 Fundamental Elements of an Effective Website

Your website is an important part of your marketing strategy and it is often the first impression potential clients have of you. Thus, you really want to make sure that you maximize the space so that it effectively showcases you and your expertise, educates the visitor of who you help and why, and draws the visitor in to further communication with you (i.e. signs up for your email list).

Now, I am not a web designer, but I have been online since the dark ages and I have worked with clients doing WordPress blog and content maintenance/management long enough to know (for the most part) what works and what doesn’t.

Image by Mocho (2014) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Ultimately, it all comes down to user experience. What do you want the visitor of your website to come away with? How do you want her/him to feel? What do you want her/him to learn? How can you solve her/his problem?

1. Show Your Personality

If you are shy and introverted, like me, it is very tempting to hide behind a sterile, formal website that simply states who you are and what you do. It is scary to put yourself out there and show yourself. However, you know that nowadays, expertise isn’t enough. People want to know, like, and trust you before they buy. Well, they can’t get to know you if you don’t show them who you are.

One way to do this is to have pictures of you on your website. There are a lot of people who have pictures of themselves in different poses and in different places. That’s great, but if you are uncomfortable with that, at least have a head shot with you smiling and put in on your header. That’s what I have on my website, for now, as you can see if you are reading this on my website.

Some entrepreneurs get different types of professional pictures done and then use those for images for their blog posts or pages instead of stock photos or object images.

One more way to show your personality is in your content. There can be a fine line between coming across as a professional and expert in your field and showing off your personality, but it can be done. The trick is to write more conversationally: write the way you talk.

2. White Space

Websites that are cluttered with a lot of (internal or external) links are distracting and takes away from your message. It also makes it harder for your visitor to find what they are looking for, if it is something specific.

One trend I have seen, and like, is taking away the side bar on some or most of the web pages. I like this because it make a website look cleaner and more focused.

Truth be told, most of the links and images, etc are unnecessary. You can have a main link on the navigation bar with a drop down menu that leads to other pages that contain the information you want to share.

3. Error-free Copy

Let’s be clear, I am not talking about perfection. Heck, you probably may find a couple of errors on my website here.

What I am talking about, it making sure that your copy is clear, concise, and correct as much as possible. If you aren’t a writer have a friend look over your website or hire someone to professionally proofread your copy for you.

I’ve said this before, and I will say it again: Everything you write (including your website copy) is a reflection of you. A website that is full of grammar errors, misused words and other mistakes will come across as unprofessional.

If you want/need to proofread your own website copy (or any text), here is a link to a post I did that outlines 7 Tips for Proofreading Your Documents.

4. Updated Blog

Speaking of content, it is important to make sure that you update your website regularly. What that means is up to you. It depends on what changes are going on in your business, and your business goals.

I am speaking mainly to those who have a blog. If blogging is part of your business strategy, then you need to blog consistently. This is especially true if your blog is the first thing a visitor sees when they come to your website. The last thing you want is for a visitor to come to your website and see that you haven’t blogged in 3, 6, or 12 months. They may wonder if you are still in business!

If you can’t blog consistently, then move the blog from the front page of your website. You can easily create a welcome page that visitors see when they come to your website and then have a link to your blog on the navigation bar and/or link on the welcome page or other page.

5. Updated About Page

Did you know that the about page is one of the most popular pages that visitors read? They want to get to know who you are and what you are about. Thus, it is very important that your about page is updated frequently, or at least looked at, every 6 to 12 months.

Make sure that any pictures of you or your family are updated and not from several years ago. Make sure all the content is updated and correct for you and your business. You may even want to separate your about page into different sections. I have an about page about me, one about my company, and one that outlines my manifesto. You can take a peek of it here.

6. A Lead Magnet or Freebie

It amazes me how many coaching websites do not have a free offer. Some sort of free consultation or strategy call is a given for any business or life coach. It is still important to have some sort of other free product that allows potential clients to get a taste of your work.

Of course, don’t forget to link the freebie to your email list! Growing your list and nurturing your list is essential for growing your business.

7. An Easy to Find Contact Page

It is so frustrating when a visitor wants to contact the website owner but can’t find a way to reach her! A visitor should never have to hunt down a way to contact you. It can have the consequence of losing a client.

You don’t necessarily have to have a link to your contact page everywhere. It is enough to have an easy to find link on your navigation bar, perhaps a small link on the footer of your website, and maybe a link on your about page.

On the contact page itself, it is a good idea to give the visitor different options to contact you. For example, give then the ability to email you, reach you through social media, and/or a contact form on the page. I even give visitors the option to send me snail mail.

However you do it, just make sure that potential clients, possible joint venture partners, or media people can reach you!

8. Easy to Find Search Box

Personally, it is so annoying when I can’t find the search box. Sometimes, when I come across a new website, I want to do a search on different topics to see what the person has to say about it.

For example: Suppose you are a weight loss coach and someone finds your website. She may want to do a search on your website on the Paleo diet to see what you have to say about that topic. If she resonates with what you have to say, she may want to sign up for your email list or connect with you some other way.

Or, maybe you are a business coach, and a visitor wants to see what you have to say about closing sales calls. If there is no search box or easy one that is easy to find, the person may move on to another website.

Having said that, you don’t have to have a search box everywhere – again you don’t want your site too cluttered. For me, I have my search on my blog page on the side bar. You have to scroll down to see it but it is easy to find. Or, you can put the search box on the footer of your website.

9. A Testimonial Page

I probably don’t have to mention this, but at the risk of being the master of the obvious, do have at least a couple of reviews or testimonials from previous or current clients.

If you only have a couple of testimonials, you don’t have to have a dedicated page for testimonials. You can just put the testimonial on your side bar or at the bottom of your pages or posts wherever it is appropriate. For now, I have one review on my side bar and a link to my testimonial page on the bottom of several of my pages.

10. Focus on the Audience

The last thing I want to encourage you to do is to speak directly to your target audience. Speak to their problems, to their needs, and to their wants. Make your website, your blog posts, and all of your content about them, not you.

For the longest time, I mad my website about me. It was all about what I do, who I am, and me, me, me. Big mistake. People don’t care about me, except in how I can help them. Guess what? People don’t care about you or your business. Yes, they want to get to know you but only so they can find out how you can help them solve their problem.

There are other elements to a good website to think about, and I recommend that you hire a professional web designer if you can afford it. In the meantime, I encourage you to take a look at your website (especially if you haven’t done so in a long time) and see if some of these ideas are useful in updating it.

To help you with that, in this week’s Friday Freebie, I will be giving you a website checklist to use when going through your website.

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