Maintaining a dated-looking website is like teaching a class in a leotard and beat up sneakers or playing the same playlist from two years ago. Aesthetics and function matter.

Your website is one of your most powerful marketing tools. Most clients will have visited your site before deciding to take a class at your studio. Often, your digital first impression is the only opportunity you will have to make an impression at all. To best represent your brand online, it may be time to freshen up your site and ensure it reflects your studio well. These seven elements can be implemented to give your studio’s website a basic makeover and increase its effectiveness as a marketing tool.

1. Be consistent with your branding.
When a client or potential client clicks over to your site, it should be obvious to them that they are on your studio’s page before having read a word. Start with your logo. Does it spark the conversation you want to have with clients? What does your logo emphasize about your business? Does it best represent your brand’s personality? Consider updating or refining your logo to improve legibility or emphasize a color.

On the subject of color, when freshening up your website, use color with purpose. Colors influence how people view the personality of your brand. Choose a color palette and stick to it. Update the site by de-emphasizing an existing color that might not be effectively representing your brand. The colors you use also should be used in your offline marketing as well as in and around your studio.

2. Make it modern.
What worked online five years ago can turn visitors off today. Some web design trends for 2015 include vibrant colors contrasted with subdued and muted backgrounds, large-scale typography, and soft directional lighting and shadow in the images. Think bold and graphic. Be selective about the images you include. Modern websites incorporate a few large, crisp images, rather than collections of small photos.

One of the most underused components on many websites is the page background. Instead of sticking with black and white, incorporate a high-quality image or video.

There are some search implications to a single page, scroll site, however, the simple navigation and clean structure is very-user friendly. A single page design removes the risk of developing convoluted menus that use multiple drop-down tabs.

3. Organize your text.
In the early days of digital media, websites were designed to look like newspapers. There was a masthead, two or three columns and a few small pictures. The purpose was to feed visitors information in a presentation that they were already used to digesting. Today, the reverse is true and print media is taking its design cues from digital trends.

The point is that your homepage should not look like the front page. Stick to simple and minimal aesthetics when it comes to the text your site. Whittle your information down to the essentials, and then communicate those essentials in your own voice. Organize your content into a few major categories so visitors can quickly gather the important information from you site.

4. Include the voice of your clients.
Don’t sell your studio. Let you current clients sell it for you. Ask for testimonials, results or reviewers and incorporate them into your website.

5. Promote your staff.
Chances are that what keeps clients running back to your fitness studio is your instructors. From workout rookies to fitness buffs, people become devoted fans of the instructors they like. Make sure you include flattering pictures and fun descriptions of your instructors on your website. Go beyond listing their certifications and extolling their passion for health and wellness. Dive into their teaching philosophy and their strengths. Describe their ideal client and go into detail about what someone can expect once they step foot into an instructor’s class.

6. Mobile is everything.
If a current or potential client cannot easily browse your website on their mobile device, they probably won’t come back to it. Considering more than half of American adults own a smartphone and/or tablet and those devices are quickly becoming their primary tool for accessing the Internet, the importance of mobile-responsive design cannot be overstated. It allows your website to detect the screen size it is being pulled up viewed and automatically adjust to fit that screen.

Fun Fact: Mobile currently drives 55% of ClassPass reservations!

7. Have a clear call to action
With all these details to keep in mind, it’s easy to forget that the purpose of your website is to be a marketing tool. Decide on your top marketing goals for your website and develop calls to action based on that goal. What do you want users to do once they’ve found your website? Do you want them to try a class, contact you or subscribe to your fitness newsletter? Do you want them to follow you on social media and engage with your brand? Once visitors reach your site, make it easy for them to take action.

8. Choose the right website building platform.
Before you launch or redesign your website, you should consider which platform fits your needs. The two most popular, and arguably most user-friendly, are WordPress and SquareSpace. Both of these options allow you to create professional looking sites without having to hire a developer. You can also check your visitor and view statistics for see who is coming to your site and how often.

WordPress is the standard web platform. It is well-established and offers users thousands of themes, tools and plugins; however, a significant number of these WordPress tools may not be good quality or reliable. WordPress is highly customizable. Developers can create custom features and modify tools. The drawback to this is that with WordPress, there is a steep learning curve for new users.

Squarespace is a better option for the less tech-savvy crowd.  It’s a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) website builder. You can drag and drop pictures, text and other media into the website management system. As you post content, you can immediately see how the website will look like “live.” Setup is simple with Squarespace because everything—domain, hosting, payments, traffic statistics, and mobile-compatible site—can be done on the platform.

Squarespace is a fit for you if you are looking to create a beautiful DIY website and are not versed in code. The drawback with Squarespace is that there is little ability to customize your site.

9. Use cool tools.
From creating images to finding fonts, there are many online tools available to help you get your site looking sharp without hiring a designer. Try:

Snagit allows you to easily capture images and videos from anywhere on the web and add them to your website to create visual interest.

Infogram allows you to create super professional looking custom infographic, and people love infographics!

Google Fonts is a great resource for grabbing new fonts to spruce up the text on your website.

Pow Toon helps users create fun and engaging animations, no art skills necessary. Incorporating illustrated videos can help your site stand apart from other studios.

10. Integrate your studio management software.
When a visitor arrives at your site, you want to make it as easy as possible for that person to sign up for your classes. Several studio management platforms, such as My Best Studio or Mind Body have scheduling tools that easily can be embedded into your site. If you aren’t currently using studio management software, you can use a more basic tool, such as StudioBookings, that provides easy-to-update class schedules, online class reservations and a way to accept online payments.

11. Keep updating.
It’s good practice to take a critical look at your studio’s website every few months. Survey your clients about how they use your site and how it can be made better. Web design is a dynamic process and you should keep tweaking.

 

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