If you’ve ever considered having a bit of a makeover, either personally, for your home or your business, you’ll understand just how difficult it can be; and it’s no easier when you want to do the same for your training consultancy brand and website!
A few months ago we realised that it had been three years since launching the first Right Trax Training website, so in a moment of madness we decided it was time to challenge ourselves with creating something that really promotes our philosophy and passions about people and their development. After all, when you believe in something wholeheartedly, how hard can it be(!).
So, where do you start? There is an absolute wealth of information to help you create a website that is special to you. When you consider how we look for information now, no one uses the telephone directory to look for a plumber, so it’s time companies realise that a website is your shop window. Your website displays who you are, what your values are and what’s important to you as a company and when customers are looking for a quality service or product, then that becomes very important to them and will influence their choices.
The first step was to research different styles of websites both within and outside of our own industry. Now this is the part that is not always the most exciting for some of us, especially if you’re technically challenged! However I surprised myself, and whilst I won’t ever be going down the web designer route as a career, I did find that doing the research really helped me to understand the principles of web design and what can or cannot be done.
It’s surprising how even the simplest of things can make a difference. Did you know that only 116% of people read web pages word-for-word and that using the 2psychology of colour can increase your website conversions? Neither did I until I started investigating website design. How we managed to do a half-decent job of our last website was a miracle! So once we’d ploughed through the ton of tips, tricks and techniques all we had to do was to apply all this newly found knowledge…easy, right?
No, as much as we enjoyed it there were parts that were difficult, painful and frustrating; we brainstormed, planned, created drafts and action plans, procrastinated, got feedback from others, changed our minds and stamped our feet and there were many times where we just wanted to get someone in to write the content for us. Part of this challenge was to break some of the moulds that other websites have; we wanted to be so much more than a few pages of blurb on the Internet that says the same old thing and gives a phone number and email address. After all, if our site was boring and run of the mill, why would our services be any different?
We persevered and in the end created a new and much-improved website that we were proud to launch.
So, what have been our key learns from this experience?
- Choose the right web design company. They will be taking your vision to create the site so it’s vital that you have a good relationship with them. Make sure you provide clear directions and set expectations, after all if you don’t tell them what you want they can’t help you to get there! We chose Amica and found them to be friendly, professional and patient. Thanks Ashley and Chris!
- Research and investigate. Explore other websites, both within your industry as well as outside of it. There are lots of exciting ideas out there, so go and challenge your thinking and be inspired.
- Take time to understand the technical elements. If you are technically gifted this won’t be an issue, but don’t let this be a barrier if you are not. There are important decisions that you will need to make, so take time to understand the ramifications of them. For example:
- What platform will you use?
- How will you host your website?
- Who will maintain your website?
- Stop, look and listen. Spend time brainstorming ideas and concepts before diving into the content of the site. Remember, if you don’t know what you want to say you won’t be able to write it!
- Plan, plan and plan some more. Plan and draft out each page of your website like a storyboard, ensure it is consistent, tells your story and engages those that take time to visit.
- Remove those blinkers. Get feedback from trusted sources – it’s easy to become blind to your own ideas so use people that you trust to give constructive feedback and really challenge your thinking.
- The Devil is in the detail. For some of us, getting into the detail is hellish, however it’s important that not only does it look good but everything works properly and makes sense. Check for silly spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, links that don’t work properly and fonts that are inconsistent. These may appear to be small things but they can make a huge difference to how potential clients perceive you as a company.
- Don’t rest on your laurels. Make sure that you regularly visit your own site to check everything is working and the customers experience is a smooth one. Review your website every 6-12 months to check that everything is still relevant and gives your visitors the correct information.
Remember, your website is your shop window and so it needs to show your services and products at their best, so invest the time to develop something that would stop the traffic travelling past it…it’s worth it.