I am Stefani Lefler, the owner and designer behind Stefani Jessica: a Michigan based design studio that serves business owners worldwide. Through design, strategy, and content creation, I create a confident branded voice that speaks to your audience.
I share business, design, and copywriting tips with a bit of resources that I use and brand reveals mixed in.
I know what you are thinking…
ANOTHER post about how I’m making some huge mistake by not blogging. I hate writing and don’t even know what I’d write! There’s a million posts like this online already.
I definitely agree that you’ll see lots of successful entrepreneurs urging you to start a blog (and they are right about that) but there is a problem with most websites that is even more fundamental. With online shopping becoming more profitable and preferred, your website is essential in your business to make a living. Your brand can be purposeful and beautiful but until you craft a brand voice, your “brand” is really just a bunch of pretty files sitting on your hard drive.
Your website is where your message becomes tangible. The story and reason your audience should purchase your offering is all reflected online. The mistake most business owners make is when they launch their business or a rebrand to better represent their message, their website is an afterthought. Whether your brand is DIY or you’ve hired an amazing designer to do the heavy lifting, swapping out the logo, fonts, and colors on your site will still leave you with the exact same website your audience may not be responding well to in the first place.
Here are three reasons you should prioritize your website’s design and development.
The first reason you should have a strong website is that you want your well thought out brand to have a place online that really shows it off. A lot of attention is put into your social media feeds, which is valid because a lot of potential clients and customers will find you on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook. When your website does not compare to your perfectly curated marketing, visitors to your website will be left confused and disappointed. Imagine the issue this way:
Alice is scrolling through Instagram and sees a beautiful wedding photo that is moody and her dream aesthetic. She’s engaged and mostly found light and airy photographers with beautiful work, but they didn’t speak to her heart and style. She’s visits the photographer’s account and is loving what she sees. She clicks over to her website and is left…lost. The website looks like it was designed in 2003 when MySpace was all the rage. Lots of outdated design choices and extremely difficult to navigate, she clicks away. She had really thought this photographer was the one, but her website represents someone with a hobby more than a serious business.
When creating an intentional brand that communicates your value to your audience, your website is the platform that allows your audience to learn more details, contact you, and to view more examples of your expertise. You don’t want to send mixed signals. Which leads us to…
In this world of online businesses, services are often booked for people that rarely meet in person. How in the world can you build trust with people you cannot connect to in person?
Your website and the content on it are an opportunity to show your personality and make your business unique. You want to stand out in potential client’s minds for all the right reasons. Broken links, cluttered or enlarged design elements, pixely/blurry images…all they will lead to is a person clicking away from your site. With only about 3 seconds to snare a person landing on your website and get them to explore it more, you don’t want a simple mistake to keep them from getting to know you and what you offer. You’re here to help them in some way and you need to let them know how you can do it.
Just because you are an online based business does not mean you don’t have a true storefront. We think of a place in the mall or a building that we rent space in. We all dream of how we’d update and design our dream workspace. That is what you want to create for your clients. That’s truly what your brand is all about: what experience do you want your clients and customers to have when they interact with your brand? Your website is really the only space you have that you can decorate. You are bringing the viewer on a journey. You blog and update your portfolio to bring them back. Your contact page is the help desk and register. The homepage is the display window. Have you ever imagined your services as a rack of beautiful clothes hanging in a window?
photo by Mekeyah Wright
You target youthful and hip customers who get style and trying new things. They’re vibrant and have a big personality.
You may design your website like this Forever 21 store. It’s bright and stark so the colors really pop on the clothes. Things are displayed in expected ways to make the customers feel comfortable and familiar with what experience they can anticipate when visiting the store. Things are close together to get them in and out of the store with a bunch of fun items to add their wardrobe. A website exuding this style would have a lot of whitespace, pops of neon, and be straightforward so the viewer feels compelled to buy. She knows what value she is getting quickly and how to make her purchase now.
photo by ANTHROPOLOGIE
Your services are a higher investment and your clients know they are receiving something extra special that they won’t be able to see everywhere they look.
Anthropologie perfectly represents that unique touch. Their customers expect high quality items that may be a larger investment, but they will last and are timelessly cool. Their stores are all designed in their own way, no two are alike. They want their customers to roam the store over and over, taking in all of their products and imagining the displays in their own home. Your website may have more interactions like galleries and blog posts that lead from one to the other. You want viewers to stay on the site as long as they can to learn all about you, what makes your services so special, and how you can solve their problems.
Now that you’re imagining your brand more as a space than a logo and color palette, you have to ask yourself: what would my physical space look like where my clients would come to know my business?
Pinterest of course is a great way to start brainstorming and collecting inspiration. When gathering your images, pick photos not only of dream spaces, but colors you’d want in the space. You can also choose textures, patterns, colors, etc. The sky’s the limit! Approaching your website like an interior design project can help you imagine the elements of your brand coming together to tell your audience a story and bring them on a path from fan to paying customer.
Depending on where you are in your business journey or what type of budget you have to invest in your website at this time, there are choices available to transform your website to a strong representation of your brand. A website that stands out for it’s unique look or functionality benefits your business and acts like a 24/7 space to share your story and value to your clients.
When money isn’t necessarily flowing, that doesn’t mean you can’t still make small changes to your website. Check out my post about 5 small (and free) changes you can make to your website to make it look like a designer had a hand in the design. I use these tips all the time to subtly bring a design together for my clients.
Many brand designers also offer brand audits. A brand audit can take a look at the visuals you have and make sure you’ve asked yourself the right questions. Branding is so much more strategy than design. Doing the legwork at the beginning and setting a good foundation can help you in the future. If you’re able to spend a few hundred dollars, some outside insight can be worth gold for your business.
If you’ve got a brand you created yourself that you’re extremely happy with, a website template could give you a fantastic framework for your website. No matter what platform your website is on, there are beautiful designs available (like the Stefani Jessica templates available in the Showit design store). Many template designers also offer template customization if you feel more comfortable with getting help setting up your new site.
Or maybe you love your DIY brand but you need a robust and custom site to kick it up a notch! Hiring a dedicated website designer to create a completely custom website for your needs. Adding a new part of your business, like a shop or education, can really benefit from a fresh relaunch and a better designed website for your new audience and traffic.
If you’ve been running on a DIY brand and website for a while or have a stunning brand created by a designer who doesn’t offer websites, it is time to hire a brand designer and/or a website designer (or one person if they do both!). Bringing in an expert can elevate your business’ look more than you ever could have imagined and having done the work earlier where you pinned a bunch of inspiration can help your designer create a webspace that encompasses exactly what you are looking for.
Are you looking to elevate your business with a website that reflects what your brand is all about? Maybe you need brand visuals and a website that communicate your message and present your storefront in the best light? We have 3 packages that are available to book that can serve your needs. Inquire to find out the details!