website strategy

How I Craft Websites that Authentically Convert

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Today I’m going to walk you through how I craft websites that authentically covert for my clients. Over the years, I’ve created a signature process that combines brand development, design, and strategy to craft websites that enable my clients to confidently show off their expertise, charge their worth, and connect with the clients they’ve been dreaming on working with. Your website investment should deliver lasting results, and I’m here to guide you through a process that gets to the heart of your brand so your website can grow with you.

Topics Discussed:

  • How I created my signature process over time
  • Why I require potential clients to complete an application
  • Why brand strategy is so important in the website design process
  • My five phase process for designing strategic websites
  • How calls throughout the process benefit both me and my clients
  • The four workbooks I use with my clients during our time together
  • Questions I often get from clients

Resources Discussed:

 

Action Steps:

  1. If you aren’t sure if your website needs customization or a full redesign, listen to episode 36 of Process to Profitability.
  2. If you want a customized report based on your own brand, dream clients, and goals that helps you make the right decisions for your website, sign up for my Website Design & Strategy Audit.
  3. If you’re interested in working with me, fill out my website design application.

Building an online business gives you the freedom to do what you love while still earning what you’re worth isn’t easy, but it is possible.

At Lemon and the Sea, I specialize in strategically crafting websites for the creative small business owner who is passionate about serving her clients and wants to be a part of the design process. I help her stand out as an expert, find more dream clients, increase visibility, and be in control of her website so that she can grow her business and spend more time doing what she loves.

I take on a very limited number of new clients each year to ensure that each project gets the time and attention it deserves. I focus on client service and completely custom design. You work directly with me as we craft a website gives you a spotlight on your expertise and is set up to convert and engage with your dream clients.

I love working with creative women who have a heart to serve grow their business through bringing all the pieces together into a cohesive website that fits your style and showcases your expertise.

My process, which is outlined in this episode, focuses on creating uniquely you design that is designed to be user-friendly and is strategically crafted to support your big goals.

The goal of this entire process to work in side-by-side to craft a website strategy and design that helps your business grow and gives you more time to spend doing what you love.

And since you don’t have time to look at every revision, I set it up so you know exactly when you need to be involved and when you can focus on your business and let me get to work.

The Application

I require anyone interested in working with me to complete a short application before I schedule a call to discuss their project. This application helps me to know if the project would be a good fit and that my clients are serious about putting in the work to take their business to the next level. Strategic website design is not only a financial investment, but also a commitment of time – and it’s not for everyone.

Having an application helps potential clients understand a little more about how I work and the commitment involved and it gives us a head start when we jump on a call to discuss how we can work together because I already know a little about their business.

The Brand Strategy

Because my process is focused on both strategy and design, it’s important that we start off on the right foot by delving deep into the heart of your business.

Knowing the heart behind your brand – why you do what you do – can inspire other people to rally around you and take action on what you’re offering. But I can’t design a website that reflects that if I don’t know what it is.

This process is an exciting opportunity to hone your brand’s mission, core values, and messaging as we move forward. Then, with the heart of your brand defined, we’ll focus on bringing your website to life with a strong, strategic design.

The Process

The goal of this entire process to work in side-by-side to craft a website strategy and design that helps your business grow and gives you more time to spend doing what you love.

1. Website Strategy

This phase is all about gathering information and making sure your new website will be absolutely unique, completely user-friendly, and strategically designed to showcase your expertise and attract your dream clients. This is the phase that will require the most time from you – the workbooks I’ll give you and creating content takes most people much longer than anticipated, so plan to focus on this during the strategy and design phases.

  • YOU WILL: Complete the next three workbooks as we prepare to design your website.
  • I WILL: Create a Website Vision Guide PDF that outlines your website goals, your dream clients, and the functionality and style of your website.
  • YOU WILL: Review the Website Vision Guide and request any changes.
  • I WILL: Create a Content To-Do List that includes every page of your website and what you’ll need to gather or create.
  • YOU WILL: Review the Content To-Do List to make sure everything makes sense.
  • I WILL: Create a Goal Review PDF that goes over the information gathered from Google Analytics and UX testing so you have a “Before Picture” of your website and we know what to focus on moving forward.

At this point, we’ll have a video call to go over the heart of your brand, your website needs, and prepare for the upcoming design.

2. Website Design

This phase is the part where you get to see what your website will look like. You’ll be spending most of your time creating content, but you’ll also get sneak peeks of the design as it comes together.

The overall design will be based on your inspiration & questionnaire answers and each page will be optimized to help you reach those big goals (that’s why the strategy part is so important).

  • I WILL: Design a Coming Soon page that creates excitement for your upcoming new website.
  • YOU WILL: Review the Coming Soon page and provide any extra information I need to make it live.
  • YOU WILL: Answer the Keyword Planner Questionnaire in your Client Portal so I can optimize your website for SEO and help you show up and get noticed.
  • I WILL: Be working behind the scenes to design mock-ups of the most important pages of your website (usually the home, about, gallery, shop, and blog pages) based on the Website Vision Guide and your inspiration.
  • YOU WILL: Review the mock-ups and request any edits.
  • YOU WILL: Submit your finalized content, including images and copy.

At this point, we’ll have a video call to go over the design, any edits you request, and finalize the launch date.

3. Website Development & Testing

During this phase, you can sit back and enjoy a weekly check-in email while focusing on your business. Towards the end of this phase, I will send you a link to the designed and developed website so you can check it out before requesting any final changes.

  • I WILL: Create your design in the platform we chose and develop every part of it supports your goals and attracts your dream clients, as well as insert all of your content including images, copy, forms, products, and downloadables.
  • I WILL: Conduct internal and User Experience testing to make sure everything is working and functions well for your dream clients.
  • YOU WILL: Review the developed website and play around with it to make sure everything functions the way you envisioned. You can also review the test results and request any edits to the website.
  • I WILL: Make any final changes and implement basic SEO on your website.
  • YOU WILL: Give final approval on the design. Once this is given, no more changes will be made to the design except to fix minor issues found in final internal testing (like making sure links work).

At this point, we’ll have a video call to go over any final edits and make sure everything is in place for your upcoming launch.

4. Launch

Now is when you get to pop the champagne (or La Croix) and celebrate! After weeks of hard work, introspection and heartfelt homework, you’re ready to share your new website with the world. As we near the end of our time together, we’ll get on our Launch Day strategy call to devise the best way to build anticipation and excitement so your big reveal is a smashing success.

  • I WILL: Send you a Website Launch Guide so you know exactly what to expect as your website goes live and launch graphics based on your new design so we can both shout it from the rooftops.
  • I WILL: Do a soft launch and triple-check that everything is working. Then I’ll let you know it’s time to celebrate.
  • YOU WILL: Promote your new website and celebrate! I suggest doing a Facebook live and Instagram story to build the excitement.

Once your launch day arrives, sit back and toast to all the fruits of your labor. From here on out, it’s all about building your business from the heart.

5. On-Going Strategy

The design isn’t done once your website launches. In order to have a website that helps you reach those big goals, I’ll be checking analytics and suggesting changes we can make to improve the website.

  • I WILL: Create an SEO Starter Guide to help you continue to improve your search engine results.
  • I WILL: Track and review the analytics on your new website and send you a report on what’s working and what could be improved to better meet your goals.
  • YOU WILL: Request edits and updates to your website and review them once I have implemented the changes.
  • I WILL: Send you tutorial videos that walk you through how to make updates to your website. You can then handle these yourself, give them to your team, or continue to work with me.
  • YOU WILL: Review the tutorials and choose an On-Going Support package that best fits your needs and budget.

At this point, we’ll have a video call to go over the results of your analytics and anything you may have questions on.

The Calls

As we dive into our work together, we’ll put our heads together to clearly define the best brand strategy for your business through our 60-minute design and strategy calls! I require these calls because I’ve found that they are the most efficient way to give feedback and work through strategy instead of emailing back and forth.

Each call is structured to review the current phase of the project and make sure that we’re on the same page as we move forward. It’s also a great time to get any team members involved in asking questions or giving insight.

These sessions are designed to encourage you to delve deep into the purpose and passion behind your business, as well as focusing on identifying your dream client, brand voice and more. Using your pre-branding workbooks as our starting point, we’ll dive feet first into how we can best back your website with the heart and strategy that will help you reach your business goals. At the end of each project, you’ll walk away feeling well equipped and confident in your ability to better grasp the heart behind your brand, as well as do business in way that enables you to focus on what truly matters in life.

The Workbooks

Before any project begins, I have my clients complete the first of four workbooks. I base our entire project on both direct communication from you and your workbook responses, so it’s important to have this completed so that we can move forward on schedule. Plus, we’ll be using these valuable resources as a spring board for our design and strategy calls!

The questions in these workbooks aren’t easy - they’ll make you think, push you outside of your comfort zone, and require some dedicated time - but in the end, your work here will help me to give you a website that will support your business and grow with you.

As you go through the workbooks, I encourage you to find some time when you can really delve into these prompts and give heartfelt, introspective answers. Sit down in an inspiring space with a glass of your favorite beverage and dream big as you put your brand’s core values, goal, and mission down on paper. And if you feel like you’ve already done this work, it never hurts to go over it again - you will always discover something new.

Additionally, you’ll be asked to create a Pinterest board of inspiration after you complete your workbook. This board can be made up of your brand materials, design elements, and websites that inspire you and capture the aesthetic of the overall brand you’re trying to create.

1. Your Foundation

Strong brands operate from a place of Why, and have a clear grasp of the values, goals and mission at the core of their work. Operating from a place of purpose in your business changes everything!

2. Your Dream Client

Having a clear understanding of your dream client will enable every touch point of your business to be succinct and effective - especially in the website we’re crafting.

3. Your Brand Voice & Message

One of the best ways to create consistency and brand recognition throughout your website and other material is through a clearly defined brand voice and message.

4. Your Website

Now that we’re clear on your Why, your vision, your mission, and your dream client, we’ll dive into the thing we’re here to create - a website that supports your business in all of these things.

The Options

I offer three different options for website design and strategy so that I can help people in all stages of business.

1. Informational Website Design

When you’re ready to update your website, you need a design that fits your brand.

  • Website Planning - to help me learn more about your needs and design aesthetic.
  • Concept Design - I’ll design the basic pages of your website for layout and user experience for your approval.
  • Content To-Do List - to help you pull together your site’s content.
  • Website Design - I’ll design all of your website pages using your brand, add all of your content, and help you make it live.
  • Design Review - before the website is finalized, I’ll review everything with you and make updates based on your feedback.
  • Website Testing - the final website will be reviewed and fully tested for functionality and design.
  • Tutorials & Training - I’ll teach you how to manage your website and provide tutorial videos so you can make updates yourself.

2. eCommerce Website Design

When you’re ready to update your online store, you need a website that’s easy to manage and fits your brand.

  • Website Planning - to help me learn more about your needs and design aesthetic.
  • Concept Design - I’ll design the basic pages of your website for layout and user experience for your approval.
  • Content To-Do List - to help you pull together your site’s content.
  • Website Design - I’ll design all of your website pages using your brand, add all of your content, and set up an easy to manage eCommerce shop.
  • Product Creation - I’ll create up to 15 products in Squarespace, including adding images, descriptions, and pricing options, and set them up for purchase.
  • Design Review - before the website is finalized, I’ll review everything with you and make updates based on your feedback.
  • Website Testing - the final website will be reviewed and fully tested for functionality and design.
  • Tutorials & Training - I’ll teach you how to manage your website and provide tutorial videos so you can make updates yourself.

3. Website Customization

To find success, you just need a few tweaks to really create a website that fits your style and brand.

  • Website Audit & Planning - to review your current website and made recommendations based on my professional expertise and to help me learn more about your needs and design aesthetic.
  • Choose What You Need - I can help with any (or all) of the following:
    • Custom CSS
    • Single Page Design
    • SEO Implementation
    • Website Audit
    • Analytics & Goal Tracking
    • User Experience Testing
    • On-Going Support as part of your Team
    • Newsletter Implementation
    • Creating an online shop
  • Design Review - before the design is finalized, I’ll review everything with you and make updates based on your feedback.
  • Website Testing - the final website will be reviewed and fully tested for functionality and design.
  • Tutorials & Training - I’ll teach you how to manage your website and provide tutorial videos so you can make updates yourself.

The FAQs

What information will you need from me to get started?

I will provide you with a link to your Client Portal, which will include a basic questionnaire and the first workbook that you’ll need to complete. This should be complete before our start date so we can stay on track for your launch date.

How much will my website cost?

All of my websites are built on Squarespace or Showit and hosting packages range from $26 - 40/month, depending on your website needs. We will discuss which option is best for you during our initial meeting.

What am I - the client - responsible for?

This engagement is a commitment in both time and money. I’m crafting your website and want you to be a part of that. As the client you will be responsible for meeting a number of deadlines to ensure that we can give you the most value during our time together. These deadlines are for things such as getting us information about your business to get us started, sending feedback and approving design, and answering questions along the way.

The hardest part for my clients is writing and delivering content for your website. Though I will assist you by planning out what content you need and creating a Content To-Do list to help you execute, you will need to have your content delivered, proofread and ready to publish in order to launch your website.

How often will I hear from Lemon and the Sea?

I pride myself on being very hands-on with my clients. I will manage your project in your Client Portal. During the duration of your project, you’ll hear from me weekly, whether I’m sending over designs, filling you in on the next deliverable dates, or answering any questions you may have.

I’m also available for strategy and review calls at set times throughout the process so that you never feel like you have to figure out how to communicate your thoughts through email. You’ll never have to worry about me going missing and I’ll expect to hear from you too.

How if I can’t get everything done in time?

If you are struggling to meet your deadlines for content or reviewing designs, please let me know ASAP. We can then decide whether to pause the project or set up an intensive day to get work done together.


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Understanding Analytics - Website Analytics Basics

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Today I’m going to be talking about understanding analytics – website analytics basics. This episode is an overview of analytics, so there are a lot of topics I don’t cover, but I wanted to introduce this topic and give you information about analytics, what it’s good for, and what you use.

I’m going to give an overview of website analytics, what you should be paying attention to, and the 7 most important analytics to look at for your website. I’m also sharing some questions that can help you as you evaluate your analytics, why you need to set up Google Analytics, and what Squarespace analytics are most useful for your website.

I’m including a lot of information in this episode, so I recommend that you check out the shownotes where you can find all of this written down in case you don’t want to take notes while you’re listening.

Topics Discussed:

  • An overview of website analytics and what you should pay attention to
  • Good and bad ways to use your website analytics
  • The 7 most important analytics to look at, what they’re good for, and how to find them in Google Analytics
  • Questions to help you evaluate your analytics
  • Why you need Google Analytics and how to set it up
  • Finding the keywords people are finding your website on
  • What Squarespace analytics are most useful
  • Other tools you can use to collect analytics data

Resources Discussed:

Action Steps:

  1. Install Google Analytics on your website
  2. Find your top exit pages and add a call-to-action to each
  3. Find your keywords and evaluate if they’re what you want to be known for

Analytics Overview

What are website analytics?

Website analytics is the collection, reporting, and analysis of website data according to usability.gov. Basically, they are numbers that give you information about your website and that you can use to make informed decisions. The goal of collecting and examining  your website’s analytics is to measure the success of your website at meeting your pre-determined goals. For more information about setting goals for your website, check out episode 25 all about setting goals and planning your website.

Why should you pay attention to your analytics?

The goal of looking at your analytics is to give you information that helps you make informed decisions about your website. You can use these numbers to help you change the design, write content that will resonate with your audience, know what kinds of products or services to offer, or who it would be beneficial to network with.

While analytics can give you data about your website and can be useful if you’re using them over time, they shouldn’t be used as a comparison tool. Your website is your own – it doesn’t matter if you have more or less website visits than someone else, only if your website is serving your business and your audience the best it can.

How can you use the information you’re gathering?

There are good and bad ways to use the information that you gather from your analytics.

Good:

  • Using analytics to test and change things on your website and evaluate what’s working
  • Use the data as information about the past and trends you might see in the future

Bad:

  • Only looking at traffic to evaluate how your website is doing
  • Gathering data over the short-term

What are the most important analytics?

1.  Website Traffic

  • What it Does: tells you how many people are visiting your website in a given period of time.
  • What it’s Good for: It’s useful for knowing if your web traffic is growing, stagnating, or decreasing over time, as well as seasons when you might get more traffic than others to help you plan promotions and launches. You shouldn’t use it as a comparison metric.
  • How to see it: Audience > Overview

2. Traffic Sources

  • What it Does: tell you where people are coming to your website from. There are a few different locations including organic search (people who find you on search engines), referral (coming from a different website via a link), direct (people typing in your website directly), and social (coming from a social media platform). You can also dig into which referral, social platform, and search engine terms someone is using to find your website.
  • What it’s Good for: This metric is good for knowing how people find you and referral sources you can take advantage of.
  • How to see it: Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium and Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals

3. Bounce Rate

  • What it Does: tells you how many people leave your website after visiting only one page.
  • What it’s Good for: This is useful for knowing if your website is giving people the information they want and expect to find and can give you an indication of whether you’re directing people to other pages on your website.
  • How to see it: Audience > Overview

4. Top Pages

  • What it Does: tells you the most visited pages on your website.
  • What it’s Good for: This is good for focusing your efforts on adding calls-to-action or other conversion events and for knowing what people are looking for when they come to your website.
  • How to see it: Behavior > Site Content > All Pages

5. Top Landing Pages

  • What it Does: tells you where people are first landing on your website.
  • What it’s Good for: This is good for determining where to add a call-to-action to move people forward and where you should include information about what you do and who you help.
  • How to see it: Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages

6. Top Exit Pages

  • What is Does: tells you which pages people leave your website from most often.
  • What it’s Good for: This is a good starting point for places to add calls-to-action that keep people on your website. It’s also helpful for knowing if there is content that isn’t popular or relevant that you can update or remove.
  • How to see it: Behavior > Site Content > Exit Pages

7. Audience Affinity Categories

  • What is Does:  tells you what interests your website visitors have based on their past behavior
  • What it’s Good for: This can help you see the types of people who are visiting your website and if they fit with your dream client avatar. It can also help you focus on your content, and potentially ads, on the people who are most likely to visit and stay on your website.
  • How to see it: Audience > Interests > Affinity Categories

Guiding Questions

Here are some questions to ask as you evaluate your analytics. You can use these as a starting point to help you determine which analytics to focus on and make decisions about changes you might want to make to your website.

Who is coming to my website?

Are they my dream clients?

Where are they coming from?

How can I take advantage of those sources to bring more people to my website?

What are people doing while on my website?

How can I keep them on my website longer?

What are some ways I can help them move toward my goal?

What content is most popular?

How can I add a call-to-action or next step to help meet my goals?

How can I create more content like this?

What pages have the highest bounce rates?

How can I improve these pages to keep people on my website longer?

Are my pages loading slowly?

How can I reduce the load time?

Google Analytics

Do I need it?

Google Analytics is a free tool that can give you in-depth insight into many things about your website. It’s worth taking the time to set up even if you’re only looking at a few items right now because it can build with you as you grow. Plus, Google Analytics only starts gathering and storing information after you install it, so if you want to look at it in the future, you need to set it up now.

How do I install it?

Setting up Google Analytics is fairly easy. All you need is a Google login (either with a Gmail address or your regular email address). You can set up a Google Analytics account for any domain that you own and have access to and then confirm that you own the domain by adding the tracking ID to your website. On both Showit and Squarespace, there is an easy location to add your tracking code without having to add any code.

Where do I see my analytics?

To see the data gathered by Google Analytics, log into your account and navigate to the property that goes to your website (if you have more than one). From there, you can explore all the data that Google Analytics collects by navigating the menu on the left side of your screen.

How can I get the information I need without being overwhelmed?

The most important things to prevent overwhelm is to focus just on the analytics that will serve your business. I’ve already mentioned the most important analytics you can look at and you can always add others that are relevant to your business goals and audience.

How do I know what keywords people searched to find me (setting up Search Console)?

In order to see the keywords that people are coming to your site after searching you have to set up Google Search Console. This is another free tool that you can connect to your Google Analytics account. Log into Search Console using the same username and password that you use for Google Analytics. From there, click Add a Property to add your website’s URL. You’ll be asked to verify your website ownership, which you can do easily via your Google Analytics Tracking ID. While you won’t see any information right away, you will want to make sure that you submit a sitemap. Squarespace and Showit both automatically create sitemaps for you. For information on building and submitting a sitemap to Google listen to episode 38 or read this tutorial. Once you have Search Console set up, you can see your keywords in Google Analytics under Acquisition > Search Console > Queries.

Squarespace Analytics

Squarespace has its own built-in analytics that can give you useful information without digging into Google Analytics. To see these, navigate to Analytics in the menu on the left side when you log into your account. While I don’t recommend relying completely on Squarespace’s analytics and ignoring Google, Squarespace can offer a quick overview without as much setup. They automatically gather data like sales, traffic, popular content, purchase funnel and abandoned cart information without you needing to create goals or conversion events in Google Analytics. When looking at Squarespace’s analytics, these are the things I would focus on:

  • Site Search Queries: Part of what is useful about Squarespace’s analytics is that you can see exactly what people are searching for within your site through the Site Search Queries section. You can see what keywords people are searching on your website and the pages they’re being directed to.
  • Form & Button Conversions: This new feature allows you to see which Squarespace buttons are being clicked and the forms that are being completed. This only applies to Squarespace Forms and Buttons (not those you add via code). You can see what was clicked and how many times, as well as how many other views the button or form got. This information can help you improve calls-to-action and see what content is driving the most conversions.
  • Sales overview, Purchase Funnel, Abandoned Cart: If you are using Squarespace as an eCommerce platform to sell goods, services, and digital products directly through your website, these analytics can help you see what people are buying, how they’re moving from just visiting to checking out, and where they might be getting lost in the process.

Other Tools


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UX - What is It and Why is It Important

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Today I’m talking about UX – what it is any why it’s important. This is a topic that I’ve wanted to a cover for w while, but I wanted to make sure that I could bring you the best information possible and show you how I use this in my own business so that you can start thinking about this topic as you make decisions for your website or for other areas of your business.

Today we’re going to cover what UX is, why it’s important, how you can think about this during the design process and as you make updates to your website, and how you can perform a UX test on your own website and my experience with UX testing on my own website.

You can get a free download to help you perform a UX test with some questions you can use, you can get that at www.lemonandthesea.com/uxtest.

Topics Discussed:

  • What is UX
  • Why UX design is important
  • The UX design process
  • How you use UX thinking to update your website
  • Performing a UX test on your website
  • My experience conducting a UX test and what I learned

Resources Discussed:


What is UX?

UX stands for user experience and covers a wide range of things, including products, courses, websites, stores, etc. It looks at the what, when, where, why, how, and who of a user and their use of your website. User Experience design needs to look at every stage of the lifecycle, from their first visit to hiring you, working with you, to giving feedback and referrals with the goal of making your website, product, service, etc. serve your clients in the best way possible.

Why is UX Important?

You’re already doing some of this without knowing it, but if you understand how to do it, you can do a better job. Just remember that User Experience Design is a process and you will always be making tweaks based on data.

What is the UX Process?

Strategy – what is the goal of the website? What do the visitors want? Look at your objectives, business needs, user needs, then determine how you're going to measure your website's success and make a list of things you need to research further.

Scope – what features does the website need to have? This includes technical features and content that you need to include. To prioritize, create a list of must, should, could, and would items to direct your efforts.

Structure – how will all the pieces fit? This is like a short outline that just layouts out how things make sense

Skeleton – what components will make the website usable? Consider the Interface design, navigation, information design and create an wire frame to see where things will go and how they will function.

Surface – what will it look like? This is what everyone thinks of as design, but if you just start here, then you haven’t thought out how everything else will work. It includes layout, branding, color, and uniformity.

How can you use UX thinking to update your website?

Be human – remember that you are a human interacting with other humans through technology. The website you're designing is just the bridge. Your design should:

  • Guide Them – don’t get in their way or leave them handing
  • Don’t confuse them – don’t frustrate them or make them feel stupid
  • Give feedback
  • Set them up for success  

Performing a UX test

  1. Choose the questions/tasks
    • Opening questions
    • General tour
    • Tasks
    • General & Follow-up questions
  2. Choose a person
    • Doesn’t have to be a dream client, but should have the same amount of familiarity with technology. If possible, choose 3-4 people and run multiple tests – this will show you where people are confused most often
  3. Conduct the test
  4. Review the results & make a plan

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Choosing and Optimizing Images for Your Website

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Whether you’re a photographer or not, the images you choose for your website can draw in or turn away your dream clients. The trick isn’t finding images – there is stock photography all over the internet – but finding the right images and making them work for your website.

Topics Discussed:

  • How to choose images for your website
  • Things to avoid when choosing images
  • Stock photography vs. custom photography
  • Why starting with design is so important when choosing images
  • My favorite places to find stock photography
  • How to optimize your images for the web

Resources Discussed:


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Choosing Your Images

Start with the Design

Always start by designing your website before investing in any kind of images. Think of it this way: your website is the house you’re building and the images are the décor inside – they make a big difference, but they aren’t going to determine what your website looks like.

Whether you’re DIY-ing your website or working with a designer and developer, let the design dictate everything else. This will help you in your search for images because you’ll know exactly what to look for.

Once you’ve worked on your  design, you’ll know things like:

  • Image size
  • Image orientation
  • Types of images

Once you have the design in place, it’s much easier to narrow down your search and find the right images for your website. Maybe the flat lays you love on Instagram aren’t right for your header because they won’t convey what you need them to. It’s better to know that before you’ve spent any money.

You also want to consider which images will be overlaid with text for graphics and which will stand alone to add personality.

Choose the Right Photos

Choose stock photos that fit your brand colors and style.

Instead of choosing images that look great, but don’t fit your brand, start your search with your brand in mind. Then, even if you find other beautiful options, you won’t be tempted to spend your hard earned money on something that won’t work for your business.

Even if you’re using a stock library, don’t try to use every image available. They may be beautiful, but if they aren’t on-brand, you’re going to confuse your audience and make your website less inviting and streamlined.

And now for the not-so-fun legal stuff:

Make sure to double (and triple) check the usage rights to the images you’re buying. You want to make sure that you can use them on your website to promote your services, and you need to know how you need to give credit to the photographer.

You will also need to know what types of edits you can make to the images you choose (such as cropping, adding overlays, adding your own products, or changing or removing items) and where you can use them (social media, website, opt-ins, webinar slides, etc.).

Each photographer and website will have different guidelines and restrictions, so make sure you’re familiar with them so you won’t run into legal problems in the future. (Just a tip: keep the receipt after you download your new image so you have it for future reference.)

If you’re working with a designer to find these images, make sure that the correct person purchases them. If your designer purchases your image, they may or may not be allowed to transfer ownership to you. If you want to own the rights to use an image in more ways than just on your website, you may need to purchase it yourself so that you have that ability.

Customize Your Images

You can make even stock photography unique through overlays, added text, and cropping (as long as you’re following the rules).

Here are some fun ways to add interest to your images and make them stand out:

  • Add an overlay in a brand color.
  • Add text to create fun graphics or pinnable images.
  • Crop your image in a variety of ways to get multiple uses out of it.
  • Add your own products to the image to show off your work.

By using these techniques with your stock photographs, you can create images that people will recognize as yours without you having to take the photos yourself. This is also a great way to get the most out of the images you’re investing in so you can buy less, but still have just as much flexibility.

Mix Stock and Custom Images

By mixing stock photography with your own images, you can create a unique look that no one can copy.

Even if you’re a photographer or have great images from past projects, you can use stock photography to spice up your image library and get some great on-brand images that you don’t have to take yourself.

Stock images are really versatile and you can use them in a lot of places on your website:

  • Banner images.
  • Backgrounds for sections you want to highlight (in Squarespace, you can do this through creating Index Pages).
  • Blog graphics.
  • Links to other pages on your website.
  • In your content library or shop to show off your work.
  • On social media to tie everything together.

Optimizing Your Images

Get Some SEO Going

Prep your images for great SEO so that they can help people find you online.

Usually, stock images will have names that reflect the company or photographer they are from. After you purchase and download an image, be sure to rename it to something SEO friendly before adding it to your website (because having an image name that references where you got the image won't help your business).

You can also add some SEO juice by adding keywords and keyword phrases on the back-end of your website and by adding captions or alt titles. This works differently on each website platform, but you should be able to find tutorials to guide you. (In Squarespace, you can add a caption to your photo and then hide it to get the SEO without having a caption below your image.)

Resize Your Images for Web

1. Adjust the image size

  • Entered the desired size
  • Be sure to save the image so as “resample image” to preserve smoothness

2. Choose your format

  • JPEG – perfect for images with lots of colors and gradients such as photographs. You can control how compressed the image is when saving.
  • GIF – a lossless format that has a limited palette of 256 colors. Good for images with solid colors or limited colors.
  • PNG – similar to GIF, but supports more colors. Allows you to have a transparent background. This format is replacing GIF format for most people. Will be a higher size and quality

3. Reduce the Size

  • Try to keep images under 75 KB (some banner images may be larger at 150KB)
  • Save your image to the exact dimensions you need on your website
  • Reduce your dpi to 72 – website can’t display any higher than that

Finding Keywords for Your Website and SEO Basics

38-Samantha-Mabe-Finding-Keywords-for-Your-Website-and-SEO-Basics.jpg

Today I’m talking about finding keywords for your website and some SEO basics. Many of my clients struggle with SEO and some of them don’t even understand what it is, and so I wanted to get on the show today and go over what SEO is, why it’s important for your business, and how you can work on your website so that your SEO is better.

If you’ve ever gone into a Facebook group and seen people asking about SEO, search engines, or keywords and you’re not sure what that means or how you can apply it to your business, this episode is for you.

You can also download the SEO Content Guide I use with my clients at http://www.lemonandthesea.com/episode38.

Topics Discussed:

  • What is SEO
  • How SEO works and why it’s important for your business
  • What you can do to improve your SEO
  • How to find relevant keywords and phrases
  • The importance of unique page titles
  • Meta descriptions and what they’re used for
  • Why you should update your old content
  • How to use internal linking
  • The importance of external linking and social proof
  • My best practices and implementation tips for all 6 areas you should be focusing on

 

Resources Discussed:

 


SEO Content Guide

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Creating Content for Your Website

Welcome to Episode 29 of Process to Profitability. It’s another solo show this week and I’m covering one of the topics I get asked about most from my website design clients: creating content for your website.

Your content is one of the most time consuming and intimidating pieces of a website design (or redesign). You want to get it just right because you’re investing in a brand new website and you really want to see growth in your business.

But if you’re like many small business owners, you just have no idea what you should include on your website – and you wish someone would give you a checklist already.

Today I’m going to do just that – give you a checklist of the content I’ve seen work best on websites – and tips for making it your own.

Why your content is important:

  • Will position you as an expert
  • Spend less time answering questions and more time getting to work
  • Get visitors to take action

Key positioning content pieces:

Create a journey:

  • Outline how visitors move through your website to the main goal
  • Use a CTA on every page
  • What do you want them to do next?

Build trust with content:

  • Use your brand’s voice everywhere
  • Use social proof (badges, features)
  • Use testimonials (with headshots), reviews, and case studies
  • Talk about your main 3 topics
    • Be careful to keep what you’re sharing to what you want to be known for

The pages you need on your website and what to include for each

Home

  • Share the most important things about what you do
  • Mission statement
  • Brief bio
  • Fun facts
  • Images of your work
  • Recent blog posts

About

  • What you do
  • Who you work with
  • Your story
  • Fun facts
  • Head shot
  • Branded images
  • Team bios and images

Services/Package/Shop

  • Exactly what you offer
  • Names, descriptions
  • Pricing
  • Images

Sales

  • Who it’s for
  • What they get
  • Components
  • Who you are
  • How to buy
  • What to expect next

Portfolio

  • Images from a variety of work
  • At least 5 good projects with 5-10 images each

Contact

  • Brief intro
  • Office hours
  • Contact information
  • Form with questions

Blog

  • Template for layout

Other Pages

  • Policies
  • Opt-in landing page
  • Contact form submission confirmation
  • Opt-in submission confirmation

Content To-Do List for Your Website

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Setting Goals and Planning Your Website

This week’s episode is all about setting goals and planning your website before you design.

We’ve all heard about goal setting in our business and you may have tried to do some yourself, whether successfully or not, but when it comes to website design, many of us don’t consider setting goals for our site before we sit down and design.

As I have been learning more and more about strategic website design and working with clients, I’ve learned that this is a really important first step to getting your website right the first time.

If your website isn’t working to help you meet your business goals, then it’s really not working for you.

Topics Discussed:

  • Why it’s important to set goals in your business for your website
  • How to set a goal for your website
  • Questions to ask when setting a goal for your website
  • Questions to ask before starting to design
  • How to reach your dream clients in the simplest way possible
  • Sharing your purpose through what you make most important
  • The importance of incorporating design for your dream clients and a style that fits you
  • The different types of goals you may choose for your website
  • How knowing your goal will help you design your website to convert more
  • Creating a sitemap to help you make sure you have every page you need on your website
  • Planning your website functionality for what you need now and your big future goals
  • Why you need to focus on what you’re sharing the services you offer
  • Best practices for setting goals and planning your website design
  • Why keeping your website as easy to use as possible will serve your audience better

Resources Discussed:


Questions to ask when setting a goal for your website

Before you start the design process, it's important to have a bigger goal for your website. This goal should support your business goals and will help you design in a way that helps your business grow.

  • If your website could do just one thing, what would it be?
  • What steps do your dream clients need to take in order to take action?
  • Working backwards, what is first step someone should take on your website?

Questions to ask before starting to design

If you're reevaluating your website design or considering working with a designer, these questions can help you see where you're falling short and what elements of your current website are working well.

  • Does your website focus on your core purpose?
  • Is the main goal of your website what you’re actually promoting?
  • Are you addressing your dream client?
  • Is everything on your website consistent?

The different types of goals you may choose for your website

These are some of the most popular goals creative small businesses set for their websites. Each will affect the way you design differently.

  • Growing an email list
  • Sharing content and educating your audience
  • Booking consult calls with your dream clients
  • Selling a certain product or course

Best practices for setting goals and planning your website design

These are some of my best practices for website design. A few are simple changes that you may have heard before and others are more in-depth topics, but all will help you design a strategic website that helps your business grow.

  • Include two forms of contact
  • Use a professional email address
  • Have a goal for each page of your website and lead people to the next step with a call-to-action
  • Keep the focus of your About page on your dream clients
  • Have one idea or message on each page
  • Automate as much as possible
  • Define your success metrics

5 Updates for a Higher Converting Website

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Quarterly Maintenance for Your Website

I can’t believe we are already at 25 episodes into this show, and I’m so excited that you’ve been with me along this entire journey. Today I want to talk about something that is going to be really important as we come up on the end of the year – quarterly website maintenance.

Some of these things you may have been doing all along and this hopefully won’t take you tons of time, but I think that they are really important to remind you to do at least every quarter. You may find that you need to do some of these items daily, weekly, or monthly depending on your business and website, but you should be going through this list every quarter to get into your business and know what’s going on behind the scenes without feeling overwhelmed by another item on your to-do list.

You can download a checklist of these items at www.lemonandthesea.com/episode25.

What is website maintenance?

This isn’t the day to day work of adding blog posts and responding to comments and it’s something you can do yourself with just a little time and know-how. Quarterly website maintenance is focused on keeping your website healthy, making sure you’re on track in your business, and that you’re getting the results that you want to see from your website.

Doing these things quarterly will also help you plan for future updates to your website and know what you want to change and who might be able to help you meet the goals you have for your website.

Back up your website

This is important so that you have a backup of your site in case it’s hacked or goes down. When you can recover at least the content, it’s a lot less stressful than starting over from scratch when things go wrong.

Check analytics

Use both Google Analytics and any analytics available from your website host. You can use this information to adjust the content you’re creating and promoting and where you’re focusing your marketing efforts.

  • What is your most popular page/post?
  • Are some pages dead ends?
  • Where are people coming to your site from?
  • What is your best conversion source?

Check website design

This can either be a quick check-in if you’ve kept up with your design or have just gone through a re-design or a more in-depth look if you haven’t had time to prioritize your design at other times.

  • Are the images up to date?
  • Does it still reflect your brand?
  • Does it look consistent across all browsers?
  • Does it look correct on mobile?

Check site speed

The slower your website loads, the less people are going to keep coming back to you. You want your website to load quickly so you can reach your dream clients (plus Google knows that pages that are slow to load are less liked, so they rank you lower in searches).

Check links

You want to make sure that all of the links on your website are still active and working. This helps with sharing quality content that helps people to trust you and helps with SEO because Google doesn’t like broken links.

  • Are all the links still working?
  • Are there any pages that no longer exist?

Test e-commerce and forms

Similar to links, having forms and a check out function that works properly helps your business run smoothly and builds trust with your audience because things aren’t getting lost.

  • Are all forms and check out functions working?
  • Does any inventory need to be updated?
  • Do you need to collect more/different information?

Update portfolio

Updating your portfolio can be intimidating because it takes time that seems like it could be better spent on client work, but by doing it quarterly, you’re showing off your expertise and creating fresh content for people who might be interested in working with you.

  • Add new projects
  • Update testimonials
  • Share any updated results from your service

Update bio

Check your about page, home page, guest bios, and social media to make sure every place is consistent and reflects your current services and brand.

  • Does your bio still reflect you?
  • Is your head shot up to date?

Updated features

By sharing the places you’ve guest posted or been invited to speak, you can build the know, like, trust factor with your audience.

  • Were you a guest on blogs or podcasts?
  • Did you speak at an event?

Check site map

Make sure that Google has a site map for your website so it knows which pages are on your website and help with SEO.

Poll audience and update copy

Make sure your copy reflects what you do, who you work with, and the benefits that you offer to your clients.

  • Take a poll (informal or formal) of your audience to see what they are struggling with and how you might be able to help
  • Update any services that may have changed
  • Make sure you’re still speaking to your dream client
  • Ideal Client Interviews

SEO

You want your SEO efforts to be pointing to the services and content that you’re offering now.

  • Update meta data and website description
  • Update keywords for future content

Run a UX test with a friend

Also known as a User Experience test, you can have a friend or Facebook contact perform tasks on your website to make sure that it’s easy to navigate and makes sense for your dream clients and website visitors.

Website Goals

Review your progress toward meeting your goals and adjust your content, marketing, language, or analytics as needed so that you know how your website is helping your business grow.

  • What progress are you making towards your goal?
  • Do you need to adjust which numbers you’re looking at?
  • Are there things you need to change or remove?

Remember, you don’t need to dig into these things every day, but by doing them quarterly, you will have a good picture of how your website is performing, what’s working and what isn’t, and things you can add to your list to improve.  The goal is that you continue building a website that shows your expertise and brings in more dream clients.

Is Your Website Working for You? Creating a Strategic Website

15-Is-Your-Website-Working-for-You

Today is the second episode all about website design and I am going to be talking about how you can evaluate if your website is working for you. If you haven’t listened to the first episode, I recommend you listen to episode 13.

This episode is useful whether you’re DIYing your website, getting by until you can hire a designer, or if you’re working with a designer now so that you know what to look for and ask for in a strategic website design project. Because that’s what I’m all about – using strategy in your website design so that it doesn’t’ just look good, but it also functions well and helps you grow your business.

I’m going to cover a couple of techniques for evaluating if your website is working for you and I’ve also got a checklist you can download at www.lemonandthesea.com/15download.

Topics Discussed:

  • The importance of having a strategy behind your website design
  • Why you need to test and change your design
  • Creating simple, easy to use navigation and what you should include
  • Why using website standards can help your design
  • Why your content is important to your website visitor’s experience
  • Things to check to make sure your content is working for you
  • The importance of having a call-to-action on each page
  • Creating a contact form that makes it easy for people to use
  • How the design of your website can support your main purpose
  • Why knowing your audience is important for your website
  • The tools I use with clients to test my website designs
  • The importance of testing and changing your design
  • My #1 recommendation for creating a strategic website
  • How strategic design serves your clients and customers

Resources Discussed:


Is Your Website Working for You?

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