Out of the three phases in The HOTspot's 3-Phase Program©, the first phase is the one that has the least amount of room for error. If you haven't read the previous article in which I go over each phase of the 3-Phase Program©, I encourage you to do so. You can click here to read it now. For a recap, the first phase is titled "Phase 1: Building a Strong Foundation©". This "foundation" is your website. To understand the importance of having a website, think of it this way: Your website is the equivalent of your physical location. If you didn't have a building or if that building wasn't built effectively, you will eventually pay for it. So, just like the physical space, your website needs to be quality.
In this article, I will be going over Phase 1 in more detail. This will include general advice, as well as more explanation of what we do in Phase 1 for our clients. Please note that every client is different, and some have already completed Phase 1 when we take them on. The HOTspot does a full digital analysis of current operations before working with a client to determine what phase they are in.
So, without further adieu, let's observe Phase 1: Building a Strong Foundation© in greater detail!
Keeping it Simple
Whenever I sit down for a consult with a new client, I ask them what they would like to see on their site. Nine times out of ten, it's too complicated. When I say "complicated" I mean "busy or too much information" and not too much animation or things of that nature. I encourage having animations and moving parts to keep the visitor engaged.
What makes a site too complicated? I'm a visual learner, so it is easier for me to learn by seeing rather than reading. Look at the example below:
I doubt most people would want to spend more than 30 seconds on this page. Granted, this is a little extreme; however, I have seen many websites that have the same effect. To avoid this, I try and get all of our clients to utilize video. By having a 60-90 second video as the first thing your visitor sees, you can answer "who, what, and why" to use your company. If you look at The HOTspot's website here, you can see this strategy in use.
After seeing the video, imagine if that same verbiage had been written out over several paragraphs without any illustrations. For more information on The HOTspot's full video production service, click here. So, first things first, keep it simple!
The next piece may seem simple, but by using this one tactic, your sales, bookings, subscriptions, etc. could increase tenfold. Under the video (which should mainly serve as a refresher if they saw an ad, or cover everything in 90 seconds or less that will be enough to make a decision for new clients) there should be a call to action button. Whether it's the product, a booking button, or a subscribe now link, this should be readily accessible and the first thing the customer sees after watching the video.
By utilizing this View and Capture© method, you will be ahead of 90% of your competition. However, keep in mind that this does not include the SEO portion that you will need in Phase 2.
Making Sure Everything Works
Before launching your site, it is CRITICAL to make sure everything works properly. Even something as simple as a link to another page not working can make you and your company look extremely unprofessional. Remember, this phase is called Building a Strong Foundation© for a reason. Having an aggressive timeline is acceptable, we work with plenty of clients who need websites done in under a month; however, test-runs need to be done prior to launch. We run our own tests, but I always recommend the client reviewing the page.
I personally recommend at least 5 full run throughs (each done by a different person) to see what does and does not work. I guarantee that there will be at least one typo, link, or image that isn't correct. Not only this, but you want to make sure that everything is formatted correctly on BOTH mobile and desktop devices.
This may seem like common sense, but I have seen many people make the mistake of rushing the launch of a site only to end up with small errors that make the site look amateurish. A bigger mistake I have seen is where the checkout feature on a product website doesn't work at all (This was not a site built by The HOTspot ;) )! Talk about missed opportunities!
The first phase is an exciting process for everyone involved. Your creativity and your ideas are put into existence in the form of your very own website! I always find joy in seeing our clients' faces whenever the site is officially launched. This process may be long and sometimes frustrating, but it is undoubtedly the most important one.
By having a strong foundation, you are well on your way to your company's success on your digital journey...