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5 Tips for an Organized, Powerful Website

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Hot tip: effective web design is about more than just visuals or code.

Organized content, an intentional user experience, and communicating a clear vision are all factors in designing a powerful website that converts.

Cornerstone content is any "permanent" content that lives on your site, and is likely displayed in pretty prominent areas.

(Examples: your About page, your Service description page, your Contact page, and anything else that acts as a major destination on your site.)

Use these 5 quick and easy tips to guide your website's cornerstone content strategy.

1 - Make it clear

No cutesy job titles that don't actually describe what you do. No rambling about random factoids and stories that aren't relevant to anything your audience is looking for. Edit it down until all that's left is the core info that describes what you do, who it's for, and how you deliver on it.

Everything within your cornerstone content should be working to support the same goals and messaging overall.

And it should absolutely be geared toward addressing the big question on the audience's mind: what does this mean for me?

If they can't figure it out, or they can't see the value of your work as it applies to them and their situation, those are lost opportunities to connect and turn visitors into clients and collaborators.

2 - Curate your content

It doesn't need to be a hub for every thought you've ever had.

If you have old content on your site (such as blog content), consider culling old posts if they don't fit with what you do today. All your content should be relevant to what your visitors are looking for when they land on your site, and the kinds of things you offer in total.

Your business is not your baby, and your website is not your dumping ground to share all your thoughts on everything.

Treat it like a digital gathering place, where the goal is connection and sales. Connection and sales, connection and sales.

Use this as your ultimate checkpoint. If what you're creating isn't likely to result in either a connection or a sale, or to at least prime your audience to eventually lead to a connection or a sale...let it go. Leave it out.

3 - Create clear pathways

A powerful website is intentionally designed, starting with the "bones" of the site and taking into account the overall experience for the audience.

Make it easy for people to find what they're looking for, or to do whatever it is you want them to do next.

Your website has a responsibility to guide people, and to lead them where you want them to go.

If you've got links all over the place, pointing every which way, with no clear hierarchy or general "path" to follow...it's going to feel very confusing and messy for the people trying to explore your site.

On your site overall:

Create one clear main navigation, and put those main links in multiple spots so visitors can't get lost.

On individual pages:

Use CTAs on your pages. Identify the next desired action you want them to take: book a project? Join your email list? View more of your work? What makes sense for that page?

Keep them simple, and make sure you're not dropping multiple CTAs in one spot to compete with each other--if you give people multiple options at one time, you're increasing the likelihood that they'll get overwhelmed and just close out of your site.

Don't force your audience to have to make decisions about where they want to go, when they've just gotten there and have no idea.

Don't force them to have to decode the priorities of your site amidst a sea of options that all look the same.

You design the experience. You create the path of navigation and highlight all the best stops along the way.

4 - Create an organized site map

Your site map is just a list of every page contained within your site.

Each page should serve a distinct and defined purpose. (No random pages or confusing links to everything, all over the place!)

Give your site map a hierarchy and a clear structure.

The top level pages are going to be your cornerstone content. Those pages may also link to more specific pages. Here's an example:

  • About
  •  Services
    • Web
    • Branding
    • Copywriting
  • Portfolio
    • Web
      • Individual projects
    • Logo
      • Individual projects
    • Illustration
      • Individual projects
  • Blog
    • Posts
  • Contact
  • Freebie Opt-in #1
  • Freebie Opt-in #2

...and on and on, as necessary.

See how the more specific pages are nested under their parent pages? The Services page links to more detailed pages for each of the services, and the Portfolio links to pages for each category, followed by individual project pages.

This is also a great way to visually see everything you've got going on, to see if there are places you could trim the fat or combine pages for simpler navigation.

In general, you'll want to avoid using more than 3 levels within your site map hierarchy.

5 - Choose photos carefully

Choose photos that fit a visual theme and tell a story.

Make sure to edit them in a similar style, for better cohesiveness. This editing style should fit with your site's overall color scheme. So, for example, if you're using lots of brightly saturated colors on your site, then a vintage-looking editing style may not be the way to go.

It should all fit together and support the same messaging and style standards.

I'm going to say something possibly-controversial here:

iPhone photos are 100% fine.

Honestly. iPhone's cameras are now advanced enough that most visitors to your site probably won't know the difference. (I'm an Apple girl myself, so I can't speak from experience with Android and other phones, but most phones today probably have solid, decent cameras.)

Just make sure any photos you take, whether with a phone or a DSLR, are well-lit (natural light is usually best), in focus, and use basic principles of good composition.

Notice that I did not say to throw iPhone selfies onto your site. In general, selfies do not belong on your website, unless the concept of the selfie has a specific and defined purpose within your brand. (Save them for your social media!)

If you just need pictures of yourself for your site, instead of trying to use a selfie, just get a cheap tripod on Amazon and use the camera's (or phone's) self-timer. It's easy and cheap, and it makes your site look a million times more credible and trustworthy.

Want to go deeper, and give your site a DIY audit for free?

Go grab my Website Audit freebie here!

xo Elizabeth

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