Industry • Best Practice
Your Website IS Your Front of House: Here's How to Give It a Makeover
By Boulevard Staff
A step-by-step guide to creating a winning beauty business website
Glossy posters, comfy chairs, and welcoming receptionists are all part of the classic image of the spa and salon front-of-house experience. But as essential as those elements still are, times have changed. Many of your clients will visit your website long before they step foot in your business, so you have to make that online first touch as memorable as possible.
From the benefits to the step-by-step process, here’s everything you need to know to give your website a makeover.
Why Having a Beautiful (& Functional) Website Is a Must
If salons and spas are relationship businesses, why is it so important for them to invest in their websites? Won’t the strength of the service and the connection between the staff and the client be enough to build a thriving business?
While nothing can replace quality service as your foundation, the truth is modern beauty businesses need to do more to succeed. With the average person spending nearly seven hours on the internet every day, businesses that neglect their online presence hand competitors a significant advantage, one that cannot be overcome by the strength of relationships alone. And just doing the bare minimum won’t cut it either, as research has shown that poor website design and structure will prompt 30 to 40% of your potential clients to look elsewhere.
The opposite, however, is also true: The payoff for investing in quality web experiences for your customers is huge. A study by Forrester found that every dollar spent on user experience (UX) produced $100 in revenue, which translates to an ROI of just under 10,000%.
These facts don’t mean you need to hire an in-house development team. But they do mean you have to put serious effort into your website to stand out in 2022.
How to Give Your Website A Makeover in 6 Steps
Revisit Your Brand
Just like your physical location, your website needs to reflect your brand. So, before you get too deep into the digital makeover process, make sure you’re happy with where your brand is at. Do you want to update the font you use? How about the messaging or the color palette? Could the logo use a refresh? Have more than a few conversations with customers and employees and get their input on these elements. Then step back, let it all marinate for a bit, and figure out what needs changing. Once you get this sorted, the rest of this process will go more smoothly — and the finished product will be much better.
Do Your Research
Now that you’ve got your house in order in terms of branding, the next step in the website makeover process is inspiration hunting. Visit the websites of your top competitors (and those of companies you admire) and list what you like. How do they use imagery? How much text do they have on each page? What sort of resources do they provide? Where do they position their menu and other buttons? How does their site look on mobile? As you do this, don’t just focus on the aesthetics and functionality you appreciate. Finding what doesn’t work on their sites can be just as valuable.
By the end of your research, you should have a healthy set of notes that will help guide you moving forward.
Think Through Features
Okay, so here’s where you really get into your client’s head and think like a UX engineer. With your research notes on hand, write out everything you want your website to do for your customers. You’ll probably want it to give them an excellent feel for your services, so having a killer portfolio is critical. You’ll also need to help them understand what they can expect from a visit, so consider putting in a testimonials section. And — since your website is your front of house, too — you should also make it easy for them to book an appointment right there.
Write Your Plan
With all that behind us, we’re finally ready to put together a plan for updating your website. This document needs to be pretty comprehensive and provide answers to all the big questions. Don’t worry! We’ve created a list of those questions for you:
What are the business goals of the website update?
What do you want to update on the website?
Who are you going to need for this project?
What are the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved in the update?
How much do you estimate this update will cost?
How long do you estimate this update will take?
A word of warning when answering the last two questions: Website updates almost always take longer and cost more than you think. So, it’s a good idea to take your initial estimates — whatever they are — and double them. Better to come in under budget with funds to spare than be left scrabbling for cash to finish an incomplete website.
Build Your Assets
In our experience, imagery is one of the most critical areas to focus on during this step. The highest-value pages on your website (like your homepage, portfolio page, etc.) are most effective when they use images that could have only come from your business. We recommend you use photos that feature your customers and employees. We also recommend you hire a professional photographer to shoot them.
Yes, going this route is significantly more expensive than the alternative. But the research says it's worth it: For example, a study comparing the impact of authentic photos on web clickthrough rates revealed that the real deal beats stock photos by 35%.
Launch and Test
So, you’ve honed your brand, researched your competitors, thought through your features, written out your plan, and built your assets? Put it all together and launch your site! After you let out a big sigh of relief, keep a close eye on how your brand-new online property performs. Remember the business goals you sketched out in the planning step? Regularly compare how your site matches up to those goals — and be prepared to make changes in the areas where it falls short. Don’t despair if it isn’t a hit right out of the gate: In digital marketing, incremental improvements are the name of the game.
How to Optimize the Customer Experience
For beauty businesses, having a stellar website isn’t a vanity project. It’s a vital part of creating a remarkable customer experience.
That said, it is just one part of that very complex picture. To understand how you can perfect the rest, read our guide to optimizing the customer experience. Built from an in-depth survey of 800 beauty clients, “The Perfect Salon: A Data-Driven Guide to Creating the Ideal Client Experience” will help you increase revenue, boost retention, and so much more.