Your website—like your branding in general—plays a key role in how clients perceive your studio. According to a team of researchers at Stanford, small design choices such as font, images, and layout can actually determine whether someone trusts your business. There’s no rule about how often you should change your website, but there are certain occasions that call for an update. Here are some tips on how to make sure your online presence is always fresh.
Update as Soon As There’s an Update
This may seem obvious, but sometimes during big transitions at studios, the website gets put on the back burner. It’s important that as soon as there’s a change of any kind, you put it up online. This includes your contact information, a change in the schedule, or a last minute cancelled class. At the same time that you’re updating your website, make sure your business listing is refreshed on Yelp, Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other online directories. Services like SinglePlatform* are popular in the service industry since they will automatically update your information changes across all the platforms you use.
Most importantly, if you’re updating your class or package pricing, you’ll want to update your website as soon as possible to make sure the change is reflected (beyond announcing it in a dedicated email to clients and posting some additional signage around your studio). For clarity’s sake, considering adding a temporary note or comment to your pricing page addressing the change. This avoids any issues with clients who would have otherwise been disgruntled or confused, having noticed a discrepancy between your website and actual pricing.
You also should update your website when you change the feel of your studio. If you’re changing the wall color or décor in the gym, for example, plan to roll out a redesign of your online presence to match. This creates brand consistency.
Choose an Easy-to-Use CMS
Small businesses often wonder whether they should redesign or rebuild their website. One of the biggest barriers to staying fresh is a Content Management System (CMS) that requires an engineer or someone who is really web savvy to make simple changes. If this is the case for your site, it’s time to start from scratch.
An important determining factor is if your website doesn’t seamlessly work across devices. Websites built using Flash aren’t supported by iPads or iPhones. You should also rebuild your site if it isn’t optimized for mobile use as, according to the Pew Research Center, 56 percent of smartphone owners use their phones to look up community events or activities.
When doing a complete overhaul, website building services such as Squarespace* are good options because they allow you to easily add and delete features. This means you can entrust a couple employees to play around with potential upgrades such as an opinion poll on a new class.
Strategize Around the Seasons
When you plan specials and events throughout the year, your website strategy should always be a part of the conversation. It will be easiest to highlight promotions on your homepage if you pick a template that has a prominent space devoted to rotating content. This way any employee will be able to just upload a flyer, photo, or text on the latest promotions.
You can also make slight adjustments to your logo or the colors on your homepage for major holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. It will drive more traffic to your site if you can reference the name of the holiday or other key search terms multiple times in your posts.
Also, think about how you can make your website seem fresh by featuring events after they’ve happened. If you’re around during a special class, try to step into the room and shoot a few photos to create an image gallery for the website. This can easily be done at least once a month using an iPhone. Download an app like Manual and boost your shutter speed to 1/2000 to prevent blurring during fast movements. Also, try taking a photo by panning with the movement of the class. Another option is to aggregate videos and photos posted by clients and teachers on social media. You can create a post like this for your blog with Storify.
There’s so much emphasis on social media these days that studios sometimes forget there are many tools for encouraging engagement through their website. This is important for gaining new members, because poor analytics mean your page will be buried on search engines. The best way to avoid this is to both encourage people to stay on your website for longer and to update with new pages (not just new features). This might include a blog (if you don’t already have one), a newsletter, or a discussion forum. Also, make sure there are visible share buttons for all major social platforms on every post.
The current design trend is simple and sleek. Of course you want your website to include your health philosophy, schedule, pricing, and rotating engagement features, but none of this will matter if your clients can’t easily navigate the information.
Throughout all the updates and changes, consider how it’s all coming together. Prioritize clean fonts, cohesive colors, and a clear navigation bar. If you add a new flyer or announcement to the homepage, check on a smart phone to make sure it’s appearing correctly on different devices. If you’re writing something up, no matter how small, give it to someone you trust for a quick proofread. It may sound obvious, but it’s common to read over simple grammatical errors. And last, if you’re not sure about your website, ask your clients. We’ve recommended in several other articles to occasionally incentivize members to provide feedback about the studio on a survey. Consider including the ease of the website on these questionnaires.
*ClassPass Partners: Access your exclusive Squarespace and SinglePlatform perks via the ProPerks page in the Partner Dashboard!