Today is episode 10—a continuation in our series of marketing a new business from the ground up. 

We’ve come a long way. Now we’re really starting to get more into deploying live assets. So yesterday, you have secured your digital footprint. Today. I’m going to give you the framework to a successful website. Like the last episodes, I will laser in on the particular niche of opening up a childcare center. 

I can give you the logic of how I’m thinking through that niche and tweaking things for the industry. However, everything that I’m going to share is going to apply to every particular niche or industry. The only thing that we’re not going to talk about in the episode today relating to the website is the content. I’m actually going to tackle that in the next episode. 

We’re going to focus on the platform that you should use how to nail down navigation. What are some of the key elements in how to use secure images? Should it be a 5-page website or a 500-page site? How do you figure all that stuff out? 

The first piece is you’ve got to select the platform that you want your developing team to use. 

First off, rarely, I don’t even think rarely is even the right word, I never suggest you try and build your own website. Unless you took HTML and PHP development in class or something like that, and you’ve been doing it and you’re up to snuff on things. It never makes sense to try and build your own website. 

The only platform that I recommend and will ever recommend is WordPress—an open-source platform and non-proprietary. That’s where a lot of businesses get sucked in, they end up buying this proprietary, they’re called Content Management Systems or CMS for short, and then you’re stuck not just paying that company forever, but a lot of times you don’t even know on your website. And the other challenge is that if that particular company goes out of business, your website is essentially going to go out of business. So I want you to own your website. The only platform that I’m recommending you consider is WordPress. Now there are two different ways that you can tackle a WordPress project. The first one is you can search through different website themes to WordPress themes and find one that you like. 

However, if you haven’t learned anything from the last couple of episodes, this is not what you like. This is what’s going to drive you the most leads; this is what’s going to resonate the most with your families. So when you’re working with a development company, you want to make sure that they know the industry and they’ve got a background in the industry. 

I would only want to work with a childcare center that knows the childcare industry because they have designed other childcare websites, they know what works, they know what doesn’t work and all that good stuff. So I would leverage one of those pre-existing themes that they have already built. And from there, I would want to continue to make tweaks to the framework to kind of fit my particular child care center. I like to initially just start to look at what are the layouts, that makes sense. From a layout standpoint, there are certain layouts that time and time again are proven to be the best options. 

For example, when I’m looking at the layout, what I’m looking for is the logo should be at the top left of the website. That’s almost always where the logo should wind up. The second piece is that you want to have your top-level navigation and walk continue to come back. And we’ll kind of talk through the navigation and things like that in just a minute. But to the right of the logo, you should have your navigation. Then somewhere on that top-level header, you want a phone number that is 100% clickable. That goes right to someone on your team—those are a couple of small things on the header. 

Below that area is some kind of nice-looking visual image. A lot of times a video could work really well and not a square video, but a video that extends across the screen. It could be a static image. In this case, looking at childcare, you’d want to show happy kids and in particular, as we talked through imagery, you want to make sure that these kids look like the kids that attend your child care center. You want to make sure that if you’re a Montessori center versus is a non-Montessori center that the images are appropriate. 

One of the biggest mistakes that childcare centers make with their websites is they go out and they grab all of this stock imagery from stock photos, for example. They’re the same photos that 500 other childcare centers are using on their sites—authentic images, images of your actual location, images of what your school or schools look like, your teachers, or your parents—that kind of content is going to resonate 100 times better than any kind of stock images. We’ve become accustomed to almost ignoring stock images and stock footage and things like that. 

So that’s kind of what goes below and then from there, you can take one of a couple of different directions, but usually, it’s some kind of welcome to our childcare center, and here’s a little bit about us. And here are the kind of families that we work with. You might talk about your mission, your philosophy to childcare, or your curriculum. If you’re a childcare center that has multiple locations, you would have a link right on there to say click here and see or different locations. You’d want to have some content around your different programs. 

Obviously, the biggest piece to this website in addition to telling people about why they should come and visit is to make sure that you’ve got those calls to actions, one clear call to action schedule, or a tour schedule. Those buttons should be big and bold on all the different pages on your site. You should have a whole section around enrollment with the processes. You want to guide the fit. 

The families and the parents, if you put yourself in their shoes, and you kind of look at the buyer journey, it’s one of my favorite things to do. I encourage you to do this before you build out your website. And, this will really come in handy more when we talk about content tomorrow. But I want you to write down on a sheet of paper. 

What is the buyer’s journey? In this case, what does the parents’ journey look like? They’re going to go to Google, they’re going to type in a preschool near me, okay, great. What are the things they’re going to want to see? That’s going to help dictate your navigation—the standard navigation would be something like home, about our center, programs and under programs, you’d want to show your curriculum if you have different programs for different ages, so you’d want to have the infant program you’d want I have a toddler program a twos program, a pre-K. Obviously, those programs and curriculum would vary based on the type of child care center you were opening. The parents and the families as they go through that journey, they’re going to want to read about the curriculum because they very well might have some preconceived notions or they might have some ideas in their head of what they’re looking for. 

The next page that I would recommend you start to build out would be, what are the different communities that you serve.

This community service page is going to become really important when we talk about search engine optimization because these pages will get designed so that they’re specific to the different communities. But you want to be able to call out and say we serve your community, we serve your neighborhood, and give specific information to how you’re actually helping those particular neighborhoods. 

You’d want to have a tab for location, so as to at one location, even if it’s just one that you’re opening up, you’re gonna want to have pictures and all those different kinds of things on that page, a contact button that also then has probably some other subsections below that enroll now, etc. Then you’d want to have and think about what you can do to help the current parents then after they end up enrolling in your new business, so like a parent portal, for example, so that you can then start to cater to those families. The only other navigation with a new center, I’d want to have a nice section for careers because one of the toughest things you’re going to face is to hire really good teachers and really good team members to join your new childcare center. 

A blog is really the other navigation link that I would suggest you add and we’ll talk about content tomorrow, but the blog really would be the place where you can put out new content, news posts, and different things like that. 

No, in terms of the rest of the structure and things like that throughout the site, again, you want to make sure that the calls to action are consistent all across the site and roll now or call us now, schedule a tour. I mean, whatever that particular call to action that you’re trying to push, you’d want to make sure that you’ve got some testimonials. 

As your center starts to open, you’ll have testimonials. Initially, on this website, you wouldn’t be able to load in testimonials because you wouldn’t have them. Unless, you had them from a prior childcare center that you opened or something else that you did, or you have testimonials of your teachers. In a perfect world, you could come up with some social proof, but initially, it’s going to be more kind of us selling essentially and convincing these families to come and join your center. 

So to recap, again, you’d be building this out in WordPress. The big buzzword with WordPress is that you want to make sure that the website is mobile responsive—that’s the gold standard. Pretty much everything is built-in mobile responsive. That simply means that the website is going to look flawless on a mobile device as well as any other device that someone is leveraging or using, have some mobile responsive WordPress website. 

Then again, you can play with the navigation and things like that as you start to roll out the site. Those are really the main areas and you want the design to be I mean appealing back to your brand guide. So, the brand guide that you developed earlier in a previous episode, you need to be leveraging that and that’s going to help dictate the colors and the images and typography that’s being used. That brand guide should be one that has the core documents to really help you build out a successful website. 

That’s how you build the framework. Again, I would highly recommend you outsource it to an agency that works with childcare centers, much like the agency that I own and run. That’s obviously why I happen to know a lot about childcare centers is one of the niches that we work all day, every day. 

Get out there, make a change, and take some action.