Whether they continue on from 2021 or are brand new for the year… there are some trends that will be happening all over the world when it comes to how you run your business. This also includes your website.
We have Michelle Pontvert with us again – because we loved her so last time! – and she’s going to talk to us about what’s important to focus on this year.
Listen as Michelle audits our homepage in Episode 121.
(while you’re there, grab Michelle’s Guide to do an audit of your own!)
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Connect with Michelle on LinkedIn
Check Michelle out on Pinterest
Schedule a discovery call to get a website audit with Michelle.
Check out the entire library of business 101 episodes here.
Alyson Lex 0:04
Whether you have been keeping an eye on the way the online business world has been moving from last year, the year before, or you're looking to the future, really what you need to do is think about the way business trends are going. Right. And the one place that a lot of us forget to think about is our website. Because that's kind of a big deal. Your website is your home online, even if you're super active on social. And so we asked Michelle POM there. And that's pumped vert for your Americans, make sure you put the T's in there when you google her. We loved her so much last time, she tore our website apart lovingly, so. And we made a ton of edits to make it more user friendly, more accessible, and higher converting. So now we've asked her to come back to talk about what's important to focus on in 2022. And beyond, specifically, when it comes to your website. So Michelle, thanks for coming back. And hanging out with
Michelle Pontvert 1:15
us so much for having me back. I'm thrilled to be chatting, and obviously my favorite website subject. So I'm excited.
Alyson Lex 1:25
Now, I briefly mentioned it, um, in the little intro of this whole thing, the whole social media versus website thing. And I really wanted to talk about how important a website really is, especially if you're super active on social, is this something we should even be concerned about? Moving forward?
Michelle Pontvert 1:47
I think that's a very valid question I hear a lot of people struggling with. And I think, when we're first starting a new business, sure, just having a presence online, in any form is valuable. But when you're trying to actually build a business to support your family support sort of your big goals, you do want to kind of invest in the foundational architecture of that business. And your website is part of that that's essentially your home online. It is the space you own that isn't controlled by algorithms, and is in many ways the step after people have gotten to know you on social media, through podcasts through any content, you want to direct them to that website. So having that in place is going to be huge to actually building a website and building a business that supports sort of you and the big things you're aiming at. So I do think there's definitely need moving forward. And I think they are more and more businesses who are using both your website and social media in tandem to do quite different things.
Jennie Wright 2:52
So I love the I love the phrase foundational architecture of your business, then that hums for me at a certain level that I really, really love. And I know we talked about this on the episode that you were on, which was episode 121. If you haven't listened to it yet, please go and check it out. Because then you get to hear us to hear Michelle, lovingly rip apart our website. Which by the way, we know other people who have listened to this episode, because they've come and told us have used that episode to then reformulate their website. So we know that had an impact. So how often should we be updating the website and looking at the way it's set up and seeing if it needs those essential refreshes.
Michelle Pontvert 3:34
So I think there's no sort of prescriptive timeline I can give you, other than to say, if your business is having any foundational changes, if you're adding a product or service, if you've changed your niche, if you're changing a messaging, you do need to go back and make your website reflect those changes, because again, it is a reflection of your business. But I will say even if things aren't changing, it is a really good idea to check in with your website as a sort of foundational piece of your business every few months like you would anything else in your business that is foundational, any systems any tech it's worth checking on. And then if you're creating content that's living on your website, obviously you will be wanting to engage with that much more frequently to get the most out of it. So it kind of depends where you're at.
Alyson Lex 4:22
I am going to feel very called out with my multi year old website and recognize that so I haven't had any major changes but I haven't I haven't really updated the static copy obviously my content gets updated but the basis my sales page for my copywriting my you know my homepage that kind of lets people know about what I do that hasn't been updated. Should I worry about refreshing that ever if, like you said I haven't had a new issue or messaging change? So do I need to worry about that?
Michelle Pontvert 5:03
I think if you're getting the results you want from the website and that customer journeys were working for you, there's no real need to tweak it. If it isn't converting the way you want it to, if you are seeing quite a lot of people leave, who probably should be sticking around, then it's a really good signal that something's not clicking, something needs reworking. So sort of let the people tell you if it's working for you or not. And that's something you can look at in your analytics pretty quickly to see if people are leaving in like three seconds. You maybe want to check what's going on on that homepage.
Jennie Wright 5:34
So if we have people that are staying on the website, what's the, what's the optimal amount of time? So I know three seconds is like, Oh, my God, I hate this in their bond. But what would be the benchmark for you to say, This website's working? Like how long of a page view? Would you say? Yeah, that's working?
Michelle Pontvert 5:53
Yeah, I mean. It would depend on which page on your site. So in general, you do want people to click through multiple pages. And I honestly pay more attention to click through rates than time on page because people are very frequently coming back to say, a sales page multiple times. But I would say, if you're getting below a two, three, second mark, no one's reading anything in that time. If you can get people in there, like even a minute is great. And that means that they're scrolling down the page, at least a little bit to consume some of that content. So it will depend on the length of your page, because obviously, it takes more or less time to read things depending on how long they are. But I would keep an eye on your click rates. If people are landing on the homepage and going nowhere else. That's a problem. If they're going to your sales page and never ever clicking on anything, there's definitely a problem and something to be addressed. So it's sort of a, an art in the science to paying attention to all those analytics. And it's really about if the results aren't stacking up with what you're expecting, if you're getting a certain volume of people, and the results aren't there, it's a really good time to sort of dive into those analytics and just see what's looking off. And that's where, you know, bringing in an expert can help because I know that is very overwhelming plugging into that back end.
Alyson Lex 7:15
Yeah, you're talking and I'm like, oh, that sounds fun, and overwhelming all the time. Now, I had a I had a question, and I kind of lost it. But one of the things that I think you might be saying is it's, you're kind of setting your own benchmarks like there are some best practices that two three second mark, like you said, but what we really should be doing is looking at our individual trends and analytics, and is it going up? Is it going down? And then make our own decision on action? Is that right?
Michelle Pontvert 7:54
Exactly. Because if I took, you know, Target, or Amy Porterfield website and compared her stats to mind, you're inevitably going to be disappointed. And she has many different pieces at work in that business and that website that we, as small business owners won't have. So it's about kind of taking stock of where your business is out what your website is doing. And adapting like you would any of your other strategies for social media, email marketing, any of those pieces, you do need context to make decisions. So your website analytics are essentially just giving you context in the form of data.
Jennie Wright 8:30
Well, I'm a data person, I love data. So let's get those website analytics installed. If you don't already have it, go and get those in there, because you really need them. What have you noticed over the, you know, happening over the last couple of years, when it comes to websites, what's evolved with online businesses?
Michelle Pontvert 8:47
I mean, I think there's a strong tendency towards simplifying processes, and simplifying our interface with websites, I think, we went through a phase where we wanted all the bells and whistles and all the cool stuff. And I'm starting to see that fade. Not just because people are sick of, you know, the new and shiny tech, but I think also there's a tendency to not see that actually work well as a business strategy, to lean into all this sort of fussy marketing and really, sort of hammer home on what's working and what are proven strategies and tactics and platforms. I think, kind of going that way too. To make easy customer journeys, a really easy user experience for people building their own websites, is more and more a selling point. You may see that in the marketing of a lot of these platforms. It's really about making that easy. And I think the resulting websites are also reflecting that we're trying to make the experience of shopping online of operating business online, much smoother and less friction full.
Alyson Lex 9:54
I think to a simpler website is more mobile friendly.
Michelle Pontvert 10:02
It's easier to make it mobile friendly if you have less stuff.
Alyson Lex 10:05
Right? Well, and yeah, like I, I can't tell you how many times I've been on my phone, and I've gone to click on something and 18 pop ups come up, and it freezes my phone. And I'm like, okay, never coming to that site again. And by simplifying it, I am I am on Team pop up, I am not on team three at once. Like, write a newsletter opt in the testimonial proof bar at the bottom, and then the chat widget all pop up at one time. And it's like, that's too much. So I see what you mean about simplifying things, and, and really focusing on the journey is there other than the way that it's set up and designed? Is there a way that we can? We can work on that as well? Like, I'm not talking about the copy or the graphics or anything like that. But what do we need to do to simplify from just the setup and the strategy perspective?
Michelle Pontvert 11:04
Yeah, I mean, I think I always advise clients when they are kind of mapping a website. So not when we're, you know, in the design, but not when we're deciding, you know, how it's going to look, but really figuring out what core pages what core functionality you need, figuring out that first, and then building out the website sort of with that strategy in mind, it's really valuable to kind of go back to basics, and figure out, you know, what is the simplest customer journey? What is the simplest tech, what is the simplest sort of marketing strategy, I can implement, and making sure that's super, super solid. And then being very, very thoughtful about anything that adds into that. And being quite conscious of the extra layer of work, you're essentially adding to someone's plate as they use your website, by adding each of those different pieces in. So really kind of coming back to that sense of foundational structure of what pages am I doing? What's the journey I'm leading people on? And what's the minimum Tech, I need to do that? What's the minimum design, I need to do that. And then you can elaborate slowly and intentionally from there.
Jennie Wright 12:14
I'm very fortunate to get to work with Allison, because as a copywriter, she writes websites. For some of her clients, I have gotten to see where she's talked about this process. Before that, you have to understand the one action that you want them to take for each page, before you write the copy before you figure any of this out. And that allows you to create that simplification that you're talking about. So that the the journey is as simple and defined as it possibly can be.
Michelle Pontvert 12:42
Yeah, it's essentially we call it information architecture, it's what are the bones, you're hanging your sort of business on what is the very, very core foundational stuff you need in place to get the result you're looking for. And with all of that kind of really, really solidly nailed down with that very clear, it's so much easier if you're working with a copywriter or a designer, anybody else to communicate that. But even if you're creating a site on your own, having that sort of something really solid to hang on to as you build up everything, as you write, keeps you from, you know, chasing all the shiny objects keeps you from kind of adding all the extra stuff just to feel like you're adding volume or adding design, keeping that sort of core thing in mind of what it is we want people to do on each page, what that structure is, is going to make the results simpler by sort of definition.
Alyson Lex 13:34
I have heard information architecture as a term before I write websites, but I don't, you know, I don't strategize or build them, obviously. And I didn't fully understand it, but now I do. So thank you for that incredible explanation. And now, I'm going to ask you to get out your crystal ball. And tell us what you think the trends are going to do over the next let's say 12 months. What do you think we're going to focus more on that we might not be thinking about right now? Yeah,
Michelle Pontvert 14:09
I mean, I won't say I'm a you no future mind reader anything. But I do think we're going to see more mobile first design. So instead of when we build out websites on Squarespace, which is my platform of choice, by default, you start with the desktop view. And more and more, we're seeing people using websites on their phones first, and potentially moving to a desktop to say make the purchase. But that browse ability that use on a smaller sort of screen, I think is going to shift and I have a feeling we're going to see platforms focus on that more rather than it being kind of an additional feature and additional like tab to go check out. I have a feeling we're going to see more of that coming into the process and into the sort of user friendly platform. Those are I have a feeling.
Jennie Wright 15:01
What would that sort of look like? How would that represent visually? Do you think what's
Michelle Pontvert 15:06
Yeah, I mean, I think I've seen some sort of examples, for example, show it does an interesting version of this where you have two different views. As you build your website, you have the full desktop view and a completely different mobile view. And I think that's an interesting way of having us be conscious of what our mobile perspective of our website is. Squarespace has sort of toggles. I'm not sure how they'll sort of implement. But I do feel like there'll be more, basically more catches for us to not publish pages that aren't friendly. I suspect there may be some sort of implementation in the backend of platforms like the Xena builders, to make us go through the process of looking at our mobile view, I hope that they will save us from ourselves in any way.
Alyson Lex 15:58
When So, Jenny, I use Clickfunnels for my sales pages and things like that. And Jenny does not let me touch them. Because I messed them up. And she doesn't like it when I do that. But when I do go in and break the rule, I always forget to do the mobile version. And so I'll be like, Jamie, look at this amazing page. And maybe she'll check it on her phone. And she's like, Yeah, except all of the stuff that shouldn't be there is there. And then she has to go in and fix it. So I really liked this concept that there was going to be mobile first design, because it does reflect how people consume mean. But then again, alright, so let me let me just be a contrarian here, this just popped in my head, like, I am the person, I will do the research on my phone. And then I will have the checkout or the complete the completion of the sale experience on my computer. And so how can we really make sure that that's a seamless experience? And do you think that that's something that we should be worried about? Is it something that people are going to be focused on? Am I weird in that I do that, what do you think
Michelle Pontvert 17:15
I see that a lot as well. The sense of shifting, which sort of view your thing website through throughout your process of purchasing. So I don't think you're weird there. I personally have seen it be much easier in the platforms that we often build in to make that desktop version good, sort of out of the gate. And it's that mobile sense, because you're working on such a small screen, you really do need to be much more mindful of what's being seen. So I can't imagine as a version where we get rid of a desktop view in the way that we construct websites. And I, I can't really imagine how that would work. Because I think it is so important to make it responsive, and essentially, do a little bit techie. The way that we are trying to build websites at the moment, and moving forward is not just have set screen sizes, not to say it's desktop, or mobile, but actually make designs that are fluidly adaptable, regardless of the size of the screen. So if I, for example, open a tab in my browser and change the size of that window, the website should respond to that and adapt. That's really how websites have been evolving over the last three, five years. And I think much more moving forward. And if we do take this mobile first view, it will have to by default, be this very responsive approach to design like this slightly trickier
Jennie Wright 18:38
explanation. But I love bring it bring the tech explanation because we can you know, our listeners get some of this. I know they do I get it. I want to have these higher level conversations. Like they're great. What is the what do you think people need to avoid in 2022? What do we absolutely like? bang on? No should go on our
Michelle Pontvert 19:00
websites? Ooh, um, I think something that's maybe a bit of a personal bugbear is sites that are inaccessible, like just flat out inaccessible to people of different abilities. There are laws in place in many countries that require us to hold a certain standard of accessibility on our websites. So as a business owner, as the owner of your website, you are legally obligated to withhold those. But you will be amazed how many websites don't. And what I mean by this is having your websites be usable for people who don't have 2020 vision, you know, full hearing for eyesight, full mobility, and there's fairly simple ways to create the website with that in mind, but I think, unfortunately, a lot of the older builders a lot of the oldest sort of websites that weren't constructed with this sort of front and center, don't hold up to those standards and aren't usable for people who are using screen readers who have colorblindness and I Really hope and think that should be extinct fairly.
Alyson Lex 20:08
Michelle Pontvert 20:41
as a business, that'd be liable if your website isn't compliant. And that's a global issue, not just an American issue, I think
Jennie Wright 20:49
it's, it seems to be often overlooked, though, in North America, it's more stringent in Europe, UK, things of that nature. But it seems like in North America, we're running into it more with what we see our clients and other people and when we're browsing, and when we're doing, you know, when we're looking for really good swipe content and stuff like that, we're still seeing it as a problem. So I don't think I don't think people have really embraced that as much. It seems like something, you know, and I'll do when I do it, and yeah, people tend to do that with a lot of things. Like I'll pay my parking ticket when I when I want kind of thing. And then oh my god, I can't renew my license, because I haven't paid that darn parking ticket. I've never done that, by the way, that is so not a Jenny thing. But yeah. Okay, I'm all done on that. I'm all done on that soapbox.
Alyson Lex 21:42
It's gonna say she found the soapbox and hopped right up. Yeah.
Michelle Pontvert 21:46
Alyson Lex 22:27
I like that. And I think that, you know, if there's been a theme, really, that can be summed up because I was gonna say something about like, it's being a good person and caring about your people. That's kind of the theme of, of every trend that we're seeing is like, make it easier and better experience for them. Make it simpler and smarter for you. And that if you can do that, and keep that in mind with your website. That sounds like a really good win win situation.
Michelle Pontvert 22:59
100% I think there's such a beautiful trend towards the sense of, of making businesses that aren't just in it to make money that we are trying to make a difference. And particularly a small businesses, the difference is not just for the people we work with, but for us, too. And I think approaching your business, that way has to translate onto your website, because your website is an extension of your business. So I think as long as you keep that mentality, as you work on your website, you'll be golden.
Alyson Lex 23:31
I cannot thank you enough. I want to plug episode 121. Again, which was last year season two, because we talked about some of this stuff. And you gave us real world actual examples of how to implement that on an existing page. And so if you're listening to this episode, and you're like, Man, she's super smart. And I'd love to learn how she how I can do it. Go to Episode 121, and listen. But I also think that you offer some kind of audit,
Michelle Pontvert 24:05
too. Yeah. So I actually have got a full website audit, which is a really, really great way to get my eyes on your website, and kind of on your business. I've also recently added strategy sessions, strategy sessions, which are really nice, sort of smaller, bite sized thing, if you just have questions around how to implement what is the appropriate tool for mapping out that customer journey. I've had so many people who just need help with those pieces and getting that right, and then they can run and be you know, wonderful DIY and from there, so I've added that as well, which I think is a really nice sort of stopgap between having someone make your website and having someone tell you how to make a website if you just need to ask some questions to get that foundational stuff sorted out. So have those on offer as well.
Jennie Wright 24:58
Yeah, Please. Yeah, that's an awesome offer. Jump on over that. Thank you so much, Michelle, we are so glad that you came back. When we were planning out season three, you were one of the first people we got in touch with. We were like, we have got to have Michelle back because we loved the episode together. We've had so much great feedback from people about the episode. So we know it was of high intrinsic value to people. So we're so thankful. It was great. Oh, well, thank
Michelle Pontvert 25:27
you so much for having me. This is so much fun. And yeah, it makes me so happy to hear people are getting something out of how I'm sort of presenting all this information, you can get a lot online, but I know sometimes you just need the right person to tell you the information the right way. So I hope I've been able to help you with some of that,
Jennie Wright 25:45
is that exactly, actually, it's the right person saying the right thing in the right way so that people can receive it. I think that's a really important message. Just wanna take a second to thank everybody for listening to this podcast, make sure you check out Michelle's links, they'll all be on system to thrive.com in our show notes. So you can find all of that. Don't forget episode 121. It was worth it, especially because she did lovingly rip our website to shreds. And then we had to build it from the ground up again. Which was great because we were going through a redesign at that time. Yay. But go check it out. It was awesome. And thanks so much for being here, buddy. If you liked this episode, please do think about leaving us a review. We'd love to hear from you. And make sure you're following us on all your platforms. We'll talk to y'all soon. Take care