One of the formulas to success is to have a website that is remarkable! If you are not staying on top of design trends and continually developing your site, you will find yourself behind times and will lose business because of it. Gone are the days when we could set up a site and let it sit idle for a few years. We are marketing to the the millennial generation, a generation that has grown up with the internet, mobile devices and social media. Is your website ready to cater to them?
1. Mobile is King
According to a survey by Google, 48% of users said if a website didn't work well on their smartphone then it made them feel like the company didn't care about their business. That statistic will surely continue to rise each and every year as more people stop forgiving businesses that don't offer a fantastic mobile user experience. Here are two more important statistics to think about.
- 57% of users say they won't recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site. (Think wedding planners will want to refer you?)
- 40% have turned to a competitors site after having a bad mobile experience. (Google Research - The Mobile Playbook)
It's no longer enough to have a dumb-downed version of your website for mobile users, these days responsive design is where you need to be. Your site experience should be impressive and consistent when your visitors access it on any size desktop, tablet or smartphone. Your customers want a top-notch mobile experience, deliver it to them!
2. Scrolling vs Clicking
Today's web users are using touchscreens, mouse wheels or trackpads, and with a flick of a finger they can scroll through a website. Scrolling allows users to continue reading and discovering more of your page but each time you require them to click a link you are forcing them to make a decision. In addition, by designing your page using the scroll your are able to guide your user through a story that you would like them to read in the correct order. Another way to think about it is that it's a lot easier to move just a little further down the page then making the decision to click a link to guide you someplace else.
3. Put Your Pricing On Your Site
Gone are the days when people want to fill out a contact form to get an email with your pricing. In fact, it wasn't too long ago people would send us their address and we would mail them info. Seriously, do you remember that? These days if people don't see your pricing on your website they will move on. They don't have time to bother. They want things immediately. They want to be empowered with the information at their fingertips. To some wedding photographers, this might just mean putting a general starting price, to others it might mean listing your detailed pricing - that's up to you. Whatever you choose, don't make it difficult to find, because your visitors will no longer waste their time looking for it.
4. Large Stunning Images That Expand The Full Page Width
Let your images shine by filling the entire width of the page. Use images to break up sections of your site as vistors scroll through it giving them a periodic break in gathering information. Tesla Motors' website does this perfectly. In addition, pick out your very best images that make the best first impression. You probably have 100's to choose from so create a gallery of favorites and ask as many friends, family and other photographers you respect to choose their top 10. Gather the data and see what really stands out to others and use those images.
On occasion we pick an image to use on our sites because of the story we have behind that particular photo. It might be how lucky we were in capturing it at just the right moment, how our gear was acting up but we managed to pull together something incredible or even how the father of the bride was terminally ill but was able to walk his daughter down the aisle on her wedding day. We know the story behind the photo and so it resonates with us, but it might not with others viewing it for the first time on your page.
5. Uniformity In Your Editing Style
Often photographers will evolve and change their editing style throughout the years, especially if they are still discovering their style for themselves. As a result their website will be a potpurri of styles with no real consistency. This makes your visitor second guess the result of their own images if they hire you and whether or not the style you are now serving is one they really like. If you need to, go back and edit some of your old favorites that you want on your site to match your current style.
6. Stay Current
Blogs are a great way to keep fresh content on your site. But if you are like me you might not have touched your blog for a couple years. If that's the case find a way of staying current on your site so your visitors know you are still relevant. Share a slideshow of your favorite photos from 2014. Another strategy is to keep updating your main images to include photos from recent weddings. The advantage to this is that your clients featured in the photos will be elated to see they were chosen to be on your site and share the news with their friends thereby generating more traffic to your page by people who realize you are staying current on your site. This in turn will result in referrals as the visitors to your site will talk about you to their friends.
7. Get Personal
No more hiding behind a generic studio name with no photo of yourself on the site. Millennials are connected people. They want to get to know people on a personal level before they hire them. If you don't have a photo of yourself on your site it's guaranteed they will be searching Facebook, Twitter, Google Images or Instagram to see if they can track down an image of you. If you have a pet, include it. Have kids, don't be afraid to share a photo of the family. Web visitors want to relate with you, so make it possible by sharing information they can associate with.
If you haven't changed up your website in a year or two then it's time for a 2015 update. There are plenty of great website companies that are offering new simple ways of building yourself a fantastic site. I currently use SquareSpace for my site but I've also invested in The Grid as well and anxious for it to launch this Spring. Don't waste another day with a less than stellar website. There is no excuse to sit and wallow in despair over your current design when so many resources are at our fingertips to create the site you want and have it launched within days. After all, once a potential client is on your website exploring around, they are yours to lose.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you have a website you feel is worth featuring feel free to post it in the comments. I'll do a follow up article next week with some of the best photographers sites I have found with modern design and a fantastic user experience.