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Wendy Buckingham / Creator, Life Coaching Professionally
By: Paul Buckingham
Basic website mistakes can be both costly and demoralising for coaches. The 14 common mistakes and real life case study provide a powerful guideline for the care you need to take creating a life coaching website.
All too often that I hear a tail of website woe that starts with something like:
"The first thing I did was commission a website builder. He/she did a good job on my friend's site and it looks really good!"
That is the first website mistake! Commissioning a builder of a site with Wordpress or even choosing one of the heavily marketed brands like Squarespace, Wix, Weebly or GoDaddy is not where you need.
You wouldn’t go to a builder and just say, “I want you to build me a house” would you?
You’d list the features you wanted, look at other houses with similar features and have plans drawn by an architect to make sure you got what you needed. You would also make sure that the foundations were OK and that all the nuts and bolts were in the right place.
The same principle applies to creating your coaching website so that it actually does the job you want it to do.
It would be a huge mistake to just say to your website person “I want you to build me a website” because although they may be very good at building, they may know little about user-friendly site structure, SEO (search engine optimisation) or the many other factors that make sure your site will be actually found and visited.
If YOU don't know about these and your website designer doesn't know then it is like you are building a boat without an engine and a rudder.
Because platforms such as GoDaddy, Squarespace, Wix and Weebly advertise so heavily and have such a low cost entry level, life coaches often assume they are good platforms for promoting their business and by using them you will get your site found by someone looking for your services. Unfortunately it's just not the case.
While they are certainly stable and reliable, they do not adequately support you with quality education if you want to build a strong profile.
Unfortunately the majority of website builders make the same assumption that we do!
Common marketing lines such as 'Build Your Business In 5 minutes" or Get Online For Free" and other similar phrases generally mean that there will be hidden expenses which you hadn't bargained for.
One of the biggest design mistakes (and a common feature in basic templates) for popular website builders is the use of slideshows. They waste an awful amount of space, they slow down your site speed (very important) and almost no-one clicks on them.
A SearchEngineLand study way back in 2013, detailed a study that discovered that only two thirds of one percent (0.65) of visitors clicked on the slideshow. The stats were in even then and nothing has changed.
You may ask why website builders including many of the heavily advertised platforms use them so often if that is the case!? Because they look good! But they do nothing for your visitor.
There can be any number of reasons for this from oversized images to technically inefficient platforms. Whatever the reason, it affects the way Google and the other search engines rank your page so you need to find out why. Google has a very handy Page Speed Tester which will give you a good idea of how fast your site is loading.
Can you read this? Maybe you can. How about this?
Can you read this now?If you can, imagine a whole page of it.
The problem is that, even though you may be able to read text because you have
1) great eyesight
2) you are using a large desktop screen.
3). you are reading the page in good light,
there are many - quite likely within your audience - who may have poorer eyesight and struggle, creating a barrier between you and their experience of you.
So the issues are:
I'm not saying that you should not use nice fonts with a coloured background. Just do it judiciously.
This image is part of an excellent article by Conversioner.com about the emotional impact of website colours. But it is also a pretty good example of the colours that are succumbing to the common website mistakes are using. Nothing dark and dull here, so avoid them yourself!
I've already talked about the impact of large slideshows and how they can slow the site down. This doesn't mean that you can't have judicially placed images throughout a site. However you want to make sure they are as light in weight as possible.
This means using a free function such as Googles' Squoosh to lighten the weight before you upload it to your site.
I've already talked about font sizes, typeface and the colours you use. But there is more.
At the most basic level, there are many invisible website mistakes that affect those with visual, auditory and other physical disabilities.
While it is difficult to cover all the basis all the time, the really obvious subjects I have already covered are a good start. As well, take the time to add information to your images (called Alt Text) because those using a computer to read your content will need it. If you don't know how this works, your website support service will.
An excellent resource for understanding this area of accessibility is the work of the Web Accessibility Initiative, part of the World Wide Web Consortium.
The principles apply to anyone but if your coaching niche is specifically related to those who are physically impaired in some way, then this video from the same group is a wonderful introduction to all you can be doing.
If there was one over-riding issue for life coaching websites is hat the text is all about the coach - not the reader. They have come to you for help and, while they want to know about you they REALLY want to know you understand their issue (in general terms) and that you can help.
Review your content ruthlessly and if you are unable to do that, seek the help of someone who can help you identify your message such as Cindy Schulson from Marketing From Within who offers a free branding template on her website as well as offering loads more help.
How many times do you see coaching websites that have the same or similar pictures rom a library. Stand out by taking your own, creating your own or - um - paying for some pictures that are just a little different.
Canva for example allows you to pay US$1 for a picture although they also have many excellent items that are free. While a $1 may seem more than you can pay from other locations, on a site of even 30 pages, if there was one on every page, that is still only $30. Not bad for a lifetime of standing out!
Equally, Unspalsh.com has a a wide range of free images which are well worth looking at.
These are significant hidden traps and each is worth a page on their own.
One of the most significant privacy laws to come into place in the last few years is called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Basically it requires site owners to ensure that visitors know what they are asking for when they give away their email addresses. Even though this was European focussed it affects everyone because your visitors may either be in Europe or a Euro citizen.
Here' a brief outline of what you need to be compliant, from an excellent SiteSell article on the subject. It applies if you are asking visitors for their email address for any reason but it also affects your relationship with Google. More on that in the next biggest website mistakes people make.
Because Google seems to dominate our daily internet life it's hard to imagine that we could ignore it. Yet most website owners do, which is why most websites get almost no visitor traffic without advertising.
Ignoring GDPR, having a slow website, having content that is hard to read or not relevant to your intended visitor are all reasons why your website will not fair well in the search engines and you will not be found. Take the time to understand what Google needs and it will transform the way your site gets found by your potential clients.
Of course your website does not live in isolation yet many coaches will have a website but little other other online presence. This article will help you resolve that mistake. Created again by SiteSell it covers 23 ways to earn free traffic and most don't involve Google!
Lexie, (not her real name) a high school English teacher, had a wonderful idea for an online business. It actually inspired me! She was setting up a an online business for teaching English to Japanese and other Asian students.
She knew there was a demand for this and saw this business niche as a way to get out of face-to-face teaching, which she was not enjoying, and to provide for her into retirement
Unfortunately, by the time she came to me to coach her through the process, she had already commissioned the website to a local designer.
One of the first things I asked Lexie was
“is your designer able to handle the SEO (search engine optimisation) component of the website?”
Despite my prompts, and emphasising the importance of a website for an online business being functional, engaging and easily found - as well as looking good - her answer was vague
She also didn’t want me to see the website until it was finished so I had no option but to go along with that. I was her coach not her website person!
Lexie was wonderfully proactive in the other aspects of setting up her online business. She created a really snazzy logo, sourced and engaged suitable teachers to take the flood of enquiries she was expecting when the website was launched. She had all the systems and schedules in place and had asked the designer to set her up a a booking system for eager Asian students.
During our coaching sessions, however, Lexie did admit she had some issues with the designer not doing what she asked, did not have the right idea about the visitor experience and putting in stuff she hadn’t asked for. We had several conversations to help her resolve this but still insisted staying with the designer was her best option.
I would add that this website was not a “cheapy” no frills website such as Wix or Weeby, but was costing her thousands of dollars to have built. The designer had also locked Lexie into a plan where there were costs for every change made to the content.
Just before launch date I got to see the website. It was quite impressive, with huge moving pictures and lots of gimmicks. It looked good - but apart from not having the SEO keyword components to enable it to be found , it had scrappy content, didn't engage the visitor, was hard to navigate and had no real call to action.
I knew she was heading for a website disaster and there was nothing I could do to help her.
So launch day for the website came with much anticipation.
Two weeks later Lexie is on the phone in a panic - the anticipated flood of enquiries and bookings had not come - not one.
Despite my warnings, she had been convinced that in the words from the film Field of Dreams “If you build it they will come”. They hadn’t!
Also Lexie and the designer had overlooked the fact that it needed to have a translation facility so its could be read in Japanese and other Asian languages - her target market.
Lexie regretfully realised, her expensive website simply had not been designed or built to do the job of an online business.
There was nothing else to do but for Lexie to extricate herself from her website designer and more or less start again. It set back the launch of her her new online business months at considerable cost to her both financially and emotionally.
This story is not unique. I often hear similar sad and frustrated tales from coaches who have built a good looking website that simply doesn’t do the job of helping create a profitable coaching practice.
And this is why I the recommend the system I used Solo Build It (SBI!). It's a complete online business building platform that you can entirely create yourself or get one of Solo Built It’s coaches to help you at very reasonable rates. SBI!s unique and critical point of difference is that you don't have to work with plugins, learn code and it has a proven Action Guide that supports you to build the business from day one, avoiding critical errors like Lexie. It really is worth checking out.
And if you already have a Wordpress website and have the knowhow to navigate your way through Wordpress without ongoing expensive technical help, SBI have an add on, SBI For Wordpress that includes their unique Action Guide and other proven online business building tools.
I've lots more vital tips on creating a website that looks good AND does it's job as an online business in Life Coaching Websites That Work