Expert advice: Bringing your brand online
Patrick Schaudel, an expert in website development, shares his top tips for creating a professional website without the need for technical knowledge.
For hairdressers and beauty therapists, the salon has always been the heart and centre of the business and the brand. However, as salons begin to re-open and adapt to another phase in the ‘new normal' of the COVID-19 pandemic, it's vitally important to have a digital offering to attract and retain essential business.
Here, I share tips for creating a professional website and integrated digital offering, without the need for experience of technical knowledge.
Make sure branding is front and centre
From your salon you'll already have a name, logo and branding materials, and this should all be reflected in your online presence. That means starting with the website address, otherwise known as a ‘domain name' or URL, and creating one that included your brand name and offering, for example ‘essential-beauty.co.uk'. If the name is already taken, consider localising the branding online so customers can clearly determine whether you are nearby, like ‘Essential Beauty Manchester'. Also make sure your brand name is consistent across social media handles wherever possible.
This means customers will be able to find the official accounts ran by your brand easily and with little effort.
Creating a welcoming and engaging website will also help to attract and retain a customer's attention, and design plays a key part of this. Don't overload the homepage with information and use a uniform typeface, attractive colour scheme, and create a simple user journey – the way you navigate around a website – that's easy to follow.
For hair and beauty customers, capturing the eye is essential. Attention grabbing imagery relating to your work can help inspire confidence in your offering, and provide visual inspiration if they're trying a new style or service for the first time. However, remember to use images and content that is your own – other copied text, pictures, music and videos are copyrighted, and you must have a license to use these.
You don't have to do it alone
Setting up a website or e-shop can feel like a daunting experience for anyone, especially if you haven't done it before. However, there's a host of tools readily available online that can make the process easy, and create a really professional feel for your site, without needing any technical experience.
Once your domain name has been selected, homepage construction kits allow you to create a modern website without the need of design or coding knowledge. Bring your creative vision to life by using fully customisable templates where you select from a ‘toolkit' of options, like a theme or layout, and input your necessary brand information for each webpage. The templates can be easily personalised to reflect your offer, while providing a professional feel in the shortest time possible.
The designs often include ‘smart sections' so you can easily ‘drag and drop' the content on the page, making the layout completely customisable.
Mobile first approach
Mobile optimisation is essential for the world we live in now and it's easier than you think to create a website that is not only optimised for mobile use but integrated with your social channels.
With social media playing such an important role in the hair and beauty industry, providing inspiration, showcasing a professional's best work and highlighting upcoming trends, it's now an essential part of the business. Being able to connect this to a professional website could help convert browsers into customers, and can elevate your brand to the next level.
The ideal solution is a website with a responsive design, as it adapts to the mobile device in use. A homepage builder will help make this possible, allowing the web pages to adapt when being viewed on a mobile device. Just make sure to ask friends or family to check your website once it's created, and ensure images look correct, links work and there's no misspellings.
E-commerce website builders also allow you to open up an online shop within minutes. The pandemic has meant a huge loss of income for many and selling products on the website might be an additional way to support the business, as well as provide a service to customers who can't pop into the shop because of health and safety measures.
Packages allow you to drag and drop sections, add pictures, videos and more, and experiment with text fonts and sizes. You can also sync and integrate your online shop with your social channels, helping to maximise the amount of traffic directed to your website from social platforms, once in-feed imagery has captured the browser's attention.
If you're considering expanding your offering to e-commerce, offering the right payment methods can help convince a customer to buy from your website. By using an e-commerce website builder, you can select a range of methods, including PayPal and credit card, and ensure it's a trusted service from the get-go.
The benefits of setting up a website are clear, and it's often a lack of confidence in technological knowledge, or not having enough time that hold brand's back. However, with an array of tools available, the process is simpler than ever before, and can truly enhance your business's offering, taking it to the next level.
Creating a holistic online presence helps to generate awareness, increase customers and shows that you have a professional approach for your business.
Patrick Schaudel is Head of Product Unit Online Applications, SME at IONOS, and an expert in website development.