Creating Harmony for a Feng Shui Expert’s Website

by Diana Ecker on September 18, 2014

manziHave you ever been curious about feng shui? I sure have!

Salvatore Manzi is a feng shui consultant and life coach based in San Francisco. He helps people look differently at the spaces where they live and work.

Salvatore sees how the objects in those spaces — and the way those objects are arranged — are affecting the people who inhabit those spaces.

I’m glad to say that I’m one of Salvatore’s many happy clients. He pointed out subtle things I had always taken for granted, and helped me see things that I had overlooked.

I wondered: Could I do the same for him when it came to his website — and share the answers here on the blog?

I was delighted when he said (in true Salvatore form) that the answer was “a big YES.” Thanks, Salvatore!

The four strategies that follow will work for this site — or for any professional services website.

State the obvious (even when it feels, well, obvious)

One of the most common challenges experienced professionals face is what’s often referred to as “the curse of knowledge” — they know so much that they forget what it’s like to be a beginner.

However, that’s an oversimplification. In fact, many experts who work with people one-on-one are able to empathize with beginners when they encounter them as clients. They can stay patient and explain things clearly.

On a website, though, somehow it’s easy to lose track of those beginners. Faced with an opportunity to create a public-facing side, the professional also starts to think about it as an opportunity to express him- or herself and demonstrate higher-level thinking.

So what often needs to happen is a very deliberate return to the beginner audience. Salvatore supplied some background information about his client base:

Who they are: Single women, newly married couples, founders of new business ventures

What they’re searching for: Success with money, love, and career, in that order

What they say: “I’ve never tried Feng Shui — and I’m curious what it can do for me.”

This is a key point in the process. There’s a temptation here for a creative, empathic, deeply knowledgeable person to say, “Yes, yes, but what about…”

And the way to be successful at this turning point is to resist that temptation. This information — and its constraints — will provide an excellent foundation for rewriting website copy and even planning for the blog.

For example, there are three boxes under the headline text on the home page. Right now they have these titles: Featured Articles, Life Alignment Program, and Salvatore:
Instead, these could be renamed by audience — Singles, Couples, Business Owners — or by primary goal: Achieving Wealth, Finding Love, Career Success.

Either way, the result is the same: potential clients are more likely to recognize themselves right on the home page and get a message of “Yes, I belong here.”

The same idea can inform blog post strategy. What is one change that singles seeking love can make in their home today? How about three ways a business owner with a new venture can optimize their workspace?

It’s not about dumbing the message down — it’s about taking topics that are of great interest to the primary audiences and breaking them down into smaller, more immediately relevant pieces in language that is accessible to a beginner.

For instance, there’s a sidebar with a newsletter signup on some of the other site pages. The call to action to enter your email address is “Join to keep your chi moving.” For the majority of visitors — who, as you’ll recall, haven’t tried feng shui — this sentence will just be confusing.
So what words will potential customers respond to? One source for ideas is the testimonials of happy customers. For example, this word cloud is made up of the most frequently used words in testimonials.

One of the most important places to have an exciting, easy-to-understand headline is right at the top of the home page. The current home page headline — Feng Shui Life Mapping: Redesign Your Space, Redesign Your Life — requires visitors to process some bigger-picture ideas. Life mapping? Redesign?

These are going to be exciting concepts to introduce clients to once they’re on board. But at this stage, they’re still at the front door.

What would work better in that space? That’s going to be answered later on in this post. But we can’t go any further without addressing the design challenges first.

Make subtle fixes to remove design distractions

Just as small details in a room can cause it to feel harmonious or uncomfortable, so can small details on a website do the same.

One of my favorite feng shui principles involves having your back to a door — on some level, you’re always going to feel a bit uncomfortable, because you can’t see who might be entering the room.

In the same way, there are subtle design challenges on the site — even if you’re not consciously aware of them (and quite likely they don’t notice), resolving those challenges will increase your feeling of calmness and security.

The first step is to freeze the carousel. As conversion expert Peep Laja has argued persuasively, automated carousels reduce website conversions. In addition, they can increase the anxiety level of a visitor.

The second priority on this tune-up list is to revisit the logo. It seems to have been saved in a format that does not allow it to be displayed crisply and clearly on the site — blurring is visible around the edges. Fixing this is something that the original designer should be happy to take care of.

The third step would be to ensure that images are not being distorted, even subtly. For example, the image of the plant on the home page banner is slightly stretched out. This will create tension for a visitor.

salvatore-designThe fourth and final priority is to resolve issues of spacing, alignment, and readability. On the home page and throughout the site, spacing is not harmonious and elements are not aligned.

Fonts (including the body font) are difficult to read. In some cases they are too small or placed against backgrounds that do not offer sufficient contrast.

While these changes might seem minor, together they will contribute to a significantly more peaceful feeling for visitors to the site — allowing them to focus their full attention on the value of working with Salvatore.

Testimonials: huge untapped potential

Salvatore has amazing testimonials! I can personally attest to his compassion, insight, and remarkable presence — some people were just born to be healers of one kind or another, and he’s the real deal.

His other clients are very happy as well:

Salvatore is the BEST!
Before making a single recommendation to my fiancé and me about what to do with our apartment, Salvatore intently listened as we shared with him about who we are, our story, and our most cherished values, intentions, and goals, both individually and as a couple.

Out of that, we systematically looked together at every part of our house, and he gave us a very comprehensive assessment and recommendations, in a way that was completely manageable and empowering! Salvatore is the BEST! Warm, inspiring, professional, joyous, deeply perceptive, empowering, systematic, and thorough. — Zo T.
He Created a Home Where I Feel Amazing and Hopeful
In one afternoon, less than 4 hours to be exact, Salvatore went through every inch of my house and changed my life. Working with what I already had, he literally created a home where I feel amazing and hopeful. Things I have complained about for ten years — gone in minutes.

Salvatore is EXCEPTIONAL at what he does. I cannot recommend him highly enough. Do yourself the greatest favor by contacting him now! — Dana F.
The Office Looked and Felt Transformed
We have an alternative health care clinic for chiropractic, acupuncture, massage and yoga. On the phone Salvatore immediately got the atmosphere we want to create. He scheduled me within the same week.

Within two hours we moved things around, made a list of things I needed to buy or change, and found websites where I could look for those things.

The office looked and felt transformed. Salvatore is easy to talk to, passionate and knowledgeable about what he does. I most definitely recommend him. — Amelia M.
If you visit the website, though, you’re going to have to look hard to find these testimonials.

In navigating the site, you won’t even know that there’s a testimonials page unless you hover over “About.”

salvatore-testimonials-menu For a service-based professional, testimonials are incredibly important. Hiding them in a drop-down menu is taking a big risk.

When you do reach the Testimonials page, you’re faced with a challenge.

In order to view each testimonial in full, you have to click on the “Read more…” prompt — each time you want to view a testimonial.

That means that to read all of the testimonials on the page, you would need to click “Read more…” and then “back” 24 times each.

That’s 48 clicks.
The testimonials themselves aren’t yet sorted into categories, so there’s no way for you to know which ones are worth the clicks.

Some are also quite long, while others are only a single sentence — meaning that you’re going to be frustrated each time you’ve made the effort to click to view a testimonial, only to learn that it’s too brief to be useful or simply not relevant.

Finally, the testimonials don’t appear to have been edited. That’s better than editing them beyond recognition or removing the natural voice of each writer! But…it’s not as good as editing them effectively.

Each of the testimonials above is actually an edited version of a testimonial from the site. These edited versions retain the original voice, but eliminate unhelpful generalizations and distractions. Just as important, they’ve been internally re-ordered to each tell a story in a sequence that feels organic.

If you’re concerned about changing the words of a client, it’s an excellent idea to run the final edited version by them for approval. If you stick to the guidelines here, the response you get to the new versions should be enthusiastic.

There’s also the issue of quantity. More isn’t always better. My recommendation is to remove the one-liners, choose 6 to 8 excellent testimonials, and feature them all on a single scrollable page.

At the bottom of the page, add a button in a contrasting color inviting visitors to move along to the next step in the process — for example, contacting Salvatore to schedule their first session.

Of course, this is not to say that the Testimonials page is the only place testimonials can appear. For instance, the large banner on the home page could feature a high-quality photograph of an actual client and a brief excerpt from a testimonial, then link to a blog post about that client’s situation (or back to the Testimonials page).

And finally — the untapped power of Salvatore himself!

In person, Salvatore has a radiant energy and an extraordinary presence. So how can the power of that presence be channeled into the website?

Step one: Get that portrait right on the home page! Not in a small box, as it is now, but at the scale that it is on the About page (that photo is at the top of this post). I’d crop out the bottom half, as it illustrates closed-off body language and people in search of a sympathetic solution are looking for a provider that telegraphs openness.

Step two: This is a big one! Consider investing in a high-quality custom video. It could be short, even under a minute. But that would be a way to convey what Salvatore is like in person.

(Alternatively, there are excellent resources for creating your own videos — the extraordinary Learning Center at Wistia is an ideal place to start.)

Step three: Even better than testimonials from your own site? Testimonials from a 3rd party site! At the time of this writing, Salvatore has one 4-star review…and seventeen 5-star reviews on Yelp. That’s fantastic!

In this case, adding a Yelp review badge — 17 5-star reviews — would be an ideal example of social proof for the home page. (The first step to obtaining a badge like this starts with signing up for a business account on Yelp.)

In summary…

On this website, or just about any professional services website:

    1. State the obvious and speak directly to your audience, using their language
    2. Bring in a pro to tighten up design if needed — the little details matter
    3. Make the most of your testimonials, and make sure they’re easy to find and read
    4. Convey who you are in the most powerful and immediate way possible

The ultimate goal is a website where visitors arrive and intuitively know they’re in the right place — and about to hire the right person. (And if you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area and looking for a feng shui consultant, you can hire Salvatore right here!).
Portrait of Salvatore Manzi by Siddiqi Ray

salvatore-manziUPDATE FROM SALVATORE: “What can I say… wow! I can’t wait to get to work on this!!! I’m looking forward to making the changes and creating a site that does not create anxiety or stress to visit, and that highlights my experience and speaks directly to the motivation of so many of my clients. Thank you thank you!”

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