In an effort to be super helpful in Facebook groups, I recently offered free website critiques to everyone in a group for about 30 minutes. 2 hours later, I learned a whole lot about what my ideal clients need in a website.
Over about 11 critiques, I found that I was repeating myself with the same suggestions, and I knew I had to hop on Periscope to talk about what I was seeing.
I have written out and explained 5 of the top essentials that were missing from the sites I critiqued. Take a look and see if your site is checking off all the boxes!
1. Mobile Responsiveness
The biggest problem I saw with some of these sites, was that they were not mobile responsive. This means: of someone views the site on their cell phone, important words and images were cut off. Basically, the site does not "respond" to the size of the screen it's being viewed on.
At last check, nearly 60% of my web traffic comes from mobile devices, and I've seen other entrepreneurs report similar numbers. It is super important that your site still offers an optimal viewing experience for mobile visitors, otherwise you could be losing out on more than half of your potential customers! eek! On top of that, Google recently started penalizing websites that are not responsive, by bumping them in the search engine rankings.
Remedy this my using a responsive theme on Wordpress, or use Squarespace, which is super responsive and clean. That's what my site is built on. Honestly, it's worth a re-design if your site is not responsive. Check it out on a mobile device, and ask yourself if people would buy from you after seeing your site like that. Is it even usable enough for them to buy from you? If the answer is no-- RUN, don't walk to a responsive solution.
2. Opt in Freebie
I hate to break it to you, but your website visitors are pretty doggone selfish. They're coming on your site with one motivation: what's in it for me? For this reason, very few people are going to sign up for your email list without an incentive-- like nobody.
On the other hand, if you are offering something like a free e-guide, checklist or instructional video series, You give people a very good reason to trust you with their inbox. This freebie should be something that hits the pain point of your ideal client, and gives them a "quick win" in solving part that problem. This doesn't have to be a 30-page book, just a couple of pages or so.
For example, one of the sites I critiqued was for a wedding planner. I suggested that she create a "Bride's Essential To-do list" freebie for planning their own weddings. This serves a dual purpose in that it provides value to brides who may be overwhelmed with everything a wedding entails. It also shows them precisely how much work is ahead of them, and may strengthen their resolve to hire a wedding planner!
Having an opt-in freebie is BIG, so make sure that you have one on your site, and push it throughout your site. It should be near the top of your home page, and in your blog sidebar at the very least. Bonus points if you use a pop-up to promote your opt-in like SumoMe. That's what I use for the pop up on my site.
3. Prominent Images of Yourself
I am a huge advocate of having professional photos of yourself, and you know that if you've taken my FREE Bombshell Brand Makeover Mini-Course. Most entrepreneurs that I work with provide services to their clients and work very closely with them. With that being said, people need to see you and get a feel for your personality. Not a selfie, but a professionally-shot image that reflects the professionalism that you bring to the table!
In almost every case, I recommend those professional photos to be in the homepage header of the site. If you can't afford pro photos, check out Groupon or LivingSocial. They have plenty of affordable photographer packages, so there really is no excuse. Put yourself out there!
4. Your Value Proposition
The biggest problem I had with sites is that I cant immediately identify what they do. I look at a million sites a day, and if I can't figure out what you do, your ideal client won't either, and they will click away.
Within the first 5 seconds of viewing your site, I should know you are a ___ who does ___ for ___. In fact you can use that statement as a "Mad Libs" for your value proposition. My coach always uses the phrase "self-selecting copy," meaning: your ideal clients should read your site and think "that's for me" "that's for me" "that's for me" constantly as they read it.
The value proposition speaks to that idea. If people don't immediately know what you do, they will get bored trying to figure it out. Make your value unmistakable right away.
5. Calls to Action
Let me tell you one of the best kept secrets about businesses. If you want your website visitors to do something... ASK THEM! In the spirit of this idea, don't skimp on the calls to action in your site.
For my clients, it is helpful to lay out 2 objectives for what you want people to do on your site. For most this is:
1. Sign up for my email list
2. Check out my Services & ask for a consultation
With that in mind, remember to continue asking visitors to do this with vivid calls to action. These could be with eye-catching graphics or large buttons. Don't let a page go by without these calls to action! Your home page should have multiple! For example, if you check out my home page, you'll see that I am calling people to contact me in the top menu panel, inviting them to sign up for my course in the just below to header image, and the calls continue as you scroll down. Below is a full-length image of my homepage, with all 7 calls-to action marked!
Whew! That was a lot! And I can see room for at least 1-2 more. You have to continually be calling you audience to action, and never let a page end without calling them to the next step!
Without calls to action, people are likely to just say "that was nice" and leave your site without doing anything about that feeling. Make sure you are asking for what you want on every page, don't leave your ideal client hanging!
And in the spirit of that, I want to ask you to do something, as well! If you got something out of this post, be sure to share it with your friends and followers. Click the button below to tweet, or perhaps share one of the taller images on Pinterest!
So how did your website do on this list? Let me know in the comments. Are there any website essentials that you would add to the list?