Before beginning a website design or redesign, it is important to define your core philosophy, your brand and identity of your target market. This will help you develop your website content. Esthetic entrepreneurs usually do not double as website techies, so it is also important to start with a knowlegeable web designer. But where are these web designers hiding and how do you find them?
It is important to find a web designer who not only knows their trade, but knows about yours as well, which is not easy. With esthetics, these individuals can often be found through word of mouth or by hiring a knowlegeable consultant who has a vendor list that includes web designers. Technology keeps changing, which is why a good web designer who knows skin care can dramatically improve your business. Hiring a web designer can be a daunting and expensive task, but utilizing the following elements will help facilitate a streamlined process. Here, web designer Sky Collins will outline the five elements a spa owner should consider to improve their website.
Element 1. Content
I’m sure you have heard trainers and leaders using the phrase, “there are no shortcuts to success,” and despite promises of website creation engines, this holds true for websites.
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You can have a site with the most nifty photo slideshow transitions, but if the photos look like they were taken by your drunk uncle at a comic convention, your website and brand will suffer. This means that spa owners must invest in creating content for their site. Content can be considered photos, text, videos or downloaded materials. Think of it as the meaty core of the website, and the site’s design, branding, search engine optimization (SEO), etc., as the window dressing. Here are some examples of what improving the content may look like for a business:
Describe your offerings. Write an in-depth description about the products and services offered at your facility and dedicate a page on your site to them.
How-to videos. Make videos extoling the virtues of your procedures. They do not have to be lengthy, just long enough to illustrate the procedure.
Photograph the business. Hire a professional photographer that can make your business look sublime.
Add Reviews. Offer one of your loyal customers a free sample product if they submit a review on your facility and its services on your site.
Illustrate Efficacy. Develop a consistent before/after photographing procedure to showcase your success stories.
Invest time and money into the content of your site, and watch your business grow. If you lack the time or talent to do any of these yourself, find a professional with a portfolio that makes you confident they can do it for you.
Element 2. Responsive Design
Website traffic statistics tell us that more and more people are switching to smaller screen devices for consuming web content every day. It is not just your teenage daughter that is tethered to their phone, it is also your clients. Responsive design is both a term and a myriad of technologies that enable your website to scale and adjust for various screen sizes. Responsive design greatly increases website usability, legibility and search rankings on mobile devices. An added perk of responsive design is that it forces you to structure your content into a visual hierarchy that often puts your most important content in the most important real estate. Every pixel of a website is a scarce commodity, and content placement and position should always be reviewed with a critical eye. If you are working with a website designer or selecting a website template, ensure that the design being implemented is a responsive one.
Element 3. Social Media Promotions and Integration
Most people know that social media is important. Perhaps your business has an Instagram account, Facebook page, Twitter account, etc., but do you know the core reason why? The simple fact of the matter is that your clients aren’t going to come to your website to find out what is going on. You need to reach them where they consume their content. More often than not, this is on a social media site.
Social media can be utilized for more than just funny cat videos. Leverage your social media presence as a marketing tool. Instead of sending that coupon out to a mailing list, tweet it out to your followers. Perhaps, they will retweet it as well. Next thing you know, your promotion has reached not just your core audience but an audience that would never have seen it otherwise. Take the next step and put a module on your website with that Twitter feed, so people know you have an account and what is on it.
A spa could even offer a discount to people that follow them on social media. I know you are incredibly busy and do not have all day to run the gauntlet of social media sites to promote your business. There are ways to connect your social media accounts so that you do not have to post to each one individually. For example, a em>Twitter feed can be linked to a Facebook feed. There are even tools, like Hootsuite, that you can use to schedule postings and monitor your social network statistics. If there are people who earn a living by merely posting pictures of their posteriors on social media, there is ample opportunity to grow your business in the social space.
Element 4. Content Management
Content management is a web-based interface that allows its user to alter the content of the website. Rather than having to learn HTML code, this interface allows the user to manage the editable content of their site. Some content management systems like Wordpress or Joomla! also include template management that allows the user to change the entire design of your site in a small time frame.
However, the key feature is being able to keep your site’s content current. Perhaps, a new esthetician has started, and you would like to add her and remove an old employee. With a content management system, this becomes as easy as using familiar software like Microsoft Word. If you don’t have a content management system, you need to contact your website firm to update the code. This is most likely a small business that defers all support work until they have completed more lucrative larger projects. We all know a business’ products and services change often, so do not be at the mercy of somebody else to put your best foot forward when making a first impression on a website visitor.
Another benefit of a content management system is the built-in adherence to SEO best practices. If you own a website and a business, you have probably been contacted by SEO specialists promising that they partner with search engines and guaranteeing your placement in search results. Be advised of these charlatans. Nobody can offer you organic (unpaid) search engine placement. The crucial step to getting listed is to have complete and relevant website content with correctly structured code. Used thoroughly, a modern content management system will help you create pages rich in content and optimized for search engine listings.
Element 5. Have Two Audiences
John Lydgate is credited with proverb, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” Your website is no different in this regard. By the time you’ve figured out what electronic dance music your millennial nephew is into, his taste has changed and he now likes The Doobie Brothers and has grown an afro. He isn’t your audience, and by the looks of his hair, he will probably never be. Develop your website content for two audiences.
Core audience. The first audience is your core audience who loves your goods and services. They are repeat consumers and no matter the promotion, they participate. Engage with this group on social media. Write an article on your site that speaks to them, respecting their knowledge and passion for your business. Create promotions that reward their loyalty.
Aspirational audience. The second is what I call your aspirational audience—people who are visiting your site for the first time. They do not want a deal for a year’s worth of treatments… yet. They searched Google for facials in the area and want to stick their toe in the water to see what the temperature is like. Have an introductory section of your site dedicated to them. Make a video talking about yourself and your business. Discuss the process of the services you offer. Reach out to them and put them at ease before they ever step foot in your door.
Danielle’s Spa Perspective
The biggest question I get regarding websites is, “How do I get my website to register at the top of the list?” By understanding responsive design (element two) and content management (element five), spa owners can increase search rankings and usability for their site, and they will understand why it is a wise investment to hire a trusted designer.
Millennials grew up on social media as their primary channel of communication, but learning and using social media to promote spa businesses has been much more than a learning curve for baby boomers or tech-avoiders like myself. It is important to learn how to use social media, which can be an easy, efficient and cost-effective tool for marketing and promotion.
Writing menus, marketing content and your biography, as noted in element four, is not a skill that comes easily for everyone. When it comes to web content, it pays to have a skilled writer write or at least edit your work.
We are all salespeople. We hate to admit or recognize this fact sometimes because we are so passionate about improving our client’s skin, but we are selling our skin care products, our services and even ourselves. Keep this in mind throughout the web design process.