A website was essential for selling my coaching as a legitimate branded entity
NotYourAverageLife.Coach is the website I built for my life coaching side hustle.
Having a website was all about selling myself as an informed and marketable service.
I didn’t feel like I actually had something to sell until I had an identifiable life coaching brand that could be found on Google.
Plus, I was studying web design and marketing as part of my MTA Portfolio, so building a website for my coaching side hustle was a perfect opportunity to exercise and illustrate my creative skills and strategic thinking.
Building NotYourAverageLife.Coach in the way I did was also a stylistic choice in establishing why I was not your average life coach.
“A great brand is not a mark burned into a product – it’s something we want to belong to.”
Bernadette Jiwa, Marketing: A Love Story, 2014:5
Branding and Web Design
The branding of my life coaching as “Not Your Average Life Coach” a.k.a. “NotYourAverageLife.Coach” occurred as part of the same process of building the website.
This process also involved the design of IBuiltMyOwn.Education and PeteBeCreative.com (originally called ThePeteLessTravelled.com),
All three of my websites were designed to be components of the same ecosystem, as I explain in my Career Brand Ecosystem final project.
The websites are meant to be complimentary and to feature on what I consider to be my main “business card” overview website, PeteBeCreative.com.
Hence the thinking behind the names of Not Your Average Life Coach and I Built My Own Education.
I wanted names that would sum up each brand and that would work as clear descriptions about me on the main page of PeteBeCreative.com.
When searching for an available URL (Uniform Resource Locator), a.k.a. website address name, I discovered the “.coach” TLD (Top-Level Domain) name existed and I immediately knew that I wanted a brand name that would allow me to use it.
So the name of my side hustle as “Not Your Average Life Coach” developed from the design thinking behind the website address name.
Using a TLD that is not “.com” or “.co.uk” makes the presentation of the URL much cleaner because it makes the overall URL shorter and more focused on the actual brand name.
The “.coach” TLD also acts as a categorizer and identifier that instantly places my website and my life coaching business into the health and wellness market sector.
Plus, it’s a little different, just like me!
I toyed around with a lot of different names.
The eventual one I decided on was DesignThinkingLife.Coach and I even went as far to purchase the domain name.
DesignThinkingLife.Coach was a good description about the nature of my life coaching because I do employ the design thinking methodology as part of my coaching process.
However, on later reflection, I started to see DesignThinkingLife.Coach as a very technical term that actually sounds quite dull.
Also, most people have not even heard of the design thinking methodology!
Then I came up with NotYourAverageLife.Coach.
I was much more taken with Not Your Average Life Coach because it’s a statement that describes my quirky personality AND my style of life coaching.
I was very conscious to select a brand and domain name that would thoroughly encapsulate the life coaching service I was selling.
However, I was also very careful to select a name that was simplistic and search friendly.
It is very easy for me to say to potential clients, “Just type ‘not your average life coach’ into Google and you’ll find me.”
And they did.
“The UX is the customer/user’s experience with a specific product, for our purposes, a website, app, or software. The design of the interface — its usability, information architecture, navigation, comprehension, learnability, visual hierarchy, etc. — all combine to create the UX, whether positive or negative.
The goal of the UX designers, then, is to make sure the brand designs products that solve the right problem in an efficient and enjoyable manner.”
Jerry Cao, Customer Experience vs. User Experience: Why the Difference Matters, uxpin.com, 2016
Page Structure and User Experience
I always knew I wanted my website to be visually enthralling, straight to the point and to make the user feel like they were having a friendly conversation with me.
I did research other life coaching websites.
The other coaching sites possessed all the information a client would need to get an overview of a life coach and get started on their life coaching journey.
But they were not very well-designed websites!
- Confusing to navigate
- Not very responsive
- Quite bland to look at
- Overloaded with information, especially in text form
- All very similar in appearance
All these other life coaching websites felt like they had just been haphazardly thrown together without much thought for user experience or aesthetic balance.
I was going to be an above average life coach because I was going to possess a website like no other life coach!
I was very keen to create a life coaching website that was basically just made up of one page – the homepage.
Obviously, there are additional pages, but I wanted to get all the essential information onto the homepage.
I wanted to present the service I was selling in the most succinct and visually appealing way possible.
I didn’t want to confuse or overburden the user by making them do too much exploring around the website.
I already knew what information I needed to include based upon what I had seen on other coaching websites and, more importantly, from what my own coaching clients had told me.
In a smooth and succinct fashion, I wanted to give a potential client all the information they would need to know about a prospective life coach.
Right from the start, I always knew I wanted the homepage to be split into clear sections.
Each section was a slide in a presentation that the user would scroll their way through.
But it was never envisioned to be a boring PowerPoint type of presentation.
The homepage was always going to be a friendly and inviting conversational presentation of myself to my potential clients.
The thinking behind the structure of the homepage is to make any potential client’s journey – from casually browsing to signing up to their first session – a very simple and obvious sell.
The homepage is just a giant call to action to sign up to my life coaching!
“Globally, 68.1% of all website visits in 2020 came from mobile devices—an increase from 63.3% in 2019. Desktops drove 28.9% of visits, while 3.1% of visitors came from tablets.”
Eric Enge, Mobile vs. Desktop Usage in 2020, perficient.com, 2021
Wireframes and Responsiveness
As with my other websites, NotYourAverageLife.Coach is housed on web hosting provided by GreenGeeks, who pride themselves on being an eco-friendly hosting provider.
Self-hosting my sites enables me full autonomy over the scope and design of my websites.
I have previously built websites/blogs on services like WordPress and Blogger, but I’ve always found them to be restrictive with how far you can push the design of your sites.
I also use the WordPress.org software, which is made for installing on self-hosting, and enables you to manage your sites in the same way as you if they were hosted on the main (and more restrictive) WordPress.com hosting service.
The WordPress software is the user interface I use to post content, review comments, install widgets, etc.
To realise the design of my websites, I always use pre-built theme packages which I install into WordPress user inteface.
I didn’t code NotYourAverageLife.Coach from the ground up, as I’m not that advanced and it’s just easier to use a previously built responsive theme package.
I used a theme package called Uncode.
Having looked through the demo sites created from Uncode, I could see that it was the right theme package to help me realise my ideas for the homepage.
Uncode comes with all the wireframes (skeletal frameworks of a website) included on its demo website. This was a huge help to me because I was able to re-purpose elements of the demo wireframes for bringing my vision for NotYourAverageLife.Coach to life.
As with any fully competent website theme package, Uncode is fully responsive meaning that it re-organises the website’s wireframes to optimise for the size of the screen it is being viewed on.
Having a responsive website for a service or product you are selling is a godsend because it means you can reach more customers.
Today, most webpages are viewed on smartphones and very few smartphone users will persevere with a website that is only optimized for a desktop sized screen.
You don’t want potential customers to be deterred from signing up to your product or service because they are struggling to navigate a website that won’t optimize its wireframe orientation for their device’s screen size.
A fully responsive website is top tier web design… but it is also a huge headache putting together!
I built NotYourAverageLife.Coach on my desktop, so the first version of the website wireframe I saw forming was the desktop orientated one.
Just because the elements of a wireframe work on the desktop orientation does not mean they will also work when translated into a different screen size orientation.
This meant that there was a lot of back and forth and re-tweaking throughout the build process, as I was constantly checking to see how new wireframe elements looked on each screen orientation.
Getting the responsive re-organization right proved to be the most time-consuming part of building of NotYourAverageLife.Coach.
An example of ineffective responsive re-organization can be seen in the tablet example below…
The original homepage I assembled used a slightly different wireframe that utilised a feature in the Uncode theme called Slides Scroll.
Slides Scroll lets the user scroll through a webpage as if they are flicking through the slide decks in a presentation.
The slides scroll feature is one of the reasons I purchased the Uncode theme for NotYourAverageLife.Coach.
As soon I saw a demo of the Slides Scroll feature, I realised it was perfect for realising my original slideshow presentation concept for the homepage.
However, I was having issues with fitting all the content I needed on each slide and the Slides Scroll homepage was also having problems loading in certain web browsers.
Ultimately, I abandoned the original homepage because I reasoned it would just be much less of a headache to use a more traditional wireframe structure for the homepage.
Another key part of the sites functionality and responsiveness was how the wireframe’s elements were animated.
The websites animation goes back to my wish for the user experience of NotYourAverageLife.Coach to feel like a friendly conversation with me.
I didn’t just want a static site; I wanted each page to breath and flex and be alive.
Plus, giving each element of the wireframe an animation makes it easier for the user to clearly distinguish and scan through the main points of the content.
Ultimately, I think the animation comes together to give NotYourAverageLife.Coach a very smooth and professional edge.
“A copywriter creates clear, compelling copy to sell products and/or educate and engage consumers”
Jenell Talley, What Does a Copywriter Do?, mediabistro.com
Colour and Content
NotYourAverageLife.Coach exists to tell and sell the story of why I am the best life coach to help a client realise their desired change.
Every design element of the website needs to support the telling of this story.
NotYourAverageLife.Coach has a bright and vibrant multi-coloured scheme that is also utilised on IBuiltMyOwn.Education and PeteBeCreative.com
Initially, I had just planned to use the multi-coloured theme on IBuiltMyOwn.Education, as I associate a multi-coloured aesthetic with a vast range of knowledge.
The inspiration for this colour identity came from the books on my bookshelves.
My initial thinking was to give each of my websites a different colour scheme to more easily differentiate each of their brand identities.
My original colour scheme for NotYourAverageLife.Coach was much simpler and mostly utilised shades of blue, white and black.
However, I quickly abandoned this colour scheme after seeing how it looked on my original build of the homepage
I felt that the blue, white and black colour scheme came across as too cold and corporate, the complete opposite of what my coaching is about.
It was not helping to tell the story I wanted to tell and was not a good visual impression of me as a person or a life coach.
My life coaching is warm and creative and open-minded… and colourful, so I went with the multi-coloured scheme instead.
Ultimately, I ended up using the multi-coloured scheme on all three of my websites because it is much more representative of my personality, as a well-studied and multi-faceted person (I also tend to dress quite colourfully as well).
So I re-thought my original thinking about using the colour schemes to differentiate each brand.
I decided to make the multi-coloured scheme the uniform feature across all three of my sites with the design of the wireframes and content of each site being what differentiates them.
I kept the content to an absolute minimum because I wanted NotYourAverageLife.Coach to be a user experience that was uncluttered and uncomplicated.
The use of photographs is good example of this uncluttered and uncomplicated philosophy because I don’t use them on every part of the wireframe.
There is an even-split between using photographic elements and solid colours to distinguish the divides between page sections and separate information; as well as providing some aesthetic balance in the overall design.
A key ethos of my design for NotYourAverageLife.Coach is that I wanted to highlight my all-round creativity, because my creative thinking is a key part of my coaching process.
Therefore, all the photos included on NotYourAverageLife.Coach are my own creations.
I could have used stock images for the site, but that felt too much like what other less-creative life coaches would have done on their websites.
Again, it’s in the name, I’m not your average life coach, so I couldn’t just repeat what other life coaches had done on their websites.
I had to distinguish myself and I had to be different.
The written content is another design choice where I differentiate personal style.
All the other life coaching websites I had looked at were very heavy on written content and I had no intention of deterring potential clients by presenting them with lots of essays.
I kept the written content on NotYourAverageLife.Coach short and snappy and very copywriter-ish
I also made a point of making the writing style less corporate copywriter-ish by giving it a much more passionate tone that was closer in line to my personal way of speaking.
To increase the chances of NotYourAverageLife.Coach showing up whenever someone searched for a life coach, I was also very conscious of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) while creating the written content.
I made a point of including lots of “personal development life coaching key words” in the written content.
I also got lucky with the three client testimonials I included because they were already loaded with relevant key words!
On a lot of life coaching websites, the client testimonials are often grouped away on their own separate page or lumped together at the bottom of the homepage.
When designing the original layout, I was adamant that the client’s perspective needed to be a key component of the content presented.
The easiest way for a potential client to put themselves in the scenario of what my coaching will be like and how it will have an impact on them… is hear it from what my other clients have to say.
I wanted to give each testimonial its moment to shine and for it to form logical parts of the homepage’s narrative.
If you read what each testimonial says, you will see that the message of each testimonial builds on the piece of content that came before it and carries over into the content following it.
Overall, I’m very happy with the balance of short written content together with alternating photographic and colour elements I have struck on the homepage.
I am less happy with the other pages on the site, especially the About page.
However, my aim for the NotYourAverageLife.Coach was for it to essentially just be a one-page website, with the homepage providing the client’s call to action to sign up to my coaching.
The other pages were just adjuncts to the main homepage, so it’s probably just as well there was much less effort put into their creations.
“An idea is nothing more nor less than a new combination of old elements.”
James Webb Young, A Technique for Producing Ideas, 2003:15
Retirement and Renewal
Now that I have decided to move on from life coaching, NotYourAverageLife.Coach will also be retired.
Arguably, NotYourAverageLife.Coach has not really been utilised as a marketing tool for my life coaching when you consider that it only went online in its finished form towards the end of 2020 and it was not long after that I started to think about giving up on life coaching.
But that is to miss the point of why I built the site in the first place.
I didn’t just build NotYourAverageLife.Coach to strengthen the brand of my life coaching, I also built it so I could further develop my web design skills, which are a key focus of my Pete Be Coding final project.
If I’m being honest, making NotYourAverageLife.Coach is one of the reasons why I have decided to move on from being a life coach.
The learning process of building NotYourAverageLife.Coach, and its two sister sites, IBuiltMyOwn.Education and PeteBeCreative.com, helped me realise that my passions lie more so in my creative pursuits and not so much in developing other people.
Hence why I am now re-focusing my career on more creative pursuits.
However, this won’t be the end of NotYourAverageLife.Coach because, while it no longer needs to serve as platform for my life coaching, it is a prime example of my creative and marketing skills.
Therefore, NotYourAverageLife.Coach will remain eulogized on this final project page of IBuiltMyOwn.Education and it will live on as an explorable website on PeteBeCreative.com.
Also, by the time the NotYourAverageLife.Coach domain expires in May 2022, I should have rebuilt PeteBeCreative.com using the Uncode theme.
I was never one-hundred percent happy with the theme package I purchased to build PeteBeCreative.com, I always found its functionality a bit bumpy and quite restrictive.
Considering how the Uncode theme package will no longer have its license tied to the NotYourAverageLife.Coach domain and is a vastly better website build package, I will be repurposing it to build an improved version of PeteBeCreative.com as part of my Pete Be Creative final project.
But I will keep all the original NotYourAverageLife.Coach webpages as part of it in the portfolio section of PeteBeCreative.com.
NotYourAverageLife.Coach will go on as a live website, it will just be found under a different subdomain of PeteBeCreative.com.