Professional Services Websites:
8 Essential Features for Success
- Clear, Unique Service Offer
- Know Your Customers
- Visual Identity
- Mobile-First Design Structure
- Include Video
- Social Proof
- Up-To-Date Content
- Call to Action
Professional services providers have unique needs when building business, nowadays. The website is generally one of the first things that prospective new clients see, before making contact. Consequently, it’s probably the most valuable marketing asset the practice has and should be the focal point for marketing.
Yes, it should be beautiful and something that people want to see. That’s necessary but not sufficient for being found and generating business. It needs to work hard for your business and put you to front of the queue, ahead of your competitors.
The role of the website is to help the business to:
- Get found – Search engine optimisation (SEO) should be a priority for professional services businesses. Site design should start with SEO.
- Create trust – Just as you do when meeting clients, the professional services website must create confidence for the target market.
- Explain – Help visitors understand how you solve their problems.
- Grow Business – Lead generation and nurturing are vital. Expect people to visit your website several times before deciding making contact. You need to understand and support the customer journey. This will help to move them closer to buying from you.
It’s a sad fact that many websites do tend to look the same. Same structure, same messaging, poor stock shots, even across different industries.
To help you stand out from the crowd and look professional, I’ve created this list of 8 essential features of a professional services website.
1. Clear, Unique Service Offer
Everyone knows that you need to tell potential customers what you do. That’s a given. What’s not always obvious, is to explain everything. Tell us all the services you provide. There are a couple of reasons for this.
Firstly, customers don’t always search for, say a solicitor. They might search for someone to help buy a house, or conveyancing services. So, listing the services you provide will help you get found on the web.
Secondly, even if a customer is buying a house, they may not realise that you can provide help with wills, employment issues or contracts. Don’t assume that the private client knows everything you’re capable of. Listing your services and qualifications will help you get more work.
And while we’re on the subject, add in some personality, to ensure that you stand out from the competition, who probably offer similar services.
2. Know Your Customers
Now, central to this is that you understand who your audience is, in order to speak directly to them. Not just the facts, but what makes them feel special. See this blog about painting personality into target market definitions, for more.
When creating the words to motivate your audience, bear the following in mind:
- Focus on the customer, not your business (i.e. replace “we” with “you”). It’ll resonate better with them if you take this approach.
- Focus on benefits, not features. How do your services improve the lives of your customers? Not as easy as you might think to create these, but we know how to ask the right questions to get the information from you, don’t worry.
- Write as if you’re talking to one specific person, not a group of people.
- Cut the trade-jargon. This is especially important for professional services. Your everyday terms and shorthand are not always accessible for your customers. And that jargon is unlikely to make you look smart; it’s more of a barrier in reality.
- Write conversationally. It’s another way to make your firm look more approachable and less intimidating. New clients will feel as if you’re talking to them, rather than at them.
3. Visual Identity
This is not just about your logo, although that is important. It’s about how you use colour and imagery to get a consistent message across. It helps to distinguish you from your competitors and puts prospective new clients at ease.
Stock shots have a role to play in most websites, few businesses can afford to have bespoke images throughout. However, you can personalise and adapt those stock shots to make them uniquely yours. Photoshop’s a wonderful thing.
As people like to buy from other people, it is important to show your face(s). Let people see who they’ll be dealing with by using professionally taken staff images. It helps build trust.
4. Mobile-First Design Structure
Nowadays most searches and website visits are made through mobile devices. This is increasingly true for professional services websites. Expect around half or more of your traffic to be via mobile. If that’s not the case right now, maybe it’s time for a redesign, because others are seeing that.
So, if your pages don’t look good on mobile, if links are too close together or images don’t render well, then you’re missing out on business. On top of that, Google now penalise websites that aren’t optimised for mobile, so you’ll appear lower down the search rankings.
Designing for mobile should not be an afterthought. Make sure your design is ‘mobile first’. All of ours are.
5. Include Video
Video allows you to give people more understanding of your personality. It allows you to say more, without filling the site with words, especially on key pages, such as the home page.
Some of your clients may be intimidated by the professional services you provide, so humanising through video is a neat counter-balance.
6. Social Proof
As a professional services firm, I’m sure you’re being compared to others before someone makes a decision on who they want to work with. To stand out, where possible include the following elements on your homepage:
- client logos;
- association badges;
- client results;
- case studies;
- media recognition; and
7. Up-to-Date Content
As purveyors of knowledge-based services, it’s imperative that the information you provide is current. The best way to do this is to have a blog and to update it regularly. At least monthly, weekly is much better. You can write about what’s going on within your company as well as your industry.
It’s not just about entertaining and informing people, search engines place high value on blogs, too. Well-crafted blogs will push you higher on more search results pages.
8. Call to Action (CTA)
CTAs help to guide visitors through the customer journey and advise them on next steps. They show a clear path for customers to take and remove ambiguity.
They can be instructions to ‘Call Now’, ‘Learn More’, etc. Typically found on buttons, they prompt the reader into action. A vital aspect of the design of a professional services website, don’t overlook them.