4 elements of a great website
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So have you ever wondered what goes through my head when I sit down to design a website? How do I start? What’s my process? How do I make sure I don’t miss anything important?
Well it’s your lucky day cause I’m giving you a peek behind the curtain!
I hope that by sharing with you my 4 pillars of a killer website it will show you what is most important and what you need to be thinking about as you design your own website.
One thing to keep in mind is that each of these 4 pillars is equally important. If you want your website to be a beautiful conversion machine then you need to put effort into ALL of these things and not just a few.
As you’ll see, they all work together and your website will be lacking if one of them is sub-par.
And since it’s my ultimate goal to help you design a site that you love + brings in the clients, not only am I going to share with you my 4 pillars, but I’m also going to give you the first steps to take action in ensuring these 4 bases are covered on your site 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼
So let’s get to it!
Outlining your website strategy needs to be the first thing you do. It lays the foundation for your website as it outlines a clear path to conversion, whatever that looks like for you. (ie. a sale, scheduling a discovery call, subscribe to your email list etc…)
Another important note is strategy dictates design. You don’t want to make the mistake of designing a beautiful site only to realize you have to redesign it to align with your website strategy.
It might be helpful to think about your site strategy as your trusty friend that’s constantly working in the background discreetly guiding people to do what you want them to do on your site. It’s not obvious to your visitors but in reality, you’ve actually put tons of thought into every navigation item, CTA, button, page layout etc...
So what are the most important strategy pieces I need to think about? Well I’m glad you asked!
Think about this question…”If you could have every person who lands on your site do one thing, what would it be?” Book a free discovery call with you? Buy your product? Sign up for your coaching packing? Sign up for your email list? Follow you on Instagram? Read your blog?
This is the first step in ensuring your site is high-converting….you have to know what end you’re trying to (gently 😉) lead people to.
And it’s okay to have more than 1 site goal, but I wouldn’t have more than 2. Ideally, you have your primary goal and then a secondary goal if it makes sense for your business? A good way to think about this is, “Okay if they don’t accomplish my primary site goal, what would I rather have them do instead?” For example, my site goal for Wellness Site Shop is to have people buy templates (obvs). But if they’re not ready to buy a template, my secondary goal is to have them sign up for my email list by subscribing to my free training, The DIY Website Pre-Design Workbook.
This means that most of the decisions I made when designing my site was based on the question, “How can I strategically design this to get people to buy a template, or at the very least, sign up for my email list?” Which is why you’ll see lots of links to the template shop page, and lots of places for people to grab my free training.
Starting to make sense?
Task:...define your site goal(s).
Calls to action (CTAs)
The second part of strategy is Calls to Actions (CTAs). A CTA is basically a prompt to get someone to take a specific action (click a button, sign up for something, buy now etc…)
You need to have multiple calls to action on every page that lead to accomplishing one of your site goals. And yes, it’s okay to have multiple CTAs on a page that all lead to the same thing!
But at the very least, you need to have a CTA above the fold on your home page. The fold is the point on the page where someone would have to actively scroll down to keep reading. So the part of your website they will immediately see when they land on your page is “above the fold”. You need to have some kind of CTA that people will see within 0.5 seconds of viewing your home page.
You also need a CTA at the bottom of every page leading them to the next logical step to accomplishing your goal.
Example: If you’re a health coach and your primary goal is to get people to book a discovery call with you, I would definitely have a CTA at the top of the home page that leads them to your booking page. I would then have two CTAs at the bottom of the home page...one that leads them to your booking page, and one that leads to your services page so they can learn more about what you have to offer before booking a call. Then on your Services page, I would have multiple CTAs leading to your booking page. And on your booking page, don’t have anything else on it except for the info on scheduling a call because you don’t want them to get distracted. Once they’re on your booking page, you need them to book!
See how this starts to fit together?
Task: Decide what your main CTA will be above the fold on your home page, and figure out what CTAs you’ll have at the bottom of every page.
Pop-ups and announcement bars
The final thing you should think about as it relates to strategy is to use pop-ups and announcement bars. You should already be familiar with pop-ups, and announcement bars live at the top of every page of your site.
These are great tools to highlight a promotion, say you’re booking new clients, share a new free training, and guide people to accomplishing your site goals.
On Squarespace, you can easily enable the pop-up and announcement bar by going to the Marketing tab.
Task: Decide if it makes sense to utilize a pop-up or announcement bar on your site
Okay, so that’s the basics of website strategy...I know it’s not the most fun part, but it’s so so important you outline this first so your website is primed to convert. (fun fact: strategy is my favorite part of web design--I think it’s so fun! 😄)
Now the fun part!
Design has to do with your colors, fonts and overall site style.
A couple questions you want to ask yourself are…
“What do I want to overall vibe of my site to be?” Clean and minimal? Creative and funky? Classic and elegant?
“What feelings do you want people to feel when they visit your site?” Relaxed? Comforted? Excited? Encouraged? Motivated? Confident?
“What kind of style will my ideal clients resonate with?” You site needs to be a perfect blend of what represents you as a business and what speaks to your ideal clients.
Answering these three questions will really help you in nailing down a color palette, fonts, and a general layout.
If you’re one of those people who’s not very design-savvy and you don’t really know what you want, my favorite resource to gather inspiration is Pinterest.
I would make a secret board and pin images of websites you like. Then after you have a few, you can start piecing together any commonalities between them. You want to think about what are the specific things about this page that I like? The colors? Creative use of graphics and icons? Layout of a specific section? Layered elements?
*One caveat here...you need to make sure you don’t cross the line from gathering inspiration to copying. Copying an entire page is a big no-no (it’s illegal and just plain rude). But taking bits and pieces from different sites you like and putting them all together to create a totally unique site is a-okay.
Task: Answer the three questions listed above and create a secret board on Pinterest to start gathering inspiration. (I’m going to share a resource in a bit if you’re still struggling coming up with a color palette/vibe so hang tight!)
I know I’ve talked about this one a ton here on the blog already, so I’m gonna keep this short and sweet.
YOU NEED GREAT PHOTOS.
Think about it this way...your photos, paired with your design, form the first impression people will get from your site. You absolutely can’t mess this up or you could lose a potential customer forever.
Ideally, you can work with a professional photographer, or at the very least a good friend who’s handy with a camera. You definitely want photos on your site of you doing what you do best, whether that’s teaching yoga, coaching people, massage therapy etc… (Pro-tip...search in Google for a “brand photographer” or “lifestyle photographer”...you can thank me later!)
If working with a professional isn’t in the budget right now, not a problem. Just try and make a plan for saving for it in the next few months cause I can tell you from personal experience, nothing will boost your confidence more than some ah-mazing photos you can display on your website and social media.
But until then, you’ll need to get your hands on some great stock photos.
And in my opinion, there’s only one place to get stock photos if you’re in the wellness space, Wellness Stock Shop. Briena is an incredible photographer and has a gallery of over 6,000 wellness images. She also recently launched Branding Kits which would be fabulous option if you’re not sure about a color palette and want 20 hand-picked photos that already work well together. And considering her very reasonable prices, it’s a no-brainer! (and no, this isn’t an ad, I just love her photos and know you will too!)
Task: Either schedule a session with a brand photographer or purchase images from Wellness Stock Shop. (Definitely figure out your design vibe and color palette before scheduling a photo shoot or purchasing photos)
So if your strategy works behind the scenes to guide your visitors to the conversion, and your design + photos form the first impression, your copy is what closes the sale.
Your copy is what connects with your readers and establishes that credibility and trust that you’re the person they need to help them solve their problem.
Remember how your mom always used to say when you were younger that your words have power so use them wisely? Well that same concept applies here.
You don’t want to clutter your website with words (it’s one of the biggest DIY website mistakes) so you need to make sure you’re strategic with the words you do use.
Don’t make the mistake of just slapping some words on the page because you’ll be missing out on valuable opportunities to make connections with your people. And people like to buy from those they feel they have a connection with.
But I’m not a copy expert so I don’t feel I have the level of expertise to advise you beyond this…Don’t let your copy be an after-thought! Put the time and effort into getting it right and I promise you, it will pay ten-fold down the road.
So instead of offering my personal advice, I’m going to give you my go-to copy person for wellness brands...Blair Badenhop.
She’s a brand strategist + copywriter for the wellness space, and she’s the host of the Brand Yourself podcast (you def need to be listening if you aren’t already!)
And she actually just released a Copywriting 101 mini course for under $100. I haven’t taken it myself but anything Blair does is incredible so I think this would be the best first step you can take if you don’t know where to start in writing copy that connects + converts. Plus it comes with templates for your three most important website page, Home, About and Services. Heck yeah!
Task: Either work with a professional copywriter or take Blair’s Copywriting 101 course
Alrighty friends, that was a lot but I hope you learned a thing or two! Ultimately, I hope you see how all 4 pillars are equally important and work together to develop a site that works hard + looks good while doing it.
If you have any questions, you know what to do 👇🏼👇🏼👇🏼