“Website design is not art. It is a specific solution for business. What you really want to do is to get the user to understand who you are, what you do, and how it benefits them. “
This month we sat down and talked to Ari Krzyzek – CEO and Head of Strategy at Chykalophia (read: see-ka-lo-fia). Ari helps FemTech, DTC, and women-led brands transform their website into a platform that unlocks business opportunities. She serves as a branding, UX consultant, and professional peer in support of fellow female entrepreneurs.
Ari, once a mentor to volvero, has recently published the book Made to Sell: Creating Websites that Convert, and we couldn’t help from asking her to share with us her top tips and the whole experience of writing a book on this topic.
5 min read
Where did the idea to write a book come from?
I co-wrote the book with my husband, my partner both in life and business, when we thought about what else we needed to do to really get ourselves out in the market and set ourselves apart from other competitors.
We have this dynamic experience between him and me, where I come from all things creative. My background is in graphic design. And then I quickly moved on to all things digital, 13 years ago, and he has always had this knowledge around computer science. And he, in fact, got his master’s degree in computer science, as well as all things web. So we joined forces a long time ago, in 2011, to build a business together to help businesses understand the power of branding and to create online experiences for their businesses to grow online. Writing a book was actually his idea. So we ended up writing it together, because there’s so much to share when it comes to building a website from the strategy, to the planning, gathering the right team, and developing that messaging.
The main reason why we did this is that we have had a lot of different clients come to us with a pretty beat-up website. When we say that we mean there is no goal originally for the website, and there wasn’t even a thought-out plan or strategy for what they wanted to do with the website. Often they would say: “Yeah, we have a website, but we don’t know how to use it. We want to do more, but we are just not sure what else can we do with it.” If you don’t have a purpose for your website, then you might as well don’t need it because you have to maintain it. Because it’s never done. Once you put it up live you have to constantly change it along with changes in your business. So that’s essentially the main reason and we hope that this book can really help business owners out there or even marketing directors to plan ahead for a successful website.
As you said, there are so many aspects to consider: design, marketing, tech side… On which ones do you focus in the book?
It combines strategy, planning and execution. The biggest part of the book aims to get people to the right start, to make them think about the purpose of their website.
Why do you even need the website? Do you plan to really use the website? For what purpose? Is it to support your marketing campaign? Or is it to gain more sales for the business? I think when you have that understanding, fully, before you dive into your website project, you have a better plan in terms of who to hire and what content or information goes into your website to make sure that it will convert. Otherwise, you’re going to invest in something that may not give you the right return on investment. Most of the time people say they had bad experiences with web developers or an agency but it takes two to tango, right? It also needs to come from you in terms of having clarity about what you truly want for the website. The book really gives you a quick understanding of who the right people are to partner with so that you can have a successful website at the end of the day.
“Often you would see a beautiful website, so creative and top of the line, but when you really look at it, it’s hard to digest… So oftentimes, I would tell people website design is not art. “
Who is this book made for? Business owners or those who actually create the website?
That’s correct, for business owners. Although it could be used by those who want to create it by themselves because they are strapped for funding. I think the book can help guide you along the way, and make you understand what pieces you need in order to be able to debrief designers, and developers, and say which features you want on the website in terms of design, technology or automation. So it’s also a handbook for managers to understand what pieces they need and what to tell their team members.
Since we are talking about the team members, in your opinion, is it better to outsource website creation and maintenance or have someone inside the team?
That’s a good question. I would say it depends. Every single business has its own challenges and unique situation, right? And some of you may already have a specific budget to dedicate towards outsourcing specific talent. Some of you probably have the right talent already that you want to bring on board as your internal team. So I think depending on where you are in your business right now and what you truly can afford. I guess everything is going to come down to how much investment you have.
Are there any other startup-specific struggles or mistakes that you saw while working with startups, and do you cover them in the book?
I definitely did cover a few of those things in the book. Those are mainly around people’s perceptions of websites. When it comes to websites, often you would see a beautiful website, so creative and top of the line, but when you really look at it, it’s hard to digest. Because it has way too many animations or some of the colors may be too bright and you can barely read the information. So oftentimes, I would tell people website design is not art.
It is a specific solution for business because what you really want to do is to get the user to understand who you are, what you do, and how it benefits them. Rather than being an art gallery, that is not going to convert. Even though you want something super artsy do not neglect your user experience, especially the ADA compliance. Not everybody has the ability to read things that don’t have enough contrast. Making sure that your website is accessible to different people is also important.
What would be one thing that makes your book special?
I feel like when you look at books these days, especially marketing books or even digital marketing books, you see a lot of them out there. But what really makes our book stand out is the combination of the dynamic duo that we are. It combines everything from creative thinking to technical or analytical thinking. You have to have these two things dance together in order to achieve a bigger goal. And that’s exactly what we bring to the table.
With this book, you get an understanding of not just the practicality of a website but also the functionality and emotion that you can evoke through the messaging, the brand, and the design. Often you see a lot of the books out there focusing too much on the data and how to write a code and we don’t really tell you to write a code because it sometimes takes a whole different level to do that. But we want to really make you focus on the foundation that can really create strong growth in the future for your online business.
What’s your next step, maybe another book?
We’re not gonna do another book just yet. We have gotten quite a lot of feedback in terms of a few things that we might want to consider adding to the book. So we will be working towards the second edition probably in the next year. And we’re also going to be working on the audiobook.
Is there anything else that you would like to add about the whole experience of publishing a book?
I underestimated how much work it is, to be honest with you. I said: “Let’s just write a book” and then once you’re done with it, you’re done with it. Well, turns out that is not how it works. Another author reminded me a few days ago that writing a book is only 20% of the whole job of being an author. There’s so much more to it. And it reminded me how similar this experience is to building a new business.
So yes, the efforts that you put into writing a book are the equivalent of building a new business.
Ekaterina Efimova, Marketing Manager @volvero