Now, you might know that I’m a sucker for insisting that people who have, or who want to have a personal brand and be known in their industry as the best at, or a leader at, or someone you can really trust, or someone who is really talented, must have a GREAT website. Your website is one of your greatest assets. It’s got to be good because the very first thing people are going to when they hear about you and your services, or about your talents, is look you up online.
So what are the things that your website must have to be great? Here are my top seven that you should put on your website design wish list. Right. Now.
Striking strong images
A few years ago, one of the women’s magazines I worked for announced their word count per feature was being cut from 1000 words to 600? Now, it’s very hard to fit any detailed story into 600 words, but the magazine didn’t care? Why? Because audiences are increasingly visual, preferring to look at pictures than read words.
You only have to look at the runaway success of Instagram and Pintrest to realise how much people enjoy looking at pictures. The good news is that whilst you might have a hundred things to say in words, pictures can get the message across just as well. The right pictures can instantly evoke feelings too such as success, happiness or even the feeling that you are the expert in your field.
Any images of you must be professional, large, colourful and bold, in which you look happy, confident and appear the epitome of the values, knowledge, belief and expertise that are at the heart of your personal brand. Ideally these images will have been professionally taken, with professional lighting.
Modern website design and layout
Now as a website designer I am going to say your website design is important, but it really really is. I’m constantly struck by how many well known people have really poor websites, with small dated images, bad layout, tiny hard to read text, huge empty sidebars. Some stats say as many as 81 per cent of all purchases (whether that is for a product, personal or professional service) begin with a Google search…… Just as you wouldn’t step out now in the clothes you thought were in when you were a student, your website design must keep up with fashions and trends too.
I have no idea why in 2015, so many websites and personal brands open with ‘Hi, you’ve reached the website of XXXX’.
WE KNOW THAT WE’VE JUST MADE OUR WAY HERE OURSELVES!!!
We are now in the process of checking you out and what we want to hear, through your copy, is what you can do for us. We want to know little bits of information that feel personal and make us like and trust you, dotted with more information about what you’ve been doing and we want to hear your thoughts and your area of expertise. We want you to sell yourself to us but in a way that doesn’t feel like we’re being sold to at all. Got it?
Actions speak louder than words, which is why your online personal brand must show you in action. Whether that is a video of you at work or talking about your industry, a blog post discussing a job you recently did or your expertise. It’s got to be recent, up to date and you’ve got to think ‘action’. For example if you’re an author, your typical ‘action’ part of your website would be photos of your latest book as it arrives, or a personal shot you’ve taken of your book on a shelf in a bookshop with you grinning like a Cheshire Cat next to it (hey we want to see your human side too).
If you’re a celebrity or a tv presenter, these shots would be behind the scenes shots of you having your hair and make up done, or waiting to go on air. You’ve said above you’re an expert, these action shots help to prove it.
You also need to add in text and images that show your connections, i.e. you at an ‘important’ situation, whether that is standing next to a celebrity or industry expert or at an important industry function. Why? Because all of those at the top of their field are also at the heart of their industry, and would naturally be attending industry events and meeting other influential people.
Note the picture of me at Number 10 Downing Street at the top of this blog post. That is the sort of picture I am talking about. You see, as a brilliant web designer, I often get invited to 10 Downing Street. (ok, so that’s not quite true, but when I was running the media business I sold in 2014, which was a leader in its field, I did get invited to such events all the time).
Loud and proud
When you’re a personal brand, it’s no use being coy, shy or understated about your achievements and knowledge. In fact, you can say goodbye to modesty and shyness right now.
There is no room to understate what you can bring to your clients, or to fail to mention your achievements or experience. You have to talk loud and proud about what you’re good at and why you, above everyone else, are the right person for the job. The good news is you can do this without sounding big headed, self obsessed or vain. It’s all down to the copy and the general flow of words throughout your site. A few paragraphs here and there about how wonderful you are dotted between generally friendly and informative copy will not look or sound out of place. They will only serve to build trust.
Walk the talk
Having a successful personal brand is about walking the talk. You’ve got to stake your position at the top of your industry and stay there. Be the first to publish opinion pieces on what is going on, keep subtly stating and referring to your expertise.