One of the most common areas that soapmakers DIY in their businesses is building their first website. While so many platforms promise you won't need to think like a web designer to make magic, I know that the concepts of successful web design can't be guaranteed with a website builder.
To pull off a stellar website that sells your products like hotcakes, you must understand the basic concepts of successful web design, copywriting, and conversions. It's not an easy thing to learn, especially for a soap business owner who already wears a ton of hats!
However, your website is the most important weapon you have in fighting for your business' success in this online world! Your website is your brand's home, and the only place you can call the shots without worrying about algorithm changes or marketing recommendations evolving. You may not be a web designer, but you can certainly learn to think like one with a little help.
Best Books on Web Design & Development
As someone who freelanced web design and development before I ever set foot in the indie skincare industry, I feel confident saying that you CAN learn the concepts. My goal is to make that a little easier by putting a couple of badass books in your hands! Below, you'll find a hit list of my favorite books on web design, development, copywriting, and conversions.
Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
by Steve Krug
Recommended for you if you have a website or are building a website for your soap business, period.
In Don't Make Me Think, usability expert Steve Krug distills his years of experience and observation into clear, practical and often amusing, common sense advice for the people in the trenches, the people who tell them what to do, and even the people who sign the checks.
Personally, I think this a must-have read for anyone who owns a website - whether they design it themselves, apply updates, or just hire other folks to do it for them. It provides a solid foundation for understanding how your website must work to make visitors and customers feel at home.
Don't Make Me Think is an easy read for anyone - regardless of your familiarity with technology or web design, making it the perfect introduction to the concepts of successful web design.
Convert!: Designing Web Sites to Increase Traffic and Conversion
by Ben Hunt
Recommended for you if you aren't happy with your website's performance as a marketing tool.
When web design expert Ben Hunt set out to quantify the difference between an ordinary web site and a great one, he expected to find the key in design simplicity. But when his team more than doubled the conversion rates for a wide range of sites, they identified simple yet powerful solutions involving design, copy, appropriate analysis, classic optimization techniques, and targeted testing. You'll find the fixes easy to implement, and they're all right here.
If you've pulled together a website and aren't happy with how it's performing for you, Convert! will rock your world. You don't need to be a web designer or developer to follow and implement the techniques laid out either!
In Convert!, you'll learn how to drive the right kind of traffic to your website and how to turn browsers into buyers. Concepts and strategies are explained in a friendly and approachable way, and really solidify thinking like your customers rather than as a business owner.
The Non-Designer's Design Book
by Robin Williams
Recommended for you if color choices, typography, and other conceptual choices confuse you.
In The Non-Designer's Design Book, author Robin Williams demystifies basic design principles that can be difficult to grasp for newcomers. She lays out the four principles of design and gives guiding information on how to make the most of your color, type, and formatting for effective design.
The visual examples in this book will make it easy to pick-up the concepts and see the difference that great design can have.
While this book is focused on design, it can help you make the right choices for your website! The bonus is that you'll be able to up your game when designing other marketing materials for your business, too. Use this book to make smart design choices for business cards, brochures, catalogs, social media graphics, and more!
How to Write Seductive Web Copy: An Easy Guide to Picking Up More Customers
by Henneke Duistermaat
Recommended for you if you are not sure how to create content on your website that communicates more than the features of your product (handmade, natural, etc) or struggle with persuasive writing.
This book doesn’t just tell you how to write, it also helps you decide what to write. How to Write Seductive Web Copy has been described as the most practical guide you can find about writing web copy!
What most biz owners don't realize is that writing for the web is completely different than writing academically. You need to throw a lot of rules you learned in school out the window, and be a proper voice for your brand. A voice that speaks directly to your target market and gets them to click that buy button without a hesitation.
And the big bonus is that if you struggle with your branding and your target market in the first place, this book will also help you get on track there by asking the right questions to pull you out of your shell!
There's a ton of examples and practical tips so you can truly learn the technique of writing proper web copy, without a bunch of jargon or terminology that goes over your head.
How to Build Websites that Sell: The Scientific Approach to Websites
by Peep Laja
Recommended for you if you are making sales on your website, but they aren't meeting your expectations.
From the guy behind ConversionXL (one of my favorite blogs), How to Build Websites that Sell is a book that will make you money. If you put the strategies into place, that is!
This book teaches you how to build your website in such a way that it converts visitors into leads or buyers. While web design itself is often considered an art form, what a lot of non-designers don't realize is that it's full of science, too! Psychology plays a huge part in having a successful website that brings in the money.
Give this book a read to boost your conversion rates and put your website to work - for real. No more lookie-loos for you.
The Art of SEO: Mastering Search Engine Optimization
by Eric Enge, Stephan Spencer, Jessie Stricchiola
Recommended for you if you are having difficulties driving traffic from search engines to your website, especially if you have blog content or more extensive pages with information related to your brand.
If you're looking for book recommendations for building your own website, then SEO (search engine optimization) is probably a long ways off your running frontlist of To Dos. But it really shouldn't be!
However, SEO can be confusing, especially because it's evolved so much over the years. This is where The Art of SEO comes in! It covers the gamut of SEO and it was written by not one, not two, but three SEO experts!
No matter how experienced with SEO you already are, this book covers all the bases! Experienced website owners will learn new strategies and theories, while newcomers will find a foundation of information and knowledge to draw on.
If the books above seem like a little too much for you right now, don't forget that we've written a whole bunch of articles to help you do the work and think like a web designer. Check out all of our articles about building a website, including basics on SEO, how to score your website, and so much more!
Struggling with a specific area of building a kickass website for your soap business? Leave a comment!
Want to build your own soapy success story, but aren't sure where to start?
One of the most common mistakes that soapmakers make when starting a soap business is diving in before taking stock of the details.
Owning a soap business isn’t easy, and there’s no cakewalk to be seen!
This free workbook will give you a strong foundation to build your soap biz on so it can withstand tornado-strength challenges rather than crumbling under a light breeze.
By signing up for this free workbook, you'll also snag weekly advice on building a successful soap biz directly in your inbox.