As designers we’re always looking for websites that look great. As marketeers we’re always looking for websites that lead to an income generating activity. It is not always the case that one inherently pairs with the other.
When it comes to websites – one of the largest, most important and likely most costly pieces of marketing you’ll ever invest in – it’s important that it achieves its goals. Very often websites are multi-functional because they have to support the multi-faceted nature of the organisation, but it could be that your website is focused on the wrong area or is trying to be all things to all people.
It’s vital to have a solid understanding of your audience(s) and as such understand their needs when it comes to your website. Here are a few things you can consider when looking at your current site and its effectiveness.
1. Is it easy for your visitor to find the right information for them?
What is the main question that needs answering for each of these visitors to the site – and does your site answer it? If your Google Analytics results are showing a high bounce rate for your home page do you know why? A good ‘user experience’ is your aim here. You need to inform and signpost users to where they need to go.
Assume the role of your potential visitors – users/buyers/members/investors etc. – and write down the key questions they want answers to. Then check if your website does that and whether it does so easily. Better still, test it on relevant users.
2. Does your website visually represent your organisation/sector/industry?
If there are images on the site, are they specific or generic? Do they reflect the demographic of your visitors? Are the colours suited to the ‘brand’? Is the typeface social or corporate? Does the language reflect the community or the cause? Is text legible or does it get confused with the images? Does your visual brand match your user experience or understanding?
What’s your first impression when you land on your website home page? If you didn’t already know its purpose would you be able to accurately summarise it? If not, this could be the cause of a high bounce rate.
3. Is the content on your website up to date?
When it comes to first impressions you want to be sure you make a good one, and fast. If you have a news feed, blog or social media broadcast on your website do you keep it up to date? If you have legislation or stories on your website that are no longer applicable your visitor will make a quick assumption that as an organisation you are not on top of all the things you should be. Being relevant is a important.
Keep content current – it is not a fixed entity that once created can be left alone, it needs care and attention and regular input. This not only helps your visitors to form an opinion on you but does also have a side benefit with Google when it references your site to see if you are relevant in searches.
4. Does your website work on multiple devices?
With mobile searches overtaking those made on a desktop for the first time in 2016, it’s vital that you serve your visitors correctly. Google Analytics will help you to understand how visits are made to your site and this will vary from sector to sector and that of your users’ roles. If you have a large percentage of people using your website via a mobile device, does it work properly and effectively? If not this can frustrate your user and place doubts in their mind about the efficiency of the organisation too.
Take a moment to look at your website on mobile devices – a smartphone and a tablet. Ideally, you’d also look through different platforms such as Android, iOS and Microsoft. Does it work properly, are there graphics missing, do links to pages take a while to load; can you easily navigate the menu you want?
5. Do you have a system in place to respond to website enquiries?
If someone takes the time to contact you via the website do you have a process in which to follow-up? With the follow-up do you make the enquirer feel valued or do you ask them to repeat information that they have already given you? If you’ve ever had to phone your bank, enter in your long card number, gone through an automated phone system only to be asked again when you speak to someone to confirm details you’ve spent 10 minutes entering beforehand you’ll know how devalued you feel and what a waste of time it felt like. Don’t put your visitor in the same situation!
Look at how visitors to the site get in touch. Is the information you’re gathering relevant, and is it being used to its full effect to build a relationship with that person?
Websites are constantly evolving and as such it’s important for your website to be evolving with your organisation. There are many tools available to help you understand the effectiveness of your website including Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools, SEO and Keyword research and UX design.
Without data it is difficult to make improvements so ensure that someone in your organisation – or externally – takes responsibility for looking into data insights and enabling change. This is how your reputation can be enhanced rather than damaged.
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