Last week I talked to you about why I made the switch to Showit 5 for my website design, and this week I want to share with you a very important lesson about web design. And it may come as a bit of a shock since it isn’t about the actual “look” of your website at all. So what is the most important thing to care about when designing your website? The goal of it. And my good friend and marketing whiz pal, Lauren Carnes, is here to give you some practical website copywriting tips that will explain it all!
Yep, you heard me. It isn’t about what fonts you load in, where your logo is, or how cutting edge your design can be. The most important thing about the website design process is establishing a clear goal for your website so all of those bells and whistles that come along with website design will actually point to accomplishing that goal.
With a background in public relations and social media marketing, Lauren has always been a lover of telling great stories. For 6 years she worked alongside international brands including Nike, Airstream, the John Maxwell Company and Chick-fil-A in defining unique elements of their stories and serving as their brand voice through digital, print and in-person engagements. After launching a photography business in May 2014, Lauren began focusing on merging photography with copywriting by coaching creative and food-based businesses on aligning imagery and communications strategy. She’s worked alongside brands like the Rising Tide Society, Natalie Franke, and more, infusing brand strategy and consistency into all communications elements.
Lauren is apart of my mastermind group and I am consistently blown away by her marketing and copywriting abilities. She has a way of taking general ideas and turning them into beautifully executed words that quite literally move you to action! (Aka conversion copywriting!)
When I set out to design my new Showit 5 site, I knew I wanted to bring Lauren onboard the process to help craft my message intentionally to foster the “experience” of my brand and customer journey. And she BLEW it out of the water. When I launched the site, I heard compliment after compliment like, “I could hear your voice talking on every page,” and “it is all so you!”
I seriously credit Lauren for that. And her guidance in the process on focusing on the main goal of my site. So without further adieu, grab a cup of coffee and learn from the master herself!
The Most Important Part of Designing a Website
If you ask 10 different people what the most important part of designing a website is, you’re likely to get a variety of answers. From copywriting, to the brand inspiration, to the color palette, a website has quite the range of important elements.
But I’m here today to tell you today what the actual most important part of designing your website is – the part that guides all other elements & helps frame the plan for the copy & style to follow suit.
As a communications strategist & coach, I’ve spent countless hours working alongside my amazing clients to help them evaluate one question that directs the course of the entire communications strategy:
What is the main goal for your site?
It’s that simple. What do you want your website to do for you?
Of course, it’s to help make you money… but what about beyond that?
Is it to:
- Get people onto your newsletter?
- Prompt visitors to sign up for a free 15-minute discovery call?
- Showcase your portfolio of work?
Starting with the end in mind gives you a frame of reference for what you’re aiming for – and allows you to reverse engineering to fill in all of the key elements of the site.
The reason why? If you don’t where you’re hoping to go, then it’s difficult to build a roadmap to get there.
Captured by Sarahdipity Photos
Now, I’m not saying you need to have every step of the way figured out. Not at all! However, setting tangible goals for your website can direct the actions a visitor takes upon arriving to your “storefront.”
To give you an example, if your goal is to convert visitors to newsletter subscribers in order to sell to them in the future via your email list, you must have desirable, quick, and easy ways for your visitors to opt-in. This might include a freebie PDF guide download front and center!
Your website design would look significantly different than that of a photographer whose main goal is to convince people to peruse their portfolio and reach out via the contact page to setup a meeting. Each of these is a great goal, but each requires a very different style of design!
So let’s think about your “storefront!”
Think of your website as your brick & mortar shop. Many of us do not have a physical location & our businesses thrive in the digital space. Regardless of your situation, your website is an introduction to your business, just like the entry of a store would be.
The general goal for any store? Get people inside. Let them know they are in the right place for their needs and call them to action to do exactly what YOU want them to.
Yes, every store wants people to swipe that card, but the specific goals are a bit different.
Ask yourself these three questions when determining the goal of your website:
- Who is your ideal client?
How are you going to connect with your target audience and what pain points will you solve for them through your site? You can use my Brand Voice Recipe Guide to start evaluating your target audience and how to communicate with them!
- What is the primary action you want your audience to take?
If they can do one thing and one thing only when arriving at your site, what would it be? What is the one thing they absolutely must know before leaving your site?
- How does that action impact your greater business goals?
Once you get them to take that action, what happens next in their customer journey?
Ultimately, these three questions will help you determine the goal of your website and how it plays into your greater brand & communications strategy.
Finally, once you’ve determined your goal, here are 3 tips to remember when designing your site:
- Don’t bury your goal: Whatever your “primary action” is – ensure that it’s easy to find & “above the fold.” This means that, similar to a newspaper, the most important story or photograph of the paper is featured on the upper half “above the fold.” This catches the attention of the potential reader and draws them in to read more. On your site, copy & design to help achieve your main goal should be featured front & center! From there, you absolutely can have micro-goals for each page of your website, but the content “above the fold” should do the heavy lifting to get people to come inside the proverbial “store.”
- Delight the window shopper: Say you’re walking down the street (I like to envision with a big cone of gelato in hand), and you come upon a shop with the most fabulously designed window display. It stops you in your tracks! But what happens if you walk inside and find out that what the shop actually offers is nothing like that the window shows? If the ultimate goal is to convert visitors to paying customers, your “window display,” needs to match your offerings! The window display brings people in the door, but are your offerings helping them pull their credit card out? If you offer an opt-in to convert them to your newsletter, is your newsletter converting them into a buyer? Delighting the window shopper with more relevant information, products, and services is key to growing your business!
- It’s your brand: If there is one thing I’ve learned during my 7 years in marketing, public relations, and social media while also running a photography business, it’s that your communications strategy isn’t about what is “cool” or works for someone else, but rather is about your goals & objectives, and the people you are serving. It’s going to look different for everyone. And once you know your goal, use that to define your content, copy, and next steps. It will make all the difference in helping your website and brand very truly “you.”
When it’s all said and done: a pretty site is pretty, but if it’s not converting your audience toward your goal, it’s not doing much at all.
So, what is your website doing for you, friend? Take a few moments to evaluate your current site, and ask yourself these questions before considering a redesign!
Connect with me on Instagram at @LaurenLCarnes, and let me know how you’re using your website to achieve your goals! I can’t wait to hear!