We’ve talked a bit about blogging, now let’s talk about websites. All of the information previously given will work for websites as well. A website doesn’t have to have all the fancy bells and whistles as long as you have a great product to offer. Of course you can have a website that doesn’t sell anything. You can do whatever you want with a website.
Begin with a home for your website.
Drag and drop sites are a good place to start. You do not need to know all the coding or have any experience at all. There are many different sites out there to consider. Do your research to find one that is a good fit for you and what you imagine your web site is going to be.
Most drag and drop will also have a behind the curtain where if you do have HTML coding knowledge you can tweak it until you love it or create it from the ground up. Do not go behind the curtain if you do not know what you are doing. A simple colon in the wrong place can mess up the site completely and you won’t know how to fix it.
Some places to look at and consider
Shopify.— If you have a product to sell, this is a great place to house it. It’s easier to have a online storefront than it used to be (thank the internet gods!). Shopify does almost everything for you. They keep the site secure, configure and optimizes the servers, integrates all the selling tools and shopping cart for you. You just sign in and put in your information. They have many storefront designs to choose from, and you can have it up and running within a day.
Wix.— Wix offers hundreds of beautifully designed templates which means you will more in likely find one you love. No matter what your niche is. They keep adding to their already long list of tools and features. It’s free to use. To unlock some of the features they have monthly fees starting at $5 a month. Keep in mind that when you start, the website doesn’t have to be jaw dropping.
Squarespace.— A good way to look like you’ve spent a good chunk of money on your website is to go through Squarespace. Minimalistic or imagery-oriented, you have the ability to make quite a lot of design modifications. They have a 14 day free trial period and many people can tell within a few hours if they’re going to like them or not.
Weebly.— User friendly, drag and drop. I’d say it’s so easy a caveman could do it, but that is so 2004. Weebly is easy to learn, not a whole lot of advanced features like Wix, it does have some decent templates to get started with. It’s free to use, you can go behind the curtain easily. Plans start at $8 and for more ecommerce and marketing focused tools its $49 a month.
Non-drag and drop hosting
These ones take a little more work on your part, and you can hire wonderfully talented web designers to help you out. Once you get it going, it’s pretty easy to keep it up and update it when ever you need to.
A word of caution
No matter what you decide to use, set up the accounts on your own. Get help if you find yourself lost. Make sure the domain name, hosting account, FTP (file transfer protocol), and database account are in YOUR name. With a password YOU create and only you know. If you have any social media accounts or WordPress accounts that are tied in with your website, make sure you and only you have the login information for them. If you decide to get help for the website, create a user account for them instead of handing over your precious account details. Keep your account information to yourself. Even if you have friends or family help you out. You never want to take a chance of someone taking over your website. While this may sound overly cautious, it is a horror story.
GreenGeeks— Where you can use WordPress and create a pretty fancy website. They’re cheap at less than $4 a month for 36 months (paid up front) but it’s not like the drag and drops where there is a nice template waiting for you at the start.
Lifetime.hosting— Just like it’s name implies, pay once, host forever. There are four plans available starting at $40.
Don’t waste too much time on a site that you don’t know about after a day or two of really playing with the templates and features. If you don’t feel a website, move on to the next. The best thing to do for any of these is start out at the lowest plan and work your way up as needed.
Creating a website
Now you are at the fun part! If you haven’t already, play around with the site you have chosen. Test out all the tools, upload some pictures, move text around. The more you play with something, the more you learn about it.
No matter how you choose to do the hosting, the next few things you are going to read are things you should keep in mind while really getting down to put it together.
Key elements you need fo a successful landing page.
Your landing page is important. Quite often it’s the page that most visitors come to first. It’s the page you may generate links to. It may also be the page that the search engines pay the most attention to. It makes sense to make sure your landing page is as well designed as it can be.
There are some key elements for a successful landing page. They each are important independently, but they work together to provide a unique and effective experience. Before you take a look at these key elements, however, it’s important to answer a question first.
What is the goal of your landing page?
Your landing page needs to have a goal – an objective. What do you want visitors to do? What action do you want them to take? There are many possibilities. You may want them to:
- Dig deeper and explore your website
- Click through to a sales page
Once you know what you want visitors to do, then you can make sure your landing page supports that goal. Now you’ll use seven important elements.
- Images – The images you choose on your landing page are important. You want them to support the overall goal. Images can quickly overwhelm a landing page and become a distraction. Choose to use images make sure they support your goal. Make sure they adequately represent your brand, too. A common image to use might be your photo. This helps connect the reader to you. It helps brand your business and build a relationship.
- Headline – Your headline is often the very first thing a visitor will see. If it doesn’t grab their attention, then it’s not doing its job. In addition to grabbing their attention, it also must support your page’s purpose. Take time to craft a headline.
- Emotions – Emotions are what people use to make buying decisions. They’re incredibly important if you’re trying to motivate any action. Since your website should be about your niche, think of what makes you emotional when it comes to your niche.
- Navigation – Make sure that your visitor not only knows what they’re supposed to do on your landing page, but also that they can quickly figure out how to do it. If you want people to dig deeper into your website, then make sure your buttons and call to action support that. If they cannot figure out how to get to a page that interests them, they’re going to leave.
- Proof – You might notice that many of the elements of a successful landing page are also sales copy elements. This is because you are trying to motivate an action. Your landing page has a purpose. Proof can be demonstrated by:
- Organization membership
- Facts and statistics
The proof you use depends on your goal. If you want to motivate an opt-in, then you might use facts and statistics along with a banner ad highlighting an award your site has won. This gives you credibility. This also lends to your authority in the matter.
- Call to action – A call to action is required for every successful landing page. It’s the only way your readers know what they’re supposed to do next. Test it and track it for success.
- Opt-in form – If your goal is to motivate an opt-in, then you must have an opt-in form on your landing page. In fact, everything on that page needs to support that goal.
Your landing page is perhaps the most important page on your website. Make sure the elements on your page support your goals and your success. Test and track various elements until you get the best results.
What ARE your website goals?
Hopefully you have taken some time to think about this. No point in having a website if there is no reason behind it. Do you write stories that you want to share, that’s a goal. You want visitors to hit your landing page and go and read those stories. Want to sell something? Best get them over to that sales page. Does each page on your site have a goal? If so, does the goal of the page also support your ultimate website goal?
Any single one of your website pages may also have these same goals. They may also be designed to help you achieve other independent goals. One web page may be designed to promote your opt-in offer. In addition to your call to action, there are other things you can do.
Taking a look at your website goals and independent page goals, consider these points.
Who are your visitors? What content and tools will you need to help or convince them to accomplish your goals? You want them to sign up for your opt-in form. What content and tools are you using to motivate that action? Are you providing them with a sample of the offer? Do you make it easy to opt-in or do they have to jump through hoops?
How does your visitor travel on your site? When someone visits your landing page, where do they go next? Is it where you want them to go? Does it support your goal? Use your website goals to help you create content and determine the path your visitor takes. Each piece of content on your site should influence an action that ultimately leads to your goal.
Each piece of content, form and promotion on your site should lead to that goal. Take a look at your flow of information and the path your visitors take when they’re at your site. Does their path support your goal? When adding or removing something on your site conflicts with your goals, don’t do it.
Include a call to action with each website page. Articles, videos, forms – everything needs to have a goal that supports your end goal. They need to have a call to action that supports your goal and purpose. Don’t expect your users to know what they’re supposed to do next. Tell them.
Make sure to respect your user’s time. Dragging them through an endless process to achieve your goal isn’t going to win you any friends. If you want them to sign up for your opt-in list, make it as easy as possible. You want them to buy a product, make it as easy. Want them to read a story, make it interesting where they want to read more (and perhaps buy the eBook?)
Analyze each web page, new and old, and determine if it supports your goals or detracts from them. Help your visitors. Make it easy for them to achieve your website goals.
Give them a reason to return.
Might not be so obvious, but once a person is done with a website, either because they’ve bought the product or have read all there is on the site (keep it updated!) what reason do they have to return? You want them to return.
A website generates two main types of visitors. There are the visitors that stop by and leave. They never return again. Then there are the visitors that stop by, bookmark your site. They sign up for your opt-in list and subscribe to your blog. These are the visitors you want. When you can motivate more new visitors to come back, you’re on your way to converting them to customers.
The majority of people do not make a purchase the first time they visit a website. A website has to earn their trust. It has to establish credibility, liking and authority. These are all buying triggers, and for most websites they’re earned over time. They key is to give them a reason to come back. Here are three ideas and strategies to give your visitors a reason to return.
- Valuable content is definitely required. If you provide a consistent flow of great content, visitors will come back for more. However, there’s more you can do to ensure their loyalty.
- Provide a free membership. Take a look at your website. Why do people visit your site? What benefit can you offer on a regular basis? Now instead of offering that information to random visitors, consider creating a membership site, because membership implies exclusivity. It also implies extra value.When people sign up for your membership program they will receive “extra” content, products or services. You might create a “Chapter of the Month” club. The information is free for members who have signed up. Each month you deliver a chapter of the story you’re writing. You can use it to promote affiliate products and/or your own products and services as well.
- Include user generated content. Enable visitors to provide their own content for your website. Blogging is one way to accomplish this. You can include a “blog for us” form on your site. You can also turn the “Commenting” feature on and allow visitors to respond to your content. However, if you don’t have a blog site, then consider adding a plug-in or feature that enables them to add content.You might include a “Best Tips” category. Enable visitors to post or submit their best tips because you now have an interactive audience.
- Take a look at your usability features. What can you add to your site or blog to make it friendlier? Are other commenters notified when a comment is published to a post they also commented on therefore coming back to your site to read? Can they forward your content to a friend? Can they print it?
The easier you make it to interact on your site, the better. Provide great content. Enable visitors to receive more via memberships and let them share information. The more repeat traffic you have, the faster you’ll build a loyal customer base.
In the next post, I’ll cover ways to get traffic, keep your visitors happy, and talk about the competition.
Do you have anything to add about having a great landing page? Anything you think I missed? Comment below!