The 4 elements your website must have

The most successful websites are very simple and very focused. But most websites fail to clearly explain what their business does and how visitors can take action to get started with ordering a product or services.

All you really need on your website are 4 major elements in order to be effective.

1 | What is primary service or product you offer? 
While this seems obvious to include, most websites do not make it super clear what the business offers. This should be stated in as few words as possible. Ideally, no more than 7 words. Something simple like "Palm Springs Architectural Design Firm" works really well.

2 | Why is this product or service valuable to your clientele?
This is an opportunity to speak to a particular niche market that you work well with, and especially helps to explain why your products & services are helpful to achieve someone else's life goals or problems. This should also be in as few words as possible, somewhere around 7-14 words total. For instance, "We can help build the home of your dreams in Palm Springs."

3 | What is the first step someone needs to take to get started with your product or service?
Most websites use the typical "Contact" page. But this should instead be something that clearly explains the process someone would go through, such as: Schedule An Appointment." Other calls to action can include, Schedule A Call, Request A Meeting, Get Pricing, Request A Quote, Order Now, Buy Now, etc.

4 | If a visitor to your website is not ready to get started yet, what can you offer to help them make that decision?
This is almost always a simple form where someone can enter their email address to get access to something very low-key, such as: download a brochure in PDF format, a printable checklist, a pricing sheet, a free sample. An example might be, "Download your custom home planning checklist" - which adds value to someone who is in the process of thinking of building a custom home.

Most new visitors to a website spend no more than 1 or 2 minutes viewing web pages. So you have no time to waste in order to capture their interest and encourage them to take action on your website.

If you simply take care of these 4 items on your website, you will see an increase in leads on your website.

Is Squarespace the right platform for your small business?

I've seen businesses fail because they chose the wrong platform for their website. 

As a business owner, you can't afford to have a website that works like an old VW bus. It might look cool, but it will break down all the time, costing you thousands every year just to keep it running. 

From my experience in helping over 600 businesses build a website, platforms like WordPress are like old VW busses that keep falling apart. Everyone knows about a VW bus, and everyone thinks they look cool. But more and more people are realizing that WordPress websites suck up your finances and capital faster than they make money. 

If you are a small business that makes less than $200,000 in revenue per year, you cannot afford to hire a WordPress developer that will charge you $10,000 for a custom web design, and then $2,000 every month just to keep it "running" properly. And that's not including the cost to make major improvements to your website as your business grows. 

Not every WordPress developer will charge you those rates. You'll find people who promise they can build a $2,000 USD website which requires "no maintenance" and that it will be "so easy for you to manage." They can certain build it - but it will be like building a house with cardboard - a complete waste of your time and money. You'll scrap the whole thing in a couple months and have to rebuild.

I have built hundreds of WordPress websites for real clients. I also started out in 1999 building websites from scratch using HTML, and in 2010 I built Adobe Flash websites for clients because that was what everyone was raving about back then until Apple announced they were discontinuing the use of Adobe Flash on all their mobile devices. 

I have seen too many small businesses close their doors because their website depended on a strong website presence. And WordPress was just too expensive to maintain. The costs didn't pay themselves off, or they were a big hinderance. 

That is why, in 2016, I stopped working on WordPress websites entirely, and focused solely on building websites in Squarespace.

So you know, I have zero financial ties to Squarespace. I make money building websites for businesses with Squarespace, but Squarespace (the company itself) doesn't pay me a dime. I wish they did - I have referred probably thousands of clients and non-clients to Squarespace because I felt it was the right thing for their business. If Squarespace paid me $50 USD for every referral I gave them, I'd be on vacation for probably 3 months straight.

Instead, here I am working to try and give you the best possible advice. 

Here's how it goes:

WordPress developers are code people who like endless customization possibilities. They like solving complex coding problems because it's fun. Completing a super complex WordPress website is intense, requires a lot of thought and hard work, and there is a reason they are so expensive. When I was in my early 20s, solving WordPress websites was a challenging and fun hobby. The problem is that complex, fun challenges are not always the right business choice - especially if you run a small business and need to keep your costs low. 

Platforms like Shopify or WordPress require ongoing involvement from web developer to maintain and grow the business. Every time you want to make big changes, or sometimes even minor edits, you will need a web developer to get involved. 

As a small business owner, however, you need the freedom to make edits on your own easily - or to hire employees to manage it for you without paying professional rate. For instance, my hourly rate is $180 per hour. Could you run a business hiring me for 5-10 hours per week and justify the cost?  On a good month, you'd pay me $4,000 USD to stay involved in your website and do a high quality, professional job. But small businesses cannot afford that kind of investment. 

If you built your website in WordPress and wanted to manage it yourself, you'll need to know at least a little bit of code and learn more about web development - which is time wasted where you could have been marketing your business with an email newsletter, blog posts, social media or advertising. 

You need to be hiring an in-house assistant at around $15 per hour who can update your blog posts, change images and text, as well as do other in-house marketing and sales work. Then, you would simply need to hire a web professional every 3 months or so to tackle the occasional complex problem. 

The only way to keep your costs low as a small business is to build your website in Squarespace. Then manage the website yourself or have your office assistant or virtual assistant do the day-to-day simple management at an affordable hourly rate - something that's a real investment, not a liability.  

That's the main reason I recommend to my clients that Squarespace makes the most sense financially and in terms of saving time and being more in control of the marketing on your own. Rather than having to hire a web developer, or marketing expert, which will eat up your finances and savings. Squarespace puts you in control of the tools where you can learn virtually everything on your own, and occasionally get help from experts as needed. 

I personally like Squarespace because it is the most client-friendly platform available. It is the most easy for my clients to add new products, create blog posts, and change things around without having to hire a web developer to make lots of little changes. 

I get a lot of nagging from people who would die for the sake of WordPress. You'll get all sorts of arguments why a WordPress site is necessary - such as "you wont be able to do everything you need to do" or "WordPress is the only site that works for SEO" and things like that. 

Sure, there are benefits to having a WordPress website. But the Cons greatly outweigh the Pros. 

After all, you are running a small business. You are not running a charity to keep WordPress developers in business. 

I write this to defend the business owners. Not web developers or web designers. You need to know which platform is going to benefit your small business, and make a sound investment decision. 

The only reason you should choose WordPress is if you can clearly be willing to spend over $20,000 per year and that investment cost is going to generate $100,000s per year in revenue that is clearly coming from your website, and not other sources. If you are willing to spend that kind of money on your website, the WordPress might be a good option. 

But most small businesses have no place in spending that kind of money on their website. Which is why I always say: go with SquareSpace. It will save you thousands of headaches.

Download this web optimization & marketing checklist

Using the right tools to capture leads on your website is crucial. 

The primary goal of your website is to capture leads through email addresses, form submissions, phone calls & to clearly call people to take action on your website.

Every website needs to accomplish this in order for your business to grow and thrive. And as you collect email addresses and leads, you can continue to follow up with ongoing marketing & other ways to engage and lead your clientele to take action and become more educated in the areas they are struggling most. 

One of the most successful 'Call To Actions' I've done for my own website is by making a free downloadable PDF Checklist to help my visitors learn how to use their website effectively and create marketing tools online that will help them grow their business faster. 

I'd like to make this marketing checklist available to you for free as well so you can see how it works. You can also use this tool to help guide your business & ensure that you're addressing all the online marketing you should be doing in order to have a successful presence online.

Click here to get the free Website Optimization & Online Marketing Checklist.

Why Hire A Squarespace Designer?

In my opinion, Squarespace is the best platform out there. It's incredibly easy for my clients to use. Making simple text and image edits is easy, for just about any generation of people. It's like editing a simple Word Document. 

Not every business needs to hire a Squarespace Designer. If you're just getting started out, and you're on a super tight budget, Squarespace is a great platform to try and learn on your own, and get a really basic website together. 

But once your business starts to get established, you're making some income, and paying your bills, a professional website design is one of the most crucial ways to stand apart from your competition, and establish yourself as a leader in your industry.

In 2018, almost all businesses need a website in order to appear professional, credible and reliable. Even if you've been in business for 20 or 30 years, and you've been using a basic website from the 90s or 2000s just to get by, in the near era of business, your website is the cornerstone of your marketing plan.

Word of mouth is great, and repeat customers is awesome for businesses to maintain their business income. But if you want to grow and thrive your business, a properly designed professional website is the very first step in growing your business in 2018. 

So while start-ups or low-income businesses probably shouldn't spend the money on a custom design website, a business that is pulling in over $100,000 in revenue per year or more will find a lot more value in hiring a professional Squarespace website designer. 

Here are the main pros to hiring a Squarespace specialist: 

  1. Expert Knowledge: A Squarespace web designer will have an extremely in-depth knowledge of all the tools available for a business
  2. Marketing Techniques: A good website designer will understand how to use a website as a marketing tool that will bring in more leads through email address submissions and contact form submissions
  3. SEO Integration: A good Squarespace designer will understand how to properly set up SEO on a blog or other pages of your website in order to drive more SEO traffic from Google searches
  4. Page Optimization: A Squarespace specialist will know how to use Google Analytics and other tools to learn the best page layout and optimization of your website to make it easy and productive for your visitors to use
  5. Ongoing Marketing: A Squarespace web designer will understand how to use outside marketing tools like Google Adwords, Facebook Ads, Social Media and SEO to bring more people to your website.
  6. Training: A good Squarespace specialist will teach you and your team how to effectively use your website to help you grow your business online.
  7. Aesthetics: Above all, a good website designer will understand minimalist & modern design techniques to make a beautiful website that will impress your visitors and give your business validity.

With the right website design & marketing expert, your website will become your best marketing tool. A beautiful website helps you establish your business as a leader in your industry.

Talk to our design team today about growing your website through a beautiful website design

Here's why simplifying your website home page is important

Minimalist websites don't just look good and trendy. They function well for business. That's because a simple home page design clearly communicates your business message, tells visitors what action to take on your website. A simple website also loads faster and is preferable by Google for indexing in their Search results for SEO.  

Aside from aesthetics, here are 3 reasons why a simple home page for your website is important for your business.


1 | Faster Loading Time

In 2018, one of the most important things Google will be looking at is page loading, especially on mobile. Google requires that websites should load within 3 seconds or less on mobile in order to be ranked higher in Google Searches. According to their data, over 50% of website visitors will leave your site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. That's because people think their time is wasted on a slow website, when they can likely just go to another website that might load faster and be more worth their time. The more complicated your home page is, with lots of photos scrolling and moving all over the place, the more likely people will leave your site. It doesn't matter how cool the website looks. It just matters that it loads quickly. That's why a minimalist home page for your website is so important. 


2 | Most people wont read all of the text, anyways

People only spend about 5-10 seconds on the first page of a website they visit for the very first time. So if your home page is not super clear, super simple, easy to read, and easy to understand, then they will leave and move on to your competitor's website.

There are only 3 things your website's home page should address clearly:

a) What is your website about? This should be in less than 5 words. Not a paragraph.
b) How does your website solve a problem I have? Visitors have problems they are trying to solve. If they don't think your website addresses their needs, then they will leave.
c) How do I take action? Do visitors need to book a call? Do they need to download a PDF? Fill out a contact form? The call to action is super important. If you don't make it clear what to do on your site, then people will leave out of confusion.

Everything else on your home page should be about experience, value and design. So a beautiful photo helps, or maybe a customer review, or information about a free, helpful PDF download. Your website is a visitor's first impression, so it must absolutely be your best position on your website.


3 | Google no longer cares about SEO on the home page

In order to make the internet a more enjoyable place to find content, Google cares more about good, quality content. Not keyword stuffing. In the 2000s, Google allowed people to keyword stuff (putting tons and tons of text) on their home page. Today, Google ranks almost no pages on your home page. Instead, they want you to focus on getting your marketing message across, with more valuable text and images in other pages. So your home page should focus clearly on your website's purpose, and not on cluttering keywords. Make your website beautiful, interesting and helpful. That is what helps get your website ranked high in 2018. 


Re-Analyzing Your Website On A Monthly Basis

Once your website is finished, there are tons of things you can do to optimize, improve and generate more leads through your website each month.

Most businesses don't take advantage of these opportunities, but here are 4 of the most effective techniques I have seen businesses use to dramatically increase the number of visitors and leads they get through their website.

1. Optimize Your Page Layouts with Google Analytics
While Google Analytics provides a crazy amount of overwhelming data, it is extremely useful to determine which pages people actually look at on your website. You can also see the pathway people take through your site before they lead to a final conversion page, such as fill out a contact form or submit their email address.

Often times, most websites have too many pages, and all the extra content on your site is just a distraction from leading people towards taking action.

When a visitor is willing to fill out a form, schedule a phone call, or sign up for free information, you need to make that process as clear and easy as possible. From my experience, the best websites only focus on about 4 or 5 pages at the most, with all the other more complex an detailed pages are secondary and behind the scenes. These extra pages tend to be more useful when your leads come back for the 2nd time to dig a little deeper.

Google Analytics is invaluable in collecting the right kind of data to see how to optimize your website. And I like to focus on optimizing websites about once per month to take advantage of recent changes in people's interests and behaviors online. 


2. Get More Search Traffic from Google Search Console
The Google Search Console is a fantastic tool to add to your website to track what kinds of keywords people are using to find your business on Google Searches. When I see a popular keyword phrase that keeps showing up in the Google Search Console, I know to write a blog post or specific page directed at that keyword. This way, I can quickly rank higher in Google Search based on that keyword phrase, and then I get even more data coming in a few weeks later, and I start the entire process all over again.

I try to create new content at least once a week so that I can continue to test, try out, and refine new keyword ideas and drive new traffic. From this method, I often see about 1,000 new views per month on my own websites and my client's websites when this practice is used regularly. And over just a few months of work, this method's effectiveness can compound very easily.

People want access to valuable, useful and insightful information. And you have a unique opportunity to offer that on your website's blog when you have specific expert knowledge of your own industry. Most businesses do not do this effectively, so it can often be easy to dominate your competition if you focus on this task weekly.  


3. Improve Your Call To Action and Lead Generation Methods
I aim to see as high of a conversion rate as possible on any website. But it is only possible to reach high Conversion Rates when you continue to refine, improve and test ideas. I often find that it is most helpful to come up with creative ways to generate leads on a website when I talk with others. Going with a standard "Get 20% off your order today" or "Sign up for our free newsletter" isn't interesting, and these days it just doesn't work.

A good Call To Action (such as filling out a form) or Lead Generation (such as collecting email addresses) is going to be customized to your specific industry and business model. For instance, if you sell standardized services you can offer a Free Pricing Sheet Download PDF download in exchange for their email address. Or, if your services are customizable, a free phone call consultation tends to work better.

There are hundreds of ways to generate quality leads on your website, but it's often hard to come up with a good one unless you regularly brainstorm and talk to others about ideas.


4. Follow Up With Optimized Email Marketing
Capturing email addresses is probably the most important thing you can do with your website in the long run. That's because most people are not ready to buy from you right away.

In some industries that have lower price points, like clothing or basic home goods, the time a lead turns into a conversion can often be as quick as a few days. But for longer-term purchases, such as booking an event venue, hiring an interior designer, or purchasing a custom piece of furniture, can often take weeks or months before a final decision is made.

But when you capture email addresses, you can focus on longer-term conversions by regularly sending out interesting, helpful and unique emails to your leads. As soon as they are ready to make a decision, your website will be ready to help them move along in the process and move forward with your company.


When is the best time to do all of this work?
Many businesses aren't at the point where they can do this regular type of fine-tuning and adjusting. Many businesses have too much going on to worry about improving their website.

Usually, the best times to do fine-tuning are right before your normal busy season comes up, or when things are slowing down.

But the best way to get results is to continue to update, test, refine and analyze your website to get the maximum amount of visitors and leads possible. There's no reason to turn away extra business if it's going to help your company scale and grow to the next level.

But if your website was just launched, it's usually best to allow your website to sit for 1-3 months before jumping onto the next step of refining your website. There are plenty of other things to do when managing a business, so I like to allow some data to come in first before digging in and taking your website to the next level. 

How to get visitors to take action on your website

Your business website is just one tool to capture leads, yet it is often the most important tool to drive new business and establish your firm as a leader in your industry.

To capture leads on your website, focus your website content towards leading visitors to take the "next step," such as setting up an initial phone call consultation, allowing people to sign up for an email newsletter, or allowing visitors to send a quick message through your website. The easier and more clear these "call to actions" appear on your website, the more likely people will use them. 

Here are some of the best ways to capture leads on your website, and also techniques to avoid on your website:

4 ways you ruin chances of getting leads on your website

Offering no incentive to get in touch. Most business websites do not offer something helpful on their website that prove that your business has valuable information to offer. Instead of treating your website like a resume, informational catalog or merely a list of services, each page of your website should lead people to one, very easy action. A "call to action" button at the end of each page of your website can prevent web pages from being a dead-end. 

Using only a "Contact Us" or "Learn More" button. While most people are going to look for your "Contact" page, it is often the very last step people take once they already know they want to get in touch with you. For everyone else, your website needs to use much more than just a "Contact Us" link. The majority of your website buttons should focus on things that encourage a specific action, such as "Schedule A Phone Call" or "Sign Up for Our Free Online Class." These specific types of buttons are much more likely to be clicked on because they direct the visitor to take a clear action on your website. 

Not making your Call To Action button obvious. If people can't quickly find a button to click that will help them email you, call you, or fill out a simple form, they are very unlikely to do anything on your website. A clear "Get Started Now" button needs to be bigger than anything else on your website. It also needs to be a contrasting or bright color, and it needs to look like a rectangular or rounded button so people know exactly where to click and do it very quickly.

Requiring people to fill out super long forms. Almost no one wants to fill out a long form on your website. Long forms are typically done at the very end of a transaction, such as purchasing their items on your checkout page, or filling out a final form to prepare the drafting of an agreement. But when you are trying to capture new leads from your website, the shorter forms almost always work better than long forms. 


3 of the Best techniques to capture leads on your website

Offer something free. Offer something like a free PDF download with insightful information, or a free phone consultation, or a free online video lesson. Whatever it is that you offer, the free content should be focused on educating your visitors by focusing on how you can help make their business or personal life easier, more effective, and more productive.

Use language that doesn't require a commitment. Asking your visitors to buy something right away, or sign some sort of non-disclosure, or fill out a long form is almost always going to scare people away. Instead, your website should focus on language that shows that your process is simple and straightforward. There shouldn't be a Sale that is offered right away. Instead, use terms such as "No obligation" or "Take the first step" or "Try this out today." The more open and inviting your language sounds, the more likely people will follow along.

Capture email address. Probably the most effective tool you can use on a website is a simple "Sign Up" form. And the easiest sign-up forms only require a simple single email address field. Once you capture an email address, you can later collect more information like a direct message, or their Zip code, or other helpful pieces of information. You can use the email addresses you collect to follow up with an email newsletter. But keeping your forms to just an email address is the best way to ensure the maximum amount of people sign up on your website.


Your website is one of the best ways to help people take the "next step" in learning more about what you offer. But it is almost never the "final step." So don't allow your website to be a dead end. Each page on your website should be a simple invitation to slowly move along in the process of becoming more educated, by helping your visitor learn about their options, compare prices, and become informed about your industry.

The more fluidly you allow your website visitors to take small, easy steps through a clear process on your website, the more likely they'll convert into a paying Client or Customer.


Get in touch with your website design & marketing questions