There is no shortage of “How to Build Your Website” tutorials and articles out there. There’s just one MAJOR problem I see. It’s that NONE of them actually talk about what to put IN your website. If getting a successful website meant grabbing a domain name and filling out a WordPress template — we’d all be online marketing millionaires. But, unfortunately, putting up a website takes a lot more thinking than training.
How to wrap your head around your website project
Most people jump into the website development process willy nilly. They come up with a domain name, they get a template, they throw up some navigation and pages and quite frankly — they do it all backwards. I know why — because doing all those things is WAY easier than actually stopping to think, plan and strategize who your audience is and what you want your website to do. These things are fun to think about — but really not fun to actually DO.
It’s all about your audience
What’s your opinion on the matter
You — and what you think and feel about the way things are surrounding your business are absolutely critical! People don’t buy STUFF – they buy outlooks and opinions that resonate with theirs.
One of the most critical components of a website are the personal voice that you bring to it. Remember, people are using your website to get to know who you are and to decide on whether they “like” you and what you offer or not. Your audience is looking to see if they connect with you, what you offer and what you believe and they are using your website to do that. Your job is to deliver the clearest, most concise explanation of that.
The best way to get to the root of that is to create a top 10 list of reasons that they should choose you.
What’s the outcome, result or benefit you promise
You are going to want to default to talking about your product or your service. You will want to describe it and talk about how shiny and cool it is. None of this really matters to your audience. They want to see what they will GET as a result. They want to see what they will walk away with. They want to envision how different their life and their business will be AFTER they’ve purchased what you have to sell.
Marketers often talk about this as a benefit. But I think that this is a short-cut you can’t afford to take. What’s going to set you apart from the rest of the choices and alternatives they have is how clearly and vividly you describe their ideal future state after using your product.
For some real examples, consider the infomercials you see on TV. Whether they are talking about cleaning products or weight loss products, notice how they show an existing situation which is clearly undesirable and a future situation which delivers on how they will LOOK and FEEL after using these products or services.
What do you want them to DO
It’s not enough to paint this perfect picture of a desired result — you need to be ridiculously obvious about what you want them to do at every point in the process. As you might expect, I have a very strong opinion about this.
The sole purpose of a website is to generate leads and new customers — otherwise, why would you invest all this ridiculous amount of work and spend all this time and money? You wouldn’t.
The only job of a website is to attract and convert visitors to customers. Every element of the site has to be focused on this outcome;
Create a landing page
Now this is something rather unusual — but you’ll thank me later. I want you to create a single landing page. This will be useful on several levels. First, it will force you to focus on just those things that matter to your customer — those core elements that will get them to choose you.
The other benefit is that it will give you the foundation that you can expand on for your larger site.
Finally — and this is the best — of course — is that it will be a lead generating tool that you can use to get new customers. Because when you really look at it — your web site is really nothing more than a series of lead generating landing pages.
Building a large complicated website can seem overwhelming. Starting with a landing page will keep you focused and give you some practice. So pick a product or service you want to feature and create a landing page to sell it.
Do this for all your products and services and when you’re done — the rest will be super easy.
Choosing a website design
Now it’s finally time to think about what website designs and structures will best achieve your desired result. This is where the work you did on identifying the websites your ideal customers regularly visit comes in. Your goal is to choose what WORKS and not necessarily what you like. These are two different things.
The best way to find a website structure and design that will work for you is to find an existing successful website to model. I don’t mean that you copy everything — you look at the model and identify what works;
Before you choose one website model — you’ll want to do some research to find those sites that you KNOW are successful (making money, generating leads). To do this, you’ll have to know your industry a bit. Choose the rock stars in your market and dig around and pick the ones that you know are making lots of money using their web site. Follow, them, analyze their websites and if you know people who are their customers, talk to them about why they like it and what works.
Putting it all together
Now that you have all this wonderful information all laid out — it’s time to put it into a BASIC web format. While there are gazillions of web page themes out there — all of them have the same basic components which are structured around the basic premise in the template that I’m offering here.
I’ve created this simple template that you can use to get started.
Name: Ivana S. Taylor
About: Ivana Taylor is the publisher of DIYMarketers.com – an online marketing publication that provides marketing strategies that help entrepreneurs and business owners get and keep profitable customers. She is the DIY Marketing expert and book editor for Small Business Trends and a contributing author to AMEX Open Forum. Her strategic consulting firm, Third Force specializes in helping companies find their best customers and be the one they choose – regardless of price. Ivana is the co-author of Excel for Marketing Managers. You can find her on Twitter as @DIYMarketers.