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nope you don't need a new websiteI’m going to walk you through the process that happens when most business owners decide they want a new website:

  1. They look at their site with that pained-expression emoji and say to themselves (or out loud), “ugh, it just doesn’t worrrrk. I don’t know why, but I don’t like it and it’s making me feel like I’m not professional enough and I’m obviously blah and everyone hates me”
  2. They decide they need a new website and immediately go looking at other people’s websites to see what they like
  3. This thought process goes through their heads: “Hmm, I need a big header image like her, and a sign up form underneath like him, and ohhh, yep, three boxes underneath with what I offer. And then I need a blog page, and an about page, and a contact me page…. Full width? Sidebar? Full width? Sidebar? AHA! Full width header, sidebar underneath! BOOM! Now, what colour should I have…”
  4. They tell their web designer who cries with boredom, OR, they buy a huge, bloated theme which can incorporate any number of options and layouts and colours and has some handy drag-and-drop-shortcode-50-gig-downloadable-manual-you’re-100%-never-going-to-read. And it’s set up for WooCommerce (not that they want WooCommerce, but YASSS, value RIGHT?!
  5. It starts well, but six months down the line, they look at their site with that pained-expression emoji and say to themselves…

Hands up if you’ve done this?!

*raises hands*

Yes, shocking as it might sound, of COURSE I’ve done this before, because I’m a human and until almost six years ago I’d NEVER RUN A BUSINESS.

Sure, I’d designed and developed websites. I was well-versed in over 10 different programming languages from eight years In The 9-5 Cage. I had led teams, projects, meetings and helped to build applications that amounted to probably WELL OVER a few million pounds..

But I’d NEVER built anything just for me, for my own clients or offering my own services.

And this the case for the majority of people starting out in business; we’re well-versed in the execution of what we get paid for. We’re pretty sh*t at anything strategic, like having an online presence

And this the case for the majority of people starting out in business; we’re well-versed in the execution of what we get paid for. We’re pretty sh*t at anything strategic, like having an online presence.

Now, the fact is you might look at that list above and not really see a problem with it. “Shouldn’t you want to change your site regularly?”

Well yes. And no.

Sure, some people NEED a new site. Their current one plain just doesn’t do what they want it to, doesn’t visually represent them, is too hard to use and basically sucks the big one.

But for a lot of people, there is another option that the mostly haven’t thought of (and even if it’s a new site you need, I can bet that 99% of people – including if you hire a web designer) you’ll still be missing this corker:

What do you actually want people to do on your site?

Have you thought about this?

And before you even MUTTER the words, “I want them to buy my sh*t”, think for a second how YOU feel when that’s the first option presented to you on a website.

Do you want to buy sh*t when people come to your door unannounced?

Do you want to buy sh*t from people who hawk in the street and flag you down pretending to be interested in your outfit then suddenly asking you to sign up to some ridicuous credit card or supporting a charity you don’t actually care about that much OR JOINING A CULT?

I think I can safely assume that the answer is no.

You want people to visit your site, read ALL THE POSTS, do ALL THE THINGS, buy ALL THE SH*T. And that creates a hot mess of a website that does absolutely NONE of those things.

And herein lies the disconnect between why your website always ends up sucking every six months.

You want people to visit your site, read ALL THE POSTS, do ALL THE THINGS, buy ALL THE SH*T. And that creates a hot mess of a website that does absolutely NONE of those things.

In fact, your visitors will bounce off your site quicker than you can say “R-Kelly”. (Hat tip to anyone who gets that reference…)

Here’s a quick low down of things that people don’t want to be presented with right off the bat

  • No, they don’t want to see everything you offer right off the bat. Would you wear all the clothes in your wardrobe at once on a date?! Not if you wanted to see that date again…!
  • No, they don’t want to be sold to straight away. You don’t want to shag someone just because you smile at them, right?
  • No, they don’t want their eyes to be lacerated with pop-ups over here and moving things there and spinning things there and adverts every which way they look

So, how DO you create a website that actually creates trust, builds a base of raving fans and starts earning sales? AND that doesn’t give you the six-month itch?

Simple; you head to IKEA.

(Stick with me)

So what is it that IKEA do so well that can be translated onto your website?

1. IKEA created an environment where people follow a particular flow

Ever been wildly annoyed by some complete bellend walking The Wrong Way around an IKEA store? I know I have *grumble grumble bank holiday grumble grumble*!

Now, have you ever been as angered by someone going the opposite direction in say, Tesco or Costco – the Christmas rush aside where just about EVERYONE drives you to the brink (and drink)? I’m betting it’s not quite the same feeling (unless their bratty children are driving their trolley into yours for the “lols”)

IKEA guide their customers around the store, in a way that only IKEA have perfected.

It’s not just a standard furniture store where all the sofas and beds are in a huge room, and it’s not a standard supermarket like Asda where people make their own choices about where to go and in which direction, dependent on what they need. No, IKEA create a specific walking direction that takes you through the maze of living spaces and rooms demonstrating how you could use this coffee table and that sofabed together with this rug and these picture frames. They guide you through the story of what your home could be which results in more engagement

And that applies to your website how?

Look at your website and ask yourself what is the ONE main action you want people to be taking on the page, and how that page guides you to flow towards it. Think about the pages on your site like a river; how does one page lead into another? Go even more granular – think about each item ON a page, and how they flow into one another. Creating a clear, simple flow that keeps the “where should I go/ what should I do now?” questions low and the “holy shiznit, how soon can I book this person?!” questions high.

2. They create interaction

Did you know that the flow around IKEA is designed to curve or bend around a corner approximately every fifty feet?

Do you know why?

It creates both intrigue and disorientation. Another magic ingredient into the “why we follow the directional flow” conundrum.

OK, so I’m not saying that you’ll forget the name of your firstborn, but have you ever come out of IKEA and realised that you were so immersed in the shopping experience that you kinda forgot what the weather was like or what the time was?

And how many times have you walked out of IKEA with more items than you planned on getting?

An astounding 60% of purchases made in IKEA are impulse buys. Things we didn’t know we “needed” until we saw them, but add in the interactive, game-like play aspect to a shop that is built on a one-directional flow taking you past ALL THE INEXPENSIVE THINGS, and we’re flinging things in our yellow tarp bags quicker than you can say “meatballs”.

And that applies to your website how?

Now, I don’t strictly subscribe to the practice of disorienting people in order to get people signing up or purchasing products on your website – personally, that seems a little unethical (and it would be incredibly hard unless you were able to code Tetris into the homepage of your website for Tetris fans).

But there are certainly elements that you can build into your website to create intrigue and build engagement. Quizzes or clear buttons, for example, work well because they incite action from us, especially if the end result is entertaining, educational, or helps us to understand something more about ourselves (You KNOW you’ve taken the “What Disney Princess are you?” survey, and that surely covers all three bases, right?!)

3. IKEA build a consistent visual and storytelling atmosphere

Yep, they brand like mofos.

All IKEA stores start with living room furniture. All IKEA price tags are generally found on the left of the product they’re advertising. The instore IKEA bags are yellow, and purchased items are taken home in blue bags. All sofas, chairs and tables use Swedish place names. Fabrics and curtains? They’re Scandinavian girls’ names. Bookcases are Scandinavian boys’ names. Stores always have the same look and feel wherever you go in the world. And the way that IKEA build in real-world examples around their stores, and how they advertise.

Their core message they want to embed solidly into your psyche is the feeling of “home”.

And this applies to your website how?

There’s someone whose email list I’m on, and while I actually find her stuff interesting, she’s clearly gone through about seven iterations of her logo over the past year and each email seems to have a new brand identity – even ones sent within the same week!

However, visual brand isn’t the only reason I stay on her list – I simply enjoy her content, which IS consistently good. She uses the same voice, she has a clear purpose. We can look past a visually confused brand if the content is razor-pointed and high-value.

I’m not suggesting your brand doesn’t need to develop visually – perhaps it does – but consistency breeds trust. Trust breeds visitor confidence. Confident visitors become confident buyers and raving fans. If you can’t be consistent with your visuals because you’re trying to develop your look, make damn sure your message and story is on motherlovin’ point each time.

4. IKEA are constantly testing things out

There’s a special IKEA concept store based in Delft in the Netherlands – a fully-functioning store where you can get your fill of Lack or Billy or Hemnes or meatballs or … y’get me. But this is the store they use to constantly refine and alter and test out how things work. Not just the furniture, but how the business is working, what customers are doing and how they’re using the store.

This is important because otherwise, there’d be no understanding of what is positively or negatively impacting the business. Testing after changes is the lifeblood of this company – in 2015, they increased profits 5.5% (all while managing to drop prices 2 – 3% most years). Ethical grey areas aside, that’s pretty impressive shiznit, right?

And this applies to your website how?

Constant refinement and TESTING – I seriously cannot stipulate how much you need to TEST THE MOTHER. HUMPING. SHIZ. Out of your site. If you don’t have Google Analytics on your site (or if you do have it, but graphs are WEIRD AND LINEY AND CHARTS REMIND ME OF MY LOVE OF PIES), then you need to GET ON IT.

Yes, it’s a bit of a learning curve, but otherwise, how will you know where people are coming from? How will you know what pages cause people to leave as soon as they’re arrived? How will you know that updating a graphic or even a whole THEME has done anything better than make YOU feel a bit better about things?

Gorgeous, your site is designed for business, and in business you want to make some money. I’m not suggesting your getting all “LOADSAAA MAAAHHHNNAAAYYYY” on me, but you have bills to pay, right? Mouths to feed?

What if I told you testing things on your website got you closer to easy months making money? And got you talking to the right people? And boosted your traffic or engagement?

HOT TIP: IT DOES.New website? Try A crash course in Google Analytics (for people who cry at graphs) instead

And if you want me to hold your hand and help you through the journey of understanding the data, I have a super-quick, crash-course on installing Google Analytics for your WordPress site, setting it up AND the best graphs to check your data and, most importantly how to translate what they mean into tangible changes you can make to your website.

Yes, it’s genuinely called “A Crash Course in Google Analytics (for people who cry at graphs)

You can grab it here for a super-low £25.

Lovely, your site is not just a “thank-god-it’s-up-now-back-to-Facebook” hunk o’ junk. It’s your online space. ALL YOURS.

You need to tend to it like a garden, little and often. You need to build a flow, and help people take action on your site. You need to test things to see what’s working and what isn’t.

And THAT is what you need to think about next time you think you need a new website.

_______________________

SOURCES USED:

WANT TO LEARN ABOUT GAME DESIGN? GO TO IKEA by Jamin Warren/Killscreen

This Heat Map Reveals The Secret To IKEA’s Store Design by Gus Lubin/Business insider

How IKEA Seduces Its Customers: By Trapping Them by Elizabeth Tyler/Time Magazine