In this day and age it seems almost everyone and anyone can have a website. It can cost you next to nothing to have a basic website set up within hours.
This is great news for small business owners and the time strapped entrepreneur who needs an online presence now.
In fact there’s no excuse not to have a website to promote your business. I judge a business on its website. If a business doesn’t have one I generally rule it out.
However there’s a difference between having a static online brochure that looks unprofessional and a stunning, thriving website that drives visitors to take positive action to help grow your business.
The Ultimate Website Workout for Entrepreneurs
The purpose of this workout is not to tell you how to set up a website, but to look at persuasive web design that gets visitors to act. There’s no use having a website that provides no value.
I’ll also cover some excellent tools to use to get you up and running in no time though too.
Exercise 1: No pain, no gain
Whatever your budget and time constraints, just remember that before you build anything, you need to put thought into the purpose of your website and plan ahead.
Is it to inform and educate potential customers? To provide an ecommerce function? To profile your amazing team and their talents? To increase your reputation and authority?
Be prepared at the very least to look at your competitors’ websites as well as gather examples of websites you love the look of to show to your designer. Even if you’re going to build one yourself this is time well spent.
Look at what works, what catches your eye, examples of intuitive flow, call to action sites and clever navigation. Note it down. Ask your friends what websites stand out to them and why.
If you have a site-map in place things will be much easier. It’s essentially a skeleton of your future website. Like the contents page of your next book. Generally you need a Home page, About, Contact as the bare minimum.
Exercise 2: Train with the right tools
If you have next to no budget and no resources then I’d recommend the following:
Initially built as a blogging platform, many businesses build their websites on their existing free and premium templates. You can be up and running in no time and always be in control of editing.
At any time you can outsource to a WP expert to make it look better and add in more interactive components without losing the base you already have.
This company offers easy to use templates for setting up websites within a few hours with a basic content management system too. It’s very low cost and a decent standard.
This software allows you to create beautiful websites without any HTML knowledge at all for a reasonable monthly price of around $20.
If you have a little more money to spend then I’d recommend:
Crowdspring and 99 Designs
Both these outsourcing agencies have a wealth of freelance designers available to you. So if you have $500+ for a website then simply register and start a project. Designers bid for your contract by providing designs which you rate. You pick the one you like the most and they deliver the work.
Designer or Agency:
Do your research and pick a website designer whose work is recommended to you or whose portfolio you like the look of.
Local is easier if you anticipate needing to meet regularly, otherwise location is not an issue. You can expect to pay anywhere from $1,000-$10,000 depending on your needs.
Exercise 3: Create your Trust checklist
We trust what we already believe to be true. We look for sources to confirm our beliefs. If a website matches our beliefs, we trust it more and will stick around.
Here’s a checklist of essentials that do just that:
• Credibility of organisation – if you’re new on the block you’ll have to work harder.
• Domain name – short, guessable, easy to spell, type and pronounce, memorable.
• Site design quality – visually appealing, navigable, product photos, error free copy.
• FAQs – helps just to have them, should be customer orientated and realistic.
• References & citations – back up claims, give sources if it’s important in your industry.
• Current Content – active, busy, and like there’s somebody home
• Archives – build this up over time as it shows effort has been sustained.
• External links – show sources of info, demonstrate you have customer in mind, link to
• Contact info: Full physical address, phone number, possibly photos of real premises
• Policies that show trust – no questions asked return policies, free trials.
• Awards and certifications – if you’ve got it, flaunt it – but not unimpressive awards.
• Testimonials – for big brands big names help, for small companies use common people.
• No ‘tricky offers’ – avoid too good to be true, don’t hide things
• Copywriting tone – reflects your business values, straightforward, not pushy or overblown.
• Statements against self interest – be frank about your product’s disadvantages, compliment
your competitors, be frank and honest.
Exercise 4: The art of persuasion
There’s two ways you can appeal to your website visitors – logic and emotion.
Logical appeals include:
Stating the facts in clear language
Logical arguments – the benefits they’ll receive by doing business with you
Comparison charts of you vs your competitor and why you’re better
Step by Step process of how your product or service works
Demonstrations of your goods via videos or downloads of product guides
Offer incentives – discounts, award programs
Emotional appeals are:
Largely subconscious, automatic, irresistible, resistant to external factors, logic and less expensive.
Here are some examples:
Contrast Principle = Compare the cost, size, taste and attractiveness of your product to factors that makes yours look more appealing. For example the Economist subscriptions were as follows, with price and uptake:
Website only $ 59 68%
Print and Web $125 32%
They designed a new offer:
Website only $ 59 16%
Print only $125 0%
Print and Web $125 84%
Optimal Level of dissonance
If you say something surprising, on the very edge of believability that might just be true it’s irresistible and a great way of attracting visitors to your site. I.e Rental car company offers `Rental cars from just $19.95 every day.’
We learn by observing others, and we just do what others are doing, I.e `Best Seller’ – well it must be good. We love stories and model our behaviour on them.
Social proof works best with people we like. Who do we like, people like us. The most credible source of information is from people like ourselves. Get to know your target group, look and act like them, get testimonials and reviews from them.
Scarcity is a great motivator. As things become less available, they become more desirable: ‘End of season clearance, up to 80% off’, `Limited time offer, only 20 available at this price’.
When information is forbidden or secret, it seems more important and trustworthy. So position your products as scarce, selling out fast. Indicate that access to information is scarce and hard to get.
Rule of Reciprocation
When someone gives us something, we feel an obligation to reciprocate by giving something back. This is an automatic response, a result of our social evolution.
Do your customers a favour – give them something of value, a free report and in return ask for some feedback via a survey or a referral to a friend.
(Thanks to VKI Studios for their great course I recently attended where I learned a lot about website design).