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‘New Year, new you’- Refreshing your website to increase its potential

‘New Year, new you’- Refreshing your website to increase its potentialThe New Year isn’t just a time for personal resolutions; it’s also a great opportunity to turn your attention to what you want your business to achieve this coming year. Improving your business website is definitely a priority worth setting this year.

The importance of a business’ website is shown with GE Retail reporting that 81% of shoppers now research online before making a purchase in store. Ensuring your website stands out above the rest online will play a big role in whether that person then visits your business over your competitors.

While it’s important to have a website that makes a visual impact, you also need to make sure it’s practical and does a few other important things. When looking at how your website currently performs, and what you want it to do, consider the five following important aspects:

1. Is your website easy to navigate?
When a visitor arrives at your website it’s important that you give them a positive experience. If it’s not easy for them to use then they’ll quickly become frustrated and leave your site. Although the menu headings and labels make perfect sense to you, you need to look at this from the point of view of a customer. Ensure menus and navigation bars are clearly visible on each page so users don’t have to keep going back to your homepage to access the section they want.

More often than not the first page that a visitor will see is your homepage, so spend some time making sure this is effective in getting visitors to where they want to go next.

2. Does it look good and match your business personality?
Just like the mullet you sported in the 80s or that perm you had in the early 90s, things that you once thought looked good, no longer look as fashionable today. This is no different with websites as design trends evolve and customer tastes change. You need to look at your own site and consider if it’s looking a little dated compared to others, and therefore might be putting potential customers off. Splash pages (a page before your main site), narrow layout, and small images are all indicators of your site being behind the times.

You also need to make sure your website reflects your own business personality. A party shop might be able to get away with lots of bright colours and flashing features, but as an Accountant, people probably won’t take you seriously. Consider the image you want to portray to visitors, and then look at if your website is currently matching up to this. Remember it’s always important to keep the branding of your business consistent, so it should match up with any colours or logos you use offline too.

3. Is all the information up-to-date?
Just as important as up-to-date design, is up-to-date information . When reading through your website, these are some of the questions you should ask yourself:

  • Is your ‘About us’ section still current and correct?
  • Have you been regularly reviewing your product pages to accurately reflect what you’re currently selling?
  • Are your contact details correct and displayed prominently on each page?
  • Do all of the links on the site still work?

Having all this information is important to portray the correct image of your business and it also has a positive knock-on effect by ensuring correct details are shown in search engine results and directories that pick up this information for their listings. These sites, like Google, use robots to gather information on businesses for their search results. So if your information isn’t up-to-date, incorrect details will be shown to potential customers.

4. Does it work across a range of devices?
Your website may look good and perform well on desktop PCs and laptops, but if it isn’t mobile-friendly then you have a problem. An Ofcom report in August 2015 showed that the majority of people in the UK actually now access the internet via a mobile device rather than a PC. Therefore, these customers will quickly be put off if your website doesn’t respond accordingly.

If you still need some convincing on the importance of having a mobile website, take some time to consider how desktop and mobile visitors differ. Screen size is an obvious difference. Links and buttons on your PC website will be a lot smaller if that site is shown on a mobile, making it harder for these visitors to navigate around. The text will also be scaled much smaller meaning many parts will be unreadable without having to zoom in and also scrolling across.

5. Does it have the information that your target customers want?
It’s easy to think that you need to cram your website with as much information as possible, but this isn’t necessarily the case. It’s important to put yourself in the shoes of your potential customers and consider what information is important to them. For example, does your site display the products you sell in-store and whether they’re all currently in stock? If you provide a service, it’s a good idea to provide some testimonials from satisfied customers to assure potential ones that you can be trusted to deliver quality.

A good idea is to use a reporting tool and see which of your site pages are performing well and which ones aren’t. You can then start to build a picture of what visitors are coming to your website for. Google analytics is useful as it doesn’t just tell you what pages they are visiting, but also how long they’re spending on them and if they’re leaving straight away. Therefore, a product page might have a high number of visitors, but these visitors may be leaving after a short period of time. This indicates that the information on that page isn’t what the visitor was expecting and so needs reviewing.

 

Having a website for your business that is out of date or presenting the wrong information can give a bad impression to potential customers. By considering the points above, you can make sure your website is proactive in helping you reach your full business potential.

 

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