How Small Businesses Can Build Better Websites
A website attracts more consumers and helps promote what your company does, why should the visitor care about your brand, and why should that visitor do something about it right now.
Hosted by Kevin Dieny
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[00:00:00] Kevin Dieny: Hello, welcome to the Close The Loop podcast. Today, we’re going to be talking about how to build better websites. How do small businesses build better websites? How do businesses who are local businesses? How are businesses that are of all types, get a better website built? And this is a topic that’s probably in that sphere of like, oh man, you got to talk about it every six months, every couple of years again, because the internet is always changing.
[00:00:26] Kevin Dieny: And while that I think that’s true, to some extent, there is a lot of what happens in websites that is core. That probably doesn’t change as often as we think it does. And to talk about that with us today, I a really special guest. I brought Ryan Lonac, on with us, and he is the president of RWL design, where he leads a focused team that works with businesses and nonprofits to build effective online presence’s.
[00:00:54] Kevin Dieny: Together, they have helped many companies grow and succeed for more than 15 years. So he comes with a lot of experience and over a long span of time. Ryan cares about providing value and setting their agency apart with dedication and integrity. He and his wife have a lovely two year old, the terrible twos, I love that age, and an incredible labradoodle that they love to bring and join in on their adventures; hiking and exploring the Pacific Northwest. So welcome, Ryan.
[00:01:23] Ryan Lonac: Thank you, Kevin. It’s great to be here. I really appreciate, being on the podcast with you. This is fun.
[00:01:27] Kevin Dieny: Yeah. This is a topic that I think some businesses are like, uh, I’ll only worry about the website when it’s time to rebuild or build my website. But there are some really important things in here
[00:01:38] Ryan Lonac: Oh, for sure. No. And it’s, it is true. It always seems like, the website can sometimes be some of the latter part of the priority list. And unfortunately, I think that can impact a lot of how that marketing push results.
[00:01:52] Ryan Lonac: So this is a great, I’m glad we’re talking about this today, because it is something that’s very important and something that should be top of mind and in the planning phase for whether a business is starting out, or if they’re planning a new product line or a new push or a new market expansion, for sure.
[00:02:08] Kevin Dieny: Its not necessarily a once every few years type of thing, or however often a business thinking about refreshing their website. Because it does guide the marketing strategy, the marketing plan, how a business is thinking, how am I going to acquire business? How am I going to keep the business I have?
[00:02:22] Kevin Dieny: How am I going to continue to grow my business? How that works and how that functions for each business is definitely something to consider. But the website is something that’s come up before in other conversations we’ve had on here. And it’s often been referred to as the central hub of how a lot of marketing will connect.
[00:02:39] Ryan Lonac: And that’s a good, that’s actually a great point. If you’re starting a new marketing campaign, it’s incredibly important to test messaging, to think about what’s going to be the funnel for these marketing campaigns. But a lot of times what we see a lot of customers, just don’t put an emphasis on what is the experience going to be when a new customer engages with the ad and reaches the website.
[00:03:02] Ryan Lonac: That’s almost as important as planning the campaign itself is what’s the goal. What’s the outcome? What are the barriers people are going to face if a company is spending money on advertising because pay-per-click advertising, content marketing, they all have long-term costs.
[00:03:17] Ryan Lonac: And if part of that cost budget doesn’t include thinking about, what is the user going to do? When they get to the landing page or the website. Then a lot of that marketing dollars can be not utilized as well, because maybe they won’t convert as to the needs of the company.
[00:03:38] Kevin Dieny: Yeah. I think every business is thinking every dollar I spend here is a dollar I could have spent somewhere else. It’s always that trade off, like opportunity costs kind of an idea. And so here’s a question for you, Ryan, this has cost wrapped around it. Sometimes a large cost for a smaller business, but it is so important.
[00:03:56] Kevin Dieny: So why is a website so important for a small business?
[00:04:00] Ryan Lonac: I think there’s a lot of really good answers to that. But one of the most important ones is that the business has a platform that they manage and control. Social media is so important. Customer interactions are vital and a lot of that, begins and happens on Twitter, on Facebook, depending on your type of business, maybe LinkedIn or even Instagram or Snapchat or any of the, popular social networks.
[00:04:23] Ryan Lonac: But those are all profiles owned by other companies and you’re using those profiles under their terms. For the most part restrictions that are good, but some things sometimes don’t make sense. Like for example, we had a customer that, uh, we were scratching our heads.
[00:04:39] Ryan Lonac: They lost access to their advertising account, on a whim. And it took a couple of weeks to figure out that the platform had mistakenly blocked their account and they were like, we’re sorry, we didn’t mean to do that. But that was like two weeks where they couldn’t advertise on the platform.
[00:04:54] Ryan Lonac: So, if all your eggs are in other people’s baskets, I think that can be a long-term issue. On the other side of the scale, if it’s a local restaurant, being able to just have a dedicated place for your regular customers to look at the menu, you know, it’s sometimes a simple thing as that is, I’d love to get ordered takeout, but how do I know what to order?
[00:05:14] Ryan Lonac: And even if having a website just for that is hugely vital for your core customers.
[00:05:21] Kevin Dieny: Yeah, I think it something where. If the business has a website, there’s something about credibility that, that tells the consumer. Whether it’s a business that may not think that a website like a restaurant is probably a really good example.
[00:05:36] Kevin Dieny: Dental practices, healthcare may think, look, they’re trapped in their insurance. They’re going to come wherever they have to go. What do we need a website for? But there’s a lot of reasons to have the website. So do you want to highlight some of those reasons?
[00:05:48] Ryan Lonac: Yeah. I mean, also too, you know, in today’s age, everyone is researching a business before they go there, right? They’re searching in Google, they’re asking for, feedback from their friends. Like, hey, I need an XYZ. Who do you recommend? And chances are, they’re going to look at the social profiles they’re going to see, are they on Facebook?
[00:06:05] Ryan Lonac: Are they on Twitter? How often are they posting? What’s their website? Can they get the information they need from the website before they make decision to call? Cause that’s one thing too. We have remember if you put on your consumer glasses and point of view as a business owner, it’s easy to get tied up and just always think of your business from the business side.
[00:06:21] Ryan Lonac: Once you stop and take a moment to think about whats your experiences when you’re looking for the things you need at other businesses, it’s just as a consumer is like, can you contact the business? Do they have helpful information? Does their website load, is it slow?
[00:06:34] Ryan Lonac: Can you access it on your phone? There’s all these little barriers that could prevent you from choosing to call a business. The website is just a great place because you can have your information there. You can highlight new services, especially if you’re an e-commerce store.
[00:06:48] Ryan Lonac: The last year, how many, there’s been a lot of businesses that have had to, move forward with an online e-commerce solution that maybe with the roadmap was a little farther down the road and because everything that has happened, right?
[00:06:57] Ryan Lonac: That’s been pushed up, you know, showcasing the breadth of your categories or your services or products on the homepage is vital because then they see, oh, they offer this, this and this. They’re not just selling this. And that’s incredibly important for e-commerce. Not, not just to highlight the what’s on sale or what’s new, but what types of products are available?
[00:07:19] Kevin Dieny: Yeah, that’s a really big deal. Business only doing one specific thing may think well… People know what we do. But what about packages? What about other services you offer, websites that place that people can see more about you that makes this becoming more important too. Who is this business? What do they represent?
[00:07:36] Kevin Dieny: What are their values? Sustainability, things come up, questions like that. How long have they been around for? The research that consumers are doing, even if you don’t believe in it, and you think, oh, they’re just going to call whether, they have a problem or whatever. That’s becoming more and more important to consumers.
[00:07:51] Kevin Dieny: So it’s gotta become a little bit more important to businesses. You also mentioned a huge point there. The calamity that has happened to the world recently. It’s forced businesses who were like, I’m only, an in-person kind of a business to then rethink well, maybe I should jump into e-commerce, e-business, e-marketing, maybe I should have more of an internet based presence.
[00:08:17] Kevin Dieny: It does allow for scaling. Whereas a business may be localized, maybe thinking well I’m only serving the customers around here. Now it’s opened doors for businesses in a huge way. Like you’ve mentioned.
[00:08:28] Ryan Lonac: Yeah. And also, like you said, it humanizes a business if your blog is active. Not only are you always wanting to to write about and push why the services you offer are great, but you know, you can humanize, like, what’s the story.
[00:08:40] Ryan Lonac: Why, we have this new initiative to, support a local charity. There’s a lot of local businesses here just north of Seattle. One comes to mind, our accountant that we use, it’s really neat to know how they support the local arts and they make note of that and they support that on their website and they make that clear and that’s one way to help them identify with their customers in a more personal way.
[00:09:02] Ryan Lonac: So there’s exactly there’s ways to showcase the business, on the website in more than just highlighting products or services and that social proof of reviews and testimonials, that’s huge and it’s hugely important for business to have a place that can centralize and display those.
[00:09:20] Ryan Lonac: There are a lot of services that make it easier to get testimonials, but again, it’s great to have a website where you can place those. That’s not on the whims of another service as well. And that’s, I guess that’s another side reason for having your own website.
[00:09:37] Kevin Dieny: Those are some really good points and you’ve laid out a lot of things that some might consider, like are essential components of a website. So do you think you could break down, in terms of what a company should be thinking about, what are the components of a website that are essential for most businesses that they should have on their website?
[00:09:57] Kevin Dieny: What are the basics, probably the things that we had alluded to earlier that are probably not going to change as much that are typical standard norms that people expect to find on a website. What things should a business be thinking have to be on the website to make sure that it is successful?
[00:10:12] Ryan Lonac: I think in the long-term, a lot of those questions are going to have to involve some customer research. That seems to be really evident just in a lot of customer projects is that we can make guesses. We can make decisions from experience or from customer feedback or previous customer feedback, maybe business insider knowledge of the client, but when the rubber meets the road, the customer is visiting that website.
[00:10:40] Ryan Lonac: They may have a completely different experience when they get there. And so we have to do the best job we can to do best practices, to build a good website. But we also need to get that feedback once it goes live. And that’s, I think that’s part of the conversation we’ve alluded to, is like, how often does the website get updated, what’s that feedback cycle.
[00:10:58] Ryan Lonac: Launching a website it’s like, an introduction to a novel. You’re setting the stage and then once it’s live, you’re going to have to revisit it fairly often just to make sure you’re reducing those barriers that come up that prevent users from taking action. But as far as the website, it’s great to have your value statement very clear.
[00:11:18] Ryan Lonac: There’s a few things like we try to avoid now. Like I love carousels. I always have, but users for the most part, just don’t interact with them. There was a time period when carousels were the big thing on the top of the website. And what happens though is they might see the first slide. They may see the second slide and then they will like never see the other slides.
[00:11:38] Ryan Lonac: So having that clear call to action basically that value statement and then letting the user know who you are, what’s the value, what’s the outcome of them choosing you and then some kind of call to action to let them know what action you’re hoping they make.
[00:11:55] Ryan Lonac: There’s also great to have, social proof testimonials, that can be customers you’ve worked with, or if it’s big, if you’re a business that has worked with, common names, listing those businesses that you’ve worked with, that can be a huge credibility boost.
[00:12:10] Ryan Lonac: People will scan websites, they won’t read everything until they do, which is kind of a funny thought. The idea is that writing for the web is different than writing for a paper or a novel or an email. Right? So having clear defined headers that can guide a user down a page and then let them stop to read more information when it resonates.
[00:12:32] Ryan Lonac: There’s an idea of what’s called a screen full. There’s the hero of the page where the top above the fold, which is usually the portion of the screen of a website you see before you start scrolling down. We consider a screen full, like every section of the website, that’s visible on one screen at a time. If the hero section is the top above the fold, as you start scrolling down, the next row of content would be the next screen full.
[00:12:58] Ryan Lonac: Having a clear way to contact that business or to take an action on every screen full is helpful, especially in the days where, we’re designing for companies that the experience, the websites on the desktop, it’s on a laptop, it’s on a tablet, it’s on a phone. So having that website scale down so that when you’re browsing on the phone versus browsing on a desktop, you’re not just seeing walls of text on a phone and really great white space on desktop.
[00:13:28] Ryan Lonac: You’re seeing the website scale appropriately and every screen full, whether it’s the height of the iPhone or the height of a desktop, there’s ways to contact that business if that’s the outcome. I think having an about page, about pages are huge because Kevin, like you were alluding to is, what’s the longevity of the business?
[00:13:46] Ryan Lonac: What’s their mission? What’s their goal? Who’s on the team? Having a blog is great for long-term marketing. Organic search is fantastic in the longterm because that can help you drive traffic to your site, without relying on paying for traffic. It’s a longer term goal, but having that content is there.
[00:14:06] Ryan Lonac: And then the great thing too is if you have a blog, not only can you do, posts that talk about your services or promote your services or answer questions. They can also be like, FAQ’s, it could be, a common question about a product or a service that keeps coming up again, and again. You could do an in-depth article to answer that and then that could be one resource.
[00:14:27] Ryan Lonac: Your customer service team could refer people to. There’s great ways to integrate that. Making it easy to contact a business, whether it’s through a live chat, live chat can be effective. There’s a lot of chat bot options there. You can link to articles.
[00:14:39] Ryan Lonac: You can have a chat bot that helps find people, but if you do do a chat bot always make it clear. How to get in touch with a real person. I think that’s a barrier that people forget about is they want these automated chatbots to feed people to FAQ’s or to support things. But, always give an option to talk to somebody if it’s possible.
[00:14:59] Ryan Lonac: Contact pages, making it clear how to contact someone. The service pages are really important. You have to plan and think ahead, what’s the problem the user’s having. What’s the solution your business is providing, and what’s the outcome that, that person’s going to have by choosing your business and making that clear on the page.
[00:15:21] Ryan Lonac: And sometimes what we think is clear is not always what users think is clear. And that’s why I’m so glad we’re doing this podcast because there’s this mindset that I think everyone has to get into is that when the website is done, the page is launched. That’s just the beginning.
[00:15:35] Ryan Lonac: And that can be hard to budget for, but if, if you stick with it and you watch what problems users are having and address those problems, then those pages will be more successful. The website will be more successful and the business will be more successful.
[00:15:49] Ryan Lonac: Another plug there’s a service that we love to use called Wynter. They do incredible copy and messaging testing, which is sort of a new thing. User testing has been around a long time. We like to do a five second test is fantastic, where you take a screenshot and you select the panel and then they get five seconds to look at it.
[00:16:07] Ryan Lonac: And then you ask one question, like, what is this page? What product is selling? Where was the contact button? Things like that. And if they can’t answer that in five seconds, then you know, there’s a design problem. But you don’t know unless you test it right. Same way with messaging with Wynter, you can do, content testing.
[00:16:23] Ryan Lonac: And so once you’ve spent all that time writing the homepage or writing the about page or the service landing page. You can test with your own demographic panel or you can use their selected panel and they give really good feedback and they have a great set of default questions.
[00:16:36] Ryan Lonac: They’re great because then you can see, is the messaging clear? Does it resonate? Does it communicate what you’re wanting to communicate? Because the problem we’ve seen a lot with customers over the years is that they’ll just spend so much on advertising, but then never address the website.
[00:16:51] Ryan Lonac: They’re sending all these people to the website, but then once they get to the website, the messaging of the ads does not match the messaging of the webpage because maybe it’s out of date. And then they don’t know what to do and they bounce. And then they’re like, well, we’re spending money on advertising, but we’re not getting customers.
[00:17:05] Ryan Lonac: So that’s, that’s almost like you gotta close the loop, close the loop.
[00:17:12] Kevin Dieny: Yeah, exactly. So you’d laid out a lot of really, really awesome essentials there for building a website. And I want to touch on something that’s been an undercurrent through this whole thing, which is, what is the business trying to use the website to achieve? You mentioned they’re trying to, you know, there’s FAQ’s or maybe we’re trying to educate people, is that what our websites for?
[00:17:34] Kevin Dieny: You mentioned menus, right? We’re trying to help people understand what it is we do. You mentioned chat, are we just trying to engage, are we trying to bridge a conversation with people? You also mentioned customers, are we just, at the end of the day selling? What are the purposes behind a website? And what is it a business’s ultimately using a website, from the business perspective, to achieve?
[00:17:57] Ryan Lonac: That’s a really great point and it’s easy to skip over. A homepage, for example, doesn’t have to do everything for an organization. A service page, doesn’t have to do everything. And I think that was part of the problem, like 10 years ago with the idea of those really fun, fun, fancy sliders.
[00:18:16] Ryan Lonac: Everything was trying to be everything on the homepage. I think that’s something the business has to decide, or maybe he gets help to decide of, what’s the goal? What are they trying to work with? And that’s the same, as I love that you bring this up.
[00:18:26] Ryan Lonac: Cause it’s the same on social media is the same on your Facebook page. It’s the same with this podcast, what is the outcome? What is the purpose? And what are we trying to do? The size of the website kinda needs to basically be the size of the objectives of the business. And how does that get realized and how many pages does it take to answer those questions?
[00:18:46] Ryan Lonac: Google has done a lot in search over the last 20 years, right? Like, think about where it started, where it is now. they’re always pushing out updates. How Google indexes a business is always changing. And I, but I think the one constant thing that a business can do is make sure that there’s good content on the page.
[00:19:08] Ryan Lonac: That’s written by them or written for them. That’s not copied from somewhere else that answers the questions that communicates what they’re trying to present to the users for their services and reduce that biggest thing is just like reducing those barriers. I ordered some takeout for dinner yesterday and it was kinda hard finding the menu. It’s a place that I go and love, but we were like, well, let’s try something like something new on the menu, but it was hard to find.
[00:19:31] Ryan Lonac: So I think if you’re a restaurant, the website’s always at the bottom of the list for sure. Cause there’s so many costs of launching the kitchen, getting employees, getting all the certificates and the local codes, regulations. The website’s always kind of last thing, but if your purpose is a restaurant, then, making the menu really accessible, really easy to find, and also too… Think about the customer experience.
[00:19:57] Ryan Lonac: Most of the time, if someone’s looking up your menu, they’re probably looking on their phone. So having a contact button for a click to call. I see a lot of restaurants, they don’t have a button that can just trigger a phone call with their phone number. The phone number is just text on the page. Having that a clickable link, is huge. Just something like that.
[00:20:14] Ryan Lonac: We haven’t really talked about accessibility too. Having the website up to date modern, and accessible is huge because there’s a large portion of everyone’s customer base that have disabilities of some kind that influences how they use and interact with the web.
[00:20:31] Ryan Lonac: There’s many, many different types of issues that a person can be facing. I think a lot more people have some issue than people recognize. And there’s a great service that we have to recommend to almost all our customers is called AccessiBe.
[00:21:12] Ryan Lonac: It’s always great to be compliant with those new standards, but the specs for those are really difficult and long. So a service like this is so great because it can help a lot of people use the website that may not have been able to before. So that’s another thing to think about. And that’s an ongoing cost.
[00:21:31] Ryan Lonac: I feel like every year there’s like some new costs, like there was SSL. That was a new cost before their websites didn’t need to be secured. Well, every site needs to be secure now that’s the one thing that everything we put on the list. But there’s great solutions for that. Let’s encrypt is a fantastic organization that’s funded by almost every major tech company to provide free SSL certificates.
[00:21:54] Ryan Lonac: The entry level barred entry on that has, is so much lower because you can use Let’s Encrypt. Same with now Accessibee. It used to be really, really hard to make sure the website was accessible. It’s a little easier now, that costs money, but that’s okay because there’s a larger benefit for it. I think that’s an important thing that needs to get addressed too.
[00:22:13] Kevin Dieny: Yeah, there’s a few things in there that I think are really, really important. I didn’t even consider the accessibility component of this, which is a huge deal, especially something that has come off and come up for me, like during testing. But one of the things I like to think about is some pages definitely have a purpose.
[00:22:31] Kevin Dieny: If my website is built for acquisition, then it’s going to be super aligned on SEO, super aligned on ad keywords. I really want to acquire people. It’s going to be ultra designed to bring people in. Now, if that’s all it is, then that website is going to fall on the next two things. I got to get people to scroll, to click, to navigate. The behavioral bit will drop, will fall through. And then finally the conversion part, right? If all you’re focused on is getting people to the site and there’s no way for people to contact your business, that’s a fall through too.
[00:23:02] Kevin Dieny: Right. So you have to do the three and juggling the three is a little difficult, I think, because you’re trying to bring the right people to your site, how interested are they at this time? What’s their behavior? Are they clicking, consuming, reading, watching a video, scrolling, you know, are, are they just bouncing that sort of, even if it’s the right people that sort of indicates maybe not right now.
[00:23:24] Kevin Dieny: Once they’ve decided that they want to contact your business, is there an easy way for them to do that somewhere, somehow? And so, doing the three is difficult because you might make a lot of your website about educating people, but then not as much heavy on converting them.
[00:23:41] Kevin Dieny: Some websites today are all about converting and it gets a little heavy there, go ahead Ryan.
[00:23:46] Ryan Lonac: Yeah, I think that can makes another point too. If you’re just always selling, then that is exhausting as a user, right? One other way to lighten that is building your newsletter list. That’s a huge thing that can be centered around your website.
[00:24:00] Ryan Lonac: You can have interstitial popups, that help someone or maybe they offer them a coupon as a way of exchanging that email. That email list is huge and still email today is still one of the highest ROI channels. It’s worth every dollar to get someone into your email list, just so that you can message them.
[00:24:18] Ryan Lonac: You can tell them about sales. You can tell them about new initiatives and you can humanize. Every email doesn’t have to be a sales email. You get a lot of emails from large companies that are just always pushing the sales, and that can work. That’s fine.
[00:24:30] Ryan Lonac: But you know, if you can differentiate by offering that human side, like that’s another way to bridge that gap and, and make a more holistic experience for the customers.
[00:24:40] Kevin Dieny: I think some businesses also look at this too, like, okay, I put all these resources and all this time and effort and energy and got all the experts in and built a really amazing website five years ago. Maybe eight years ago. So you brought it up earlier, so how often should a business be re updating their website or, and then if you could also touch on how often should a business be trying to optimize or improve the current website that they have?
[00:25:05] Kevin Dieny: Cause you said getting the website builds kind of the starting line.
[00:25:08] Ryan Lonac: A lot of it depends on the size of the business and the scale. You and I met through CXL. They have amazing resources for learning how to do a lot of these things. Of testing and researching and understanding the behavior of users. A lot of talks or a lot of their articles referenced booking.com and they’re always testing, like they’re running dozens, dozens of tests, like simultaneously because they have enough traffic to do so.
[00:25:35] Ryan Lonac: That testing mindset is, is we present our best idea. Our best guess of what we think is gonna be useful, but you have to set aside the ego and be humble and be like, okay, how does this actually work for our users? And they’re just gathering it because they want to provide the best answers for their customers.
[00:25:55] Ryan Lonac: They want them to find the best hotel, the best airlines for their customers. And I think that applies to all the businesses too. Testing is a regular thing. The great example of, of like when we did this optimized process five years ago, you know, just in the last five years, it was in huge legal changes in privacy.
[00:26:35] Ryan Lonac: Just from the standpoint of limiting liability, having that website updated regularly is good. Plus the other side is, with how Google algorithms change speed is a big indicator. What was fast five years ago is not fast now. And that’s just because of how the technology changes.
[00:26:53] Ryan Lonac: We went from HTTP one now we’re HTTP two and there’s HTTP three. And that protocol of basically how browsers connect to servers change. There’s the big change of how it prioritizes loading files.
[00:27:26] Ryan Lonac: Those technology shifts happen probably on a year and a half to two year cycle. This is a great example. Images are typically the largest bottleneck on a page loading. If the images aren’t optimized, you could be adding multiple seconds of load time.
[00:27:45] Ryan Lonac: Just in the last few years, there’s many better ways to load images. The standard strategy used to be to lazy load the images if the image wasn’t on the screen was that on the current screen full, it would get delayed to loading until maybe just before.
[00:28:14] Ryan Lonac: And that will make the site faster too. Because you can do a lot of that stuff natively now. Technological changes in the hosting of websites that has changed that could make your site faster, which would make your site more profitable as well.
[00:28:29] Ryan Lonac: I think a business needs to have an annual budget for regular testing, because think about this too, let’s say a website launches in January and then a new product or a new marketing push starts in June. The messaging in January may not match the messaging needed for that campaign in June.
[00:28:47] Ryan Lonac: So that’s one reason why I like to try to always get feedback from users. Hotjar is a great service that websites can use to get feedback. You can do polls, you can do mouse tracking is really, really a neat feature. If you have a desktop presence, cause you can see if they’re browsing and then their mouse gets really erratic, that means, oh, they’re, they’re probably frustrated.
[00:29:10] Ryan Lonac: Which is fine. It’s great to know these things because then you can fix it. If you know users are having a frustrating experience, then you can address that and then you can give them a better experience. Cause that’s what we want to do. Right. We want to help the users make the best decision.
[00:29:23] Kevin Dieny: Yeah. Yeah. That is absolutely true. That the better you serve your consumers, the better and happier and the easier they’re going to find their way through the path that you want them to go through. Everything you’ve just said, brought up something partway through that. I was like, I got to remember to ask this.
[00:29:38] Kevin Dieny: I just remembered it again right now. And that was okay. A business has decided they want to build or rebuild or something to get their website going. Right. There’s what I would call on the shelf, like template types of sites. A lot of entrepreneurs are going to be like, look, I don’t have any money.
[00:29:54] Kevin Dieny: I’m just going to grab a Squarespace or Wix or a WordPress theme, and I’m going to throw it in there. I’m just stuck with what I have and move forward. But at some point, when they’re ready when they’re their businesses that small business and they’re ready to pay attention to it, get it going, invest in it.
[00:30:11] Kevin Dieny: What are some of the things that you would suggest they do in the next 90 days of beginning this process, what are some really important things they should consider to build a better website?
[00:30:21] Ryan Lonac: I think you have to do you’re best trying to do customer interviews. Schedule a few, especially using this on like recurring customers. Try to figure out what troubles do they have? What was, what was their experience?
[00:30:31] Ryan Lonac: What was the one thing that almost stopped them from buying from you or contacting you? And that’s something that you can start asking even right now, before you do a redesign or an expansion of your website. I always try to think like A, how do they find you ask how they, how they found you. And, what was the one thing that almost stopped them from choosing you?
[00:30:50] Ryan Lonac: Those two pieces alone can be really valuable. And if you just ask that and you get a steady flow over like a couple months, that’s some really good actionable data. And that can start small. At launch make sure that there is a site map. Site map is submitted. Make sure that there is SSL.
[00:31:07] Ryan Lonac: One thing that actually we’ve seen a lot of people forget to do is if you’re using a contact form and that contact form is using a mailing service, a transactional mail service to send them the notification. To make sure that that transactional outgoing email has the correct DNS, so that it’s authenticated to your domain.
[00:31:49] Ryan Lonac: Those are all things now, even if you’re in the United States, not every state requires that, that consent for cookies. So ever since 2018, that’s been a big thing. You want to make sure that’s active. The only tricky thing though is to consider, even if you use a cookie compliant or GDPR compliant, analytics, you’re still probably using cookies in some fashion. Like if you’re embedding a video or you have social sharing buttons, so chances are, you’re still probably going to need a cookie consent banner, even if you’re just using analytics.
[00:32:21] Ryan Lonac: One thing we try to always do too, is if you’re launching, if you’re doing a relaunch, try to, look at all the URLs that are in search and you can do that with search console, or you can even just do a Google search and do a site search and just find all the URLs that, Google has listed and are there redirects to the new pages.
[00:32:44] Ryan Lonac: You want to limit 4 0 4 is as much as possible. 404s would be like a, not found error page because that just takes away your gamut of space on Google. So like making sure that the links, if you do a URL structure change, make sure that those get redirected accordingly.
[00:32:58] Ryan Lonac: So you don’t lose those search listings. Making sure that, Google local, your profile set up with, your hours, your information, your contact. You can also use it like a mini social network. Like you can post, if you post an update on Facebook, you can also post that on your Google local listing, which is helpful.
[00:33:14] Ryan Lonac: If you’re in an area with a large Microsoft presence, then, Bing local pages is worth considering too. Moz local is really cool. Moz is a great platform for understanding, how your site is ranking and how to research and better position your site for ranking. But one of their, one of their services is a local feature.
[00:33:32] Ryan Lonac: Just helps you keep your information up to date on various local citations or, or properties and they can use Google local and Bing as sort of the canonical listings, and then use that data to submit it to all the other search directories. That that’s a helpful thing. That’s pretty minimal cost.
[00:33:47] Ryan Lonac: Making sure that your social profiles have the right links that they’re interlinked to the website, all that. Making sure that the site is working, that, the hosting is squared away.
[00:34:13] Ryan Lonac: No matter what scale of business, think about like, like Kevin, you had a great point. What’s the purpose of this page? What are we hoping the user to do? Are we helping the user understand and know what to do? And that can be as simple or that can be a complicated sale, right?
[00:34:30] Ryan Lonac: That can be, range of difficulty of objective, but, it’s something that you can take, pause and consider at any scale of business.
[00:34:42] Kevin Dieny: Wow, so I would say if you were to draw three main bullet points from this episode, I would say the first one would be. My websites hugely important, no matter who and what I am. So what does that mean? That means pretty much most of your marketing is going to use a website, like a nervous system.
[00:35:00] Kevin Dieny: It’s going to be the hub of a lot of email, a lot of advertisements. A lot of your branding’s coming from there. The designing of everything comes from there. You’re going to learn a ton about your consumers on your website. There’s so many tools to help you understand and get a better idea of them.
[00:35:15] Kevin Dieny: It’s really a critical place. The second thing you may look on it as the website has to be serving the business. It’s built for consumers, but it’s got to serve the business. And by that, I mean, the business has to know what’s going on there. They have to have an idea of what tests are doing there, what the purpose of its pages are, what it’s trying to get out of the website. Get consumers, get sales, get more interaction, educate people, and they have to have a good foundation of what that’s doing.
[00:35:43] Kevin Dieny: I don’t think it’s, a… have someone else build it for me, it’s built and then I never look at it again. It’s got to be something that is, is actually serving the business. Not necessarily getting in the way, eating up budget, just to eat a budget. There’s gotta be a more profound purpose for it. And there, there are tons of them and you can get help figuring that out.
[00:36:03] Kevin Dieny: And you can find people who know what they’re talking about, who can help you, who can guide you. It’s something that’s so hard for businesses who are wearing a lot of hats to switch to okay, right now, I’m building this and over here, I’m doing marketing. And over here, I’m trying to have an equal balance of my life and my hours and trying to stay alive and healthy.
[00:36:23] Kevin Dieny: I wouldn’t say maybe the best word to call it is a mess, but that’s sorta what it sometimes feels like. I think if you put some time into getting the website built, that’s the first part, like Ryan said, the second part is, okay, now I’ve got the website. How do I make sure that all the guesses and assumptions we made, which is pretty much a lot, are working?
[00:36:43] Kevin Dieny: Start with the most important thing. I would usually suggest start with the thing that’s closest to the sale, because that’s probably gonna mean dollars and cents and then work back.
[00:36:54] Ryan Lonac: That’s a really good point. That’s a really good point. Yeah. Like start at the end of the funnel. When you start in your, in your optimizations versus the broad view. That’s great point.
[00:37:02] Kevin Dieny: I always start there and it’s usually because well, okay, I can justify my tests because it’s affecting dollars. The visitors are super critical, but it’s not in the bandwidth of every business to be able to run a thousand tests and tests are so important.
[00:37:14] Kevin Dieny: So it’s like, I need, a thousand, 10,000 visitors, it’s going to take me six months to get that. So if I’m going to spend six months testing, only one thing, that one thing has got to be important. That one thing has got to be useful.
[00:37:27] Kevin Dieny: There is some technical stuff that has gone on in this. And that’s looked at like, maybe I shouldn’t be doing this, but it is something, a business owner can. They don’t necessarily have to be the expert the rocket scientist here. There’s proper terminology for this, but at the same time, it can be translated in a way that makes sense to you.
[00:37:46] Kevin Dieny: If someone who can help explain that to you might be a good way to get started. You’re not necessarily looking to walk away with a PhD in web design here. A lot of businesses can get by, by having that fundamental understanding of, okay, I’m just trying to accomplish this on this page.
[00:38:19] Kevin Dieny: Let’s say of all that’s wrapped up in this.
[00:38:23] Ryan Lonac: Yeah, that’s a great, that’s a really good point too. You shouldn’t be afraid to make changes, right? You kind of know if it’s not working, if you’re not seeing results. So even if you don’t have a lot of traffic, like don’t focus on changing a button color, change on change something big. Yeah, like swap out the image on the hero and the text and see if that makes a change, do bigger changes at the same time.
[00:38:42] Ryan Lonac: If there’s not enough traffic to get really focused feedback. And try things and don’t be afraid to try things. There’s a lot of tools out there, like Git that can save a timeline of what the website was. So if you make a change, you can always roll it back.
[00:38:57] Ryan Lonac: A lot of hosts too have versioning, so you can always roll back to a different version if that version needs to get changed. There’s no reason not to try and not to try to make these changes and adjust.
[00:39:08] Ryan Lonac: When you’re making these changes, don’t make changes for the sake of changes. It’s easy to say, oh, our websites, five years old and it looks outdated, we’ve all seen it, right?
[00:39:18] Ryan Lonac: There’s examples of rebranding, right? A brand will just rebrand their business. And it falls flat because people are so attached to their old, the old brand icon or the brand logo or the logo type, letter type. And then they can’t find the business when they’re at the store. So same kind of thing with a website where, don’t make changes for the sake of changes, make changes to help your customers, have a better experience.
[00:39:41] Kevin Dieny: I totally recommend doing a little bit of research. This is one of those things that the website is so important to the business. I wouldn’t slate it as a low priority, like when it comes time to actually doing it. I would do the research that was mentioned. I would make sure that we’re getting this done right.
[00:40:00] Kevin Dieny: And having something that’s done right. It makes it a lot easier for them. If you’re like, hey, every five years, I’m gonna do this for the next five years for it to make a big difference. Because if the website declines at 10% a year… After five years, you’re looking at 50% less conversions than you had, if everything else held constant, you’re looking at a loss of 50% in five years.
[00:40:18] Kevin Dieny: So how important, how much it declines, how much it benefits your business, how big of a jump it has. It’s all so critically important. So website is a very serious, part of the business to consider, besides it’s another expense hah hah marketing has.
[00:40:32] Ryan Lonac: Right. Well, you, but you bring up a really, really good point, right? You don’t have to make huge gains in there. You bring it like a drop of 10% per year. If you just make a small increase per month over a long period of time, like that that’s positive motion. So you don’t have to see skyrocketing advances every month, every year, if you’re making progress.
[00:40:52] Kevin Dieny: Yeah, we looked at it like compounded returns through experimentation, testing, and website optimization are huge. Especially when we are dealing with, average conversion rates of, you know, 2% to 12% or something is in that worldly range. So, yeah, I think we’ve really, I think we could really, there are entire podcasts dedicated websites.
[00:41:12] Kevin Dieny: I know, but, uh, we’ve, we’ve glossed over this topic pretty well. I hope all our listeners got a lot out of this and that you have a good footing for building a website. So again, again, Ryan, thank you for coming on.
[00:41:25] Ryan Lonac: You’re welcome, Kevin. Thank you very much it was fun.