#2 How to Create an Effective Website

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

WordPress Expert and Web Developer, Kelly Sparkes is my very first guest. The episode starts off with Kelly briefly explaining her small business journey. And then she shares masses of hints and tips about how to create an effective website, which really brings you business.

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Kelly's 3 Practical Tips

1. Don't Put Your Social Media Icons at the Top Of Your Home Page

Because what happens is you’ve finally got someone to your website, for example, via Facebook, a blog or an Instagram post and the first thing you don’t want to do is say, ‘Come and look at me on Instagram’. You’re sending them straight back down the Instagram rabbit-hole. And you’ve lost them from your website. It’s super important to have your social media icons on your website. But just put them further down the page and definitely in your footer. Another great place to expand more on your social media presence is on your Contact page. 

2. Have a Contact Form on Your Contact Page

Don’t just have an email address. If someone clicks on your email address and it has a ‘mail to’ link, it can potentially lead to issues. For example if their computer is set up to the wrong email program. Or they might send you a message and it might not get sent, because that email program is not set up.  Another issue with having your email address on your website is that bots can scrape it, which may lead to you getting lots of spam. So, have a Contact form with as few fields as possible. Keep it simple, with all the details you need and a nice button that entices people to actually fill in the form and click Send.

3. Keep Your Website Design Simple

Try not to get too stressed about creating your website. Many people think, oh I can’t do it. I know it’s tech and I know it seems complicated. But just follow the instructions step-by-step and keep your pages simple. Plus make sure that what you want the user to do is as high as possible on your website page. Then you’re doing everything you can to make sure you’ve got a successful website.

Transcript

Rona: So I've got my domain, I've got my hosting and I've got WordPress on my host. What's next?

Rona: Welcome to the My Small Business & Me Podcast with Rona Wheeldon. This is a podcast for small business owners, no matter where you are in your entrepreneurial journey. I'll be interviewing experts who will not only be able to help you with your business, but also with your well-being.

Rona: Welcome to my very first interview with Kelly Sparkes. Kelly is a WordPress Expert and Web Developer. And what she doesn't know about creating websites really isn't worth knowing about. In the podcast, I start off by asking Kelly to share her small business journey as an owner. And then we spend the majority of the interview sharing Kelly's hints and tips on how to create a website, which really brings you business.

Rona: And we start off by looking at if you're completely new to websites and where you should start, from the very first initial steps. And also if you have a website, Kelly gives you some great advice on how to really look at it and audit it. Then we move on to talk about website trends at the moment, what's in and what isn't. And Kelly shares details about her online course as well, The Website Formula. I'm sure you'll find the interview extremely informative. And towards the end, you'll find Kelly's three practical tips that you can make to your website. So I hope you enjoy the interview and I'll see you at the end.

Rona: A very warm welcome Kelly to the My Small Business & Me Podcast. It's so lovely to have you here.

Kelly: Hi Rona. Thank you so much for having me. I'm thrilled to be on here.

Rona: As my first guest as well, so thank you. Before we talk about all of your expertise in website design and WordPress, I really would love for you to share your personal small business journey with my listeners please.

Kelly: Okay. So it's not a traditional journey and I'm actually not really a traditional web developer I don't think. I'm quite arty and creative and I always have been. And I actually didn't even start programming until I was 18. I didn't do it at all at school. And then I taught myself and worked my way through and ended up being a programmer and managing large teams of programmers. But it wasn't very creative. It wasn't very me. I did love it. I love programming and managing programmers, but it just wasn't what I wanted to do. And I knew that.

Then when I had my daughter, I decided to leave programming behind and become an interior designer, which is quite a switch. That's when I met you Rona, wasn't it, through blogging. I went on an interior design course and even went on TV, on The Great Interior Design Challenge. I love designing my own home. I've been developing properties since I was in my twenties. I absolutely love interior design and colour. But I still had that feeling when I started taking on clients that I just really missed programming and helping people with their tech. I did a lot of technical support all through my career.

Kelly: And so I was really excited to come up with the idea of creating a business where I could help small business owners, specifically creative, small business owners. So people like interior designers and florists and photographers, the people who are now my friends that I'd met through blogging. They were finding it so hard to find the right developer that understood how to make it as pretty and beautiful as they wanted while it's still being super functional and converting well for their businesses.

Rona: It's really interesting because I've worked with quite a few web developers in my time as Flowerona, and now with this new podcast. And I think it's really unusual to find a woman involved in the industry. Don't you think?

Kelly: I think it was really unusual when I first started, but it's not so unusual now. Thankfully, there are a lot more women in tech, which is great. But I still think it's quite unusual to have someone who understands the programming and the backend of a database, as well as the design, which is what I bring to the table.

Rona: So why WordPress, why did that attract you? Is it because it's the most popular platform? What was it?

Kelly: So originally, it was when I was working at Sony in the Computer Games Department, which was very exciting and one of the guys there was using WordPress. So that was my first introduction to it. And he wanted me to help him create a website and I absolutely loved it. But since then, obviously, there are a lot of new platforms that have come around and they're all good for different things. But the thing that I really love about WordPress is the fact that it's just so flexible. So you start your business off and you might not know what you want to do. And then you decide, okay, I want to do a podcast like you're doing Rona. And then it's so easy to just edit your website and put this extra stuff on there.

Or you want to do a course. You can add in what's called a plugin, which is just like a small piece of code, super easy to add in. You don't need any coding experience at all. And suddenly your website has all this extra capability. It could be a membership. It can basically be whatever you want. So the reason I love it so much is that it's super flexible and can grow with your business. And so that's why I only do WordPress websites and I teach my students how to build their own WordPress website.

Rona: You're obviously very, very passionate about WordPress.

Kelly: Yes. Is that super boring?

Rona: Not at all. I'm very pleased you're very, very passionate about WordPress because you helped me massively when I had some issues with my website a few years ago. Even though at the time I was umming and ahhing and I actually opened up a Squarespace account and I really struggled. I know it's supposed to be easy, but I struggled with it. But you were there to give me all the advantages of what WordPress can offer. If it hadn't been for that, you wouldn't have been able to help me build my online course platform for my Instagram for Florists online course students. And the website for this podcast as well.

I'm sure there are lots of people who are listening, who are in different stages of their website journey. So if you're a brand newbie to starting a small business, what advice would you give people? And then we'll talk later about advice you'd give to people who already have a website set up. So for newbies, what would you say are the first few steps that need to think about?

Kelly: The first step definitely is registering your domain name. It's so important to save that piece of the internet for yourself, even if you're not quite ready yet to launch a website. And the other thing that that gives you is the ability to register an email address. So that when clients contact you in the beginning, you've got a professional looking email address. So like rona@mysmallbusinessandme rather than rona@hotmail.com.

Rona: And where would you suggest that people actually sign up for domains? There are so many, it's quite hard to know who to choose. So what would your advice be?

Kelly: It is super hard to choose and also there are lots of offers out there that might be very tempting. Because the thing with the domain name is obviously your business hopefully will grow and stay around for years. This is like a yearly money-making thing for these companies. A lot of them will offer you like a £2.99 deal for a year, and then the next year it will go up. So that's the first thing I'd say to check is to make sure what it's going to go up to. And don't be tempted by the very cheap first year offers. But I like to use and I recommend Google Domains, mostly because it makes it super easy to set up your own email address.

And that's what I was saying before about you need that professional looking email address. And if you register with Google, I think it's like £10 and then you have to pay extra monthly for your email hosting, but you've got everything in one place and it just makes it so easy to set everything up. So you're not setting up hosting in one place and then trying to register your domain in one place and then going somewhere else to try and set up your email address.

Rona: And what advice would you give to people who think they have the company name they want to call their business, and then they go and check maybe on Google Domains and find it's already gone. Are there different extensions you could put on the end or what would your advice be?

Kelly: So yes, there are different extensions that you can put on the end. So, say for example, if you're in UK and you want a UK business, most people have .co.uk. But obviously you could look at .com. I like to use .com because it feels more worldwide. But if you're a specific UK business, then use UK. And if you can buy both, then buy both. If you buy two it's a bit more money, but it's worth it in the long run.

Rona: So you've got your domain. What's the next step?

Kelly: So the next step is to sort out hosting. And again, it sounds very complicated. But if you choose the right host, it's very simple and WordPress is a one-click install. So you register and then click, I want WordPress. And it's as simple as that. You've got a basic WordPress website.

Rona: For the people who are completely...I know one of your fortes is that with you there's no technobabble when it comes to talking to you, you make everything sound so simple. So if I've never ever had a website before, can you just explain more about what a host is? Do you have to have it? What does it do?

Kelly: Yes, you definitely have to have a host. If you think of the host is like the bricks and mortar of your house. You need that to have the inside of your house. So the host is where all the website files are stored. So you definitely need that. And that is where your WordPress installation will be stored.

Rona: I know I struggled when I was wondering what to use as a hosting company. What's your advice on some of the better hosting companies to use, because I've had lots of challenges as you know?

Kelly: So different hosting companies offer different services, so it depends on your business really. But for just getting started, Bluehost, I've had good experiences with. And they have quite a good support team. But for people who are a bit further down the journey...and also Bluehost are very reasonable...but for people who are a bit further down the journey, I love Flywheel. It's a great host. I use it for all of my clients and all of my websites and their support is absolutely phenomenal. It's so good.

Rona: Okay. So I've got my domain, I've got my hosting and I've got WordPress on my host. What's next?

Kelly: The first thing I'd say is to not stress too much. I think I see this so much, especially with my students. It's so easy to go down that rabbit hole of...I have to have my website finished. It has to have all these pages. And it has to be perfect. Your website is not going to be perfect straight away. My first website wasn't perfect. You just have to get something up there, even if it's just a single page.

And one tool that I love for WordPress, which is a plugin, is the tool Elementor. It's a page builder and it allows you to see the page exactly as the user would see it when you're editing it, which can just make everything so much easier. It's a more visual process, which appeals to me. And I know appeals to a lot of my clients.

Rona: So do you pay for Elementor do or can you just download it free?

Kelly: You can download a free version. But it's obviously got some limitations. But you can start with the free version, definitely. It's got templates in there so you can choose different templates to suit your business. So it's like imagine in a Word document when you open it up and you've got a template, it's just the same for a website. It makes it all look pretty for you. And then you just have to change the images and change the text. That makes it much easier.

Rona: So if people are new to Elementor, how can they learn how to use it?

Kelly: It's very straightforward. I've actually got an introduction video on my YouTube channel as well, just to talk you through the basics. And I've also got an introduction video on how to get started with WordPress. If you just think of it as like if you were following a recipe, it's just step by step. Just follow it step-by-step and in the end you will have a website, I promise.

Rona: So how long do you think people should allow from getting their domain, getting their host and building their website? How long, if they're a complete newbie, would you allow? Would you allow a month or three months? Or what would you really suggest as the sort of average time?

Kelly: I think that it depends how much time you've got to give to it. If you're right at the beginning of your business journey, you might have more time while you're waiting to build up clients. But if you are just creating your first website and you've already got clients, then obviously it's going to take you a little longer, like everything. But I'd say that I like you to get just one page up as quickly as you can. You could spend two days on it.

Just so you've got somewhere to send people, even if it's just one Home page with nothing else that just says who you are, what you do and how you can help people. That's the key thing. Always think, how can I help? When people come to your website, they're not interested in you. They're interested in themselves and what can this website do to help me.

Rona: So we've talked about people who are brand new to websites. If you currently have a website, but you don't feel that it's bringing your business the kind of leads or just generally, you're not happy with it. What would you recommend they do?

Kelly: The first thing I'd say is to give yourself an audit or pay someone to do an audit for you. And just look at each page and think about what is this page doing for me? Why have I written this page? So on your Contact page, for example, why have I got this Contact page? Do you want them to get in touch? You know, some businesses, I know you Rona, for example, you get a lot of people emailing you. And maybe you don't want loads of people emailing you. Or maybe that's the first step in the customer journey.

So how easy is it for a person to get in touch using that page? How easy is it on your About page for people to understand what it is you can offer them? What services you're doing? Is your About page all about you and not about the client? Is your About page written in the third person? You know, things like that. People buy from people.

Rona: So third person, just explain that so people are a hundred percent sure.

Kelly: So on my website, instead of saying, hi I'm Kelly, I can help you build your website. I'd be like Kelly helps people build websites. It's just so stilted and corporate and third person. So it's much nicer to be yourself. And is your website you? Is your website your brand? That's what I'd say. You know, if you've started with some colours and now you've changed them and you're really good on Instagram and you're getting the clients from Instagram to your website. But then when they get there, they're like, ooh, this is not what I've just found from Instagram. It's like false advertising. So think about that. Are your colours consistent on your website with your other branding that you're doing.

I think the key thing is, is it you? Just look at it, is it me? And is it doing everything that I want it to do? And if it's not, so if no one is subscribing to your newsletter, then look at where that is. If that's the key thing you want people to do, is that buried in your footer or on your Contact page? Put it on your Home page. Think about your website as a whole and do a bit of planning that's what I'd say before you even start touching it. Just do a bit of planning and really think about each of the pages that you've got.

Rona: So that leads on very nicely to chatting about what you feel are the key pages that people need to have on a website.

Kelly: So obviously the main one is the Home page. And also to make sure that your logo at the top sends people to your Home page. People expect to click on the logo and get taken to your Home page. Even if you've got Home in your menu, it's just a functionality thing that helps people get where they want to be. So yes, your Home page and that Home page should summarise everything on your website. So it should have each of your services.

I don't mean like a massive blurb about my website design services. Just a little paragraph to say what it is that you do. Then if you have a shop, a few of your key products. But again, don't overwhelm people. Make sure that the key things that you want your client to do are all featured on the Home page and explained well, because you want to encourage them to click through. The other page that you should definitely have is your About page, which I've mentioned already, which is the second most visited page on most websites.

As like I said before, but they want to find out about your business and about how you can help them, not about you personally. So they don't want to know that I'm an interior designer as soon as they click on there. That's something for way down on the About page. It's more about how I can help you with your website.

And then the other page that's super-duper important is your Contact page. And this just needs formatting in a way that works for your business. Like I said before, if you don't want people to get in touch with you, you don't want them emailing you, then don't put that right at the top. Or don't put that on at all. But if that is your main thing that you want people to do, then put that right at the top.

If you're a bricks and mortar business, make sure there's a map on there. Make sure people can find you. There are so many tips that I could give you about this, but the Contact page is super important. And then you should have at least one page that describes what you do. So like a Services page. Or if you're a photographer, then you should have a portfolio or case studies or things that help people build trust with you and trust your business. Even if you don't have that straightaway, that's fine. Just something that shows what you do is great.

Rona: Now I have to ask because of my background, how important do you feel is to have a blog on your website?

Kelly: A blog is so important, especially if you want to rank on search engines. I'm not going to go too deep into search engine optimisation on this. There's like a whole other podcast. But yes. So the way that search engines love you and promote you more is to see that you are updating your content regularly. So that is one of the reasons that I like to teach people how to update their own website. Even my clients, you know like you Rona, I'm always teaching you and trying to pushing you to do it yourself because it's so important to keep your website updated. One of the really good ways you can do that is by producing a weekly blog post.

Blogs are not what they used to be. They don't have to be like a news thing and they don't have to be stale. They could be a podcast, if you do podcasts. If you do YouTube videos or IGTV, anything like that, you could use your blog as a place to put the transcript up. And it just helps people who are on Google rather than in whichever platform that you've got your content on find your website and find you, because that is the ultimate goal.

No matter what content you're putting out there, you need to make sure it's represented on your website because you want to get people to your website. And that is where you want to be building your list rather than building up these huge social media followings and not capitalising on that. If that goes away tomorrow, have you got all of their email addresses? Can you continue to get in touch with them?

Rona: That's really interesting you should say about your list because I wanted to ask your opinion on email list providers, because I've been using MailChimp, but I'm really interested about moving to Flodesk. What do you think about the different platforms?

Kelly: So again, it's just like everything. There are so many different platforms and it depends what you want from your business. So Flodesk, I haven't really used it that much and I'm thinking about moving over to that myself, but it's very visual. And if you want your content to look lovely, like you Rona, you know, it's all about your photography and your aesthetic and your brand is so strong that you want to continue that. Then something like Flodesk makes it quite easy with templates, like I was saying before about Elementor with your website. There are also other things like you mentioned, MailChimp.

MailChimp is a good one to get started on. You might outgrow it, but there is a free plan and it's easy to set up in the first instance. I think the key is whichever one you go for is to just make sure that you are collecting email addresses as soon as you can. And like I said right at the beginning, even if you just have one page for your website in the beginning that has a bit about you and has a sign-up with maybe a download so they can find out more about your business. And that's so important.

Rona: Absolutely. I wish I'd started sooner actually. But yes, it's totally so important. Website design. Now, when I first had my first website, over 10 years ago, things have changed just a little. What do you think are the key trends at the moment in website design?

Kelly: I think simplicity which makes it easier for you guys as well. Keep it so simple. The use of white space. Go and look at a website that you love after this and think about why you like it. And if you look at it, it's probably got a lot of white space on there. And it doesn't have to be white. It's just white space just refers to the space that's around the content. So like if you have an image and text, not right next to each other, put a bit of a gap in there. Think about a grid as well.

So if you scroll down your screen, try and keep things straight. Or you can have things that overlay, but just try and keep the main body of the content straight or full to the edge. Just because it's soothing for the user as they're scrolling. Their eyes are not going everywhere. Because that's your main aim, to keep the visitor on your site as long as possible. You want it to be a nice calming experience for them. Less text, simple to the point copy, very strong, powerful images, which can be full-screen. That's quite a trend, you know, a nice, full screen image. Or any images that you've got, just make sure that they represent you and your brand. That is super important.

Rona: Now, when we're talking about website design, one thing that's also changed since I first started having a website was the increase in people looking at websites on their mobile and tablet as well. Can you talk to us about what I think they call it responsive design is?

Kelly: Yes, sure. Responsive design means that your website is going to look awesome on a mobile or on a desktop or on a tablet. These are three very different size devices. So what works beautifully on your desktop, and you want to take advantage of that when you have got that space, you want to make sure it looks amazing. But then maybe you don't do certain things on a mobile device, like auto playing videos, for example. If someone is using their mobile data, they don't want videos playing. On a mobile, it's just a lot simpler and on a tablet as well. Some of the large tablets will still display the desktop version, but a smaller tablet it's good to have the burger menu.

So you'll see it if you look on mobile websites. If you look at anyone's website or not anyone, but a lot of people's websites on your mobile, you'll see in the corner instead of having a tiny menu, because you wouldn't be able to see it, or massive, which I've seen, some people do like taking up the whole of the first page. So you're looking at your phone and all you can see is the menu. You have like the three little lines in the corner or in the middle, wherever you want to put it. And the users can click on that and see your full menu if they want to.

But the key thing for responsive design again is if you think someone on their phone, they're like this, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll. They want everything on the Home page really, but in a small digestible format. So then if they are interested, they can click through. Because what you don't want to do is make your users make a decision too soon. You want them to get to know you. And then they're like, okay, now I trust them enough to find out more about their puppy training services or photography or whatever.

But with the Elementor tool, it's so simple. It has a little icon that allows you to switch between the desktop view and the mobile view and the tablet view. So you can see how your design looks on the different devices. And it also allows you to hide things. So say on the desktop, you might have a nice picture and then some text. Maybe on the mobile, you don't need that picture. You just have the text. And also to decrease the white space. If you think about how big some white space is on your desktop, which looks perfect, then when you look at it on your mobile, it might be taking up too much screen. So maybe on the mobile version, you make that a little bit smaller.

Rona: So we've covered very briefly some of the stuff to consider with websites, but what if somebody wants to sell something, do they have to have specific plugins to sell something from a website?

Kelly: So that is a great reason to use WordPress. Because if, say for example, you've just started your business and you didn't know you wanted to sell something. If you have WordPress, you can literally just install a plugin, which is free. And the one I like to use is WooCommerce. And you can set up your shop in a few days really. You could have it up and running in a day if you worked really hard on it and didn't have that many products. It simply allows you to add products in.

And you could add a few to get started and then add more as you go along. You don't have to launch the shop with every product that you've got. And you can also add another plugin, which enables you to link that shop to Instagram or Facebook so that you can also sell on other platforms that you're investing your time in.

Rona: Could you tell us about any small business websites you've been working on recently?

Kelly: Yes, so there was one that went live just before Christmas and that's called Feraland.com. And they're a garden design and antique company. So they source and sell garden antiques. And that was such a dream to work on looking at all those products. You know when you're uploading products that are boring, this was definitely not. I was like, I need that. I need that. But it was brilliant. I helped them with their branding as well.

So when they came to me, they were using like black and white because they wanted it to feel like a book. But they were very much what I call an autumnal brand. So they're very natural. It's all about nature. And actually the gardens that they create are wild gardens. So the black and white, they didn't understand what it was, why it wasn't working. But that's what it was. It was just like the simple things.

So changing the black to like a charcoaly grey, like an old book. If you think, if you get an old book, it is sort of yellowy pages. It's not white is it? Even new books aren't white. They've got that sort of natural, creamy feel to it. So that's just doing that simple change. They were like, Oh gosh yes. And keeping that wild feel throughout their website. So I know as before I was saying about the straight lines. But just keeping it within the grid, but just sort of creeping out and with full bleed pictures just made such a difference.

And through their website, because they used WooCommerce to create their shop, they can now sell directly on Instagram, which they were already doing, they were already selling through Instagram, but their process was quite long-winded. Whereas now with their shop online, they can publish it straight to Instagram and then add that as a product to their posts, which just makes it much better for them because the client can click through and see more details and see more images and ask any questions. And it's got them from Instagram to their website.

Rona: That's amazing. You just make everything sound so easy, which is what I often say to you when I call you with a website query. So we've talked about WordPress, but I know that there are other platforms like I tried to use Squarespace. So what makes you so passionate about WordPress?

Kelly: I think the thing with WordPress is that it's so scalable. When you first start your business, you've got no idea what it is. Most people. I didn't, I know that. You start off with one idea of what you want to do and then you find out what your clients actually want. And actually they'd love this part of you more. Or you decide actually I am going to launch that shop or create that membership or write a course.

These are all things that are so easy with WordPress. One of the things with you, Rona, when your website got taken down. In that time, while you were trying to create another site, you lost all of your SEO juice, didn't you, which was a nightmare. And that's the good thing.

If you're trying to switch platforms, if you do say switch from say, you were on Squarespace now or Shopify, and then you wanted to switch to WordPress or any other one, you've just got to watch the links and all of the things that you've built up over the time. Make sure you don't lose that. And so that's why I love WordPress. Because you can just stay with WordPress and it will grow with you and you don't have to worry about all that sort of stuff.

Rona: So I know like me, you've got an online course. Could you share with us some of the details about what the course involves and what the format is?

Kelly: Yes I do have an online course. It's called The Website Formula and it's basically walks you through everything that you need to know step-by-step to create a really good website. And even if that is just the one page to get started, you can come back in, you can do another page another time. As your business grows, you can get back in and learn the next part. So it's a course that will last you the lifetime of your website. And also there's a Facebook group where you can ask questions and everyone is on the same set-up.

So if you are trying to build your website at the minute and you have tried to look on YouTube, for example. You know, you look on YouTube, you find something, you're like oh yes that's how I want to do my header. And then they're telling you to install something else that you don't have. Or It doesn't work because of the theme you've chosen. But, within the course, I take you through everything and help you with choosing things and why you should go down that route and not get taken off on a tangent by lots of different people, giving you different advice.

Rona: So the format of the course, is it a package you can work through on your own or is it released weekly, like my course?

Kelly: It is released weekly because I think it is so important to follow it step-by-step. Whereas if I just gave everything right at the beginning, people might hop in at the end and the exciting bit, the creating the pages. But you really have to consider your branding and the planning.

The first module is planning. And I know I touched on that before. It's so important to think about what you want your website to do for you and what you want the visitor to do when they come to your website. And think about the pages that you need. And in the planning section as well, I talk about other pages that you need, like the legal things. I don't go into detail on legal things because I am not a lawyer. But I do just tell you what you need so you can hire the right person or buy the template for your cookie policy, privacy and your terms and conditions.

So I start with planning. Then we look at branding because that is super important to make sure everything is branded consistently. Everything you're putting out there looks the same as I was saying before. And this can really affect the clients that you're attracting. If you're trying to attract women, for example, to your website and your website is all very dark colours and very masculine, then that might make a woman click off. I think it's important to establish what your niche is as well. I help you with that in that module. And then the third module is all about getting started with WordPress. So I talk you through, step-by-step what you need to do, help you get your website up in the first instance.

And then we go through and I show you each of the sections, show you how to create a menu. Every video gives you an actionable thing that you can do on your website. And even if you just did one of those videos a day, you're going to move forward with your website so quickly. And then after that, it's about design. So what makes the design of a website work. What converts well. Things like sliders. I don't advocate the use of sliders on a website. I know they were very popular, but they're quite distracting and they don't convert well.

And then finally on module five, I let you actually get to designing your pages. And I talk about templates as well. So how to use the templates and how to implement them to make your life easier moving forward. And it's just to help stop you making the mistakes that you might make or get that confusion that you might get with lots of different teachers trying to teach you to get to where you need to be with your website.

Rona: And that's the final week, week five?

Kelly: That's week five and the final week is week six, which is launching your website. So, we have obviously done all this amazing work we need to launch it. So in this module, I help you make sure it's optimised. I talk about SEO. I talk about the things that you can do to make your site faster, to secure it. So many things like how to add a Facebook pixel, how to make sure your Google Analytics is set up. Even if you're not ready to use these things right now, it's just good to have that there. And then when you are ready, you can jump in.

Or in the case of Google Analytics, for example, it's super important to set that up straight away. Because the sooner that you start tracking what visitors are doing on your website, the sooner that you can use it to help you decide what direction your website is going in or where to spend your efforts improving. And even if you never look at the Analytics right now, it's just good to have it there in the background, collecting it. And it's a super simple thing to do.

Rona: We covered so much Kelly. Before we finish off, my big thing with this podcast is to give my listeners three practical tips. So each week I'm going to ask my guests to give me their three practical tips. So what are yours?

Kelly: So the first one, which may be a little controversial is that you shouldn't put social media icons right at the top of your Home page or any page. Because what happens is you've finally got someone to your website. So you've got them through a blog or through an Instagram post or whatever. You've got them to come from Facebook. You've dragged them out of these like time sucks and you've got them on your website. And the first thing you're doing is saying, come and look at me on Instagram. You're sending them back down the Instagram rabbit hole.

So it's super important to have them on there and especially for someone like you, Rona, who specialises in Instagram. So it's good for you to have a section about Instagram and definitely you want it on there. But I'd just put it further down the page and definitely in your footer. And another great place to expand more on your social presence is in the Contact page. So you could talk about if you had a Facebook group, you could put that as something on your Contact page. And if that was the most important thing you want them to do, then put it higher up. If the most important thing is for them to get in touch, then you put it below, below that.

Rona: So that's number one. So I need to do some work then on Flowerona.

Kelly: Yes. It was very trendy at one time to put them up there. But obviously now you've put them up there and you see your conversions and you see that people are leaving quite quickly and you're trying to work out why. Because obviously it is exciting, Instagram. Oh, actually, do I want to work with this person? Let me have a look at their Instagram feed. And then before you know, it, you're getting alerts, you're in your messages. You're off. You've lost them from your website. So it's also good to say if you do have an Instagram feed to put your Instagram feed in your website as well. That's great.

Rona: Yes Actually like I've done.

Kelly: Yes, so it keeps them on there. They can see, okay, I trust you. Say you're hiring a photographer, for example, look at those pictures. They're amazing. Or a business coach and there are all these great tips. You don't have to leave the website because that's the key. And that really helps with SEO as well, keeping people on your website for as long as possible.

Rona: So number two Kelly.

Kelly: So number two. I know I keep harping on about the Contact form. But it is to have a Contact form basically on your Contact us page.

Rona: Not an email address.

Kelly: Not an email address. So I see a lot with people say mail, there's a type of link that you can add that has mail to in the background. And then it allows people to just click that link. And then it opens up their email program, which sounds amazing. But what if their website, their computer, sorry, is set up to the wrong email program.

So a lot of people have the default email program set up and it's different to the one that they use every day. So especially for someone who's not that technically minded, it's going to be quite confusing for it to be opening up. Or they might send you a message and it might not get sent because that email program is not set up. Or they get a horrible message, you know, set this up. And they're like, what?

So having a form on there with as few fields as possible. So if you don't need their phone number, don't ask for their phone number. Because putting that on there might make someone think, actually I don't want to fill in this form. I'm not ready to give them my phone number just yet. So keep it simple, but a nice form with all the details you need and a nice button that entices people to actually fill it in and click through.

Rona: Okay. That's great. I'm very keen on that one. I know that you've done that on my website. I think there's a bit of a mental block. You think you should give your email address, but it just can cause so many issues moving forward. So number three, Kelly,

Kelly: And actually with what you were just saying then about issues moving forward. The other issue that having the email address means that bots can scrape that.

Rona: Yes.

Kelly: Computer programs come along and they look at all the websites. So it's not a person, it's just a computer going out there looking at everyone's websites and gathering email addresses. Now, if you've used your email address as your admin account on your website, you've given them half of your login for example, which could be a problem. But also you get loads of spam.

Rona: Yes. Really good point. Okay. So number one was to make sure your social media icons are not at the top of your page. Number two is to have a Contact form with a form to fill out rather than an email address. What's number three?

Kelly: So number three, and I think this is the most important one is just to keep it simple and to try not to get too stressed about it. People think, oh, I can't do it. I know it's tech and I know it seems complicated. But if you just follow it step-by-step and just keep your pages simple. And make sure that what you want the user to do is as high as possible, then you are going to do everything you can really to make sure you've got a successful website.

Rona: When you say as high as possible, do you mean as high as possible on the page?

Kelly: Yes. So higher on the page. So anything that's important, you don't want to bury that at the bottom of the page. You want to put that higher up. So if you want someone to subscribe to your newsletter, make sure it's attractive, make sure you offer them something. And put it higher up your website. Maybe not right at the top. Probably most people's main thing is that they want people to find out about their business. So, tell people how you can help them.

But just keep it simple. And just get started. Just stick one page up. It doesn't matter. It's not like when you put a page up, there's thousands of people are going to look at it tomorrow. You can change it tomorrow if you don't like it. It's just good to get started.

Rona: What you've told me over the years is how it's very easy to have this fixed mindset that your website is done. But you're very much it's, I don't know how you describe it. Remind me how you describe it. Is it growing or something or evolving or?

Kelly: Yes, it's constantly evolving your website. And if it's not, it's not going to work for your business because search engines, don't like stagnant websites. If someone comes to your website six months ago and then comes back and you've got all the same products or the same images and it's all the same, it's like you didn't convert them last time. So why would it this time. It's just important to keep it updated.

And a lot of people have that mindset. I can pay a developer and then it's finished. But it's never finished. It's just constantly evolving and you should use it like you use your other tools. You wouldn't post on social media and then not post for six months. If you think of your website like that. You just need to keep it growing and to keep it current with your business.

Rona: It's so important. And I think also nowadays, especially with what's been happening in the last almost year, we're spending so much time online. Well more and more people are spending more time online. And that's why it's so important that your website, because you might not be able to see people at the moment in person, your website has to really do the job of marketing your business, doesn't it?

Kelly: Yes. And also it gives you the opportunity to pivot. In this climate, I've had quite a few clients who've pivoted to online learning, for example, when they do one-to-one learning. So knowing how to edit it yourself and understanding how your website can work can just allow you to do things with your business that you might not have thought possible before.

Rona: There's just so much potential, isn't there? And with WordPress, new people are developing new plugins. It's really exciting. And I'm looking forward to working on my new website as well. But before we finish Kelly, please can you tell people where people can find you and your website and your social media?

Kelly: So my website is kellysparkes.com. And on there you can find out more about my course. Obviously you can find out everything on my website because I like everyone to go to my website and then be directed out. You can also find me on YouTube. And there's a link to my YouTube channel through my website too. And on Instagram.

Rona: So it's Kelly, and then just spell out your surname, Kelly.

Rona: Sparkes, which is S P A R K E S. So it's kellysparkes.com. And then on Instagram, I'm kellysparkesWP.

Rona: Great. Thank you so, so much Kelly for coming on the podcast and being my first ever, ever, ever guest. And I know that you have got so much knowledge about websites that this definitely will not be the one and only time that we speak on this podcast, because there's just so much more that I feel that my listeners could benefit from hearing from you.

Kelly: Well, thank you so much for having me. It's been so much fun, as always with you Rona. I do love working with you. And I hope that I've helped some people and I'd love to answer any questions. If anyone has any questions then feel free to pop some comments on to Rona's blog post.

Rona: That's brilliant. Thank you so much, Kelly. I'll see you soon.

Kelly: Thank you. See you soon.

Rona: So I hope you enjoyed that interview with Kelly. It was so lovely spending time with her, and she's got just so much knowledge about websites. It never ceases to amaze me. I've been working with her now for several years. She designed the Flowerona website, the latest version. She also is the person behind my Instagram for Florists online course platform.

She's such a lovely person as well, a pleasure to work with. And it's so nice to work with somebody technical, who also is very creative and really cares about a brand's aesthetic. So I'll put links to Kelly's website below and also links to her social media platforms. And of course, a link to a downloadable PDF with Kelly's tips. So I hope you have a lovely rest of your day. Don't forget to subscribe to my podcast and YouTube channel. And I'll see you next week.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my interview with Web Designer & WordPress Expert, Kelly. You may also like to check out the next episode featuring florist teacher, writer and author Claire Bowen from Honeysuckle & Hilda’s new book! 

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