When you think about web design, flawless photos and a gorgeous color scheme may come to mind. But, while those are necessary website components, your site should be more than just beautiful; it must also be strategic. In other words, your website should include relevant, helpful content with a straightforward navigation that makes it easy for visitors to buy or learn more.
Every creative entrepreneur should have a strategic website because your website is the best way for people to find you and learn about the valuable solutions that you offer. And, by creating a website with excellent copy and user-friendly design, you’ll give customers a preview of the pleasant, professional experience they can look forward to when they work with you.
Friend, I know it’s tough for creatives to find time to build an entire strategic website! That’s why Octavia Elease, a ShowIt web designer, works with creative entrepreneurs so they can save time and communicate their value with websites designed with the customer in mind.
Octavia is an Atlanta-based, Disney-loving designer and educator who enjoys pouring into the creative community and helping her clients grow their businesses. With a focus on brand storytelling and modern aesthetics, Octavia builds strategic websites that allow creative entrepreneurs to reach, engage, and convert their dream customers.
What items must be on a creative entrepreneur’s homepage to convert website visitors into customers?
While your website will include more than a homepage, your homepage is especially important because it allows you to make a fantastic first impression on your soon-to-be customers. By writing relevant, helpful content throughout the page, you can tell your prospects who you are, what you do, and how they can work with you. And, including strategic (and beautiful) design elements will give your visitors a great user experience as soon as they land on your homepage.
Here are 12 strategic items Octavia recommends including on your homepage:
1. An Easy Navigation (AKA Menu)
Your main menu will probably include pages like Home, About Me, Services, Schedule a Consultation, and so on. Octavia recommends limiting your navigation to five or six menu items; any more will overwhelm viewers. You should also include your company logo in the menu, as well as a call-to-action (CTA) button that encourages customers to make a buying decision.
2. Clear Call-to-Action (CTA) Buttons
CTA buttons tell your customers what to do next (like Buy Now, Schedule a Consult, Donate, etc.). Octavia tells us that people should know exactly what will happen when they click on a CTA button—for example, if you’re a jewelry designer, the CTA “See Our Jewelry” is clearer and more effective than “Discover the Difference.” Octavia also recommends having a CTA button in almost every section to remind visitors how they can partner with you.
3. A Hero Image & One-Liner
A hero image, or the banner photo at the top of your homepage, should have something to do with your business. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, your hero image could be a romantic photo of a bride and groom that you took on their wedding day.
Octavia suggests hiring a brand photographer if you need a professional, on-brand hero image. And, you should also have a one-liner (AKA a single sentence) that conveys the message, “I can help you make [fill in the blank with a positive outcome] happen.”
4. Your Customer’s Problem & Pain Points
After you’ve introduced your business and the positive outcome you can help clients achieve, you should empathize with pain points your audience is trying to resolve. For instance, if you’re a copywriter, you can address your customer’s frustration with having limited free time to write content. To relate to your reader’s problem (and how that makes them feel), you can say something like, “You shouldn’t have to worry about squeezing copywriting into an already packed schedule.”
5. Successes (AKA Value Propositions)
Once you’ve addressed your visitors’ pain points, you can propose your products or services as a solution to the problem they’re facing. Octavia suggests listing successes your prospects will enjoy if they choose to work with you (AKA value propositions). Using our previous example of a copywriter, the successes your clients can expect may be: 1) More time back in their day, 2) prompt communication, and 3) professional copywriting for their business.
6. Testimonials with Photos
By displaying positive reviews on your home page, you’ll let website visitors know that others have become happy customers and have solved problems by working with you. Along with these testimonials, Octavia recommends including photos of the customers who’ve given reviews because people connect with other people more than words on a screen alone.
7. A Three-Step Process
After you’ve given social proof (AKA testimonials) that your business has helped others solve problems, give your website visitors a step-by-step process to tell them how they can work with you. Octavia recommends limiting this section to three steps to make the process as easy as possible for the reader. For example, if you’re a hairstylist, your three steps might be: 1) Book an appointment. 2) Tell me what hairstyle you’d like. 3) Leave the salon with hair you love.
8. An “About My Business” Section
Having an “About My Business” section on your homepage gives you the chance to tell visitors that you’ve been in their shoes—and that they can solve problems and improve their lives by working with you. But, Octavia reminds us that this isn’t the place for an “All About Me” paragraph (like your favorite coffee order, where you grew up, etc.). You can include those things on your “About Me” page, but the “About My Business” section should strictly be about your business solutions.
9. Your Pricing
After your “About My Business” section, Octavia suggests providing details about your offer so customers can understand the full benefits they’ll enjoy with their investment. You should also include starting prices for your offer so people know what to expect financially when they choose your products or services.
10. An Opt-In
In this section, you can include an opt-in form that allows customers to enter their email addresses and sign up for your newsletter or download a free PDF. Opt-ins let your customers qualify themselves as leads who want to receive additional content from you, and you’ll get the chance to collect names and email addresses from these leads.
11. A Final CTA
Octavia recommends including one last CTA at the bottom of your homepage. Some visitors will have already clicked on a CTA button earlier, but others will want to scroll through the page to learn more about your business before they make a buying decision. But, once they’re ready to commit, having a final CTA button will make it easy for your prospect to do so.
12. A Footer
Your website’s footer (or the very bottom of the homepage) is a great place for any links that didn’t make it into the main menu—such as About Me, Career Opportunities, Terms & Conditions, and so on. You can also include your business address, phone number, hours of operation, and contact form in the footer.
Who should create their own websites, & who should work with a web designer (& a copywriter)?
“Well, everyone needs to work with a web designer!” Octavia tells us. Even if a designer isn’t building your whole website, spending a couple of hours with one to comb through your site and make any necessary changes before you launch makes a big difference. Whether you create your own website or hire a web designer, you can build a beautiful, strategic, conversion-focused site with the help of a professional’s technical skills and expert opinion.
If you’re not able (or willing) to build your own site, it’s okay (and smart) to hire a web designer. But, if the thought of creating a website excites you, and you have the skills to make it happen, Octavia would encourage you to go for it. “Web designing is hard work and takes a long time, but it can be great fun!” she says.
For DIYers, Octavia recommends ShowIt —the platform she uses—for building websites. ShowIt gives you creative freedom, lets you design for mobile and desktop, and doesn’t require much coding. Octavia also loves ShowIt because it provides excellent customer support and community for fellow web designers and creative entrepreneurs.
No matter how you design your website, Octavia strongly suggests hiring a professional copywriter to save time (and money in the long run). But, if you do write your own copy, you need to communicate well throughout your website, with language people can easily understand and relate to. For example, Octavia tells us to avoid industry jargon like “timeless wedding photographer.” Instead, you can say, “I’ll take photos that your family will cherish for generations to come.” With clear communication—from you or a copywriter—you’ll connect with your target audience by speaking directly to their needs and emotions.
What web design mistakes should creative entrepreneurs avoid (whether they build their own site or hire a web designer)?
Octavia sees creative entrepreneurs make a few common mistakes while designing their websites that can deter visitors from becoming customers (or at least negatively impact their user experience). Whether you work with a web designer or build your own site, you should avoid the following pitfalls (or correct them with the actions below):
- Having an inconsistent brand (Limit your fonts, and stick to your company’s color scheme.)
- Not having enough CTAs on your homepage (Add these in so customers know what step to take to work with or buy from you.)
- Using hard-to-read script fonts (But, you can occasionally accent with these.)
- Uploading poor-quality images or cell phone selfies to your homepage (You can fix this by hiring a brand photographer and using quality stock photos.)
- Having broken links that lead to 404 errors (Adding redirects will solve this problem.)
- Not optimizing your website for mobile (A responsive web design will allow customers to browse your site anytime, anywhere.)
- Not using page or image SEO (Optimizing your homepage title and photos can improve your Google ranking and help more customers find you online.)
- Using ineffective copy (Hiring a professional copywriter will allow you to clarify your message and properly communicate with website visitors.)
Friend, I hope this episode has inspired you to create (or update) your strategic website to communicate your value and grow your business. By following these helpful tips from Octavia and building a homepage with your target audience in mind, you’ll convert website visitors into customers in no time!
Want to hear more from Octavia?
To connect with Octavia or learn more about her web design services, visit her website, octaviaeleasedesigns.com, and her Facebook page. You can also join the Boost Your Brand Facebook group and follow Octavia on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.
Links & Resources Mentioned in This Episode
- Marketing Made Simple by Donald Miller
- Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller
- Receive 50% Off Your First Order with Photographer’s Edit
- Join the Priority Pursuit Facebook Community
- Follow or DM Victoria on Instagram