Your website requires maintenance, just like your house
If you’ve been following me for any period of time, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I like to compare building your website to building a house. There are so many great analogies that can help us better understand what it means to have a quality website.
What if you bought a house, but never maintained it? What would happen to your toilets? Your grass? What if you never vacuumed, swept or mopped – what would your floors look like? You can’t just build a house and leave it. It’s not ever completely finished.
While yes, the structure of the house will exist, there is maintenance that needs to happen.
There are things like toilets, grass, and your floors that are going to take daily or very regular maintenance. There are other things that will break down over time. You may have to replace your windows or your HVAC system, and these are no fault of your own it’s just from being used.
What about things that aren’t maintenance, but that we change anyway? As my kids have gotten older and entered that preteen and teenager phase, we’ve gotten rid of our playroom. We no longer need a playroom because our kids are older. It’s why people will add on to their house, or why people buy an entirely new house, as they grow out of their existing home. We change decorations based on the season.
All of these things apply to our websites. There’s maintenance that needs to happen. There are things that need to be fixed. There’s stuff that we simply grow out of, and there are decorations or things that change.
Almost every single design client I have worked with feels like their website needs to be finished at some point; completely finished and done. They have this idea in their mind that they can finally sit back and say “finally, we’ve got it all done. The website’s done now I can move on to something else.”
Myth: Your website is completely finished
But this is a myth. Your website is never truly finished; just like your house is never truly finished. It’s something you continually have to watch and update and pay attention to. That’s what we are going to be digging into today. The seven things that I want you to watch for on your website in order to make sure that it is always top notch.
Your first website is an educated guess
You need to face the fact, the hard to accept fact, that your first website is simply an educated guess. If you build it completely on your own and you have no marketing experience, it’s probably not even C+ level. If you hire a designer, it might come up to more like 60 or 70%. And if you hire a designer who has a lot of marketing experience, it might come up to 70 or 80%, but no matter who you’ve got helping you, it is an educated guess.
The reason for this is that you haven’t had any visitors, so you cannot know for sure what will or won’t work. As you interact with people, your brand is going to morph. Your goals will morph. All of it is going to change a little bit as you interact with people, as you interact with people on social media, as you have clients and they ask you questions, through your own analytics.
You are going to learn about your website and you might think, “oh, I wish I had done something different. I don’t want you to beat yourself up over what you might think was a poor decision that you made when you built your website. All you had was an educated guess, you didn’t know any better then. The only way to know better is to build it and to move forward and to find the problems. You simply cannot anticipate every single issue. Everybody’s audience is slightly different.
I don’t care what any marketing expert tells you, all they can do is give you C+/B- work. They can give you best practices. They can give you a good starting point. They might take you from 30% up to 70 or 80%, but they cannot get it perfectly right. It’s impossible because they have never experienced and worked with your exact audience and neither have you, you must build it and then test it.
2 choices for maintaining your website
This means that you basically have two choices. You can either hire someone to maintain your website for you, or you can learn how to do it yourself. This is one of the main reasons why I recommend Elementor Pro (we’ll get into that a little bit later). It is important that you either accept the fact that you will regularly pay someone to update, change, and maintain your website or you will need to learn how to do it yourself.
Now, there is some middle ground here. You could pay someone to do the super technical things and you can learn how to change the color of a button, the things that are a lot simpler. You don’t have to be like I am and do 100% of everything that needs to be done on your website, but you need to accept the fact that maintenance is needed. You need to be prepared for it one way or another.
3 common problems with building your website
There are a few common problems I see when it comes to building your website.
#1 – You’re scared to start
I’ve seen people not start websites because they don’t have enough information yet. They don’t know enough. They aren’t sure how to make it perfect yet. And so they don’t build a website.
Well, even a website that’s at 30%, an F, is better than a zero; it’s going to help you with your business. And the only way to improve it and to get it up in the high 90s is by building it.
#2 – People invest a lot of money in a designer and end up disappointed
I charge thousands of dollars to build a website for people. It’s not an inexpensive thing. It takes a lot of time. So you could go out and do that and then you end up disappointed with the results because maybe your sales don’t take off. Your sales aren’t where you wanted them, or maybe you have less traffic than you expected, or maybe somebody says, “I don’t really like that color you chose.” And you’re thinking, “oh, but the designer told me it was good.”
This is normal. There is not any designer out there that can build a website for you that will be absolutely perfect from day one and never need anything. That’s just a fallacy. It’s a huge myth. And you must accept that even if you pay somebody thousands of dollars, there will be changes to your website that need to happen, in the future, as your actual followers and visitors experience your website.
#3 – People refuse to learn how to edit and update
So many people don’t believe that their website’s going to need to be updated or that it’s going to be fine for the next few years. They don’t learn anything at all about how to maintain their websites.
This is a scary and expensive position to be put in. There are a lot of things I recommend you hire out in your business and highly technical website stuff is probably one of them, but you should have a basic understanding of your own website.
You should be able to go in and move a picture that’s on the top, to the bottom, change the color of a button, change the words in your header. You should be able to do these basic types of things. Otherwise you will pay an enormous amount of money to have other people do them for you. I believe this is one area that is really, really worth investing your time in.
Why I recommend Elementor Pro
As I mentioned earlier, this is why I recommend Elementor Pro. Elementor Pro is a WordPress plugin. So basically it is an app for WordPress. Think of an iPhone as WordPress, and then there’s apps on the phone that add additional functionality to it.
There are lots of different plugins, aka apps, that you can add to WordPress that give it additional functionality. The biggest knock on WordPress is that it is really, really hard to edit on your own. And that is true. And I have been there. 10 years ago it was so hard to edit my WordPress website. I had to really dig into the code and it was a lot of work and very, very overwhelming.
If tools like Elementor didn’t exist for WordPress, then I would probably be more willing to recommend other website builders, like Wix, Squarespace, or Show It. But, these other website builders don’t have all the really cool things that WordPress offers. I’m not going to dive in to what all of those are right now, but WordPress is where you want to be for your website.
Elementor Pro makes it possible because it turns WordPress into a drag and drop website builder, where you can go in and drag your picture from the top to the bottom. Without knowing code, you can go in and change the button color, just one button on your website, to any color you want. This is essential. And it’s the number one reason why I recommend this tool.
It is so inexpensive. It’s $50 a year, to be able to edit your website using a drag and drop interface.
7 things that will never be completely finished on your website
Let’s get into the actual reasons, the seven things that are never really finished on your website. I’m going to talk about these as signals that something needs to change. So if you see this happening on your website, it means that there is now something that you need to be updating.
#1 – the big old red circle next to something in WordPress that says you need to update it.
So if you’ve got five plugins to update, it’s going to be right next to the plugins and it’s going to say five. If you’ve got something to update on your website, stop ignoring these things. This is absolutely essential to your website’s secure.
Most of the time people think that plugin updates are just for function. “Oh, I’ve got some new cool things that I can do with this plugin.” And those do happen often, but those are typically like the 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 updates.
But if you have a 1.2 or a 1.3 or a 1.4, most of the time, those are security updates. Ways that they are keeping your website safe. Hackers have figured out how to use this little weakness in the plugin to get into your website. So they patch it, they fix it before anybody can actually hack into your website. You’ve got to keep your plugins and your theme updated on your WordPress website. So anytime you see that little red button go update.
#2 – if you’re attracting the wrong people.
There are people that you will really, really enjoy working with. And there are people that you will not really enjoy working with. If you are attracting those that are tough for you to work with, then something needs to change on your website, probably your messaging, the words that you are using, the way you are communicating, what it is that you have to offer.
#3 – If you are spending too much time doing things manually that could be done automatically.
So what do I mean by this? Well, a little story from when I first started my very, very first business. I just kept people’s email addresses inside of a group in my Gmail. Then when somebody said that they wanted to join my email list, they just sent me an email and said, “I’d like to join your email list.” And I would manually put their email address into that group in gmail. And then when I had emails to send out, I would just send them out to that group.
There is a much easier way – you use a tool like Convertkit and people can automatically sign up to your email list and then automatically have emails start sending to them. There is a lot you can do with email automation.
Another one would be invoicing. If you only have one or two clients and you’re manually invoicing them every month or so, that might not really be worth it. But if you start to get enough clients that you feel like invoicing is taking so much time, then you need to automate it.
Another one is if you get the same question from somebody over and over and over again and you’re having to answer that question, add an FAQ to your website and you’ll get far less of those questions.
So if you are doing things over and over and over again manually, try to figure out a way to automate them so that you can have more time in your business to actually serve people and solve their problems and create products.
#4 – If you get confusion from your customers.
If you get someone saying, “I couldn’t figure out how to do this on your website” or “I don’t know where to find this on your website” that is a signal that your website is not as user-friendly as it could be.
#5 – There is a holiday or your birthday or your podcast birthday, or your 100 podcast episode.
You can put popups or special sales or things on your website that can use the excitement surrounding these types of events to help people take action.
#6 – if you have a drop in your search traffic, the traffic that you get from Google or other search engines.
If you’ve been getting a lot of traffic to a certain post on your blog and then that drops, that’s a signal that you need to go check on something. You need to go figure out what happened with your SEO.
#7 – a disappointing sale or email signups.
If you aren’t getting people to take the type of action that you hope that they will take, like purchasing something or signing up for your email list, then you need to look at your conversion rates.
Conversion rates are when you convert somebody from one part of your business to another. So they’re a website visitor, and they become an email subscriber, that’s a conversion rate. They are just an email subscriber and they convert into a customer because they buy a product. Those are what we call conversions and we have rates for those, a percentage of people who are making those conversions.
What percentage of your website visitors are joining your email list? What percentage of your email list are purchasing your product? Those are conversion rates, and if these are not where you want them to be, there are four steps to fixing it.
4 steps to fixing your conversion rate
Step 1 – Research
I do this with something called an information inventory. You’ve probably heard me talk about it before if you are familiar with the podcast. I use a tool called Infinity, but you could use Trello. You could use a simple Excel spreadsheet
This inventory is where I keep information about my people, about you, the questions you’ve asked about things. You complain about problems that you are frustrated with, things that you wish were different in your life. The fears that you have, the excuses that you make for not moving forward. I keep all of this inside of an information inventory.
This takes the words that I put on my website from an uneducated guess to an educated guess, because now I know what you need. I know what your questions are. And so the words that I put on my website, which is your messaging, are more specific to you instead of just general marketing ideas.
This is a huge part of increasing your conversion rates, but even once you’ve done that, it’s still just an educated guess, maybe a highly educated guess, but it’s still a guess.
Step 2 – Test
So you put up a page where people are invited to join your email list. On that page, there’s a title, there’s probably a subtitle, there’s a button and it’s a certain color. There might be a testimonial. You might have an image on that page. You have a call to action, inviting them to join your email list.
Go through and test these things one at a time. Change the color of them and then let a thousand people or so go through that page and see which one converted better. You saw that the blue button converts better. Okay. Now go change your headline. Maybe just change one word in it and then test. Then you can pick the best headline. This is how you really increase your conversion rates.
A lot of times people think that the problem is the product or the lead magnet that you have, and that is actually very rarely the case. It’s usually something that you can test and tweak, something very, very small.
Step 3 – Analyze the Data
So you’ve sent a thousand people through and you’ve realized that the image that you first chose isn’t best and you should use the second image, but the color on the button that you first chose was the best. And you shouldn’t change it.
Step 4 – Repeat
So you analyze that and you make the change and then we rinse and repeat. You continue to do research on your people. You continue to update your information inventory, and then you continue to test and analyze.
Research. Test. Analyze. Rinse and repeat.
4 suggestions to help you continually improve your website
I know that I just threw a lot at you, seven different things that you need to be looking for and updating on your website. If you are hyperventilating a little and feeling overwhelmed and wondering how you’re going to do this and how you can possibly keep up, I have four suggestions for you.
- Prioritize your information inventory. That alone will take your work from 40 or 50% up to 70 or 80%.
- If you have not yet invested in Elementor Pro, please do so. It’s $50 a year.
- Consider using Monster analytics. Setting up Google analytics on your own website and digging into Google hard. Even for me and I consider myself a techie. Google analytics is hard. There is a plugin called Monster analytics that will connect to Google analytics and make it far easier for you to get, to test and analyze the data and see what’s actually happening on your website.
- Join Ask Me Anything. Ask Me Anything is somewhat like group coaching, but it’s like nothing you’ve ever really seen before. You have the opportunity to ask me any question you have about your website or your marketing and I can help you. I will even log into your actual website and show you how to do something that you are unsure how to do. It’s the perfect balance between DIY and hiring someone. So if you don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a developer to have in your back pocket to fix your website anytime something needs to be fixed, but you’re also really overwhelmed with the idea of trying to DIY and do it all on your own, then ask me anything is the answer – promise.
If you’re going to spend the time and money to create a website, it is totally worth the extra effort to make sure it stays up to date.