Welcome to the first edition of the Web Therapy Clinic. We had an excellent response and I want to thank everyone who submitted their site for a little therapy.
Clear communication is essential for a successful business and one of the most important things to consider when setting up a website for your business, is ensuring the message you send to people visiting your site is clear and sells the benefits of your product or service.
This virtual “conversation” between your website and potential customers is achieved through the design, layout and the words you use. Imagine your website is not only your virtual shop front; it is also your online sales assistant. It should act as a tour guide to your business, showing visitors what it is you offer, and more importantly, why they should buy your product or use your service.
This theme of a virtual conversation is one that we can look at in more detail with our first patient:
www.straightthinking.co.uk is run by Sophie Brett, a qualified NLP practitioner based in Hertfordshire.
Straight Thinking has a clean and simple design and as a site is easy to explore. There are the important sections such as “What’s Involved”, “About Us” and “Contact Us” and there are glimpses of enticing content written with the customer in mind.
The main area for potential improvement is ensuring that a clear message about the service is more prominent throughout the site, making it easier for customers to understand how Straight Thinking can benefit them.
Straight Thinking Homepage
The first question for potential clients on the website is eye-catching as it asks:
“Are you satisfied with your life?”
“Is there a specific problem that you would like to overcome – stress, weight loss, phobias, recovery from ME?
If you have someone who has answered yes to these, you have their attention – now is the time to finish your opening statement by explaining what service Straight Thinking offers to help.
“Straight Thinking is an organisation that has helped many people…and it can help you”
Something similar to this would be more effective:
“In one to one sessions with a qualified therapist, Straight Thinking offers a range of services from NLP to Hypnosis to help people overcome problems in their life and achieve their dreams.”
It’s still short and snappy but let’s your customer know very quickly that you offer a therapy rather than a product, a book, support group, medication or a distance learning course for example.
This is a fantastic offer and I would love to see more emphasis on this. No-obligation free consultations are excellent in generating interest especially if potential customers are unfamiliar with the type of therapy you offer. Why not have a permanent link on your navigation bar which directs customers to a form for the free consultation?
I don’t think the design needs to be much more complicated but it would benefit from having more images – especially of people. Professional photos of friendly looking people will make the site more personable as well as breaking up the text and adding depth. For professional royalty free photos, I use images from www.istockphoto.com and spend about £1 per image.
On some pages you do break up the text by using bullet points and I would employ this more throughout the site. Break the text into bite size chunks and you will have a customer’s attention for longer.
You may want to consider having a photo of you Sophie, on the “About Us” page. As your service relates directly to you, people may feel more comfortable putting a friendly face to the name. You may also want to include a contact number for your business as well as a contact form.
Below I’ve picked some of the main pages to consider revising for a stronger impact on your audience.
Currently a very informative but lengthy quotation explains NLP. I would include a simpler, less “text-book” definition at the top for customers to read first:
“Ever wondered why some are afraid of spiders and others aren’t? It’s all to do with the way we have taught ourselves to behave. What might feel like automatic reactions that we have no control over are simply habits we have built up over time and some of those habits can stop us being happy: being afraid to fly or putting off achieving our goals for example.
NLP, which stands for Neuro-Lingusitic Programming, teaches you how to “re-program” your reactions so that you can board a flight without breaking into a sweat, or start and complete that book you always wanted to write.”
I would include some more information here about what the customer can expect. A detailed explanation isn’t necessary but think about the common questions a potential client may have:
- Is it one to one or group work?
- How long is a session – is it 8 hours straight?
- Will I get any materials after I complete the session or techniques to practice?
- What is the centre like and how do I get there?
This is a useful section but seems to lose steam at the end. Rather than base these pages on testimonials, why not re-work this area as “What problems can Straight Thinking solve?” Include information on how the problems can be overcome, punctuated with short excerpts from testimonials.
Here you can provide links to other websites relevant to your customers. Perhaps you know people offering services that complement yours and you could promote them here whilst asking them to promote your services on their site?
I am a strong advocate of having a blog (or web-log) on websites and will be covering this in future articles. A blog is an online journal for your business and is an excellent way of showing that your business is current and up to date. By constantly adding useful entries and content that relate to your business and industry developments, your website will stand out as an authority in your field.
Thank you again to Sophie for submitting her site. If you would like to submit your site to the clinic send your website address with some brief details about your business and what you would like to improve most on your site to: firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Author: Amy Harrison. After training as a screenwriter, Amy moved into the world of online business and since 2004 has worked on small to large enterprises both here in the UK and Canada. Amy left her job in online business development in 2008 to go it alone and now offers a copywriting and project management service. Amy will be offering practical hints and tips about maintaining and promoting your business website in our series of articles: “Web Therapy”. We hope you enjoy it and look forward to hearing about your own website experiences! www.harrisonamy.com