Note: This is an excerpt from my Do-It-Yourself Guide that I'll be releasing this summer. Please feel free to request topics for me to cover or include and I'll do my best!
Now let’s talk about your website.
A website is non-negotiable anymore. It’s today’s online business card, brochure and much more.
Even for creatives, your website gives you a way to package and present your voice to the world. It lends validity to your projects or business.
If you have a website already, I highly recommend getting an evaluation. Technology changes so quickly that there may be a safer or faster or prettier (maybe all three!) way to build or maintain your site than three years ago when you built it or had someone build it for you.
An evaluation of a website can be as basic or as professional as your business can afford. The purpose of an evaluation is to understand how the public interacts with your site, and how quickly they can find the information or content they want.
At the very least, have friends or acquaintances explore the site while you watch. Note how easy or difficult it is for them to find their way around. Do they seem to understand all symbols and icons you’re using? Remember that some demographics will be familiar with certain technological abbreviations, icons and digital slang that others won’t be. Who are your clients? Will they understand?
For complex sites that have the budget to hire site managers and designers, WordPress is a powerful and very customizable website platform, and unlike Squarespace and Wix, etc., it is your own. However, just like owning real estate, expect that more maintenance and expense will come with ownership.
Even though I recommend WordPress for many businesses and organizations, I feel that WordPress has been oversold. While it’s customizable, affordable and continually advancing in user experience, it is not what I recommend for the low-tech small business, organization, or solo entrepreneur. While WordPress is getting easier and easier to use, it's still best for those of you that have some tech acumen or the patience and time to learn some.
Many small businesses have a WordPress site built for them, only to be left with security issues, updates, plug-ins, and hazy ideas on how use the interface. If you can afford to have a designer make one and help you with the updates, that could be a good thing. Retainers don't have to be expensive.
However, if you're a small operator and creative to boot, I recommend researching easy-to-use alternatives. Try looking up “website platforms for non-coders” or “website platforms for beginners”. I have built sites on about six different platforms and considering glitches, ease of use, affordability, and professional design, I’ve chosen to recommend Squarespace. I know friends who are happy using Wix (especially good for visual artists as they have some great tools like a print on demand gallery for gift items as well as special gallery tools) https://www.wix.com and new platforms pop up every year, so feel free to check them out or look up comparison charts.
A website should have the most essential information on the home page, “above the fold”, which refers to the top of the first page before a visitor would need to scroll down. Often you see contact information and the navigation bar at the very top of the landing page, but what else should you include there?
An important feature of the homepage or landing page is the "CTA", or Call to Action. There should only be one choice! To avoid confusion, have one big button for one offer and that’s it. Put other offers on a different page.
Action Step One: Have your website evaluated, by a techie friend or a professional. You can also use the free online tool, http://nibbler.silktide.com/ without leaving your email address. There are other free site analysis tools available if you do a search for them.
Action Step Two: If you don’t have a website yet or you want to rebuild a poor or outdated one, see if you can find a competitor’s website that you admire, and share the URL with your website builder/designer, or bookmark it and use it (respectfully-don’t plagiarize) to inspire your own, unique design.
Would you like help with this? Please hit this CTA (call to action!) button and fill out a contact form and let me know!