Appearance, functionality, and what is beneath the hood. If your website does all three of those things well, you probably have a great website. If your website only does one or two of those things well, then you may not be getting the full potential out of your website.
Just having a website for your home staging business isn’t good enough these days. Your website needs to look professional and modern. Your website needs to provide the functionality that your potential clients need. And it needs to have the proper technical configurations “beneath the hood” for security, performance, and to provide a great experience for those potential clients visiting your website.
Does your website check those three boxes? Are you getting the most out of your website? Let’s look at each of those characteristics to see how well your website matches up.
First, in this video, Mike explains the 3 characteristics of a home stager’s website, and why they are important:
Now let’s dig a little deeper into the importance of these 3 characteristics.
It is relatively easy to get a website that looks nice and somewhat modern these days.
You have probably seen websites that look old, and you may actually have one of those antiquities yourself. You know what I’m talking about. Those websites are difficult to read, have so much going on that you don’t know where to look, or have so little going on that you don’t even know what the website is about. I’m sure you can think of other things that make websites look old, dated, and less than professional.
Fortunately, if you were to get a new website today, chances are that it would look significantly more modern than a website made as recent as 5 years ago.
Even the free and inexpensive DIY (do-it-yourself) website builders like Wix, Weebly, SquareSpace, and GoCentral (GoDaddy) provide the tools for you to make a website that looks nice. And your neighbor’s kid who just learned how to make websites in high school, he too can probably make you one that isn’t too bad looking.
However, hiring a professional website developer will almost guarantee that you get a website that will give your business good curb appeal. And it will probably look modern and professional for a few years longer than the DIY website or the one that your neighbor’s kid could make for you.
Appearance of your website is critical for home stagers. You are in the business of improving the appearance of your clients’ homes, so your website should reflect that.
So your website has a good appearance, but how well does it function? When someone visits your website, is it easy for them to use?
The prospective clients on your website want to see your work. Is your portfolio easy to navigate? Can they easily find your portfolio? Do you even have a portfolio on your website???
These prospective clients want to learn about you, because they need to know, like, and trust you before they hand over the keys to their house. Does your website explain your business, and you as a person? Is that information easy for people to find?
If you checked those boxes above, how easy is it for that prospective client to contact you? Is your name, phone number, and email address easy to find? Do you have a contact page? Don’t take away from the appearance by putting your phone number in every square inch of free space. People have been to websites before, so they know where to go to find your contact information. Just make sure your contact information is easy to find when they want it.
The functionality of a website is a little harder to get right than the appearance.
Why is that? Well, would you want your website to have the same functionality as the website of the car dealership in your town? How about the coffee shop down the street? Your local church has a website, and I’m sure your website needs to function quite a bit different than theirs.
The DIY website services like Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, and GoCentral (GoDaddy) are selling to the mass market. They try to provide templates that are customized for every business, including home stagers, but in reality, their templates are pretty general. They look nice, but it’s up to you to ensure the home staging template really provides the functionality that your visitors need.
Your neighbor’s kid probably hasn’t considered that websites for different types of businesses need to have unique functionality. And your neighbor’s kid probably doesn’t know much about the needs of your business, right? I’m sure he’s a great kid, but just make sure he understands your business, the needs of your website visitors, and how that determines the functionality of your home staging website.
A developer who knows your business well will ensure that your website has the functionality it requires. There are nuances to home staging that someone who makes websites for coffee shops may not know about, and you don’t want to pay for their time to learn so that they get it right.
The business of home staging is to improve the functionality of your clients’ homes. You are able to expertly show the delineation between the dining and the living area in an open concept home. You know when it is important to show that third bedroom as an office and how to make the awkward nook in the family room look functional. This isn’t something you trust to the Realtor, or even your neighbor’s kid to know how to do. The functionality of your home business’ website is just as important as the functionality of the staging you provide for a home.
#3: Beneath the Hood
The appearance and functionality are pretty easy concepts to grasp. They are visual. And a qualified website developer should be able to give your website quality appearance and functionality.
Slightly more difficult to appreciate is the technical stuff that goes into your website. It is boring, so you may not want to think about it. But these are just as important as how your website looks and functions.
These are things like:
- Hosting – Is your website on a quality host? How do you know? Your hosting needs to be fast, because your visitors and Google like fast. Your hosting needs to be reliable, because you don’t want your website going down. If your host pricing is too good to be true, then it probably is. Good hosting should cost more than $20/month. If you hear the term “shared hosting”, go the other way. Inexpensive hosting for your website is like putting a Beetle engine in your Corvette.
- SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) – SSL is what makes your website address start with https, instead of http. This is a security feature. It shows your website visitors that website is secure, and Google has told us that it is important for ranking your website. If you don’t have SSL, then your website may not rank as high in Google as it possibly could (see “SEO” below).
- Ease of Use – You are going to add a lot of pictures to your portfolio. How easy is it to do that? You are going to want to change text. That should be no problem.
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization) – SEO basically means that when someone searches Google for a home stager in your town, your website appears on the page, and preferably pretty high up on the page. Although giving your website good SEO is dependent on you, there are some technical implementations that makes sure that your hard work gets rewarded. There is no magic switch that any website developer has to give your website “good SEO”, but they can make getting “good SEO” more challenging for you.
- Security – The unfortunate truth is that if a hacker wants to hack your website, they will hack it, no matter how good your security is. However, there are things that you can do to deter any potential security issues. Kind of like putting a lock on the door and a “beware of dog” sign in the window.
Of course, there are many other technical things to consider beneath the hood that are just as important to your website.
The DIY websites offer some of these features, but they depend on which service you use. Again, they are trying to capture a broad market at an extremely low price, so there is only so much they can do.
Your neighbor’s kid may not know about all of the technical aspects that go into making your website, or even the importance of them. Also, he probably doesn’t have the money to pay for the services to ensure that all of these features are implemented and done well.
Most professional website developers are aware of the technical aspects of a website. Some of them implement all of them, and others implement some to save money and/or time. Make sure you ask them to explain in layman’s terms everything they do and why it is important.
Your business is about making improvements of your clients’ homes that your clients probably don’t even realize. The technical aspects of your website will do the same for your home staging business.
Final Thoughts on the 3 Important Characteristics of a Website
We know that each time you stage a home, you are providing a lot of value to your client. You use attractive furniture and accessories to give their home a good appearance. You configure the difficult spaces to improve the functionality of the home. And through your expertise and work ethic, you provide a lot of extra value that probably isn’t apparently visible, but adds so much to the quality of the project.
Your website should do the same thing for your business that you do for your clients. Getting the three important characteristics takes time and a professional with expertise. It is worthwhile to make sure your home staging website has the three characteristics implemented correctly.
After all, your website provides the curb appeal to your business.