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How to Set Your Website for Success in the New Year

Of all the places your brand is online, your website is the one you own and have full control over. 

A business's online presence is usually widespread, with its brand appearing on multiple platforms, including social media, press features, and review sites. However, of all the places your brand is online, your website is the one you own and have full control over. 

On social media, you're always going to battle with algorithms—and, if the day comes where a social media platform shuts down, your profile will go along with it. When it comes to third-party press, you might influence the content, but, ultimately, you don't have the right to change and update features as needed. If your words are taken out of context, there's little you can do besides reach out to an editor and ask for an edit or a retraction. 

Your website, on the other hand, belongs to you. From your homepage to every blog post, you have full say over what does and doesn't make it onto the site. Thus, it's your single most valuable tool for sales and marketing purposes.  

If you plan on making adjustments to your website for a successful year to come, keep these considerations in mind while evaluating and updating your content. 

Start with the basics. 

It can feel overwhelming to tackle every aspect of a website at once, so if you're starting out, stick to ensuring the basics are present. Make it easy to connect with you by providing contact information and an inquiry form. Use your homepage to set the tone of your visitors' experience with fantastic imagery, a clear statement about what you do, and a call to action that leads them to the next step of your buyers' journey. The rest can come later as you refine and enhance your website, but with these simple details, you're off to a great start. 

Tell your story. 

Your clients want to work with you for a reason. Your brand is not just about your products and service, but who you are. You are an integral piece of your work, and it helps prospective clients to get to know your brand when they can see a person (or team) behind the brand. Your About page should be a place to tell the story of how you got where you are today, share professional accomplishments, and express your passions about what you do. It's your chance to reveal your personality and provide prospects with the opportunity to connect with you on a personal level. 

Share your creative process. 

Potential clients want to know more about how you’ll get them from point A to point B, so it’s important to walk them through the client experience and what they can expect when interacting with you. Use your website to provide them with a window into your work and showcase what truly makes you and your brand unique. Reveal your key inspirations and the steps you take from ideation to final production; these details will instill visitors' confidence as they navigate the decision-making process.

Provide pricing when possible.  

When a prospect lands on your website, the first question in their mind is often whether or not they can afford your services. Sharing pricing information on your website helps to qualify your inquiries and avoid opening up conversations with those that aren’t in your target market. A lack of pricing is one of the biggest reasons I see businesses lose inquiries. While you might not provide exact pricing for custom services, it helps to share at least a base price for packages with an example of what is included. At the very least, it gives people an idea of what to expect when speaking with you, at which point you can provide a more detailed estimate.

Evaluate your website’s user experience. 

Visit your website from the perspective of a potential client. Is the structure of it clear and easy to navigate? Having a clear hierarchy and using plain language free of jargon helps users to navigate your website better. It also allows you to have more control over their path to your contact page. Take some time to review your key competitors; remember that clients will likely be reviewing your work alongside others, so they'll look for quick ways to compare information, and your website should measure up as a strong contender. 

If you operate an e-commerce website, it is particularly important to optimize the shopping experience because consumers will compare your website to those they are most familiar with. Thus, it cannot be confusing or complex to shop on your site, or else they'll go to another space to buy what they need. Be sure to include information about shipping, returns, refunds, and website policies for your customers to find easily, as well as processing time so your customers can make smart purchasing decisions.  

Set up benchmarks for success. 

Benchmarks are a powerful way to hold you accountable to progress and keep you motivated to succeed. Every time you check-in with your website, you'll be able to assess how well you're performing quickly—whether that's traffic, inquiries, conversions, email sign-ups, or blog post views. When you don't have goals for your website, there is a lack of clarity around what "success" looks like, and you won't know where to spend the time that is creating real value for your business.  

Revisit your website regularly. 

Once you've enhanced your website to its fullest, it's essential to keep revising and reassessing your website with your benchmarks. By looking at your website frequently, you can identify gaps, optimize messaging, and make smaller changes along the way. If you've made changes in your sales or marketing processes, consistent reviews can reveal how successful those efforts have been. Aim to reevaluate your website quarterly at a minimum, but ideally, a monthly review will keep you on the right track for success. 

All of this to say: done is better than perfect. It's natural for creatives to want to hold onto things until they are considered 100% perfect before sharing with the world. However, this could mean that you are missing out on inquiries and sales when it comes to your website.  

Websites are ever-changing spaces, so having anything up and tweaking it as you go will be far more beneficial than waiting months until you've perfected that headline or uploaded that perfect photo. Our customers don't know what a "perfect" website is—they evaluate the site while on it and decide if you make the cut. Do what you need to do to get a decent website up and, from there, continue the process to refine and enhance your site as needed. 

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