Raise your hand if you’ve ever put off sharing about your thing, whether it’s your regular services or a new offering you’ve created, because it feels like your website isn’t quiiiite complete yet. If you can regognise yourself in the above, you’re going to love this episode!
Samantha Mabe, creative director and designer of Lemon and the Sea, helps service providers and coaches stop cringing every time a dream client asks for their website. She loves designing custom sites that empower business owners to raise their prices and feel confident that their online home finally reflects their brand. With her signature framework, Samantha has designed and customised over 25 websites over the past 6 years for all different types of entrepreneurs. When she is not digging into design and strategy, Samantha loves true crime podcasts, adventures with her toddler, and trying to keep up with her Netflix queue.
Samantha reached out to me because she wanted to share about launching with a simple website. She believes that you don’t need a complicated, 47-page website filled with pop-ups and funnels in order to launch your new service or course. All you need are the 4 pages that move people from browsing to buying.
Now, this fits in nicely with my philosophy of making things as uncomplicated as possible so people actually get on with building their brands instead of getting stuck in the “but I have to do or have x” rat race.
TL;DR – Here’s how to connect with Samantha:
Disclaimer: The following transcript has been auto-generated and then cleaned up by my wonderful VA – and while the general flow of the conversation is there, it’s probably not 100% accurate.
P: Welcome, Samantha. It’s such a joy to have you join me for this episode.
S: Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited.
P: And we’re going to be talking about simple websites today. Yeah, so specifically how you don’t really need a website that contains everything and the kitchen sink. I have to say, as a recovering perfectionist and chronic overachiever, this really spoke to me.
So just before we dive in, I just wanted to set the tone for the episode really. So what is the key takeaway that our listeners can expect to walk away with after listening in on our conversation today?
S: I really just want people to know that things don’t have to be complicated. They can figure out their own way of doing things, and we can do website design specifically, very simply without feeling like we have to throw everything in there. A business can be a success even if you’re doing things in a really, easy way.
P: I love it. So when you work with your clients, is this the approach that you take then as well?
S: Yes. So I have been designing websites for six years, and what I have found over that time is that most of them don’t need something as complicated and as scary as they think they do.
So we really focus on what is actually going to help them in their business: What is going to get them clients or customers and leave everything else for as they grow? If they decide they need it, they can do it then. But to start out, we really want to keep it simple so that they can focus on the client work and doing their business.
P: I actually find that to be so, so helpful. That approach is really, well, I wish somebody told me that when I first started out, you know, because I felt from the word go that I had to have everything in my website. You know, I needed this, I needed that..I needed it to be so comprehensive. Then it became this enormous task that I kept putting off, and putting off, and putting off, and it made me put off my entire business because I felt like it wasn’t ready. You know, ‘My website is not ready, so how can I send people to it?’
So I’m really looking forward to hearing your take on this because I’m pretty sure that there are a lot of people out there who- hopefully they’re tuning into this episode- who could really do with just that almost permission to not do everything from day one and to start with the basics. So let’s just dive in. So what is a simple website and what is it about it that makes it so great? What makes it work?
S: I consider a simple website, something that you take the time in your business to outline. What moves somebody from browsing to actually buying whatever it is that you’re selling: a course, A service, a product. You have those pieces of your website and you leave everything else off.
You don’t worry about having a million different opt-ins, or pop ups, or all kinds of really complicated funnels and pages that aren’t serving you, because the reason I really love doing this is it’s great for a business owner because you can actually get it launched. You feel like it’s not as overwhelming. It’s good for your customers too because you are directing them to where they need to go on your website in order to work with you, or buy something from you. They’re not having to go through a choose your own adventure where they’re not sure what they actually need.
P: So it’s basically putting the user experience at the forefront as well and figuring out what people actually come on your website to do or what you want them to do or find when you get there, Is that right?
S: Yeah, absolutely. I feel like so many business owners when we start out especially, we want to offer every service possible. And so we have all these different things and it’s really confusing when somebody wants to work with you because they don’t know what you’re best at. They don’t know what they need. So if we can figure out the best way that we serve our clients, we can tell them what that is. Then it’s really easy for them to decide whether they want to work with us or if somebody else would be a better fit. It makes it so much simpler as a business owner when you’ve got one process or service to focus on because you’re not having to keep all of these different things in your brain.
P: Oh yes, this totally resonates. That’s a process for most business owners. I’m still in that process. I mean, I’m miles away now from where I was when I started, because I really was doing everything for everybody at that point.
And when you start out, that’s kind of what you think you have to do because, well, you’ve got to pay the bills and so you don’t want to exclude anyone or make someone not want to work with you. But as my business journey has progressed, I find myself streamlining more and more, honing more and more on and what I actually do best. If you can translate that and get it onto the website, hopefully that’s going to attract more of the right kind of clients.
S: Absolutely. I went through that, too. I started out offering every type of graphic design: branding, wedding invitations, websites, everything. I have had to find what I’m best at- the best way that I can serve my clients, and really designed my business in a way that works for me and helps them. It is such a journey and I think we never really get to a place where we’re like, ‘OK, this is it forever.’
P: Yeah, I agree. I don’t think we are ever going to get there. I’m still working on streamlining and simplifying my own services and my own website.
And what can I say? It’s a labour of love. You kind of figure it out as you go along as well. Because once you’ve done a project that wasn’t 100% fit, you just kind of know, and then you can weed that out for for the next time. And then you know that you don’t want to maybe do those kind of projects anymore. Yeah, So I really love having different people onto my podcast to kind of share their journeys as well. I love that we are being so transparent about this because it’s so easy when you’re starting out to just think that everybody else has got it sorted, they’ve got it all figured out and that they have that from day one. But what they don’t realise is that they’re probably looking at someone’s whatever number of iterations down the line, and it’s not where they were when they started. So it’s just really nice to show that it’s normal to beyond that journey.
S: Yeah, it absolutely is. I think so many times when we start out in business, we find those big names when we’re trying to figure out what we can do and they know what they’re doing.
They’ve got great websites, and funnels, and all kinds of courses, and all of that in place
P: But also a team to help them do all of this.
S: Yes and we are trying to start something from scratch most of the time without any of those things, and the comparison is something that’s really easy to fall into. But it really is not a good picture of where your business should be at in the first or second year. You’re still trying to figure all that out.
P: So if we start thinking about like a simple website, who is a simple website, a really great option for? Who is like a good candidate to start with a simple website?
S: I have one main requirement for a simple website, and that is that you have some sort of signature offer. So you can be in any industry. Most of the people I work with are online business owners. They consider themselves creatives, but they have a signature offer, whether that is a signature service that they’re walking somebody through or a course, that they offer as their main way that people work with them.
The reason that that works best is because then you can design the whole website to move people to that one thing. You can talk about the transformation you bring. You can hone your copy, your branding, all to that offer without feeling like, ‘Oh, well, I’ve got all these other things people can do too and how do I incorporate that as well?’
P: So what’s the main benefit, would you say, to going for the simple website approach?
S: I think it’s part of what we’ve already talked about. It’s the user experience. It makes it really easy for our clients to know if they are in the right place and if you are the person they want to work with. So, if you have a simple website that directs them to that one thing that you are awesome at, then they know ‘Okay, this is for me. They’re offering something that I need.’ Now they’re going ‘They know what they’re doing, they’re going to help me with it.’ Or they can decide ‘You know, this isn’t the right fit for me right now’ without having to feel like, ‘Well, maybe I should pick this option or that option’ and trying to figure that out on their own. We’re really trying to help them make a decision through the way that we design our websites.
P: Right, so they don’t have to cut through all the crap to get to the good stuff. They immediately see what they need. And it’s all simplified, which sounds really great. How simple is simple. Like, what kind of pages should you have on your website? What are the really the crucial ones that you must have?
S: When I work with my clients usually, what people need is a home page that really gives them that landing page of ‘Here’s what I do, here is who I do it for.’ You have an About page that talks about you and how you help people, and lets people get to know you and trust you. You have your services or your sales page, depending on what you offer, and then you have a contact page as a way for people to get in touch with you, ask questions, all of that sort of thing. That’s really all you need, because those are the things that are going to help people make decisions because they’ve probably found you from social media or somewhere else. So they already know kind of what you’re about and what you talk about, and they’re just making a buying decision when they’re on your website.
P: That is such a good point because most people don’t stumble onto your website by accident. Most people come to your website because they’ve heard of you already, and they probably have some idea of who you are and what you do. So I love this idea of then just moving them through the steps that they need to decide whether you are right for them or not.
S: We can do that, some people will tell you you can do that with just a sales page that is possible if you want to do it that way. But I like to have those different pieces so that you have a couple more touch points, a couple more places for people to get to know you other than when you’re just trying to sell to them.
P: Yeah, I think a really decent About page that kind of outlines what you’re all about. That’s at least for me one of the first things that I look for when I go on someone’s website, because I want to know a little bit more about that person’s approach. about their values, what do they stand for? Are they going to be a good fit personality and values wise as well? Not just like ‘Can you do the actual job that I want you to do?’ because yeah that’s important, you need to know your stuff, but what matters more to me is that I kind of connect on a personal level.
S: So many people now, I’ve noticed we by the who more than we buy the actual service. We want to know that we like you as a person, we fit with your values and your business and more and more that’s becoming apparent online, that that’s important.
So businesses are having to find a way to make that really kind of up front with people. And an About page is a great place to do that without feeling like ‘I have to fit all of this into, like, every little detail of my sales page.’ You have more places to do that and one of the most popular pages on a website is an about page, because people want to see what you’re about and what your business is about and if they align with your mission and your vision before they purchase from you.
P: Yeah, I think that’s a current trend, actually moving from the sort of ‘I’m just going to buy this service, this is a commodity’ to ‘I want to actually make a difference with where I put my money,’ and I think from a branding perspective that’s really important as well, to remember, you don’t skip the About Page is what I always say. Don’t just write about the mundane stuff, like really go deep and tell people who you are on the inside and what you stand for and all of those things, because I don’t know, there’s there’s thousands of web designers. There’s thousands of graphic designers, there’s thousands of whatever profession you belong in out there. And I mean, if you’re gonna be competing on price, that’s kind of a race to the bottom. That’s not sustainable in the long run, not for us who are trying to make a living from our businesses and not for well, the world either. It’s just not good. So what can make you stand out, where you can differentiate yourself is via your values, and your vision, and your mission, and all of those, like the core of your brand.
So I know this is a bit of a side note to what we’re really talking about, but I get really passionate about this part of it, and I love that we can tie that in to the whole branding topic as well. So what would you say the most important elements of, well, let’s start with the About page. What would you say that we need to have on an About page to make it a good one?
S: For me an About page is the hardest page to write because I don’t like writing about myself. But we have to remember that it’s not just about you; It’s about how your business and you as a service provider, help your clients. So you need a headline that really speaks to your values or your mission. You need a head shot of you looking at the camera that’s high quality. People want to see your face. You need a bio that is targeted towards what you do and why you’re qualified. So you want to let people know It’s not just about the fact that I was a lifeguard and on the swim team for 10 years, that that’s not relevant to my business.
But talking about the fact that I have went to design school and I learned how to do all of this, that might be helpful for people to know. You also want to include that mission for your business, what your values are, what your bigger vision for the world is, and what you’re really trying to do. And then I always like to include some fun facts to give you a way to relate to people. So if you like a certain drink at Starbucks or you are obsessed with a certain TV show, maybe you love puzzles or adventures with your kid. Whatever that is, that’s a way for people to relate to you because as a service provider, especially, people are going to be working one-on-one with you. They’re going to hire you. So they want to know that you have something in common, something to talk about.
P: And what about the rest of the pages that you that you mentioned? Let’s just go through them one by one and kind of dissect what you need on each of them just to get down to the to the actual actionable part because I like to make each episode very actionable so people can go away and implement some of this without it being too much of a hassle for them.
P: Let’s start with the homepage. That’s generally the first page people land on. So I like to have a headline that addresses who you work with and what you help them with. So I help such and such service providers create a website that they’re confident, makes them confident. Something like that. So you’re talking directly to who you help and what it is that you do.
I also like to include a little bit of your mission, your vision on the homepage. So people know, ‘Okay, their approach to this is something that I really align with and I think is a good approach that I want to see.‘
You want to have a little bit of an intro about you. So have a picture of yourself, a couple of lines about maybe your history or what you’ve done in your business. Give them some testimonials so that they know you’re building that know, like, trust factor with testimonials. Then on your home page. This is the one page where it’s a little bit of you have the ability to give people some options. So I like to have a three option thing here where they can choose, like follow my blog or my podcast to get my content, hear’s about my services, or if you need to get in touch with me for a question you can do that. Give them the choice on the homepage so that they can jump to where they need to go.
Then the last thing I like to have is an opt-in for your news letter if you have one.
P: Cool. Then I guess you can then elaborate on the little nuggets that you had of your who you are and your values and that kind of thing. You can elaborate on that on the About page. So it’s kind of a little teaser.
S: Yeah, and you can certainly have more than that. But those are like the basic things you need on that homepage to give people enough information to know if they want to move to the next step of reading your about page or reading your services page to learn more.
P: Yeah, that makes sense. And also the three options makes it really clear, I guess, for people to navigate to where they need to be so that they can self select and find their route through your website.
S: Then the next page we talked about, the About page, that’s generally the second page, people will visit and then they’ll go to your services or sales page, and I lay these out pretty. Similarly, there are a couple of pieces that you might need on a sales page you don’t need on a services page, but you’re going to have a headline here that is attention grabbing. It’s above the fold. So that means when somebody comes to your website, it’s right there on the screen. They can see all of it.
P: The first thing that they see
S: The first thing that they see that addresses a pain point for them so that they can say ‘Okay, yes, that’s actually what I’m struggling with. I can see that you understand where I’m at and what I might need.’ Then you get into the details of Who is this for? Talk about what your offer is, so actually introduce it by name, what it is that you’re selling and then talk about what’s included.
So, for a course, this might be all the different modules. For a service it’s going to be the steps that you go through, so an outline of this is my process and why it’s important that we go through it this way because you’ve developed it in order to get your clients results. You want to make sure that they understand that you do this for a reason. They don’t want to just come in and say, ‘Well, I only need step five because I just need a logo.’ You have all this stuff behind how you get there that they also need.
You want to pepper in testimonials that talk about working with you, that talk about the transformation, that talk about results. You’re going to include again a headshot and a little bit of a bio. This is a great place to include places you’ve been featured. So podcasts you’ve been on, blog posts that you’ve written, any of that kind of stuff just to show people. ‘Yes, I know what I am doing here.’
Then you can get into some FAQs, things that people ask that might be about pricing or availability. It might be about why do you go through this whole process instead of just handing over a logo, those kind of things so that you’re answering objections and questions without having people pop into your inbox all the time.
P: I know I get all these questions about ‘Why don’t you do this, or do you do this? Or can you deliver this? The amount of time they spend just answering those questions, It’s kind of mind boggling, really. It used to be like that for me as well, when I was still doing everything I do now occasionally you get the odd person in who wants, well, I think they remember me from before because they know of me from when I was doing all of the design stuff. They just they come to my to my website and they kind of ignore everything that’s on there. And they’re like, ‘I just want this.’ and I’m like, ‘Well, I don’t.’
Do you have any handy tips for how to avoid that? Like when people come to your website with this preconceived notion, they think they know what you do, and they are kind of hell bent at having you provide that even though you don’t.
S: I think you’re still going to get some of those people. You can use your website to make it really clear what you offer, why you do those things. But there are still going to be people that do not read that. And that’s where I like on the back end to have kind of an auto respond or written out that just says, ‘You know what? If that’s what you’re looking for, it’s not what I offer. I don’t think we’re going to be a good fit. Here are some other options.’ I like to give people some referrals that they could go and check out who might be somebody who could help them.
But, you know, there are still those people that are not going to read your whole website because they just they think they know what they want. They think they know what they need, and sometimes you can convince them by explaining again, ;This is why I do things.’ But sometimes you can’t.
P: Just have to suck it up then. Then I guess there’s the contact page as well. Is that a place where you can maybe incorporate more of those criteria I guess, all those self selecting things?
S: Yeah, so I like to do a contact page that set some boundaries first. So you have a welcome message but you also have your office hours, your expected response time. I only work on certain mornings of the week, and I put that on my contact page so that if people send me an email on Tuesday afternoon, they’re not going to get a reply until Thursday morning. And they know that up front if they have taken the time to read the page. You also want to link to your social media and then use your contact form to get information from somebody, So that’s a great place to yes, ask for their name and their email, but also ask for maybe what service they’re interested in, what their budget is.
A lot of times, a budget question will tell people ‘Okay, this is kind of the minimum range that you work in maybe this is not a great fit.’ And then let them fill in what their question is. I like to keep it as simple as possible while still getting the information you need, because there are always going to be people who just have a question for you that maybe are not ready to buy yet. You don’t want it to be this long application just for them to ask you a question.
But you do want to use it to say, ‘OK, this is what I offer. This is kind of what to expect here.’
Then the other thing that I like to include is an email address on your About page, or on your contact page, so that if people have a question, or maybe they want you to be a guest on a podcast or collaborate in some other way, they can get in touch with you without having to fill out a services application that is not relevant to what they’re asking.
P: Yeah, that’s a really good point. There have been times where I’ve been on websites, and I’m like, ‘Well, this form does not apply to me. Where can I reach out?’ Often then I’ve just ended up trying to find them on Instagram and sending them a DM on Instagram instead. But that makes it harder than it needs to be for people, I guess.
S: Yeah, and I’ve seen that a lot with wedding industry people because there’s so much that goes into planning a wedding, and so they want to know, like, ‘Do you have a budget? Do you have all these different things booked?’ But you generally don’t need to know that the very first time they inquire, they are just trying to get a feel for you and if you’re a good fit, and a lot of times people just want to have a conversation with you before they decide.
So I like to have an email address in case that’s the thing, if they just want to see if I’m going to answer their questions, or they have one simple question like, ‘Are you available on this date’ before they fill out the whole application to work with you.
P: Good point, Right. So those were the four kind of main pages. And so if someone is listening now and they’re like but ,but, but I have a blog! I have a podcast! I have this or that. How do you incorporate that into into a website? Because then I’m guessing, then maybe it’s not so simple anymore.
S: What I have found is that blogs and podcasts are not as complicated as you think they are. Most website platforms, I work on squarespace, but most website platforms are set up with some kind of blog so that you can enter your posts and they create this page that has all of your most recent things that people can scroll through.
So you can easily add that to the main menu to those options on the homepage and grow it as you go, and all you’re really doing when you set up your website is kind of template-ing out what that looks like, and then using it for content, which is great for SEO. But that way you don’t feel like ‘I’ve got to design all of these different complicated things’ with your blog.
You really just need that main landing page and then kind of a template for what a post would look like.
P: Yeah, I love how the different platforms have made it really simple for us as content creators now. It’s literally you need your text, and you need your image. If you have a podcast, obviously you need either you’re embed code for your podcast player, or you need your sound file and that’s it, there you go.
So it’s nice to know that doesn’t have to complicate things and you can still incorporate that and it still be a simple website.
S: Yes. Yeah, and it does help with the SEO. It helps to communicate what it is that you do if you have a blogger podcast. I’m not saying to leave it out. You just don’t need to make it as complicated as you think you might. You can do it pretty simply too, you know, I have one template for my podcast, and I just duplicate that and update the title, update the sound file, update the show notes. That’s all I do every time.
P: Same. Yep. Same. I’m all for the ease every time.
All right, so tying this back into the branding perspective, Why would you say knowing our brand matters when it comes to Web design?
S: Knowing your brand is so important because that’s really the basis of your business, right? So it’s more than just the colours or the logo. It’s knowing what you’re about. We talked about it’s knowing your values and your mission, and the bigger purpose behind your business, and your website is a great place to put all of that in one place. You have it all together so people can check it out and they can see, Yes, this is really important to them because they’ve mentioned it in this place that is their online home.It’s not just one post that they made on social media when you know it was popular.
So it’s really great because you can tie all of those pieces of your brand and your business in one place on your website. Then, of course, you want it to look nice to right? You want it to fit with your brand colours and your logo and your imagery that you’re using other places so that people know ‘I am in the same place that I came to from Instagram.’ Like it all feels cohesive but you’re really communicating that bigger picture of your business through your website.
P: Yeah, the more intangible parts are well, I like to say that they are more important than the visuals and stuff that you can actually see. So having them incorporated into your website, kind of, I don’t know, like an instagram story- It’s gone in 24 hours unless you put it in one of your highlights. It’s gone, so it doesn’t feel like you’re committing almost. But if you put it on your website, it’s official, you know, you can’t hide behind the fleeting social media anymore. It’s there for all to see. If you’re going to put that on your website, you better know what you actually stand for.
So, yeah, that’s a really good point. As for the sort of cohesiveness and and the consistency, I also like to say that it’s not so much when people people talk about consistency, they’re like, ‘Oh, you have to post consistently or you have to do this consistently.’
For me, consistency isn’t just about like, how often do you post on social media. It’s actually more about you showing up in a consistent manner across every single touch point over time so that people, like you said, they recognise you as you. So they don’t get confused, they don’t suddenly think, “ Who is this person? Is this the same person? Is this someone else? different brand?’ That kind of confusion you don’t want.
S: No, and that’s where a lot of people, they put off a website I found, because it’s a lot of work. It can be a big investment if you’re hiring somebody.
But if your social media has these beautiful images and your new logo that you worked with, and then they land on your website and it’s maroon and brown and it doesn’t feel like what they came from at all, they’re going to be pretty confused and go well. ‘Are you still in business? Are you still doing this?’ So even making some small changes can really just make that consistent, make people feel like, ‘OK, they’ve got it together enough that I can trust them when I want to work with them and when I want to learn from them.’
P: Like we’ve just heard, it doesn’t have to be complicated, so there’s really no excuse anymore to be putting off that website, is there?
S: Yeah, I really like to keep it simple and find the way that works for you and your business, because we don’t have to do things like everybody else does. We have to figure out what works for us. There are a lot of people out there that are going to look at that and say, ‘You know what? I like the way that they work. I like that it’s different.’
P: And those are the people you want to attract. And then the rest, they can go to someone else because you want to work with the people who get you right?
P: Oh, this has been great. Before we start thinking of rounding off, I just wanted to ask you if there’s just the one simple tip that you could give to our listeners today. Something that is easy to implement. They can go away maybe, and get started on it today. If they wanted to. What would that tip be?
S: My number one tip is something people generally forget. So we are designing a website on desktop because that’s the easiest place to do it. But most people are looking at your website on their phone. So you need to go on your phone, go to your website and actually scroll through it and make sure that it looks good, that pieces aren’t missing or half off of the screen, or that it’s unreadable. Then most of the time you can go through and change just a couple of settings on the back end of your website to make sure that it looks good.That’s going to make a huge difference for people because that’s how people are experiencing your website for the first time.
P: That is a great point. I hate it, it’s a pet peeve of mine when I come on a website on my mobile and I can’t read half of the heading because it’s still in that huge font that they had on the desktop side.
I mean, most of the modern website builders have the mobile preview option as you’re building your website, so I know that’s really handy for me when I’m doing my pages. I can see it instantly if something’s off. I can go in and adjust it before I hit publish. So that’s another hint as well. Get to know the back end of your system so you can actually check those things and you don’t have to worry about people falling off your website because they’re annoyed by the layout.
S: Yes, or pop ups. Pop ups on mobile. Make sure you can close them.
P: There is nothing more annoying than not being able to close a pop up. You can’t get to the content, can you?
Thank you so much for all of this useful insight. Before we say our goodbyes, I want to invite you to tell us a little bit more about what is it that you do for your clients? Where can people find you? Where can they connect with you if they want to learn more, or maybe even hire you?
S: So I right now help clients with a VIP day. So we do a four page website in a day and get it launched for service providers and coaches. I am always talking about simple websites, website design tips on instagram at Lemon and the sea. And then my website is https://www.lemonandthesea.com/
P: Brilliant. Thank you again for being my guest today. I can’t wait to air this episode and give everyone permission to start simple.
S: Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited for people to really own this and do things in a way that works for their business and get their work out there.
P: Yes, And if someone’s inspired after this episode and they go away and they finally get that website done and dusted because of this episode, please share. Please come on Instagram and tag us. We want to see!
S: Yes, yes.
PS! I have decided I want to connect with more awesome people in 2022. If you’d like to grab a virtual cuppa with me, find a time here.
Until next time,
Pssst! If you enjoyed this episode, don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss the next one! I’d also be super grateful if you’d share my podcast with a biz friend or two, or leave me a review.