Gone are the days of setting a website and forgetting about it (let’s be real, those days were never really here). The fact is, your website is a large part of your organization’s brand – your online home, if you will – and it should look its best at all times. However, we understand that keeping up with your website among all the other things you have going on can be daunting. So, we’re breaking down three areas to start with when it comes to ensuring your website performs its best and looks great when visitors arrive.
1. Relevance and consistency
How often are you updating the content on your website? If you’re not consistent, your website could actually work against you. When a website goes unattended, the lack of updates will result in disengaged viewers who don’t return and a lower ranking by search engines. Value is lost the less the website is updated.
A successful website requires regular maintenance. If you’re thinking to yourself right now, “I’m not even sure what I would update!” here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Add a blog: This will allow you to post quality content for your viewers to keep them updated and informed. Blogs also establish thought leadership, credibility and trust.
- Check all links: It’s a good idea to regularly check all links and there are handy tools that can help. Broken links won’t create a good experience for site visitors (and also lowers your search ranking), so take advantage of online link checkers.
- Add a contact page/form: Contact pages and forms allow your site visitors to engage and directly get a hold of you. They are also great for lead generation and building your current prospects list.
- Update events: Your audience can see what your company is up to and how they can be involved with any events you may be hosting or attending. This can be as simple as a chronological listing, a footer on your home page or a full-blown calendar page.
- Recurring content: Creating something like a “tip of the day/week” gives viewers a consistent piece of information to look forward to. Think about recurring content that won’t take long to create but that could be invaluable to your audience.
Using social media for day-to-day updates, customer/member/client interaction, testimonials and even FAQs can prompt you to update your website on a regular basis as well. These daily pieces of content can spark new ideas, create sustenance for blog posts or provide insight into the information that may be missing on your site due to customer feedback on other digital channels.
Responsive design is a must and if you’re not familiar with what that means, there are several resources online that can help. Basically, a responsive design is one that will automatically change no matter what type of screen from which viewers are viewing a site. It does not require a design for each device type, but rather, is smart enough to realize when someone is viewing your site from a smartphone, a tablet or a desktop. And responsive design is essential.
Mobile devices are not going away (its computers that we’re seeing less of) and so mobile design is critical. In fact, Google now penalizes sites that are not mobile-friendly (e.g. responsive). Furthermore, your website design in general will make the first impression to your audience. How your website is constructed will offer insight to the viewer – Was it carefully considered or quickly thrown together? Can it be viewed on all devices, or is it only compatible with a few? (Did you know two out of three minutes online are spent on mobile devices – so make your website phone friendly!)
Your audience is going to decide very quickly if they want to continue on your website or not. If they cannot understand what the website is about and what they can do there, it is not likely they will stick around and continue to explore the site – say goodbye to potential viewers with poor design!
Design directly affects the usability of your website. Does the audience understand how to get where they need to go, or is navigating your website a challenge and a bit unclear? Many are familiar with the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover,” however, the design of your website is important and will determine how users will interact with it. Listed below are factors that influence user experience.
- Useful: Content should be original, useful and fulfill a need. Without this the service or product has no real purpose for users.
- Usable: The site or system needs to be simple and easy to use. Consider the content included in your design. If your website contains large images and custom fonts, prepare for an extended loading time.
- Desirable: This goes back to the importance of design. The visual aesthetics should be easy to translate and attractive to the viewer.
- Findable: The structure and information of the site should be easy to navigate.
- Accessible: The site, product or services should be designed so that all users including those with disabilities have a similar experience.
- Credible: The site, products or services should be trustworthy.
These are just some of the areas that are commonly and easily forgotten when it comes to website design. Did you catch that – common! If you find that you’re guilty of any or all of these, you’re not alone! By bringing awareness to these areas, you can begin to move in the right direction by making productive changes. Need help? Contact us.