website

7 things that every homepage should have

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I often check the analytics of my website (maybe once or twice a month) to review certain numbers. I like to see how many visitors are coming to my site daily, weekly and monthly — where they’re coming from (a Google search, social media, etc.) and what content that they like the best. What pages do they land (and stay) on the most frequently? Although visitors are definitely checking out my services (which is great!) and I can easily see which blog posts are the most popular (helpful for repurposing content and developing new e-books, future courses and free downloads) — my homepage still sees the most traffic. Why is that? It’s (obviously) the very first page that people see when they visit my site for the first time, as is the same for most websites. And, because I have it packed full of goodness (with the help of each item that I’m about to outline in this post) — people seem to find it helpful and navigate through it often.

I used to think, “who cares about the home page?” I want prospective clients checking out my services and pricing or better yet, my contact page — so that they’re sure to get ahold of me. And, while those things are important and happen, it’s crucial that the home page is still one of the most attractive and functional aspects of my website. Think of it this way — again, it’s the first impression that you make on visitors. They will decide in a few seconds if they’re going to stay and continue navigating your site, or if they’re going to close out of the window because nothing stood out to them and they’re not interested. And, just because you have separate pages setup for anything and everything (from your services, to your products, to your blog to your about page) — you can still give visitors a sneak peek (and quick tease) for what they’re going to find on your site. If done right, the home page brings new people in every single day — excited and anxious to learn more about what you do!

Here is a quick breakdown of the most important elements that your homepage should have, to keep prospective clients on your website longer — and clicking through to your other pages!

1. Logo

Make sure that the face of your brand can be visible right away. Scale it to the right size, either in the top left, center or right hand corners. This way, people know exactly what website that they are on. Plus, it can set the tone and design for the rest of your website, like the integrations of colors, fonts and other assets.

2. Headline/title description

In addition to the logo, let people know what website that they have landed on. Briefly explain who you are, what your business offers and who you serve. Keep it simple, but tug on the heartstrings a bit. You want to identify your potential clients’ pain problems, so that you can help to solve them. After all, that’s what your business is built to do! So, weave in some emotional language.

3. Secondary descriptions

Somewhere under the headline or quick description of your website/brand/business, provide a few, little “buckets” or “boxes” of additional info and details. You can breakdown your services, products, etc. so people can learn even more about you and what you offer. When they leave your site, they won’t have to question who you are or what you do. You can even add an interactive touch by incorporating these into a drop-down menu. Just make sure that you briefly provide a few more descriptions so that no one is left confused.   

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4. Balance of strong visuals + text

Try to have an equal balance of photos and copy. Your visuals can also appear in the forms of shapes, patterns, textures, other brand assets/icons or illustrations. Your messaging is equally crucial — again, create an emotional experience for a prospective client as they read through what you can offer them. Remember, value - value - value! Let your brand be strongly expressed through the smart use and “just right” balance of imagery and words.

5. Testimonial

A common question that I get from my branding clients is, should they have a page solely dedicated to client testimonials/praise or should those be scattered throughout the site? I say that it can go both ways! Absolutely, have a testimonial page, because prospective clients will click on it to read good reviews about working with you. However, it creates additional legitimacy if they see nothing but positivity about you, everywhere they look. Include a quote or two on each page. I use just one on my home page and I’m mindful and strategic as to where it’s placed. For example, explain your business and the services that you offer to grab someone’s attention and then let them see how amazing you are to work with, when they read a direct quote from a real past client of yours, right below the above text!

6. Call to action

Never, ever forget this! A CTA (or “call to action”) is just that — an element that encourages someone to take action — which can be done in multiple ways. Make it easy for someone to sign up for your newsletter, download a freebie that you’ve created, visit your online shop or setup a call with you. Don’t let someone just visit your site and then never interact with you or hear from you again. You don’t want them to forget you!

7. Easy ways to contact you and find you on social media

Either throughout the page or at the bottom, there should be links for people to experience you away from your website (like on social media, through your Facebook page or Instagram feed) or to contact you (like a CTA, mentioned above.) You don’t want to miss out on a prospective client who is interested in working with you (because of your awesome homepage) because they don’t know how to stay in contact with you. Always leave room for social media icons (or even directly embed your Instagram feed like I do at the bottom of my homepage) or an email icon (or link to your contact page.) Make sure that these icons are visible! You can put them in more than one place.


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
It's 2018! How is your branding looking for the new year? Do you have a logo, website and more that you absolutely love…or…not so much? If you’re not a design professional, branding might be something that you don’t love to do for your business or you simply don’t have time for, so let someone else take over! Sign-up below to receive the link to download my new and free PDF tool “Branding 101: What it is, what it isn’t and why you need it” — right now! This quick and simple guide will walk you through why it’s important to establish consistent and memorable branding within your biz — and if you can DIY some of it or if you should hire that professional. If you have any questions after going through it, let’s connect and chat some more!

5 ways to keep prospects on your website longer

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In the midst of this crazy, digital age, you might hear the argument that as long as you have a Facebook business page and are on social media platforms, you don’t need a website. First, that is totally untrue. If Facebook pulled the plug and disappeared tomorrow, all of your content, photos and followers would go with it — and what would you be left with?

A website is an absolutely necessary marketing platform to have. It’s a space that gives prospective clients a chance to learn more about your brand and what you can offer them. You also look more professional, legitimate and credible. Often, it can be tough enough to drive traffic TO your website — to check out all of those great things about you and your services, products, or both. Because of this, it’s even more important to KEEP those individuals on your website for as long as possible.

Here is a list of 5 easy ways that you can make sure that they stay:

1. Make it really clear who you are and what you do.
In the first few seconds, if it’s difficult for someone to figure out what your website (or business or blog) is about, they’re going to make a quick exit. Make sure that your logo and name is one of the first elements that they see — as well as some quick hits about your offers. For example, when someone visits my website, they should be able to quickly figure out that I’m a graphic designer, that I offer branding and monthly retainer services and that I primarily focus on working with feminine brands and female-driven small businesses. If someone isn’t looking for what I offer, we might not be a good fit in working together and that’s OK. But, if a female business coach is looking to go through a rebrand and she needs a quick turnaround, then I will probably be the right girl for the job. She will see that — and continue to click through to other pages — to learn more about me as a person, my pricing — and what months I have open to book package jobs.  

2. Provide a call to action — in more than one place.
A call to action is crucial if you want prospects to either keep following you or contact you in some way. This can be in the form of an email newsletter sign-up, an opt-in to download a freebie that will offer them some help and value — or something as simple as a link to your contact page. CTAs keep people interested in and in contact with you — even after they leave your website. They’ll take action if they like what they see and want to talk to you about a possible hire — and they’ll take action even if they don’t have the need or budget to afford you right now, but they might in the future. Or, they want to learn more about or from you. You can sprinkle these in a couple of different spots on each page, or at the end of each blog post. There really can never be too many! They can be a mix of embedded forms directly on the site — or pop-ups. You want to encourage them to call, email, subscribe, share, follow, download or buy.  

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3. Keep the design simple.
As a designer, of course I can’t stress this point enough. Simple design is always the best kind, whether it’s a logo, website, PDF, social media graphic or anything else. The less busy that a page is, the quicker that a visitor will be able to scan it. If the branding is on point, navigation is easy to follow and the visuals are engaging, people will definitely stay around longer.

4. And, the content short and sweet.
In a very similar way, keep the words simple as well. Make sure that sentences and paragraphs — and any blocks of copy — are easy to read and to the point. And, make sure that you’re not just throwing around fluff. Utilize the space for copy in a smart fashion — and make sure that you’re not saying things just to impress a prospect — language that might actually be over their head and difficult to understand. Let people know who you are, what you do and what you can offer THEM (it’s all about helping the client, after all) that they’re not going to find anywhere else, with anyone else. Let the words on the screen pack a punch that can be quickly absorbed — and leaves someone thinking, “I HAVE to talk to or work with (her)!”

5. Integrate photos + videos!
Just like good and simple design, photos and videos can help to greatly elevate a page’s dynamic, look and feel. People relate to people and like to see photos (or videos) of them. This is why I find that posting a photo on Facebook creates so much more engagement than just a status made up of words. People would truly rather read a couple of quick sentences about you and then literally SEE you. It’s just human nature and simply a golden rule of design — to keep a healthy balance between copy and imagery. And, although there are many who would still rather read books than watch movies, I’m a big believer that someone will watch a quick 2-minute video of you over reading an exceptionally long blog post or 4-5 paragraphs of lengthy copy about what you can offer them.   


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
It's 2018 — how is your branding looking? Would you like to give it a bit of a makeover or refresh? Do you have a logo, website and more that you absolutely love…or…not so much? If you’re not a design professional, branding might be something that you don’t love to do for your business or you simply don’t have time for, so let someone else take over! Sign-up below to receive the link to download my free PDF tool “Branding 101: What it is, what it isn’t and why you need it” — right now! This quick and simple guide will walk you through why it’s important to establish consistent and memorable branding within your biz — and if you can DIY some of it or if you should hire that professional. If you have any questions after going through it, let’s connect and chat some more!

3 ways to a foolproof web strategy

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When it comes to strategy, there is a strategy for everything out there. From content strategy to social media strategy, there seems to be a strategy for everything but your website.

When we are leading so many people to our website, we are forgetting that it needs a strategy in place, too. If we send them there without a clearly-defined path, often times, they will click off faster than we can say "wait a minute!" We forget that we need to also clearly define our audience, create that clearly-defined path and focus on the user experience.

Let’s chat about creating a foolproof web strategy that is going to help you capture more interest and produce better results with your website.

Crystal Clear Audience

If you have ever talked with a business coach, you will find they always talk about your target audience. We may roll our eyes, but when it comes to web strategy, it is incredibly important to make sure that we have a crystal clear picture of who are target audience is.

When it comes to web strategy, you have to understand who you want to work with. Repel and attract those you want to work with to help you better focus on getting those clients you want. Weeding them out with your website can save you (and them) a lot of time in the long run, so, why not?

Once you know your target audience, you can make sure to design your website for them. If you are looking to target middle to older age women, you will want to be considerate on font size and have a simpler website. For those who are looking to target a younger generation, have a website that is a bit more “hip” (as they say) — it will make sure you attract that age group.

Most importantly, you want to make sure you are speaking to their needs through your design. Make them desire to come to your website because they are attracted to what you have to offer. Allow them to feel what you want them to feel by making your website feel just for them.

Crystal Clear Path

There is nothing worse than being given a destination, but having no idea how to get there. Often times, this happens with websites. We know that we have a need (for example, help with social media) — but we fail to take people on a journey in regards to what is it like to work with us.

This is a crucial part of the process and we sometimes forget how it even works.

Help your web visitors out by defining a path for them to go down. Do not give them too many options...just enough for you to be able to describe what you do, how you work and how you can help them. It’s simple in these terms, but can be difficult to make happen with a website. This is why designing it to be clean, simple and easy to navigate is the way to go.

This can easily be done with obvious call to actions on every page. Focus on your visitors going on a journey through your website and have your website reflect this journey that you want them to go on. Make it obvious what you want them to do and how you want them to respond to your website.

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Crystal User Experience

Out of all of the aspects, I believe the user experience is an important part of this. If you are not catering to your exact target audience and providing them with a clear path, then you should at least have a website designed for the user experience portion.

In simple terms, your website should be user-friendly.

There are a couple of items that go into this that some people do not talk about. These include making sure that the colors of your website attract your audience, but do not hinder their experience. Nothing is worse than visiting a website just to be blinded by neon colors on top of neon colors — or white text against a black background. While these can be successfully executed on rare occasions, make sure that your website is clean and color-friendly.

Another important aspect that we must all consider with our website is optimization. You truly do need a website that can be viewable on any platform. This is incredibly important when it comes to serving your audience because the majority of them are on their smart devices! Having a website that is not mobile-friendly will cost you more than you know.

Lastly, consider your image versus text ratio. Focus on bringing the page to life with images that convey the feelings or the messages you are looking to bring to the table. Having the right images can make or break a website. Never go for low-quality or simple, generic stock photos. Have branded photography done or find photos of flat lays that are meant to attract your audience. There are quite a few places to receive stock photography including Haute Stock.

Conclusion

When it comes to web strategy, it is not too difficult to implement these steps into your current web design. The three components just discussed can take your strategy to the next level!


ASHLEY DELUCA is a digital marketing and web strategist who empowers female millennial entrepreneurs by creating a web design and foolproof strategy in 30 days. She enjoys eating cheese and playing with her two basset hound puppies when she is not glued to her laptop. You can find her at blankslatemediaconsulting.com.

7 perks of having a Squarespace website

Squarespace is an increasingly popular platform for building websites and I’ve been using it to build online homes for my clients’ businesses for the last 3-4 years. What is the appeal of it and the attraction to it? Too many to name, in my professional opinion. It’s the perfect drag and drop builder for getting a site up and running that still looks sophisticated and functions well. Below, I’m naming just a few perks to choosing it for your next website development and hosting project. 

1. Sleek and professional templates – no coding required!

Squarespace is known for its gorgeous templates. Just recently, they added several new ones to choose from. When it comes to templates, you might think that they’re generic and anyone else with a Squarespace account can have a site that looks like yours. However, you can customize a template in so many ways that it still looks unique. The template just gives you a skeleton to work from. You can move and adjust elements. And, if you know some code or you’re working with a designer who does, you can still inject HTML and CSS when and where you need to for an even more customized user experience. I often add dropdown menus or fixed navigation to my client sites (if they don’t come with the template to start) for a couple of additional bells and whistles that make the site more professional.

2. G-Suite and MailChimp are seamlessly integrated  

If you wish to use professional email from Google (like, name@name.com) and you purchase a business account, you can setup G-Suite free for the first year. After that, it’s a mere $5/month or $50/year if paid for upfront. You can add individual users within your Squarespace account and send emails to those accounts that walk them through the G-Suite dashboard setup. Also, if you use MailChimp for your email subscription platform, you can connect to it directly — via email sign-up forms on your site that connect to specific lists that you have setup within your MailChimp account.

3. Domain can be free for the first year

If you purchase your domain through Squarespace (with a paid annual business plan) it is actually free for the first year and then renews for a certain fee (usually $20) the following year, which is a nice bonus. Even if you have your domain through a third party like GoDaddy, you can still connect the site to the domain easily — it only takes a few seconds!

4. Easy to manage and update down the road  

My favorite thing about Squarespace (and the reason why I build my client sites on this platform) is its ease of updating after I’ve designed it. For many of my clients, I don’t necessarily continue to manage their sites for them after they are launched. But, at the end of our time of working together, I do walk them through (via a video conference and screen sharing) the back-end of their site. They learn how to change colors, fonts, insert or replace photos, add elements (like content blocks) or move them around, add blog posts and more — the basics that they’ll need to know in order to keep their website current. The drag and drop functionality is easy to figure out, as Squarespace is fairly intuitive and user-friendly. My clients can “learn as they go” and not be overwhelmed by the back-end of a site that is confusing and hard to navigate.  

5. Everything is already built-in for you

To add to the ease of managing a site once it’s finished, it’s good to know that Squarespace is an all-inclusive platform. Everything that you could possibly need for starting a site and getting it up and running is already built-in for you — things like analytics, some SEO, the SSL certificate, eCommerce and more are all features that you don’t have to worry about integrating yourself or through third-party apps.

6. Sites are responsive

Another great feature of Squarespace sites is the fact that they’re automatically mobile-friendly and responsive, meaning that they will scale to fit any size screen that they’re viewed on without any extra work from you!

7. Support is helpful  

Although there isn’t a phone number to call, the online support from Squarespace’s team is really great. I come across issues (often involving unique features or HTML code that I need to integrate into a template) and can always troubleshoot and find an answer using their “support” site. Rarely have I been stuck on something for very long, without being able to figure it out.


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
I got a question for ya. How is your branding looking? Do you have a logo, website and more that you absolutely love…or…not so much? If you’re not a design professional, branding might be something that you don’t love to do for your business or you simply don’t have time for, so let someone else take over! Sign-up below to receive the link to download my new and free PDF tool “Branding 101: What it is, what it isn’t and why you need it” — right now! This quick and simple guide will walk you through why it’s important to establish consistent and memorable branding within your biz — and if you can DIY some of it or if you should hire that professional. If you have any questions after going through it, let’s connect and chat some more!