Banker Creative’s Web Design Philosophy
Aug 10, 2022
How to build a website
Talk to ten different marketing agencies and you’ll get ten different answers to the question, “What is the most important thing for web design?” You want your website to stand out. You want your website to be effective… unless you’re this company who apparently created a website out of pure spite: http://itcorp.com/. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that, unlike those guys, you actually do want a nice website.
This guide will walk you through what WE think is important, and why. Our hope is that the words we put to these concepts will help you as you decide what is most important to you.
What do you want your website to do?
This question is so simple that it can often be overlooked, but it is critically important if you want an effective website strategy. Simply put: what do you want your website to do?
There are a few different types of websites: marketing sites, ecommerce sites, resource sites. Oh, and then there’s this monstrosity of a site: https://www.art.yale.edu/ Why Yale? Why?
Most of the companies we work with just need a simple Marketing website. That is, they need to walk their ideal customer through a standardized process that guides them to a sale. Since it is our area of expertise, we feel pretty confidently speaking about what you’ll need to think about.
- The purpose of your website is sales. Nothing else. Every choice you make should be about what will lead to more sales. Whether you are selling products or services, it’s still the same.
- What does your sales process look like? How do you want your prospects to get connected with your sales team? Contact form? Submission to Active Campaign? Calendly Scheduler? Do you offer a free consultation? Why not? What information do you need to grab at first point of contact?
- What do you want your prospects to do if they’re not ready to commit to a sale? How do you want to keep them connected.
Whatever else you’re doing in your marketing strategy, an effective website is going to make everything else better and simpler.
You’ve only got seven seconds. Go.
Here’s a bit of tough-love: people don’t care about your company – at least, not yet. They are only on your website to see if you might be a solution to their problems. But there are a million other websites to check out, so if you don’t make a connection with them in 5-7 seconds, they’re out. They’ve already clicked away from your page. On to a new company website.
If you don’t find a way to engage with your prospective customers, it doesn’t matter how good the design is, how cool that custom feature is, or how profound your mission statement is. You need to find a way to capture their attention. And do it fast. Here’s how.
Words first: Here’s how to order your homepage from header to value stack
A bad User Experience will send site visitors running faster than Jeff Goldblum with a T-rex casing down his Jeep. Bad design will communicate to site visitors that you aren’t professional and will communicate “I’m not taking this seriously” faster than a 18year old showing up to an interview with holey jeans and a sleeveless t-shirt. But if you want to keep site visitors around long enough to make a connection… It’s all about the words you use.
- A big, compelling, concise Hero Header. The emotion you want them to feel is, “Oh, they get it.”
- A more descriptive, clarifying Hero Subheader. Here you can worry less about an emotional connection and focus more on clarifying exactly who you are and what you offer. For SEO purposes, this is often going to be your H1 even though it is less prominent, visually.
- Create a value stack. List three things that start to paint a picture of what success could look like. There are things that add value for your prospective client.
And that’s about it. If they’ve even glanced at those three things, your seven seconds are gone.
In addition to words, have a compelling image of a person smiling who represents your ideal client. You want them to see themselves in that photo, but on the other side of “success.”
People don’t read websites. They scan them.
Let’s try a little experiment. Look at this home page real quick before you keep reading.
How much of the page copy did you actually read? Did you read every line or did you glance at the headings? Unless you’re one of those crazy people who goes to a coffee shop by yourself and sits around without looking at your phone for hours on end, you glanced at headings and call-out boxes to get the gist of what’s being said. Most likely, you scrolled the page quickly to see if anything actually interests you. This is how people engage with websites. Don’t expect anything else from your site visitors.
- Establish a font hierarchy. You want the biggest and boldest words on the page to give them an overview of that entire section because 80% of the time they’re not going to read the paragraph copy. Their brains are very speedily filtering out information. “Is this content worth the calories it would take to read it? Probs not. Move along.”
- Use icons and images to communicate ideas/feelings without words. If they feel curiosity, they MIGHT read the content in that section.
3 Bowling Balls: Why your audience needs one thing to focus on.
Here’s something you should know about your brain (and everyone else’s). It has limits. Typically, a human can process 1-3 ideas at a time. Give them a 4th idea and their brain dumps EVERYTHING. Ideally, your website will only ask 1-2 things of your site visitors.
#1: Your primary call to action. There should be NO confusion about what you want them to do. “Schedule a call… Book a session… Let’s Talk…” Pick something clear and concise. Don’t get creative here, get clear.
#2. A transitionary call to action. Not everyone is ready to “go on a date” with you after clicking through a few pages. Like any woman on a dating app, most people have had enough bad experiences with Sales People, that they are nervous about contacting you. Don’t begrudge people for this, you need to offer them a lower-investment offer as an alternative. “Download our free ebook… Get a Free Website Review… Watch our webinar…” This will provide a way for your potential customer to stay connected to you as they decide if you are a trustworthy company to solve their problem.
Basic Site Plan
Our baseline website structure is a 10 page website. A lot of people don’t understand why they would need 10 pages, while other can imagine having only 10 pages! It all depends on what kind of company you are and what you’re trying to achieve. But, here’s our bare-minimum recommendation:
- Home Page
This is your main marketing platform. You want to customize your StoryBrand BrandScript to fit onto this page. Go easy on the copy here. You’re not trying to say EVERYTHING, you’re trying to say 1-2 things. If they want to dig deeper, they’re click through to your interior pages.
- About Page
You don’t need an 18 paragraph history of your company. Keep it simple. If you’re banking on the “small town, family business” brand, give a brief history. 200 words should do it. Add a TEAM section (smiley headshots!) and maybe some logos of clients you’ve helped.
- Services Page
Most companies offer more than one service. Create a parent page that lays out all the services with very brief explanations. Add “Read more…” links if you want to create specific landing pages for each service. This is especially effective if you want those pages SEO Optimized for that specific service.
- Blog Page
Writing a blog can be very helpful, especially if you have a SEO focused marketing strategy. Write blog posts that address things that people are searching for in Google. Look into the tool “Ubersuggest” for more help on which keywords to focus on.
- Contact Page
A website is useless if you don’t have a clear path to contact your sales team. Submitting a simple contact form is the most common way that people take steps toward a sale. Another good option is to embed and calender scheduler like “Calendly” straight on your contact page.
Chicken or Egg? UX, Design, or messaging?
If you’re anything like me, you’re spending dozens of hours on social media debating with other web designers and developers about what the most important part of a website is. I know… riveting, right?!
User Experience (UX), Design, or messaging. Who wins the cake? At the end of the day, they are all important. I think the more helpful contribution to this eternal debate would be recognizing each piece’s unique contribution.
UX: This centers on how a customer feels when they are on your site. The main feelings UX tries to solve/avoid are: Confusion, Frustration, and Overwhelm. There are many factors to UX design. Page layout, button positioning, animations (what kind and how often?), and, most of all, functionality. If a website doesn’t function the way people expect it to, they get frustrated and leave.
A bad UX design sends people clicking away from you site faster than a coyote chasing a road runner. A good UX design instills a sense of peace and contentment that gives your site visitors enough TIME to engage with your content.
Design: Your website design communicates a lot about your company. It portrays a company aesthetic and culture without using words. And, remember, people don’t read websites, they scan them. Design speaks without speaking.
A bad design communicates that your company is outdated, unprofessional, and/or unsuccessful (only successful companies have the money to invest in good web design, right?). Good website design drips with professionalism and a sense of being in touch with the modern, ever-changing world. People can pick up on a website feeling old and outdated even if they don’t have the words to describe it that way. Here’s three things you can do to improve your website design today.
Messaging: If web design was a sports team, UX would be the overall team culture, design would be the team’s skills, and messaging would be the execution. Messaging is what takes all the connection points you’ve made through both UX and Design and brings it all home for the win. If your website doesn’t convert to more sales, there’s no point in having a website.
Words sell. That’s why we prioritize hiring StoryBrand Guides who specialize in specific, niche industries. They know their stuff and they’re ready to help you win.
How does social media play with your website?
So you have a million followers on TikTok? Cool, cool, cool. Me too. Totally. But, what do you do with all those followers? This really necessitates an in depth conversation with a marketing strategist, but let me at least speak to the basic.
Social media should push people to your website, not the other way around. Social media is where you engage with prospects, build an audience, and sometimes promote events. But, when it comes to landing an actual sale, that is going to happen on your website.
Client A (for Awesome) sees a fun, interesting, or profound post by Company B (for… B**chin?) on the Social Medias. Client A is intrigued! “What is Company B all about?” Once curiosity is peaked, they are going want to find out if you’re the real deal or not. To do that, they are likely going to click through to your website. It’s through your website that you are going to build trust, address their anxieties, and offer a simple plan to achieve success.
If Client A finds your website through a google search or direct reference, there’s no reason to send them to your social media feeds. You already have them engaging with your primarily online sales tool. Don’t send them backwards in the sales flow.
Do you need a blog?
No one is going to come to your website looking for blog articles to read. So, what’s the point?! A blog needs to be part of you bigger online marketing strategy. Specifically, your SEO strategy. Blog posts can be really great for targeting specific keywords that people are searching for in your industry.
Google loves websites that are updated regularly and have well written, interesting content. If you are using SEO as part of your online marketing strategy, blogging is a must. Not sure what to write about? Here are some ideas:
- Case Studies.
Write about past clients or projects. Find a keyword that people are searching for and incorporate that into your H1/H2 tags and use the same keyword throughout your post.
Is it easier for you to speak than write? Record yourself talking about your industry, target a keyword, and get a transcription program (we use Descript) to do the heavy lifting. Post the audio and transcription as a blog post. You can even push your podcast to Apple/Spotify and become a legit podcaster! It’s a great way to both grow your audience AND help with your Google ranking.
- Best Practice lists.
You know your industry. What are some of the things that you find yourself always telling clients? Write about it! Or, record yourself talking about it and hire a copywriter to translate your brain-dump into a blog post.
If you have a website, you should be gathering analytics data. Even if you don’t know what to do with the data yet, hop over to Google Analytics and get set up. Once you’re ready to talk to a marketing strategist, that data will be invaluable.
This is another area where you will likely need professional help interpreting and applying best practices. Here’s something to think about while you’re looking at your analytics data:
- Where does your site traffic come from? Invest first in traffic sources that are already working.
- Direct (typing your URL directly into their browser or through bookmarks)
- Organic Search
- Paid Search
- Organic and Paid Social
- Referral (other sites linking to yours)
- Is your website converting? If you have site traffic, but no one is filling out your contact form, you have a conversion problem.
- Set up your analytics to track when people land on your contact page and post-contact-form thank you page.
- Install an A/B testing plugin and try out some different Call-to-action buttons. You will get some great data pointing you in a more effective direction.
- If your website has very little traffic, you have bigger problems to solve.
- Analytics may be misleading! Again, this comes back to your overall marketing strategy, but a LOT of your best referrals are going to come from someone asking their friends for a recommendation. That’s not something analytics can track. It’s called Dark Social. It happens in emails, text messages, and on individual’s private social feeds. The best thing you can do is
Want more about Analytics? How to Read Google Analytics.
Cost & Return on investment
According to a Gartner survey, marketing budgets jumped from 6.4% in 2021 to 9.5% of company revenue (which is still lower than pre-pandemic numbers).
Anyone who tells you what you should be spending on marketing without getting to know your company first is just throwing numbers into the void in order to impress you and land a sale. My advice: don’t work with sleazy sales people. Find someone who is going to ask you these questions:
- What stage is your business in?
Are you a start-up? Are you 10 years in? Are you a multi-generational company? These things will impact how much you want to spend on your marketing, in general, and your website specifically.
- What industry are you in?
Financial Services tend to spend more on marketing than other industries, where Travel & Hospitality tend to spend less.
- What kind of marketing have you tried and what has worked?
Red flag: They make you feel dumb for what you’ve been doing so far. Gree flag: they are curious and see your past ventures as really helpful data.
But, how do I go about figuring out my budget for a website redesign?
Step 1: Figure out your overall marketing budget.
Your marketing spend pays for three things: Strategy (brain work), time (tasks), and platform (technology). A lot of people have unrealistic expectations for what it costs to do good marketing. Read more here: How much does marketing cost?
Step 2: Invest in a website redesign
A good website will make all your other marketing easier. If you are thinking about redoing your website, you need to devote a large chuck of your marketing budget to that venture. It will pay off over the next few years.
Example: You are a small company trying to start a new marketing push. You have $500k of revenue and set 5% of that aside for marketing. You have $25k for your entire year’s marketing budget. Spend $16k on a new website (How Much Does a Storybrand Website Cost?). Once that has launched, set aside $500/mth toward google ads (to generate traffic and increase your SEO ranking). Spend the rest on social media marketing (Prioritize LinkedIn if you are a B2B company). This will be a good start, but remember, marketing is not quick. Play the long game. Let your strategy run for a few months before you decide if it is or isn’t working.
Step 3: Collect data and adjust
Set up AB test. Gather data on your ads and organic social media posts. Pay attention to which pages are engaging site visitors well. Collect, analyze, adjust, then wait. Repeat every three months.
What does Banker Creative charge for websites? Find out here.
Websites are effective, and helpful sales tools. They might seem complex, confusing, and even annoying – but they don’t have to be. Using a standardized web design philosophy like this can really help clarify the vision of what your website should be. So much goes into making a good website that leads to more sales, it’s important to have a picture of what you want it to look like before you start. That’s why the best thing you can do for yourself is find some you trust to guide you through the process. You don’t have to do this alone.
When you’re ready, we’re here to help!
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