Podcast: The Foundation for a Strategic Web Design Process
Are you tired of people not taking action on your website, like booking more coaching calls or inquiring about your speaking services? Are you feeling like your brand lacks cohesion to make it unique and recognizable? I get it! I had the same problems when I first started online years ago, before I learned about designing a website and branding for business results, instead of designing on a whim.
As I learned more and more about the business effects of strategic design, my website and brand design process has evolved A LOT, since I first started as a newbie designer over 6 years ago. After being immersed in designing for many clients and learning about online marketing, from my job in software sales for email marketing software, I now see firsthand how important it is for business owners to have an online strategy that their designs revolve around. Without a strategy, designs are sort of aimless and the designs you end up with with probably won’t do a very good job of making your business appear more appealing to your target clients.
I have two foundational steps that I always follow with clients to ensure their websites and branding are designed with a business strategy to support their goals—whether the goal is to grow their roster of coaching clients, to sell more digital products like courses or ebooks, or to book more speaking gigs. The first area of focus is to complete a one-on-one brand strategy session, which is followed by a project brief overviewing the project scope and goals of the project. And the second area of focus is creating a plan for strategic website content, including both the photography and website copy.
So first, let’s define what a brand is in the first place. Simply put, a brand is how you want your company to be perceived by others...encompassing the perception of your service quality, the perception of the types of people you serve, and the perception of the results you get for them.
To understand a client’s brand, I a conduct 1-2 hour brand strategy call with them before I begin any design work. I’ve done away with the surface-level questionnaire that I used to send out. Gathering background information on a client’s brand over a collaborative, workshop-style conference call makes this process a lot more in depth and I get a much clearer idea of what to create for them and the type of client that they want to work with so I can be sure the design will appeal to their target clients. During the calls, we chat about their brand attributes, ideal client avatars, revenue sources, and marketing strategies.
Hashing all this out during a brand strategy session allows me to fully understand how their business should be perceived online —leading to better conversion, more action being taken on their websites (like more inquiries about speaking and coaching, plus more email list signups!), and brand recognition that actually fits their business.
A few things to think about when it comes to brand strategy are: your company values, the voice of the company, your money making offers (ranked from most to least importance), your target audience and what their preferences are, your buyer journey (do people typically sign up with you after being on your email list or directly from the website?). Even if you’re not able to work with a designer right now, considering these areas as you DIY your website will help you design more mindfully.
The next foundational step is planning the website content. Do you ever feel like you don’t know what to write on your website to make your audience care? Or you don’t know what style of photography would help your brand the most? Knowing what to write on their websites is an area that I’ve seen clients struggle with. So I’ve started helping with that by creating strategic website content plans for them with outlines of what should be included on each page on their websites. And to help with getting the perfect photography, I now create photography style guides that clients can provide to their photographers for brand shoot guidance.
Strategic website content is simply about communicating with your target client to make sure they understand how your services can help them. That communication covers a few areas:
The benefits they’d receive by working with you
Your credibility and past results
The process for working with you
Let’s break down each of these areas a bit further:
You don’t want to just list features of your products or services. You need to include the benefits! People are coming to you looking for a transformation and to get a problem solved. So you can hit on the pain points they might be experiencing before they come to you and then elaborate a bit on the benefits of how you can help them. The benefits are what will capture their attention. Also, think about what your unique value proposition is that makes your different from competitors and articulate that.
Next, you need to show your credibility. Include things like, icons of where you’ve been featured, past client testimonials, your best speaker reel video, and your work/educational background. This helps you build trust and it shows that you’re the person who can help your audience and you can back it up with your impressive background!
Next, briefly overview the process of working with you, so people know what to expect. This could be showing the format of the coaching program, listing signature talks that you speak about, the process for people to book you for speaking engagements or as a coach, etc. Make this all easy to understand, simple, and to the point.
And last, but not least, are the calls-to-action! What actions do you want people to take when they visit your website? Signing up for an email list? Booking a coaching consultation? Submitting a speaking inquiry? The content that’s planned for your website should guide users to these specific actions, telling them what to do next in the website copy and using bold easy-to-see buttons to click on. Plus forms should be relatively simple to encourage more people to complete them.
And finally, the photography should also fit the goals and types of clients you’re targeting. So if you’re going for corporate clients, you should have a corporate look in your photos. If you’re targeting young professional women who aren’t as formal and corporate, maybe opt for a more relaxed and approachable professional look.
I hope this gives you more insight on the foundation for a strategic design process! For more info on taking your website to the next level, download my free guide here.
And if you’d like to know more about my upcoming online course, click on the image below!