11 min read
Today I want to talk to you about your website, specifically, I want to talk to you about designing your own website. There are more tools than ever today for being able to design your own website. Entrepreneurs all over are doing it themselves. Your products need to sell and the people who land on your site need to trust you. Your message needs to resonate with them. This all happens through the design.
So how can an entrepreneur without any training in design do this by themselves? That’s what I want to talk about today. I’ve got a few ideas I want to walk you through and then some practical tips.
There’s a lot of things you want for your website and a lot of things you think you need. These principles are going to help guide you, center you, and ground you in what really matters for your website. These principles will help you understand what good design actually does.
When we talk about what design really does, you have to start with trust, because design builds trust. When I land on your website, I want to tell in a second or two if you’re trustworthy. You’re used to seeing this across the web.
You land on a site and immediately know that you don’t like what you see and you don’t ever want to give them your email address let alone your credit card information. That is communicated through the design and through the message.
Design should help you connect with your audience. It’s the difference between losing a reader or having them track with you. That is resonating. When you get someone on the other side of the Internet landing on your website and they’re begging you to tell them more. We need our web design to help us resonate with our audience.
We need to nudge our audience toward taking certain actions. This is how our business survives. It might be getting on your email list or it might be purchasing a product. Different businesses have different goals and different action that they’re asking their customers to take. But on your website, you will want people to take action. Good design of your site will help nudge them toward taking that action.
Now, I’ve been a designer for a long time and I’ve designed a lot of different kinds of sites, but I will tell you this– your web design (the trust, the resonance, the action that it’s going to help people take on your site) all of this is about the effectiveness of your site.
It’s not about the fanciness. It’s not about the prettiness. It’s not about the sexiness or anything like that. When it comes to design, choose effectiveness every time. I just bring that up because a lot of people are trying to make their websites look a certain way and they have no clue how it’s going to work. I want you as an entrepreneur to be thinking, “How is this going to work? How effective is this going to be?”
Now, of course you want the design of your site to look amazing. But simmer down on that because, yes, while you do want it to look amazing, you don’t know how to do that yet. Can you stomach that for a second? As a young business you don’t have the funds to pay for someone who can make your site look amazing. And you might also not have the design skills to make it work.
Because of all this, I want you to focus on simplicity.
Clutter is confusing. When you want your website to look amazing you tend to start adding more stuff to it. But this clutter is sending all sorts of visual cues and you’re probably signaling a lot of confusing things that visitors are trying to understand and they’re not resonating. So I want you to focus on simplicity in your design.
Now I know some of you are thinking, “If I go too simple, how am I going to stand out from my competition?”
It’s a great question because standing out from the crowd is one of the most important elements of modern business and the truth is you’re going to stand out with your message, your unique selling point. Your compelling reason why your reader would buy your product instead of the others that exist is because your messaging will hit home with them.
It’s about your message and that’s where you’re going to stand out.
Now that we’ve covered what design should help you accomplish, let me tell you how to make that happen for your website.
Squarespace, WordPress, Shopify– all these places have templates. Normally there’s many different templates to choose from, but what I want you to find one that you can use. It doesn’t need to be perfect or what you want your site to look like in five years. It just needs to work for what you have right now.
One of the reasons why I like this so much is because people who know how to design things are oftentimes designing these templates. That means the design across your site will look relatively similar and consistent– this is one of those things that matters with trust.
Because you want simplicity and clarity, these built-in or premade templates are all you need. They make everything on your site feel like it goes together. But what’s really important here is that you find something you don’t need to customize too much. I don’t want you fiddling with this thing. All you need is your logo, your images, and your copywriting. You need to get your website out into the world without deliberating over all sorts of stuff.
It will also help you go straight into the things that matter more like whether or not your product is really meeting your customer’s needs, or talking to customers, or following up with people who have purchased your product.
Design servers your message and your message is like your business goals. My business goal on fizzle.co is that I want you to land there and sign up for Fizzle membership. That’s the action I want you to take, but in order for you to feel comfortable doing that, I have to show you or talk to you about certain things to get that point across.
For example, I first need to ask if you’re even interested in starting a business, then what your goals are, and then I can start pitching you Fizzle after we qualify each other through a few more questions and I tell you what Fizzle is all about and how we can help you solve your small business problems.
That’s how I get someone to the sale. This means we don’t fit our message into our design, we make our design serve our message because our message is like our unique selling position– and that’s what’s going to resonate with people.
We are visual creatures by nature, so having an image that powerfully communicates your message is a must. If you have an image that gets my attention and sucks me in, it can be way more effective than text. However, it can also be more clutter.
I want you to be careful with your images. A lot of stock images can feel very cheesy. I would say err on the side of simplicity and clarity again for your images. Maybe sometimes it’s better to just have a clear headline and use typography to make it seem interesting.
Two quick tricks on using images:
On your website you’re hoping that your visitors take some action. This is how business works online. You'd be surprised how many entrepreneurs aren't clear enough with the action they're trying to get you to take on their website.
Now, different businesses have different goals and different actions that they're requiring, so you need to think very clearly about what action you're asking your customers to take when they visit your website.
A couple tips:
All right, with these four guidelines you can design a website that is effective, that resonates with our audience, and gets them to take action even if you don't have design skills. If you feel really strongly about some image or typography or color, you can break some of these guidelines. But remember, these guidelines are here and that they're put here by someone who's worked on lots of websites and worked with lots of entrepreneurs.
One more thing, countless entrepreneurs just find themselves fiddling with their website. So I want to ask you this one question in closing.
How will you know if your website is working?
Not how will you know if it looks amazing or how will you know if you feel good about it. But how will you know if your website is working?
Like I said, of course we want our websites to look good. We all want to look successful, right? And a website is such a big part of that, but this website has a really important job to do besides making us feel successful, it's being effective. So how are you going to know? Think about it. How will you know if your website is working?