It’s funny how sometimes we get into niche businesses in Web design. Although we are really capable of designing sites for ANY industry we find as soon as we get that ONE client, whether it be a service based or product based, once we create a successful Web site for a certain business type, more clients in that specific industry are soon to follow. As i’m sure you realize, each business has different target markets and customers. Jacob Tyler, as a full service agency has to learn each clients specific market and design unique Web sites that will hopefully convert users into buying customers. That’s how we keep our clients coming back.
Okay…so now we seem to be getting requests suddenly from the spa industry. These are always fun sites to do because there is a little more leeway for creativity, however, many of the smaller spas have to contend with tight budgets and while the spa owners know they need a Web site, they don’t really
understand how they are going to get customers walking in the door from it. Good news… We do. Below we are listing 6 quick tips a spa owner should think about when developing a site and reviewing Web design vendors capabilities. Of course there are some more things to think about, but we can’t give away our WHOLE secret sauce recipe 😉
1. Appearance – Every customer that enters a spa is coming for an experience. If the experience they have is enjoyable, comfortable, and relaxing, they will come back. Believe it or not, your spa Web site has to act the same way. For example, the two spas we are showcasing (photo to right) are small spas located in a strip mall, one in Maryland (Salon Jean) and one in North Carolina (Divas Day Spa). While both are very comfortable and well designed on the inside, potential customers can be confused by their buildings harsh and unfriendly exteriors. When creating your site (unless conflicting with your brand), if possible use a soft, muted, and organic color palette. Color is very important to create a feeling of warmth, and inviting someone to convert from an online visitor to one that enters your business.
2. Convenience – If people are viewing your site online, make it easy for them to get the information they need with relative and informative content. Include pricing for services, the ability to make or request an appointment online, and contact information and directions that are extremely easy to find. Remember, the easier you make it for your customers to get the answers they need, the less you will have to take time out of your day to respond to their questions. Even though your site MAY provide all the answers one may need, it’s a good idea to include phone contact information on EVERY page. Many potential customers want to hear the tone of your spa staff which helps determine if they want to make a personal visit.
3. User Generated Content – We are currently in the Web 2.0 era. What is Web 2.0? In short, it is a Web design that aims to enhance communications, information sharing, and collaboration among users on the Web. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to allow users to contribute to your Web site. How? Create an area where they can write testimonials about their experience about the spa. Don’t worry…you can moderate the content so you can pick and choose what posts are appropriate. Also, enable users to comment on your site. The best way now to do this is to BLOG. Good blogging not only helps increase your search engine optimization by increasing your relevant content, but your spa also becomes an expert source and you seem more credible. What do you blog about? The latest in trends, products, spa experiences, etc… You’ll find that your users will post questions and other tips that will get people talking and potentially help your site expand virally.
4. Video – Ever hear of youtube? if not, hundreds of millions of Web users have. Site visitors love to view video. However, don’t waste their time. Show them what they want to see. This can include your location, the atmosphere of your spa, and examples of some of the treatments you specialize in (including hair coloring, cutting, massage therapy, hot stone massage, and more). Also, keep in mind that when you post video, it requires a lot of bandwidth to stream. Thus, compress the size well so people won’t tune out while they are waiting to load. Speaking of youtube, you should post all of your videos on a page there as well. You should also post them to facebook, myspace, and other social media outlets to increase awareness of your business and search engine optimization (SEO). Okay…speaking of SEO…
5. SEO! SEO! SEO! – Think of your Web site like real estate. Then take the words location, location, location, and substitute SEO, SEO, SEO. Yes…that’s how important it is. People surfing the Web usually have no idea who you are or that your business exists. How will they find you? With good search engine optimization, you stand a chance against your competition and hopefully a leg up in bringing in business. Your Web vendor should build your Web site with all appropriate on-site optimization which includes the development of all meta tags, title tags, keyword rich and relevant content, and appropriate link and button names. As well, they should be able to help you with off-site optimization which will mostly consist of link building. Link building is the process of getting as many links back to your Web site from sites with high page ranks. For more information on page rank, please go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PageRank.
6. Don’t do an all Flash Web site – Often we use flash when we create Web sites as a call out to get a users attention to a specific message or topic of interest. The information then links to a section of the site with additional information. This is what we call “functional Flash”. It is functional because it creates an interaction for the user. Many times we see sites that are all flash and mostly just a poor presentation with minimal interactivity. This is not a good idea for multiple reasons. First of all, while flash can be search engine optimized, it is only one file which limits the page count and indexing for your site. Not good. Another reason is that many mobile units, including Apple IPhone, do not support the use of flash. Thus, if someone is trying to find you while traveling or on the go, your site will not appear on their phone. Lastly, in most cases flash requires more badwidth than standard HTML coding, so your site will take longer to load and could annoy a potential visitor and force them to click away. You’re better off keeping flash to a minimum and only using it to create interest where needed.
Well, hopefully some of these quick tips will be helpful when you are developing your spa Web site. Remember, there is a LOT more to think about to create a successful web site but hopefully this information will get you off the ground running in the right direction.