Thinking of creating a Digital Course? Here's why your website needs to start with an intuitive plan. Designers call this UI/UX Design.
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UI/UX Design is really just a fancy way of saying “user experience” and “user interface design” and in simple terms, this means making sure your blog, website, and digital course are easy and intuitive for people to navigate so they can find exactly what they're looking for…quickly.
Over the few years, I've built dozens of successful online courses for my clients. (Before I started my own business, I worked in corporate and agency marketing and built websites & digital marketing plans for global corporations for 14 years). Believe it or not, many people don't really consider user experience when they first create their website…and you're not alone…marketing directors at large corporations don't always consider it either!
Fast forward to 2019, where consumers now embrace mobile devices and seek information at their convenience, so the rules of brand engagement are continuously evolving. If your website isn’t set up to adapt and respond to visits from many different screen resolutions, you may miss out on opportunities. To achieve greater success with both your regular audience as well as your students, (and the search engines!) aim to make your website not only look fantastic on different screen sizes, but make sure your mobile navigation menu, header, and footer are set up in a way that reflect precisely what you want your customer to do next. When brands think about how to reach their consumer on the consumer's terms, in the right moment, with the right information…it feels less like sales and more like the connection you're aiming for.
Here are 5-Steps to building a successful digital course:
Organize audience insights: The first step in the process involves a little research into your audience to determine exactly what information they are looking for. What pages get the most hits on your website? What time of day does your audience typically visit? If it's a course you'll be selling, you will want to measure your audience insights carefully to help determine when you might “go live” for a Q & A session, or what types of tools they will need for support as they navigate through your course. In thinking through delivery, will you use video? Video with screen capture? Audio podcasts? And what platform will you use to deliver the membership capabilities of your course? While it might seem simple to use Teachable or Udemy, the biggest drawback to these platforms is that you will not have control of your business. To learn more about platforms for delivery, watch this short video.
Design compelling creative. It's so important to make sure that both your website as well as your social media and the sales page you use for the promotion of your course or product is visually compelling. First impressions are everything online, so if you don't capture the attention of your audience within seconds, you'll miss out on the opportunity to sell to them. Even the most educational courses have to be compelling enough to capture attention first. There are a few ways to accomplish this if you're not a graphic designer yourself. Consider starting with an easy-to-use tool such as Canva. With social sizes already built in, you can choose from a variety of free backgrounds and fonts.
If you're looking for something more robust, but you don't want to invest in an expensive app like Photoshop, PicMonkey is easy to use and much less expensive than Photoshop.
For free stock photos, I like Unsplash and Pexels. But if you're planning to use Pinterest for traffic, know that the free photos are overused, and this can actually be harmful for your Pin SEO.
Pixistock as well as GirlBoss Stock both provide a library of female entrepreneur stock art that is much less expensive than iStockphoto and Getty.
Prefer the services of a professional designer to create something custom (like a new logo or branding package), my recommendation is Fiverr which is a good, inexpensive way to get a team of graphic artists to choose from to bring your brand alive visually and implement brand consistency across all channels, all without the crazy fee of hiring your own design team.
Execute with integrated technology. It’s possible to fully analyze a consumer’s purchase path and understand which touchpoints are most likely to translate into action, however, it’s also important to have a good tool for measuring your data. I recommend different tools to different businesses, depending on the size and scope of your project.
Tools for Delivery of Your Digital Course
For small businesses looking for the best all-inclusive option for both sales pages as well as course delivery, then I would recommend Clickfunnels. It's a website and landing page builder with E-Commerce built in, so it really simplifies the online shopping experience if you have less than 20 products. Not to mention, it also has a membership site capability and marketing automation system all wrapped up in one, very easy to use package for beginners. Translation…you can sell your very own Digital Course without the need for a platform such as Udemy or Teachable. Those platforms severely limit your ability to sell, customize your sales page, connect with your audience, and keep profits that really should be yours, so if you are considering a digital course at some point, I very highly recommend Clickfunnels. I have used this platform for both my own online course as well for as my clients, so please…don't hesitate to ask me if you have any questions about it!
For greater creative control over your membership site in terms of having multiple courses or dripping content on a specific schedule, you can incorporate WishList directly into your WordPress Dashboard. You will need to also implement the e-commerce plugin WooCommerce in order to sell your course, so if you're fairly comfortable with WordPress and Plugin Integrations, you will be able to use these options instead of Clickfunnels. If you're super tech-savvy, then WishList will be a great option for your course and membership site. Keep in mind that you may need the help of a professional for a more custom look and feel if you don't know basic HTML/CSS.
Reach audiences across screens. Plan for the mobile world we live in now, not the world you grew up in. Although you'll have to pay for it, using a tool such as Thinkific or Teachable can mean that your site is intuitive and responsive across all devices, implementing programmatic advertising affords brands to take a big leap toward actionable measurement. Optimize your images and ads for mobile too…not just your theme.
Recently, Google publicly announced that their search engine algorithm will take both quality content as well as the mobile-readiness of your website into consideration when listing your website in its index. What this means is that your website needs to retain both quick loading speeds as well as easily readable content. This core functionality is especially important when accessed from a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet.
Even if search engines weren't partially judging your site based on its responsiveness, it would still be a great idea to build your site in a way that optimizes the user experience. After all, now that you've engaged a customer enough to buy your course, you want to make sure to continue delivering a great experience.
Good developers already build sites to be intuitive and responsive right out of the gate, but if your site hasn't been updated for a year or two, it’s definitely worth your time to understand how the research and planning process works, and why it’s important to the success of your digital course (or whatever you're ultimately selling.) Not to mention, if you take a short cut and use a platform such as Udemy to deliver your course, you're really going to miss out on the real benefit and longevity of an online business. Lets talk about that more.
Measure the impact. How will you know what high level decisions to make and what KPIs to tweak unless you implement a plan to measure the progress? Whether it's just you evaluating your metrics or other key decision makers and stakeholders, you want to be armed with a way to understand the metrics. Consider implementing Google Analytics at the very least, and for greater understanding of your metrics, implement the Google Tag Manager and Data Studio to bring your metrics to life.
A closer look at intuitive UI/UX Design & Site Architecture
A very important component of usability is site architecture. More recently referred to as UI/UX design, planning for proper organization and structure will allow your users to easily and intuitively find exactly what they are looking for quickly and efficiently. Instead of sending them in loops without a clear-cut path to finding the information they need, you can use what industry professionals call a wireframe plan to help you organize your structure. A wireframe is simply a visual representation of the flow of your website design.
This step is easy to overlook, yet without a carefully planned site architecture, many website redesigns will only yield a “prettier” version of your old website…without improving upon usability. Using a wireframe as a guide can assist with constructing the page schematics and visual blueprints. While most professional designers and creative agencies will provide a wireframe report during the research and planning phase to help organize your project before any development takes place, there is no reason why bloggers can't do this too! If you would like to play around designing your own wireframes for free, check out Wireframe.cc.
Once your website is organized in a way that makes it easy and intuitive for your visitors to get answers to their questions, you then take complete control of the sales process. Instead of being “salesy” you instead become helpful because you've provided a solution to their problem, and you've done it in a way that makes it esy for them to find the solution. This makes their experience and their interactions with you much more pleasant, and shareworthy!
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