There’s no denying your website is under scrutiny by your current customers, and potential new customers too… particularly now, when everyone is spending more time online and a huge amount of business is being done virtually.
And it will continue. Using the web to gather information and make purchasing decisions has become the norm; individuals and businesses have realised how economical and effective it can be; industry analysts believe habits have changed for ever.
If eyes are the gateway to the soul, then think of your website as the gateway to your business. Your website says a lot about you; it showcases your company’s ‘personality’, your professionalism, your products, your services, your news, even your team!
So, what is your website really saying about your company? And how can you make sure it conveys all the right messages and entices customers to buy?
Firstly, it’s important to remember that website design trends are ever-changing. A design may be great for a few years, but it can start to look dated, and it’s recommended that you refresh your site every 2-5 years, taking your analytics into account too. If your site is working well for you, then it could last a little longer; if your stats are falling off (or the site hasn’t ever performed as you wanted), then it’s time for a change.
It may be tough– especially if it’s ‘your baby’ – but you need to step back and take a dispassionate view of your website. Ask yourself, your colleagues, even your friends, these 7 key questions…
1. Is our site dating, or dated?!
If your website looks like it’s stuck in the 90s; if it doesn’t scream “we’re current” to your customers; then in fact, it’s quite a turn-off! Customers are looking for suppliers who keep themselves up-to-date and can offer current, relevant solutions.
In terms of trends, for example, full width websites are very in at the moment. But there are so many more elements to consider too: page layouts; use of white space; colour palettes and gradients; typefaces; graphics; video content; even navigation and menu styles… they all matter, and they all change. Are yours up-to-date?
2. Does the site work on mobile devices?
Over 50% of all website traffic now comes via mobile, so your site needs to be ‘responsive’ – that’s designed to display well across all types of devices – if it’s going to hold on to your visitors. Because they will go elsewhere!
In fact, 61% of customers will leave your site if it isn’t optimised for their mobile screen, and likely never return! So, making your website responsive is hugely important.
3. Is it appealing to the right people?
It’s also really important that your website appeals to your target personas. And if you’re thinking: “What the heck is one of those?” I apologise for the jargon. It’s marketing speak for your ideal customer, and the process you go through to identify who that is, what appeals to them and what makes them buy.
Consider their age, their job, their responsibilities and issues, their family, their hobbies, even their car. Use as many details as you can to create a biography of your persona and get an understanding of what makes them tick. You may need multiple personas to fit different types of buyers. And despite the jargon, it really works!
Why not download our personas worksheet to get you started?
4. What’s our User Experience really like?
Your visitors don’t want (nor have the time) to go on a wild goose-chase to find what they’re looking for, so make sure the path you want them to take is signposted clearly, and give them obvious options if they need to do a little bit of searching.
And please, please, please, make sure your links work. We’ve seen far too many websites with broken links: it’s frustrating and comes across as sloppy, which is not the impression you want to create. With that in mind, making sure your menu is user-friendly and doesn’t confuse your reader is vital too. If it’s too much effort to navigate your website, visitors leave!
They don’t stick around when competitor sites have information available to them without the hassle.
And all this talk of navigation leads us nicely into our next point… calls to action, or CTAs for short.
5. Does our site ‘signpost’ what we want visitors to do?
There’s a visitor on your site; they’ve not left yet… so what would you like them to do now? It’s surprising how many sites don’t have a CTA on the homepage (or any other page, for that matter!), but why not ask visitors to do what you’d like them to do? If you point out the next step, many visitors will happily ‘follow your lead’. It keeps them on your site longer, and the longer they stay, the more likely they are to buy.
Which is why your landing pages should clearly show your visitors what to do, with engaging CTAs they can’t miss. And if you have sign-up CTAs, make sure your response is quick and efficient, delivering what you’ve promised in return for their email address.
Track your data capture too, to check you’re getting enough sign-ups; and it’s always a good idea to put some auto-responders in place to keep the contact going… plus it’ll make your process look super slick!
6. Do our words flow well? And say the right things?
Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but you still need your words to work for you. And they will be judged! Spelling, grammar, punctuation… they all matter… but there’s so much more to good website writing than just these basics.
Your words should delight, excite or educate your reader, and inspire them to take action. You need to give enough information, but not too much that it’s daunting or off-putting. Your words need to be formatted for both skim and detail readers, or one set will head-off to find a website with content which suits them better. You need to tell a well-written story, grabbing your reader’s attention and keeping it too.
To help with organic SEO, your words should include keywords and phrases. And blogging is really great for SEO too, because it adds new content to your site, which search engines ‘like’ (check out our top tips for blogging here).
There’s loads more copywriting psychology and techniques to take into account, because well thought-through wording really does make a difference.
The famous example is a major eCommerce company which increased sales by $300 million after changing one word on a button – from “register” to “continue” – and adding the now familiar phrase: “You do not need to create an account to make purchases on our site. Simply click continue to proceed to checkout. To make your future purchases even faster, you can create an account during checkout.” So simple; so friendly and engaging; so effective ($300 million effective!)
7. Are we actively visible?
Going forward, your online visibility is SO important! It’s time to make sure you’re easy to find. One way is to link all of your social platforms on your website. Think LinkedIn company page, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, even TikTok… anything you’ve got an active company presence on, then link it! (And if you don’t have an active presence, is it time to make one?!)
Not only will this increase your possibility of being found, it also shows you’re an active business and creates a dynamic, pro-active, up-to-date image for your company.
There’s such a lot to think about when it comes to building an effective website… believe us… this blog only scratches the surface! But that’s where we can help; because our web team digs far deeper, takes so many more factors into consideration, and has the most amazing skills, knowledge and creativity (yeah, we would say that; but more importantly, we’re so proud our clients say it too).
So whether you’re looking for a complete overhaul or just a few tweaks here and there, let’s work together to build you a high-performing website.
Your website matters, now more than ever before… don’t ‘make do’ with one which lets you down; make it count instead.
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