Research Paper By Heather Skomp
(Life Coach, UNITED STATES)
Fortunately for most designers, website owners don’t realize a website is ineffectual until they don’t get the results they were hoping for. The website users (i.e. your customers) don’t know a website is ineffectual until they are on it and can’t find what they are looking for. The user/customer might at first be mesmerized by and admiring of all the pretty moving images, but after the obligatory three seconds most of them allot to a given page, their minds are already drifting on to locate what they came there to find. Users simply do not have the time, energy or inclination to wade through a slew of pretty images and cute font-y headlines only to discover that the site they are on may or may not actually provide a solution to the problem they are desperate to solve. So users move on.
By this time, of course, the designer has already been paid and has moved on to their next project. But as coaches – and as website owners – we can not afford to lose an active potential customer once we are lucky enough to get them to our websites. Our websites must be effective, as well as pretty.
There is a giant gap between the designer and the end customer, and that gap is filled by – or more rather, obstructed by – you: the website owner.
As a website developer by trade, I have been building websites for small business clients for about fifteen years. As a result, I have had quite a lot of experience working with people to create an effective online presence. Unfortunately, few clients actually implement smart design when it comes to what they should or should not put on their site. They listen to my suggestions and very often agree with me, but by the end of the project – in spite of what we may have discussed at the beginning – they have created a site that does not speak to their customers. Why? Because my website clients want what they want… not what their customers want. And therein lies the failure.
(And since it is my job to give my clients what they want… well, you get the picture)
Don’t let this be you.
What Most Coaches Are Doing Wrong With Their Websites
Most coaches (and in fact, most business owners) do not know what they are doing wrong with their websites. Naturally they don’t, unless they are website developers or marketers in their general business lives. It’s not your fault. But it is your responsibility to find out – if you want to be successful online – what works and what doesn’t work in the online world to attract and keep your favorite customers. Going along like an ignoramus and blaming the entire world for why you aren’t making any money online is not the answer.
So what are coaches doing wrong with their websites? Read on.
They don’t know what they don’t know about website design and development
This one can be a big problem, and it is not entirely one that is the fault of the website owner. There are so many folks out there telling people that putting up a website can be done in ten minutes, with no technical know-how at all, it can be done in just a few clicks or drags and drops – and all for FREE! – that new site owners are sadly misled about quite what is involved in designing, building, and owning a well-functioning website. This problem is common among nearly all small business owners, but coaches tend to fall into this pit more often than other business owners, primarily because many coaches have no experience (or desire to have any) with this kind of technology, or knowledge of the power of this particular marketing medium, from their prior work experience. And why should they? Their business is helping people with problems, not writing and programming automated email responders.
However, if you want to be a successful coach and business owner, you must be willing to learn at least the basics about this very important – if not the most important – element of your entrepreneurial arsenal. It could make or break your business. It must be taken seriously.
One of the first and most important pieces of information site owners need to know is that creating a website is complicated. It is not easy peasy lemon squeezy. A website is a custom-made piece of software, developed just for you and your business. You can not buy it off the shelf like Excel or Word. There are many components involved in getting a website to return the results you intend. You can’t just go to Weebly or Wix or even WordPress.com and follow their instructions and instantly have a website that will work for your needs. You may have a website, for sure, but if you don’t know what you don’t know, you won’t know why at the end of the day you are not getting the outcome that you were hoping for. Having a website up on the internet isn’t enough. It has to be a good website. It has to meet your customers needs. And to create a good website, you must be willing to learn about how a website works, what you want and need it to do, who your clients are, and what they want. You cannot just wing this step. You can build a good website at Weebly or Wix or WordPress.com, but you must know what a good website requires in order to do it. Research all you can about online marketing and what is involved in building a website, even if you have no intention of building it yourself. There are endless free sources of information on this topic; all you need to do is devote some time to it. Having the knowledge will help you a hundredfold even if you decide to hire out the development of your site.
But one of the biggest problems coaches don’t know that they don’t know is about good design. There is nothing more off-putting to a potential coaching client than a website that looks like it was made by a sixteen-year old. Or worse, something from the late 1990s. I have seen so many coaching websites that look amateurish (and have often had to redesign them), and the owner has no idea that it looks this way. They never know because no one of importance (i.e. their potential customers) will tell them. And an amateurish website makes customers run faster than being chased by a grizzly bear. No one wants to spend money with a coach who doesn’t have a professional, well-designed website as [possibly] their first impression of that coach. Think about it. If your site looks like you spent $400 on it, how can you expect anyone to spend $1000 on one of your programs?
So do your research. Look up successful coaches and notice patterns in their websites. Look at the layouts, the imagery, and the copy. It won’t take long to discover what is working and what isn’t. Who would you hire based on their website alone? That’s the guy you want to emulate.