Think about the best conversationalists you know. No really, picture them in your mind. The people you want to sit next to at dinner, whose calls you always take, who make others feel comfortable and welcome. What do these people have in common?
Do they talk a lot about themselves and dominate the airtime? Or do they spend a lot of time listening, too?
Do they tell stories solely from their point of view? Or do they describe them so vividly, they make you feel like you were there?
My guess is, the people you want to spend time with are ones who make you laugh, who include you, and who make you feel important and loved. The people who make you want to duck behind the crab cakes at the buffet table are the ones who are bent on convincing you how great they are.
Your website should be one of the best conversationalists you know
Your website exists to sell your brand and services – but one of the best ways to do this is to make sure you’re also focusing on the client, not solely on you. That you’re introducing yourself, but also making the client feel that they have your full attention.
This is harder than it seems. When we’re designing our websites, it’s easy to become immersed in what we want, what we like, what we have to say. In short, to design our websites for ourselves and not for our clients. Of course, our website should be consistent with our brand and our style. But at the same time, our website exists to communicate that brand and style to prospective clients. And enjoyable communication makes both parties feel involved and invited.
So don’t kill the party. Here are three things that will send people scuttling for the nearest back button – and how to avoid them:
1) Overusing The Word “I”
We’re all used to relating information to others in first person: I did this, I did that.
But using “I” too much, and you may make clients feel like it’s all about you. Your website’s job is make your prospective client feel like they’re going to be the center of your attention. Sure, some pages (like your bio) are going to revolve around you – it’s not about hiding the fact that this is your business. But make sure the ultimate message is not just about how cool you are, but how cool they are.
Consider the difference in the following sentences, and how each might make the client feel:
“I am usually booked 6 weeks out.” vs. “To make sure that you get the perfect session time, be sure to call 6 weeks in advance.”
“My style of photography is natural and unposed.” vs. “Your session will feel natural, unposed, and relaxed.”
“I will deliver your images three weeks after the session.” vs. “After your session, your images will be lovingly handcrafted to bring out the very best in each image. We will schedule a premiere viewing three weeks after your session.”
Subtly shifting your descriptions away from “I” and more toward “you” is a powerful change. The client wants to hear about what they will experience – not so much what you think about everything. Let them share the spotlight.
2) Making People Work Too Much
We want to show off our images in the snazziest, coolest ways ever. But in our efforts to make our site interesting and unique, we may inadvertently create a labyrinth that’s hard to navigate – making visitors more likely to just hit the back button and leave.
So as you’re flexing your design muscles, ask yourself: Is your text/background color combination easy to read, or does your pastel-green-on-white make people squint? Do your galleries progress smoothly from one image to the next, or do viewers have to chase “next” buttons bouncing all over the screen? Is your contact info readily available, or do people have to scroll through lots of text to find an email address?
In short: How much do people have to work to get what they need?
Generally speaking, the less people have to scroll, squint, and search, the better. The best website experiences deliver information cleanly, without the user having to give much thought to what their mouse is doing.
Interactivity, unique designs, and unexpected surprises are great. Just be sure you’re not creating too many hoops for people to jump through, or they may not make it all the way through that site you worked so hard to create.
3) Not Testing Your Website With Actual Target Clients
When we’re working on our websites, it’s tempting to just review it ourselves, or post links to photography forums and say “hey guys, what do you think?” Of course, it’s great to get feedback from industry peers and learn from their experiences. They often have helpful suggestions. But fellow photographers can only provide so much, because things that seem obvious to those within our industry may be confusing for people outside the industry.
Clients don’t always know what a float wrap or a gift print is. They may not be clear what you mean by “investment,” “edit,” “session album,” or even “high res files.” They’re not experts in all things photography, and they may get tripped up by things that you – and your fellow forum members – would simply never think about.
And from a client’s point of view, that’s like standing at a party listening to someone explain their latest work project through layers of jargon. The client wonders if they’d look stupid for asking what something means, so they just smile politely and move on.
Get a small group together, preferably people who are as similar to your target clients as possible, and ask them to go through your site. (Bonus points if you have someone do this on your behalf so the viewers don’t actually know it’s your site. People are often eager to just tell you what they think you want to hear, and they may mask honest opinions so as to not hurt your feelings.)
Ask them – is anything confusing or hard to use? Do the explanations make sense? Was the tone consistent? Do you feel like you’d know what to expect by working with this photographer? Does anything get you particularly excited to hire this photographer? Does anything turn you off?
To know whether your website will dazzle, be sure to check with the people you’re actually marketing to. Their experiences – not yours, not other photographers’ – are going to determine the success of your website.
How to Build An Absolutely Irresistible Website
As you design your site, be sure to share the conversations with your viewer, make navigation a breeze, and double check to make sure you’re communicating clearly. Make your viewer feel like they just chatted with someone they want to see again – and they’ll be back.
For more tips on how to create a website that makes your clients feel like the life of the party, be sure to check out How To Build An Absolutely Irresistible Website.
This workshop in e-book form will teach you how to build a photography website that markets for you and brings in the clients you most want to work with.
And because we all love bonuses:
A special guest chapter from Kristen Kalp walks you through how to write juicy web copy that gets people to take action.
And wildly successful photographers Sue Bryce and Spencer Lum reveal their secrets for bringing in clients online.
This must have 87-page ebook has the quality and depth of a full-blown workshop. Jenika’s strategy for capturing clients online is a necessary first step for any photography website.” – Zach Prez