In our private Facebook group for virtual assistants, it’s rare for a week to go by when someone doesn’t ask for feedback on their soon to be launched website.
No matter how you slice it, launching version 1.0 of your website can be nerve-wracking and time-consuming — especially if you’re new to WordPress.
The temptation to find an “easier” platform can be great but as a general rule, your hard work will be rewarded.
We know that making your website live is an exciting step in the process of launching your new VA biz. It’s that point in time when your business transitions from being just an idea to something much more real — you’re actually putting yourself and your service out there in front of potential clients.
And this can be a scary thought because with that, comes the realization that potential clients will begin assessing whether or not they should consider hiring you based on your online presence. If they like what they see, there’s a chance that they’ll reach out and establish contact with you.
Where Web Design Usually Goes Wrong
Before we begin discussing the essential elements of a website that attracts new clients, let’s start by quickly taking a look at where things often go wrong:
Your overarching goal for your website is to attract new clients.
Each page on your website will also have its own sub-objective that ties into your big picture goal.
What this means for you, as a business owner, is that when designing your site, you should ask yourself:
“What action do I want my potential clients to take on this page and how can I make it as clear and simple as possible for them to accomplish that action?”
Where many VAs (and other business owners) go wrong with the design process is that they put too much emphasis on their personal opinions. They create layouts, add images and design logos that appeal to them based on how they feel without thinking about what might appeal to a potential client.
I’m not suggesting that your website should have no personal flair attached to it — that’s unavoidable and even necessary in order to stand out. Nor am I suggesting that your website needs to take a data-driven approach.
What I’m saying is that you need to keep your big picture objective in mind, follow some basic design principles and create something that:
- Is visually appealing and contains a degree of uniqueness.
- Represents current design trends.
- Is simple to navigate.
- Helps you grow your business.
We all have personal interests, styles and beliefs that impact our design preferences. But just because I love goldfish (ok, I made that up), does not mean I should have pictures of my goldfish and I splattered all over my website. The same applies to my kids — I love mine but having pictures of them on my website might not be a good fit or do anything to help me attract my ideal clients.
Remember, your business website is for your clients, not you. It’s great that your website helps people understand who you are and what you’re about but know where to draw the line. Too much personal information is rarely a good thing.
9 Essential Elements of a Website that Attracts Clients
Before we get started, remember, there is no such thing as a perfect website.
In fact, here at Horkey Handbook, we’re huge proponents of designing and launching a website that is less than perfect and then improving it over time.
By following most of the “rules” below, you’ll be able to launch a site that is good enough to land clients and provides a great platform for continual improvement.
1. Start with a Strong Foundation
We believe strongly in using WordPress as platform for your business website. Truth be told, if you’re new to the online space and arguing that another platform might be a better choice, you probably need to do some more research.
There are many reasons that we recommend WordPress including:
- It’s free — yep the world’s #1 content management system is 100% free.
- Although there is a learning curve, it’s easy to use.
- There is a good chance your clients will expect you to have at least a working knowledge of WordPress.
- It’s highly extensible so it can grow with your business.
- You can add almost unlimited functionality via plugins.
- There are thousands of theme designs and templates available.
If you’re overwhelmed by the thought of technology, we’ve created an easy to follow and free tutorial that you can find right here. I won’t lie to you and say it’ll be a walk in the park, but the word impossible doesn’t apply here.
If the very thought of technology causes you anxiety, there are easier to use platforms available. For example, Wix has plenty of pre-built templates that you can check out here.
Although we’d encourage you to use WordPress as a first choice, you could always use a website builder like WIX, get some clients under your belt and then reassess how to move forward.
Long term though, we feel strongly that WordPress is the best choice for your business.
2. Choose Great WordPress Hosting
If you’ve settled on using the WordPress platform for your business, your next step will be to set up your hosting account.
After trying many different hosting companies over the years, we settled on recommending SiteGround.
For a typical small business, SiteGround provides close to the ideal balance — low cost, ease of use, website speed and great customer service.
3. Choose the Right WordPress Theme for Your Business
When deciding on a WordPress theme you’ll find that there are thousands to pick from — some “free” and some paid.
I put “free” in quotes because in reality, nothing is ever free. It may cost zero in monetary terms but require hours of your time when compared to a more feature rich, paid theme. Things like ease of use, support and aesthetics really do matter.
It’s increasingly important to make sure your business stands out from the competition — at each step in your clients’ journey.
One of the easiest way to do that, at least when attempting to create a first impression it to choose a theme that makes it easy to implement current design trends and with a reasonable degree of customization.
We recommend two sources for WordPress themes:
Divi from Elegant Themes offers a visual page builder that makes designing a great looking website relatively easy. This is also the theme we use in our tutorial which will make it even easier to follow along with the site building process.,
StudioPress Themes offers a wide variety of business-related themes that are easy to use and come with solid documentation. They don’t have the same number of features that Divi offers and as a result, customization can be a little more challenging. They’re are still an excellent choice either way. In fact, we use the Infinity Theme from StudioPress for Horkey HandBook.
4. Find an Attractive Color Palette
Before you even start the design process, I’d recommend that you decide on a color palette. To make the process as simple as possible, I’d recommend a two-step process:
Spend a few minutes looking at ideas for potential color schemes that appeal to you. Although there are plenty of places to find great website color combinations, here are two great places to start:
- AWWWARDS – Lets you search for website by color and a variety of other criteria
- Dribbble – Has tons of great inspirational design ideas
Once you have a general idea for a color scheme in mind, head over to Adobe Colour and find a palette that is suitable. Write down or grab a screen capture of the hex codes (see the picture below) so you can use throughout your website.
A few valuable things to keep in mind when it comes to color:
- A Simple background makes text easier to read.
- Choose one primary or dominant color and 1-3 secondary colors.
- Choose 1 stand-out color for all you calls-to-action.
- Use color to draw attention and highlight elements but don’t go overboard.
5. When it Comes to Logos, Simple is Better.
Before you get to work creating your masterpiece there are a few important things to keep in mind when creating or designing your logo:
- Simple is always better. Limit your colors, shapes, patterns to just a few.
- Sometimes letters are all you need. Trying to add graphics just confuses things.
- Even if you never plan to put your logo on a t-shirt, make sure it works in variety of mediums.
- Make sure your logo is appropriate to your target audience or at least neutral.
If you find yourself in need of some inspiration, try visiting sites like 99Designs.com or Creative Market. Take a look at what’s popular and emulate the design principles.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with using a simple wordmark. In fact, sometimes that’s the best option — just ask Coke, Microsoft, IBM and Google to name a few. Even here at Horkey HandBook, we decided on a simple, easy to read font in combination with a small accent.
6. Features Are Awesome but Benefits Are Where It’s at, Yo
It’s fine to talk about what you do — even necessary. But don’t forget that deep down, your future clients are more interested in the benefits your services provide than the features.
Wondering what the difference is?
Generally, features are factual pieces of information about your services. For example:
- I’ll post twice per day on up to 2 social media accounts.
- I’ll perform a complete social media audit and present you with a report
- I’ll write one 800-1000 word blog post each week.
Your clients will like the fact that you manage these tasks for them but what they really love is when you tie those features to specific benefits:
- Each day I’ll create two purpose driven posts for each social media account. Each post will be designed to drive targeted traffic directly to your landing page in an effort to generate new sales and improve the ROI of your social media efforts.
- Put your content marketing on autopilot so you can focus on growing your business. Each week, I’ll plan draft, edit and publish SEO optimized content that attracts and engages your audience.
7. Create a Primary Value Proposition
So we talked a little in number 6 about the importance of discussing both benefits and features. We already know that both are important — no matter how impressive your features may be, what potential clients are really asking themselves is:
“What’s in this for me? How am I going to benefit from working with this VA?”
The best way I’ve seen to approach this (for the life of me, I can’t recall the source) is to create a simple value proposition that’s one of the first things a potential client sees when visiting your website. Here’s how it looks:
“I Help “X” Do “Y” so they can “Z”
Where “X” is your primary target market, “Y” is what you specialize in and “Z” is the benefit.
Here are two great examples from some of the VA’s in our group who are killing it:
>> Clearing the way for who you’re becoming. Hi, I’m Hailey, A Remote executive assistant for entrepreneurs.
>> Does reaching your target audience, generating new leads and promoting your brand awareness effortlessly sound good to you?
Once you’ve decided on a value proposition, there’s nothing that says you need to stick with it for eternity. Mix it up every now and then to see what resonates best with your audience.
8. Make It Easy for Clients to Contact You
The more times someone has to click a link on your website, the more likely it is that they are distracted and move onto something else.
One of the most important things you can do is make sure it’s dead simple for people to contact you.
Should you have a contact or “work with me” page? Absolutely! But it never hurts to place a contact form on some of the other key pages of your website as well.
For example, place a contact form at the bottom of each services page instead of requiring people to click through.
9. Your Website is Never Truly Done
The primary objective for the first version of your website is to just get the darn thing live.
Of course, you don’t want to start sending clients over to your website before it’s presentable. But at the same time, we don’t want you to get stuck in an endless loop of seeking perfection.
Fact: Your website will never truly be done.
Don’t let that worry you though. Instead, set yourself a goal to make one or two small changes or improvements each week.
After a few months, your website will be looking spectacularly spiffy.
Progress Happens One Step at a Time
We’ve covered a lot of different topics in this post and it’s by no means a complete list. If you’re just getting ready to start your website, the easiest thing to do is head over to our free tutorial and follow along.
You won’t end up with the final version of your website after just 7-days but it will certainly help to reduce your learning curve and get you out pitching clients in less time.
If by chance you’ve already launched your website then don’t despair! Point number 9 will be the most important one for you. Pick somewhere to start and begin making small weekly improvements.