Photo: WeWork Devonshire Square
I spend a lot of time reviewing coworking spaces’ websites from all over the world. Aside from just poor design in general, which is something you can fix with a few days of work and a $50 premium WordPress template, these are the most common mistakes I see:
This is by far the #1 mistake I see on the coworking interweb. Even for the more corporate brands among you, not having photos of people is a major issue. People are signing up to your space, not real estate agents. These people aren’t just interested in square feet and fresh carpet, they are in it for the experience. That experience, by definition in the coworking industry, involves people. So have pictures of people.
For hip brands, I’d suggest really creative and fun photos of social events and people casually gathering around the proverbial water cooler. It couldn’t hurt to throw in some vintage stuff, beards, and microbrews, at least until something else becomes popular.
For more professional brands, at the very least, I’d suggest great pictures of your staff, people checking into the front desk, and a productive conference room meeting. Don’t make it look too busy or crowded. Your customers aren’t looking for that experience.
In the end, what your pictures contain is up to you and the vibe of your brand, but they should always include people.
As with everything, and also echoing our ethos at Habu, I think you should keep your website very simple. As William of Ockham said, “It is vain to do with more what can be done with fewer.” For a coworking space, if you have more than 3 or 4 pages or major points on your website you might have too many.
Think about it, what do your prospective members actually want to see on your website? Here are some ideas:
That’s about it. Anything else is just more complexity, which confuses prospects and makes maintenance more difficult. Keep it simple.
Fluff copy is copy that has no meaning or is copy that is used to say something that’s so obvious it didn’t need to be expressly said at all. Things like, “we provide an optimal working environment for Austin’s creative professionals to collaborate and succeed.” What does that even mean? Hint: nothing.
We sure hope you would provide an optimal work environment for your members. After all, that’s the entire point of your business. We also have no idea what you mean by creative professional, collaborate, or succeed. How is this success measured? What specifically do you do that actually helps these professionals succeed?
If you actually do these things, be specific. Instead of “we help you succeed” say, “our Foundry program is a recurring, 2-hour, weekly community workshop where we use Design Thinking methodology to help one randomly selected member with specific problems they are having. There will be coffee and breakfast burritos.” Now that makes me believe you’ll help me succeed.
I laugh every time I hear this phrase for a couple of reasons.
First, most of the time it’s never backed up by any action. Often it turns out that, on further discovery, what I get when I sign up actually is just a desk. No great events, no sense of community, no amazing perks. Don’t tell members you’re more when you’re not.
Next, what exactly is meant by “more than a coworking space?” I don’t think the term “coworking space” is commonplace enough to warrant a household definition just yet. There are a hundred flavors of coworking, so saying you’re more than an indefinable term is pretty vague, if not meaningless.
By my personal definition, a coworking space must already include events, community, education, and awesome perks. They are not add-ons, so don’t say you’re more than a coworking space if these are what you’re talking about when you use the word “more.”
Don’t pretend to be things you’re not. If your space isn’t conveniently located, don’t say so. If there aren’t actual investors in your space who talk with and invest in member companies, don’t allude to it. You might call it marketing, but your members will call it lying.
Embrace who you are. Sure, maybe you’re not centrally located near transit in the downtown area. Instead, you’re uniquely located in a suburb near your members’ kids’ schools and the supermarket and a giant park. Play that up. Maybe you don’t have amazing investors throwing out cash to everyone around them. Instead, you have an experienced group of retired C-level executives who love learning new things and mentoring up and coming local businesses. Awesome, own it.
You do not need a blog.
Starting a blog is one of the most generic pieces of advice given by marketing folks. Trust me, I dish it out plenty. But it’s not right for everybody. And I’ll take on anybody who disagrees.
A blog, just like every other content medium, requires strategy and maintenance. And most coworking spaces simply don’t have the time or attention span to keep up a good blog. The content needs to be interesting, you need to understand how to position yourself in the local blogosphere, and you need a way to drive traffic to the blog in the first place.
What does it look like when you have a dead blog on your site? It comes off as if you don’t follow through or aren’t on top of things. It feels like your space is poorly managed.
If you’ve started a blog and your last post was “Ten Reasons Why Coworking is Amazing for Everybody” from 4 months ago, you only need to do one thing to fix the problem. Delete it.
If you’re making any, or possibly all, of these mistakes don’t beat yourself up. It’s unlikely you spend as much time looking at coworking space websites as I or your prospective members do. Just start by fixing one thing on this list, then another, then another. You don’t have to do it all at once. Take time and do it right.