Top 10 Coaching Website Mistakes to Avoid – 2020
Posted on: 13 Feb 2020
From building over 100 websites, advising on thousands more, and running my own website design business, here are the most prominent website mistakes that I see on coaches’ websites.
For those of you early in the site-creation marathon, if you can skip past these trip-ups, then I’ll consider my job well done.
Kenn Tip: While you’re here, you can start improving your website’s search rankings on Google. Just hit the LIKE button and post a comment and BE SURE TO INCLUDE A LINK TO YOUR WEBSITE. That’s called a “backlink” because it goes from this website “back” to yours, which Google values more than outbound links that go “away” from your website. Since this website is all about coaching, your website will be more strongly associated with the term “coach.” Not to mention, hearing from you will make my day.
Coaching Website Mistake #1: Losing Them at Hello
In his book, Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, author and usability expert Steve Krug gives us three vital questions that must be answered when arriving at your website:
- What is this?
- Why should I be here?
- Where do I begin?
If visitors can’t answer these within seconds of landing on the homepage, then they’ll “bounce,” a term for leave immediately.
It is so true.
Just think about how many times you’ve landed websites that were so confusing that you jetted in seconds?
If you want to “Have ’em at hello” on your homepage, make sure visitors can quickly know what your website is about, why they should be there, and where to begin. This will help them dig deeper into your content and find out how fabulous you are.
Website Mistake #2: Trying to Explain “How Coaching Works”
Contrary to the intuition of many coaches, they are not in the business of “selling coaching.”
Also, they are not out there seeking people who “want coaching” or who “want to hire a coach.”
This is because people, let’s say clients instead, aren’t (ultimately) after the skills, techniques, or approaches to coaching.
Maybe on the surface, finding a coach is a good idea. But, not just any coach will do.
The motivation to hire a coach runs much deeper.
Important Point 1. Clients are really after something more significant than the coaching service. They are after dreams, desires, and results that may come from working with a coach.
Important Point 2. Clients are after a coach who appears to be a powerful force for change, for realizing those goals. While nice to have, a certificate is not enough.
Just think about any coach or service professional you’ve hired. Did you hire them because they had training? Or was it because:
- because you wanted a big change or a better future
- because that person looked like they could be a big help
And so, for your website’s content, avoid going into great detail about the coaching process, the various tools, and techniques.
Instead, add plenty of content that speaks to the dreams of clients. Also, add material to highlight you personally as a success bringer.
This can include:
- content outlining the challenges, the desires, and the goals you can help clients with
- stories of other clients you’ve helped
- insights, teachings, and lessons on how to succeed
- proof of your skills like books you wrote, relevant accomplishments
The key point is that your website’s job is to help potential clients see and feel that YOU will be a catalyst for success. Going on and on about the “hows” of coaching isn’t as powerful.
Think about hiring a coach like hiring a fitness trainer.
Focusing your content on the wrong stuff is the biggest of all mistakes because you miss out on the opportunity to connect deeply with possible clients. The magic happens in words.
So, to help you along, think about why people hire a personal trainer.
People don’t want to add new, difficult, tedious habits to their lives like lifting weights, doing cardio, or changing their diets.
That’s hard work.
It’s not exciting.
It’s tiring to think about.
And while some of that will be a part of what you do with clients, as a fitness trainer, you shouldn’t focus entirely on those to-do items because you’ll scare clients away.
Instead, you oughta focus on the WHY (results, goals, desires) of the client, which is the real motivator.
When it comes to fitness and exercise, people really, really want to …
- look attractive
- lose weight
- get healthy
- have more energy
- feel sexy
- be strong
… and furthermore, they desperately want to solve those problems of:
- being lonely
- not finding a mate
- feeling unattractive
- feeling weak or sick
- low energy
- failing to stick to an exercise plan
And so, talking about these desires and results will get folks excited, energized, and eager to take action. Furthermore, they will see YOU as a solution.
So, consider two fitness trainer websites:
THE FIRST WEBSITE …
One website shows you how to lift dumbells, talks about muscle recovery, and recommends apps to track calories. Then it says to call the coach if interested.
THE SECOND WEBSITE …
The other shows dramatic before-and-after pictures of successful clients and has a video on how to increase your energy and find exercises you’ll stick to and enjoy.
Which one is talking more about the tools, methods, and how-tos?
Which one is more about the desires and results?
As many wise philosophers, psychologists, and stoics have concluded, we humans were designed to face and overcome challenges. If we’re gonna pay good money to hire a coach, it’ll have to be for a worthwhile aim.
Your website needs to do the same.
You can tell your website is talking too much about the ins-and-outs of coaching if you take the word “coaching” out of your website, and it falls apart.
Website Mistake #3: Big, Overly-Designed Logos
You could probably get away without one at all. I’ve seen many marketers push the envelope with websites that have no logos at all. And I’m sure I bought an ebook or program from some of them.
A logo is a good move for a few reasons:
- it helps people know they’ve arrived at the right place
- by clicking it, you can quickly get back to home
- people will recognize your brand and feel at home
- you look like a serious professional with a clean, tastefully done logo
From my work, I’ve found that a logo is not good for:
- communicating some complex idea
- showcasing your artistic ability – or investment
I cringe when I see coaches go nuts about
- Filling the entire viewing area with an elaborate work of art that has a deep hidden message for eternal happiness.
Here’s a video I did on logos for coaching websites, Keys to a Great Logo for Your Coaching Website.
Remember, your website is meant for getting visitors to see you as a great coach, to build up their hopes and dreams, and to get them to reach out to you for support. Your logo is a small visual to support that experience. Do not make it the center of attention – especially at the top of the homepage.
Coaching Website Mistake #4: Confusing Menus
Menus on websites are meant to help visitors find content quickly.
If your menu is too big with too many items, too many words, and leaks over multiple lines (terrible), then it becomes more of a hindrance than a help.
When people struggle or resist using your website, their frustration level rises, and they leave. Patience is nearly non-existent on the Web. Don’t frustrate people, especially with your menu (which is what people are hoping to fall back to when they do get lost).
In my book, the magic number is five. Aim for just five items on your menu.
And definitely, DO NOT add something to your menu that leads to a page that says “coming soon.” That’s very bad. It just means you “hope to do something” but never will.
Only add content you have ready to go now.
I go into a lot more about menus, intuitive labeling, and ideal pages to have on your website in The Coaching Website Guide – don’t build your website without it!
Website Mistake #5: No Call-to-Action
As a coach, you are looked upon to lead your clients to a better situation. And so, your website needs to behave similarly by inviting visitors to take action steps.
If it’s not clear what you want visitors to do, your image as a catalyst to success is weakened. Not good for securing new clients.
For most coaching websites, the action will simply be to contact you for a chat about working together. Make sure that the invitation is easy-to-do and exciting for the visitor.
Kenn tip: If you’re growing an email list as well, it’s a good move to make the sign-up very exciting and prominent. Once on your list, you can always follow up with them to offer a free consultation offer. Thus, make the list-sign up as the most prominent call-to-action.
Website Mistake #6: It’s Slower Than Molasses
Waiting for a website to load is worse than watching paint dry. At least with paint, you can get high on the fumes. Hehe, just kidding.
But slow-loading websites are bad. More than 3 seconds is just too long in my book.
I’ve been using GTMetrix more lately to test speeds. It’s a popular tool among web developers because it’ll help you resolve the tech aspects of slow pages.
If you’re a non-techie, then you’ll probably go cross-eyed there. You’re better off with any basic speed test tool like Pingdom’s free website speed tool.
Just try it on your laptop or phone anywhere and everywhere you go. If it’s consistently slow, that’s a bad sign.
When testing your website for speed, be sure to try a few different pages to get a sense of how fast it is. Pages often vary in speed due to content and functionality.
If it’s loading slow, there are many reasons for this, and it’s time to put on your Sherlock Holm’s hat – or, instead, contact your designer, techie, or hosting company to start investigating.
Three common reasons for slow pages are:
- Big images that have not been compressed/optimized for the Web
- Shared hosting from mediocre host companies
- Going overboard with plugins, add-ons to your website, especially on WordPress
Waiting for your pages to open up is pretty much a deal-breaker for visitors. Make sure your site is super fast.
(Hey, just a reminder to hit LIKE and post a comment below WITH YOUR WEBSITE LINK to get that little boost in your website’s search rankings on Google!)
Coaching Website Mistake #7: It’s a Mobile Hot Mess
Today, designers aren’t just making one website. They are building three:
- one for desktops
- one for tablets
- and one for mobile phones
And soon, a fourth will be watches. Then a fifth, under your eyelids. ;P
Yep, life is busy for today’s web designer trying to keep up with info-hungry visitors.
Nah, it’s not that bad. The reason we love technology is because of how beautifully it mutates to serve man. It’s quite amazing.
So, to see how well you’re doing on mobiles, hop on over to Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
Here’s how CoachingSitesThatWork.com’s is looking …
Pretty good in my book – a good headline is showing, my charming smile glistens, and the logo and menu are obviously positioned.
Whew, I was a little nervous there 😉
Also, if you want a massive heap of my best tips for your website, have a look at The Coaching Website Guide. Some folks call it their “website bible,” but I only aspire to such grace.
Website Mistake #8: Worrying About Search Engines Too Much
Don’t get me wrong. I love me a massive feast on keywords, optimized content, and quality inbound links. And when people find you via search, they are highly qualified leads because they are actively seeking help – and that’s brilliant for sales.
SEO can be fantabulous.
“Can be” is the operative phrase.
My quick definition, search engine optimization (SEO) is the art and science of getting your pages to the top of search engines – well, let’s admit we mean Google. It’s an art because you’re dealing with copy, marketing, trust-building, story-telling, and humans. It’s a science because there are stats, algorithms, research, and all kinds of tools available.
For most coaches who are new in business, just getting online, working on their websites, and putting the basics in place as they aim to realize their first main goal, filling up on one-on-one clients, the work and learning curve to focus on SEO is NOT the fastest path.
It might be ideal for some coaches, but for many, I’ve found there better ways to realize that the first goal of a full list of clients.
Those methods leverage the skills and knowledge of the coach, the existing resources, networks, and trusted colleagues of those coaches.
Before you worry about SEO, go after the low-hanging fruit first.
This will vary by coach, but two ideas come to mind that I’ve helped many coaches take advantage of:
Idea 1. Nearly all the coaches (and just about any service provider) find their first clients from family, friends, existing networks and contact. That’s a good place to get your website, articles and name out in front of.
Idea 2. If you look closely at your last 10 clients, you can probably find a pattern or clues as to who would be ideal for you to focus on. Call this your niche or your focus. Go find some places those people hang out and raise your hand.
That being said, there is a quick-and-easy-to-do batch of SEO basics I recommend you do that I explain in The Coaching Website Guide.
Here are two smart tasks to do:
1. Make sure that your website is excellent for the user.
This mostly means making the content easy to access. Google wants your website to be great for people, which means making it fast, easy to use, simple to navigate, mobile-ready, and easy to read.
2. Getting relevant keywords into your website.
Google uses the keywords that searchers enter in order to find relevant pages.
Thus, you’ll want to get well-chosen words into your website such as the locality you operate from (city, state, town, neighborhood), the type of coaching you do (career coaching, business coaching), and your name.
Here are my seven secret keyword sources for coaches that I’ve used to drive traffic and generate leads. I suppose they aren’t much of a secret anymore, huh? ;P
I say not to worry too much about keywords because they often aren’t the most beneficial way for a coach to get visible.
It would be smarter to brainstorm and plan out your path to getting clients, including everything from visibility, to credibility, to sales funnel, and to the phone call where you offer coaching.
Also, before worrying about search engines, make sure that your website is filled with engaging content, it has an intuitive architecture, and it is visually appealing. For what good is a website if visitors don’t like it?
For more SEO fun and excitement, here are four tips and my rule of thumb to get high search engine rankings.
Website Mistake #9: No Committed Project Manager to Get The Job Done
Whether you hire a designer or do it yourself, SOMEONE needs to be responsible for the completion of the website.
We call this special someone a project manager.
Without one hard-ass, deadline-focused, whip-cracking PM, your website project will go on forever and ever and ever and ever and ever.
The crux of the problem is that coaches are typically not familiar with the design process and are likely to assume the designer will take the lead.
But most freelancing designers (fiverr.com, guru.com, upwork.com) behave like employees and will wait on you to move things forward. You have to keep on top of them.
I know this because I’ve hired many of them.
Also, I do not recommend you ask a friend or family member to do it. Working for free means your website gets low priority – and in today’s overly-busy world, that means it just won’t get done.
My favorite way to get a handle on this is to set a deadline and get clear on your website sitemap. See 12 Tricks to Build a Website Fast.
I recommend that YOU take ownership of the completion of your website and declare yourself as the project manager. That is unless you work with me as your website designer, in which case you’ll get the whip-cracking.
Coaching Website Mistake #10: Spending Too Much Time On Your Website
It’s too easy to spend hours upon hours mucking around with your website. There are always new bells-n-whistles, and endless ideas you can pursue that’ll suck up your time.
Once you’ve got a good enough website, many coaches need to put time towards:
- Visibility, marketing, traffic-building, and outreach – they need plans to get them in front of potential clients.
- A follow-up process (steps, calls, emails) that leads potential clients into a paid agreement.
- Space and support to think, plan, learn, and keep you focused, handle the confusion and various roadblocks that come up. A coach, advisor, mentor of sorts.
Don’t get entirely consumed by your website.
In conclusion, bear these 10 coaching website mistakes in mind as you develop your web presence.
Avoiding them will help you avoid making a mess and turning off potential clients. It could mean the difference between success and failure.