What Makes a Good Website?

sam hollis

Sam Hollis is a Web Designer, Business Owner, Dad,  Digital Marketing Expert and Podcaster

‘I’m always happy to chat and advice is always free’

In this video Sam talks to Jamie McAnsh from See No Bounds about what makes a great website.


Jamie: Hello and welcome back to SMB Live. And today we’ve got a very, very, very special guest. He has flown in all the way from Mozambique just to come and see us. Honestly, he has. It is, of course, the amazing Sam Hollis. Sam, welcome.

Sam: Thank you so much. Yeah, its bit of a long trip, but it’s nice to be so because you’ve been in the UK for a couple of weeks, haven’t you? So you haven’t really passing through? Yeah, passing through. We’ve been talking like we’ve known each other for a while, and what you do is awesome. And I know that you specialize and we’re going to do a few shows with you, but I know you specialize with photography websites, etc. But you will cover all websites. You can do a website.

Sam: Yeah, that’s it. So we do have the brands of photographers and we work a lot with photographers, but we do have another side for business. Yeah. We work with all sorts of different businesses doing different things.

Jamie: Okay, so I’m going to throw it out there, right?  Because people think about with a website, that they build it and they will come and it doesn’t work that way. It’s not quite like the Arc, right? No. But talk to us a little bit about the first up to us. I’ll tell you what, actually, let’s go back a second. Why don’t we actually tell us what your business is called, because I missed that.

Sam: So I have two sides of the business. So the Sam Hollis web design, and that is the general web design, where we do all sorts of different work with all sorts of different businesses. And we have the monthly pay as you go. And then we have website for photographers, which is a specific brand for photographers, where we work just with photographers on their websites.

Jamie:  Brilliant. So what makes a good website? Right? I mean, websites are powerful things. The internet’s been around for a long time. Personally, I think if you haven’t got a website, you are seriously missing a trick. It’s your shop front and we’ll talk more about that in other shows. But what makes a good website?

Sam:  It kind of depends what it’s for. So different websites are for different purposes. And so I guess the key is that it does what it’s supposed to do. So for some people, it sells stuff. So for ecommerce, it is very simple, or for membership or something like that, it’s to sell. So it is just a case of buy now, buy the membership now. And the key is, if it’s good, if it sells now, there’s all sorts of ways it’s setup to help that and to get people there. But the key is it is selling. There’s another side, which is a lot of services sort of have it within their sales funnel, a lot of service businesses. And it’s not buy now because it might be an accountant or it might be something like that. And so there isn’t like a buy now, but it’s more call me. That’s really the key for a lot of business, isn’t it? That make that first contact. So what’s in that website to make people want to make that first contact? How’s that website engaging with you, telling you how they’re going to help you, though? Again, all sorts of things, but the key is the end result, which is for those sorts of businesses, they want someone to book an appointment or to book a call. That’s the end. And I guess the third type is kind of which we work a lot as well, is the sales funnel is all over here. But you know as you’re going through your sales funnel that those people at some stage are going to look for you, they’re going to look online and they’re going to look at you on LinkedIn and they’re going to look at your website. And if what LinkedIn you’re saying on LinkedIn and what you’re saying on your website isn’t matching with what’s going on over here, it’s not going to work.

Jamie:  I wish I paid you to say that statement, because so many people, right, and I hear a lot, right? So many people, they go, I want to keep my personal and my business separate, and it doesn’t happen. And I’ll tell you why it doesn’t happen. Because whenever we work with someone, the first thing that they do is they look at your website and then they look at your LinkedIn profile and then very often, depending on the age group, so I’ll do it depending on age group. If I’m looking at you, for example, I’ll look on your Facebook profile to make sure that you sit with the same values as we then. But if it’s someone younger, I’ll look on Instagram and I see what they ‘reposting, because it’s about the values. And this is something else that the website has to do. It has to demonstrate your ethos and your values.

Sam: Yeah, definitely. And it has to do that, though. You don’t want an ethos and a values page because nobody’s going to read that, is you? It’s the same as a testimonials page. I don’t like those either, because nobody’s going to go there. You kind of have to. While you’re talking about the client or the visitor, the website has to be all about talking about the visitor, not you. But in there, you have to try and sneak in little bits about you and about your ethos and about your values, but not ramming it down to people’s throats saying, these are our values. Unless you’re in very specific sectors. People don’t want that because they’re coming to you, because they’ve got a problem and they want you to solve it. So you have to just sort of sneak those in where you can. But, yes, they are really important.

Jamie:  It’s funny. Yeah, we’re looking at doing that now with Cena bounds. And we’re very much around sustainability, and we love sustainability, and we want not just green, but world sustainability and we’re now looking very much around the UN SGD goals, 17 SGD goals. So things like poverty, hunger, equal opportunities, and inclusivity, all of these things. And that’s how we’re putting our ethos across, by the content we’re writing in relation to those subjects.

Sam: So you’re not doing them by going, these are our values, bang, bang, bang. By what you’re doing and what you’re saying and what you’re writing, it’s coming through those,

Jamie: and then it’s making sure that what you’re saying is then demonstrated in your actions. And I think that’s something that a lot of people fail on. They have a great website, they’ve clearly employed some brilliant people to do it, and then they don’t practice those ethos and they don’t practice those values. And it stands out definitely.

Sam:  because it’s going to yeah. What you’re saying in social media, like you say, you go to their Facebook page and Instagram page and you can see, can’t you, fairly quickly if this is matching.

Jamie: Yeah. So, okay, so when you’re building a website for someone, I’m assuming you take some time with them and make sure that it’s all adding up.

Sam: That’s it. So the first thing we do is we sit down, have an hour’s meeting. I have a team that builds a website. I don’t actually get behind a computer much and do much building anymore. So we have a meeting with a business owner or if it’s a team, the team of their business with a writer, a designer, my writer designer and me. And we just sit down for an hour and we just start with their business, talk about their business, find out about their business, and then move on to who their customers are and talk about those. And eventually about the website that almost comes last because we need to know about their business, about them, about their customers.

Jamie: Yeah. And I think that’s so important because so many people I think people get the website concept wrong and they just go, I need a website. And so they just create something and the content is rubbish.

Sam: It’s usually about them. If they do that, they talk about, we’ve done this, and we do this. Yeah. I often say to people, look, your website, let’s do a test. How many times do you say we or I? And how many times do you say you? And if you say we or I to more than you, you got the balance wrong.

Jamie: Yeah, we’re going to do a show around content and SEO, I think, because they’re massive subject, but let’s just touch upon it today. Right? So let’s take a small solopreneur. Not an ecommerce website, right? Because ecommerce ecommerce websites are a whole different. And actually there’s a lot of web developers out there that won’t touch ecommerce because just complicated, complex, which is fine. And there are specialists out there. And I think that’s an important note as well is when you’re looking to have a web developer build your website, you need to have someone that is also intuitive to what you’re doing.

Sam: Yeah, definitely.

Jamie: Because I know you do a lot around photography, like, you wouldn’t get landscape photography to do your wedding. It just wouldn’t happen. Right. It’s different skill set. So where was I going with this? I can’t remember. I went off on tangent time and now I’m going to try and pull myself back, pull myself back in. But I think the question is what makes up a good site? There’s a lot of content out there now about things like contact details. It’s amazing how many people and how many websites I find where they’ve only got a contact page and a form. No other method.

Sam:  No, lots of people don’t like the form. You just have to realize different people like different stuff. So, yeah, actually, a contact page is useless in some ways because actually you should have your contact stuff in the header, you should have it in the footer, but actually, people expect a contact page. So you kind of need it because even though it’s there in front of them, they still know that on the right hand side of the menu there’s contact. So you’ve got to have contact there. And yeah, just as many options as possible because some people like WhatsApp, and some people like email and some people like forms and some people like different stuff. So just give them the options because there’s no point pointing people off. And yeah, the forms, lots of people don’t like them. And actually, when you go to other websites, a lot of them don’t work. So a lot of people losing leads because their form isn’t working.

Jamie: And I hate the form.

Sam: Yeah, lots of people do.

Jamie:  Yeah. I just want to pick the phone up and have conversations.

Sam: or the live chat for that sort of thing.

Jamie:  I do call that live chat as well. But I’ve noticed as well, especially with big corporate companies, it is impossible to find a way of communicating.

Sam: Yeah, no, they just make it so hard.

Jamie:  Yeah, try and get hold of Face book, right, or other organizations that take money off you. LinkedIn. Try get hold of LinkedIn. Just can’t. Right? So contact page is important. What about a blog page?

Sam:  So that’s really vital, I think, for content on your website. So getting fresh and new content on your website is really good. So effectively, almost, there’s two sides to your website isn’t there? The main stuff is usually relatively salesy. It’s about getting a message across, getting you to do something, while the blog side is more helping people, which is great, which is when you’re going from social, you’ve met people on social, you’re much better sending to your blog, showing that you’re helping them. Straight to the, look at my brilliant services, would you like to buy? Bringing them down that funnel. It’s a great place to go. So it’s good for that. It’s good for social because it gives you something to talk about. We’re all going up with, the hell am I going to post next? If you’ve got some blogs, you’ve got some stuff to post about. It helps with your SEO because you’re talking about different topics. It shows you an expert. Yeah, there’s just so many reasons why?

Jamie:  I think blogs are paramount. I mean, we’ve got a whole section, our library, where we got blogs, blogs, podcasts, books, and our members can add to that as well. And that content is constantly evolving and changing all the time. It’s absolutely brilliant. Okay, the next question, an about page, right? Some websites have them, websites don’t. We were told to have ours. People were like, we want to know more about yeah. So what’s your thought is?

Sam:  It depends on the industry. So for some things I go, not really necessary. For others, like if you’re a dentist, people aren’t that fussed about where you went to university and blah, blah, blah. If you’re say a therapist or something, I think people want to know you as a person, don’t you?

Jamie:  Yeah.

Sam: I think you always need that about you information in there somewhere. So sometimes I think an about page is good because people want that. Well, other times, it’s a bit like when I said with the values and stuff, you almost have to sneak little bits of it into the rest here and there. So, yeah, I think it’s definitely industry specific.

Jamie:  I find it fascinating that you said, if you’re a therapist, people probably want to know where you’ve trained about you.

Sam:  If you’re a dentist, not so much. If you’ve got toothache, let’s be honest, just go, My toothpaste. Are they free in this country?

Jamie:  Are they free? Oh, brain surgeon not worried about that. But if you’re selling shoes, we want to know the ins and outs. Well, listen, we are going to do some more shows with Sam. We wanted to touch base on what a website can do. And the power of a website, and I think it is probably what I’ve taken away from this, is if you’re going to have a website done, do it properly, don’t muck about. And I’ve done it, right. My first website I built myself, within a couple of weeks, smoke started coming out of it. We’ve done it. I think probably the top tip is get someone, sit down, have a conversation with someone and put it in as part of your budget.

Sam: Yeah, it’s essential part of your business.

Jamie:  It is.

Sam: Like you said, unless you’re a tiny business and you’re just happy with you yourself with a few jobs and you’re on Facebook beyond that.

Jamie: Yeah, fantastic. It’s been brilliant having you here and I look forward to the next couple of shows as well. So that’s all for myself and Sam this time, but tune in next time when we’re talking more about content. And so, until next time, thank you very much. Take care. Goodbye for now.


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