Confession: I never really put much thought into my website design. I considered what template I wanted and customized how it looked, but that was about it.
It pretty much looks the same as all the other photographers’ websites out there who use the same template that I do.
I don’t even want to know how many people I may have lost because I never thought about it. In fact, I didn’t start thinking about it until we started planning out our re-branding process, which still isn’t finished (insert sad panda face here).
But then I had one of those “ah-ha!” moments. I don’t even remember what caused it, but everything I’ve been reading lately all came together and it just made sense.
Basically, you have to treat your visitors like sheep.
Sheep have a simple goal in life. They want to eat. They’ll roam around until they find something delicious, nibble a bit, and then continue on. If there’s no one around to herd them when wandering free, they are susceptible to being eaten by wolves or other animals that prey on them, yet they appear to be clueless to those risks.
It’s a proven fact that people have a short attention span when using the internet.
Just like sheep, if they aren’t herded into the direction you want them to go when they visit your site they’ll wander aimlessly and move on to a new site on a whim. They may have some simple goal in mind, like wanting to know your prices, but they don’t realize the negative consequences of simply selecting a photographer based on price.
What do your typical prospects want when visiting your website?
If you completely ignore what your potential clients are looking for, you’re going to have a hard time getting them to do what you want them to do.
Identify what your typical prospect is looking for when they visit your site. What information do they want? Make a list.
Where are you taking the sheep?
What is your primary goal for your website? Your site may have several purposes, but we’re just going to consider your most important goal for your site right now.
My main goal is to collect potential customer leads. When people visit our site, I want them to contact us for pricing and availability using our contact page.
Become an expert at herding the sheep
It’s amazing what you can get sheep to do if you’re persuasive enough.
Now that you know what your prospects are looking for and where you want them to go, start changing up your blog design to reflect these priorities.
Imagine your potential client visiting your photography website for the first time. Keeping in mind both where you want to take them and what they want to know, create an optimal path for them to take to get there.
Make it as easy and painless as possible to follow the path you want them to take. The more they need to click, the more opportunities you have to lose them. Make it stupidly simple.
I’m still working through this step myself, but I know that I want them to see our best work first and foremost before simply looking for our pricing. I want to share a sense of who we are and why our work is valuable to them before they judge us by what we charge.
I’m not sure exactly what this will look like, but I want them to immediately see some sort of slideshow and have a prominent link or section that either tells who we are or points to our about page. I’ll probably add some short one-line testimonies to this area as well. I want it to look a lot different than it does right now.
You want to emphasize the places you want them to go next, and give less prominence to everything else on your site.
You’ll also want to think about other places your visitors may enter your site. For example, many people may follow a link to see their friend’s wedding photos on your blog, so they won’t see your home page first (if at all). Think about what you want them to do next. They won’t have a specific path in mind, so herd them like sheep onto the path you want them to take.
Do you want them to visit your home page? See your portfolio? Think about what you can do to get them back on your path to your main goal and add links to those things at the ends of your posts.
Even better, tell them what you want them to do. A direct call to action is ridiculously effective. It may sound funny to tell them what steps to take next, but it works really well.
This may be as simple as asking them to share the link with someone they know who is getting married or to contact you to book a portrait session.
Herd the sheep. Design your site so that they get what they need while going where you want them to go. Tell them what to do next. Make it as simple as possible.
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