We can’t emphasize the importance of a stellar website enough. PEOPLE, it’s important. Not important like that math project you didn’t want to do as a kid, but was told you would always use when you grew up—and never used again. IMPORTANT.
A well-designed and functional website is like the foundation of a house. If well done, it’s a solid support. If your foundation isn’t strong, the rest of your marketing efforts are going to be ineffective. After all, you can spend all your time trying to drive traffic to your website, but what good are your efforts if you can’t convert because of a poorly designed and built website?
We can attest to it. We’ve seen it: a great social media presence with all the essential elements, a blog full of excellent optimized content, marketing strategy that integrates it all—all based on a sub-par website that leaves visitors confused—and not buying. That’s why we’ve put these tips together to help you get through the website design process (either on your own or by relying on the experts) without feeling like you wasted your time and efforts.
We can’t stress this enough; usually business owners come to the initial website redesign planning meeting with a list of what they want—and everything in “an easy-to-find spot.” To be clear: there’s no crime in having a wish list for your new website, but an overcrowded home page is incredibly ineffective—and can actually sabotage goals you’re trying to achieve with your new website.
Use the ‘KIS’ from the KISS adage when designing your website: keep it simple. Have a goal for your website, and keep your website home page—and every internal page—simple and strategic so your customers and potential customers can focus on call-to-actions. Website call-to-actions can include buttons, video, or text options: (i.e. for more information, get a free quote, download, etc.)
Website content should be more than a block of text copied from a company brochure; it should be drafted specifically for your targeted online audience and search engines. The first step is to identify your target audience and information that needs to be included (you may need to ask customers outside of your company for this information). Once you start drafting content, keep the target audience and your secondary audience, search engines, in mind as you write your content. Note that search engines are a secondary audience; you don’t want to write so much for the search engines that potential customers are driven away. While this approach may result in improve search engine rankings, your bounce rate is going to increase and your conversion rate decrease. If this sounds like a lot of gibberish, it may be wise to contact a website redesign professional about their optimized website writing services.
PLEASE, please, please don’t invest the time and energy in a new website and not include any images or videos. Images and videos are an opportunity; they are a chance to grab your reader’s attention, and keep it with interactive videos. When choosing your images and videos, don’t settle for any less than high-quality relevant photos and videos on your new website—without landing in legal hot water. As nice as it is to find images and videos on the internet, know your legal rights to use the photos and videos you use. Using copyrighted images can open your company to serious (and expensive) legal repercussions (here’s more information on image rights and legalities).
Choose images for your website wisely and note the ‘relevant’ part of the right image. As much as you may love roman columns, a website for a pet grooming business full of roman columns is not a good fit.
Function & Navigation
A properly-organized website with intuitive navigation is more than a work of art; its part of an excellent user experience that converts users to customers. Approach your website redesign organization not as a business owner, but as a potential customer. What do they want to know? Where would they look? Once you have a proposed organization of your website, use a sounding board to perfect your website navigation—and don’t stop. Part of the website redesign process is testing and retesting until your final live deadline (and even after).
If your site is well optimized, online searches should be one of the top sources of website traffic. Local website traffic is essential for retail and businesses that rely on local users who need a quote or want to buy their products; think of the user looking for a service who picks up their smart phone asks Google for a list of local businesses that can solve their problem. Website optimization technology targets search engine users in cities and communities within 10, 20, or 50 miles from your location (or locations). With professionally-written optimized content and technology, local optimization can get your well-built website redesign on the first page of search engine results.
Online users are tired of waiting for slow websites, and Google has taken note. You should too (or the pros you hire to build your website) because faster websites gain you favor with Google and your online users. If you don’t believe Google, look at the statistics: a recent study by KISSmetrics, 40% of users leave a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load. As you build your new website, use this statistic when you look at page loading, image and video selection, and all other aspects of the final website product.
It was a momentous day when Google announced the amount of mobile searches had surpassed the amount of desktop searches. Since that day, it’s also been clear that this is more than a passing trend—and another reason to design a new mobile-friendly website. What does that mean? A mobile-friendly website is easy-to-read on mobile devices, has large buttons, a comprehensive contact us page, and a mobile-friendly structure. If you approach a company or individual about a website redesign and there is no mention of a mobile website (not a separate one but a capability of your site), move on to your next website redesign option. It’s that important.
A website is the foundation of a solid marketing strategy, so keep your overall marketing goals in mind as you redesign your website. If content marketing and social media are part of your plan, draft a website that is a valuable part of your marketing puzzle (or contact marketing pros that can fit all the pieces together).