Since much of business and branding now takes place via the internet, most people assume that one of the first things they need to invest in is their branding package and their web design.
This is false.
The reality is you need a lot of information before you can outsource either web design or your branding. Information only you can answer and a web designer can’t figure out for you. Additionally, if you’re in the very beginning stages of your business you likely don’t have that kind of money to spend.
“But Amanda,” you say, “Don’t I need great web design—and a mobile-friendly website at that?”
Yes, you need a website. Yes, it needs to be mobile friendly. You just don’t need to spend thousands on web design right off the bat.
How do I know this? Because I’ve heard this straight from my long-time designer’s mouth. When I was re-branding my business and website earlier this year we had a very lengthy conversation on what information people need before spending thousands of dollars on logo and web design. She’s even turned people away for not having this information before trying to hire her!
Essentially, she mentioned how she’s not a sales and marketing consultant—she’s a designer—and if people don’t understand basic sales and marketing for their businesses then she can’t really help them with web design—not properly anyway.
Information you need before spending thousands on the web design
So before you go off and spend a lot of unnecessary money on a brand new web design package, here’s some of the information you need before making that kind of an investment. It’s all about what your ideal customer would feel, experience, understand & take-action as they navigate your website.
1. Who are you serving ?
Your website is not about you. Perhaps it’s technically about you and your business, but in reality it’s a lot more about your market.
Your website is speaking to who your market is and how you can help them with their problem. That means the content is for them, the sales funnel has to be done with them in mind, the copy is for them and you guessed it—the web design itself is really for them.
You have to get crystal clear on what your brand represents to your market. That means you need to be crystal clear on who they are, how they behave and what kind of content they are looking for on a website.
For example, when I re-designed my site earlier this year and was creating a new opt-in I did it with my market in mind. I knew they were having financial issues so I created an opt-in called 5 Ways Millennials Can Stop Sabotaging Their Chances of Making Money. The market and benefit are both crystal clear, and it’s the very first thing someone sees when they find my website.
2. What is your brand’s vision?
- What is the point of your brand?
- What do you want people to know when they reach your website?
- What language is being used?
- What is the entire point of it all?
This more than just what you want people to spend money on (that’s another section), this is about how you want people to feel when they reach your website.
Granted, it could take some time before business owners really figure this out. It takes some experimenting and getting to know your market. It took me three-and-a-half years before I’d even truly figured it out for my own market.
That’s why you shouldn’t spend so much money on a website without first having interacted with your market enough to know what they want, how they want to feel, how they speak and how your brand helps them solve their problems.
3. What is your sales funnel?
Truly successful web design that works for your business is not just an online brochure where people find information. In this day and age your website is often times the first point of contact in your sales funnel.
You need to clearly map out what your sales funnel looks like. What’s the freebie your audience gets? What happens after that? What kind of content is going to be on your website so people can easily find you? What do you want people to actually do when they stumble upon your website?
These are all extremely important questions you must know the answers to, and there’s no way a web designer or branding expert can figure this out because that’s not their job. Their job is to create the visuals and story for the sales funnel and market you already have.
4. What’s your angle?
This is the part where many businesses fumble, and again it’s something that takes a while to figure out. Since I’ve been broadcasting live on Periscope I’ve seen a phenomenon where people say “I’m a career coach” or “I’m a health coach” which is all fine and dandy except that says nothing about you or your brand. They can’t seem to tell me what separates them from all the other career and health coaches out there.
You need to get clear on what your angle is.
Try to get a specific as you can. In my case I used these questions when figuring out what kind of a coach I am.
- What kind of people do you work with?
- What results do you get for people?
- What words do they use to describe your work?
- What’s your story?
- Why did you become a coach?
This may require getting comfortable with implementing some more of your personality into your brand. At the end of the day individual experiences and individual culture are what separates businesses from each other—and that’s all a part of the customer experience.
I’ll use myself as an example. While I certainly do coaching, I’m not just another business coach. I’m fun. I’m in your face. I’m a little quirky and I’m definitely bold. As such, it wouldn’t make sense for me to use pastels and beach scenery on my website. Instead, I did a funky bold photo-shoot in the Arts district of my city. I was climbing on rocks, jumping around, running and doing a bunch of crazy stuff. What resulted were phenomenal pictures that allowed me to put my personality into my brand. No other business coach on the internet has a brand that even looks like mine, because they aren’t me.
5. What do you want your ideal clients to do on your site?
One of the biggest things my web designer mentioned to me was the fact that many new business owners who come to her for design work had no idea how they wanted their website visitors to behave.
It’s your job to figure out what you want your visitors to do. Do you want them to sign up for your email list? Do you want them to buy a product? All of this information is imperative so that your web designer can create a killer website that converts.
Once you know what you want your website visitors to do it’s time to pay attention to what they actually do. You can use a free tool like Google Analytics and set up goals so you can see conversion rates, how long people are spending on your site, on what pages they are leaving your site, etc.
Your main concern will be the people who do not convert (A.K.A. people who don’t sign up for your list or buy your product—depending on what your goal is). Why is that? Is there somewhere you can improve copy or design to make it easier for them to do so? Paying attention to your market’s behavior on your website is another way of making them a part of the process. Remember: this isn’t about you; it’s about the people you are meant to serve.
With all the information mentioned in this article my team was able to create killer photos, killer email marketing messages, a killer website and an overall amazing brand that helps my business stand out from the rest.