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Show Highlights

Building a website is more and more an essential skill to running a business. Graham and Ashkahn revisit website construction for float centers. They lay out some of the best practices and tips to avoid for websites, having years of website management and marketing experience themselves. They also offer tips on things to avoid and look out for when making your own site; how to maximize it’s effectiveness as well as common mistakes to avoid.

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Transcription of this episode… (in case you prefer reading)

Graham: Today’s question is “I am just putting together my website. Got any big tips for me?

Ashkahn: Boy, do we got some big tips? I’m ready. I got some ideas here.

Graham: Yeah, launch into it, man. I’m ready to hear them.

Awkward Silence

Ashkahn: Okay. No I got some big tips. I got some big tips. Probably, the biggest tip is you have to have a giant call to action extremely visible all over, definitely on your homepage and other pages as well.

Graham: Yeah, classically, in marketing, that’s called the BFB or the “Big Fucking Button”.

Ashkahn: A lot of people pick this up, but it’s surprising how many times you actually won’t see this on a website, but basically, if someone comes to your website, they’re going to hit the homepage and you want something immediately evident. That is the main thing you want them to do.

For a float center, that’s almost certainly booking a float, so you basically want a giant button on your homepage that says, “Book a float.” There’s a concept of what’s called “the fold” on websites, which is things that are above the fold are things that someone will see without scrolling, and things that are below the fold are things that someone will see if they have to scroll down to see it, and that differs from screen size to screen size and stuff like that, so to be safe, you really want to make sure your button is prominent and not too far down the page.

Graham: Preferably a bigger size and a different color and anything that you can do stylistically to really make it obvious. If someone went to your website and didn’t speak English (or whatever your website is in) it should be obvious that that’s where they’re supposed to click.

Ashkahn: Yup. Even bigger and crazier and you probably think you should do it and things like the words “Now” and exclamation points and stuff like that actually work. They do increase the chances that people will click on something, as silly as that sounds, so like, “Book a float now!” or “Schedule your appointment today!” or something like that. Those extra words actually do have slight boost in people’s behavior.

Graham: Other things, it doesn’t need to be big, but having your contact information there. Another huge reason people visit your website is just to find out what your address is or get a map or they have a question and they want to call you and need to look up your phone number, so also above the fold somewhere, you need that information, just very easy to find.

Ashkahn: Yeah, and probably your hours. Those are the most likely reasons someone are coming to your website. Contact info, hours, your location, and to book an appointment.

Graham: Yup. The other two things that are worth adding on to, at least, to your homepage, if not, directly above the fold, and I think we still manage to squeeze them in above the fold too, but mentioning memberships, we talked about this in another episode, but right next to your “Book now” button, be sure that you just at least have a mention of memberships to prime people that that’s something that is out there.

The last one is asking people to join your mailing list. The goal, if all goes correctly, is that they’re visiting your website. They’re either booking a float online or they’re giving you a call to book a float, but if they don’t, let’s say, someone comes and they’re like, “Oh, I just need to check with my wife to figure out what my schedule is. I’ll come back here and book a float later” or something, that person’s probably never coming back. They’re going to forget like other things in the day came up.

While you have their attention during that time, having some way, at least, to have a chance to get information, so that you can remind them that they wanted to come back, and that’s where the email address comes in.

This is probably a topic for a much bigger podcast discussion just about that, but a mailing list really is your best friend when it comes to marketing, as less cool than it sounds from social media and stuff like that. Some kind of call to action to actually enter in their email address and hopefully build that mailing list is another big one.

Ashkahn: Once you get away from your homepage, the same kind of lessons apply. You just want your call to action to book a float or order, secondary, to sign up for your mailing list to be on every page, right? If someone goes to your pricing page, there should ideally be another button right there that says, okay, like, “Book your float now,” now that you know the prices.

Really, having a page that doesn’t have some sort of call to action like that is you’re wasting some potential space there, where you could get people to hop over and actually book their appointment.

Graham: Yeah. Absolutely. There’s this concept of “sharding” in website design. Even back in the day, when you had to find sites through more direct means and you can have these robust, complicated search engines like Google, you kind of know where people are entering your site, which is your homepage.

Now that people can come in from either links on Facebook or journal articles or just random Google search that doesn’t direct them straight to your homepage, this idea of having those important call to action, having schedule a float and even possibly having a little banner that just has your contact information, always going across the top, things like that end up being really useful, since you can’t control the actual point that people enter and they might not be interested enough to click around to a different page, so you really want those actions you want them to take, like Ashkahn said, present everywhere.

I guess, even more generally than what to include on the pages, my other advice is keep it simple. However big your website is, that’s how much you have to maintain, and it’s amazing how fast this stuff gets out of date.

Please don’t go look at our history section on our website. I think we’ve actually fixed it now, but there were years where that went by that it was just not kept up to the present because it’s really hard to go back and constantly search through every single page that you’re doing.

Fundamentally, we’re a brick-and-mortar business that offers a service, and it doesn’t take that many pages to get across the critical information about that. If you’re going into this thinking that you’re going to create this really robust, 20-page website that has all this information about floating, maybe consider scaling that back to something like a three-page website or I usually tell people, at most, five.

Aiming for one to five pages total on your website is the right mindset to going into it with, and I would say even aiming more for that one to two pages is actually, probably a good standard to at least try to achieve. What else?

Ashkahn: Don’t have music that just comes on automatically.

Graham: That’s  like 1995 advice.

Ashkahn: You still see it out there sometimes.

Graham: That’s true. That’s true. Yeah, I mean, not being annoying is a really good method. Fortunately, there are a lot of best practices out there. If you just look up a list of “20 top things to avoid when you’re doing your website”, you’ll probably find some really good ones.

Another top tip is don’t have scrolling header bars. This idea of images and texts where when they hit the page, it starts scrolling between a ton of them, like a slideshow almost of like, “Hey, book a float” and like, “Hey, we have memberships” with a different picture behind it, those things have just been shown to be really distracting and all of those combined get less clicks than if you just had one static image up there, so that’s another one of those “Keep it simple” pieces of advice.

If you’re thinking you want all of these fancy web scrollers and animations and stuff like that, a lot of the evidence out there says if you just keep it static and simple, it actually even still performs better.

I guess for building the website too, tip-wise, there’s everything that you can do from having a web designer custom design your own website with its own private back end and stuff like that, all the way down to basically just getting a Google page and directing people there, right?

I think most float centers end up somewhere in this category of using a platform to help them build their website and then also being able to maintain it from there, so that might be either WordPress or Squarespace are probably the most common places to do that.

Ashkahn: Yeah. Ideally, it’s nice to have someone that you can pay money to help you with the more technical parts of that. Setting up the site in the very first place is probably one of the trickier parts and sometimes, just weird, random updates that need to happen can be technically tricky, but you really want to have something where you have the ability to go change like the words on a certain page because you don’t have to call someone every single time you want to update the text on one of your pages or in a little box or change a quick photo or something like that, so having the ability to make those smaller content changes, but having someone you can reach out to for the more technical changes, I think, is that nice, sweet spot.

Graham: Yep. WordPress is more on that “hire someone to do it at first, and then you can make changes afterwards” kind of side and also WordPress is available for free. You need to pay for hosting and stuff like that, and then Squarespace is more on the side of you might actually just be able to stumble your way through on your own even without very much web-savvy, but they’re also a subscription service that requires an ongoing fee per month.

In either case, it might be worth it just to have someone design a site, but Squarespace, if you do really want to go that route of doing everything yourself is a little more plug and play, less customization, but friendlier for getting set up at the beginning. All right. There’s some tips for you.

Ashkahn: Yeah.

Graham: Good luck with your website and if any of the rest of you out there have any questions for us, head on over to floattanksolutions.com/podcast and enter them in there.

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