If you haven’t changed your website for the past few years, you might want to think about a website refresh. Keeping your website current and up to date is an important part of any digital strategy. Need convincing? Here are 5 ways a website refresh can give a boost to your business:
Establishes and Reinforces Your Brand
Does your site look like it belongs to your company? Does it use the same color scheme and font as your logo?
Your website is an extension of your brand; it should look like it belongs right at home with your offline marketing material.
If there is a disconnect between brand standards and your website, you’re weakening your brand and potentially confusing customers.
Imagine visiting Coca-Cola’s website and being greeted by blue instead of the brand’s iconic red and white. The logo is missing, and the tone of the website doesn’t match the “Share Happiness” messaging associated with the beverage company. You would probably think you’ve stumbled upon the wrong site and immediately hit the “back” button. By ignoring brand standards on your website, you might be driving consumers away, instead of encouraging further exploration of your site.
However, when your site reflects your brand, you help your business distinguish itself from competitors and users gain perspective into what they can expect from you and your business.
Logos and color schemes are only the building blocks of a website; page layout also needs to be consistent with the brand. A sleek, innovative design conveys that your business is on the cutting edge and that is a thought leader in the industry. An over-crowded site conveys a lack of focus and distracts the user from key messages and primary goals. Choose a layout that best speaks to your brand and will guide the user to the primary information and important calls-to-action.
Beyond visuals alone, an updated website design will allow you to refine your brand’s tone of voice. For example, fresh copy will help set the user’s expectation of how she will be treated by a sales rep. What does your current copy tell a website visitor? Can the user expect friendly and knowledgeable service, or a robotic representative who only speaks in industry jargon?
Fonts are another important, but often understated element of web design. The right font helps establish tone. Here is an example of how fonts can change the context of copy:
While the Allura font appears friendly, the other two fonts, Graduate and Creepster, connote more action-oriented scenarios.
Fonts also play an important role when responsive frameworks are applied to web designs. Ideally, sites should use fonts that read legibly across all devices and browsers. Back to our example, while Allure may seem like the friendliest font, it is also the most difficult to read on smaller screens. You want your messaging to read across all platforms.
Tailor Messaging to Your Audience
Audiences want businesses to meet them on their own terms. By taking the time to research your audience’s online behavior, you will be able to tailor a digital experience that speaks directly to your consumer.
If you have been utilizing Google Analytics to its full potential, you should have a wealth of information at your fingertips about your audience. A year-over-year report can give you insight on which pages perform best and which pages see underperform. An audience report allows you to see the demographics of your online audience: age range, interests and in-market information are all available if you have your account set up properly. You can also see how frequently visitors enter your site and how they got there. The behavior and goal flow features will allow you to visually see where users drop-off or exit your site. Google Analytics also offers a heat map feature that shows how visitors interact with your key pages.
Once you have gathered this treasure trove of information, you can make decisions on how to better tailor your message, which existing features are worth transferring to the new website and which ones are better left on the cutting room floor. This information will also guide you in crafting the navigational structure of your site. Once you have an idea for the navigational structure, test it using tools like Optimal Workshop’s Treejack. Navigational testing provides a preview of how audiences will interact with your site before the development stage, saving your business money on potential redesigns.
Navigational testing also lays a foundation for search engine optimization (SEO) by providing information on users’ keyword vocabulary. During a recent web redesign, a client discovered consumers were unable to find a key product on the proposed navigation. After analyzing participant feedback, it was discovered that the issue was keyword-related. The problem was that the company had been referring to the product by a specific branded name, but their customers referred to it by a more general name. When the time came for in-depth keyword research, the new term was added to find long-tail keywords with the potential for higher conversion rates.
Reevaluate Your Business Goals
A successful business is built around specific goals. What do you want visitors to do on your site? Buy a product? Contact you? Subscribe to a newsletter? Make a donation or volunteer?
Businesses often have trouble pinning down just one goal, afraid of alienating a potential audience. However, a website redesign can help you segment your audience and more quickly direct users to the content specific to their needs.
This client had two target audiences: homeowners and building professionals. Before the company site’s redesign, content for both audiences was displayed side by side. This caused confusion among visitors and frustration at the amount of content that needed to be sifted through.
As part of the site’s redesign, a splash page was added to the homepage. The splash page effectively silos target audiences to only the content that is relevant to them. This change lowered the homepage bounce rate by 35 percent in a year-over-year comparison.
Part of the splash page’s success is due to its clear call-to-action (CTA) buttons. An effective CTA will stand out from the rest of the page with a distinctive color and with a reasonable amount of surrounding white space. If there are more than one CTA on your site, group them together by function. Each group should have a different color.
The text should also accurately describe what the user should expect on the next screen. CTAs that are not action-oriented or are vague have lower conversion rates. “Learn more” does not give insight into what can be found by clicking the CTA button. “Learn more about our 10-year warranty,” gives an accurate description of what lies ahead. This improves click through rates by driving only users that are interested in the warranty to take action.
Drive Action: Increase Conversions
A new website design is an opportunity to eliminate steps in your sales funnel that discourage users from completing an action. Simplify forms to only include fields that require necessary information. The less time it takes to complete a form, the greater the completion rate. A contact form with too many required fields may also feel invasive to the user. Best practice is to limit required fields to 3-5 items.
Another way to drive action is to include one of these three elements into the copy:
- Scarcity. “Something you love is almost sold out!”
- Exclusivity. “Membership is free, but not guaranteed.”
- Time Limit. “Order before December 1st and enjoy free shipping.”
These three elements support CTAs by incentivizing the user to take action through simple psychology.
Once your site has been redesigned and developed, ensure that you have your Google Analytics account properly set and any necessary code has been added so that you can monitor the results. A/B testing is recommended in order to continually improve performance.
Curating Your Content
Content is arguably the most important element of a website.
Without engaging content, users have little reason to visit and explore your site. According to B2B Marketing Insider, “87 percent of buyers say that online content has a major or moderate impact on vendor preference and selection.” Content is the foundation of great SEO and social media marketing. Together, all three form a complete digital strategy. When redesigning your site, take advantage of the opportunity to evaluate existing content and create fresh, sticky content.
Deciding on a content strategy requires more than throwing some copy onto your pages.
A solid strategy will give purpose to every piece of content visible on your site, and tactics on how to generate exposure for that content. There are several types of content, and it should be noted that a strategy that involves more than one type is worth investigating. However, there are two questions you should ask when developing new content:
- How is this useful to my users?
- How does this further my overall business goals?
By answering these questions, you will avoid content that distracts or deviates from brand standards and ensure that only relevant, useful content is included on your site.
Here are some content options to consider:
- Blogs: 52 percent of buyers say blog s have impacted their purchase decisions; and 57 percent of marketers have acquired new customers with their blogs.” – LeadersWest Digital Marketing Journal
- Landing pages
- Email list signup
- Downloadable brochures
- White papers and case studies
Once you have decided on what type of content should be included, it is time to decide where you plan on sharing this content. Investigate the platform you want to target. Here is a list of questions to ask:
- Does my target audience frequent this platform?
- What type of content works well on this platform, and does this type of content make sense for my business?
- What key elements does my content need to perform well on this platform?
- Are there industry influencers on this platform that I can target with my content?
- Will my content add to the conversation, or will I be repeating what others have already said?
- Can I target my audience directly through promoted content and if so, how narrowly can I target?
We asked ourselves these same questions when writing this article. We decided LinkedIn as the right platform for our content. Here is how we answered the questions above:
Yes, marketing professionals use LinkedIn.
- LinkedIn users are primarily business professionals looking for content that provides useful information. Because we wish to establish ourselves as experts in the industry, posting here furthers our business goals.
- Research shows headlines that include a number and the word “success” perform higher on LinkedIn. Articles between 2000-3000 words are the most read.
- Yes. Hi! Nice to meet you.
- We have case studies and unique experiences that bring a new angle to the conversation.
- Yes. Hi again!
When performing your own research, read case studies and white papers by leaders in your industry. Many social media platforms now offer playbooks or best practice guides as well. Remember, A/B testing is a great way to discover the best way to position your content so that it will attract new visitors to the website.
After you have the nuts and bolts of your content strategy together, look for influencers within your industry.
Tools like Moz’s Followerwonk, can help you identify users that have a built-in audience for you to target. Follow these influencers and learn what type of content they share. Build a relationship with them by sharing their content or directly messaging them.
Putting It All Together
Building a successful website requires time and careful planning.
Be sure to choose a web development company that is willing to take the time to understand your unique business goals and brand strategy. The right development team will work to ensure that every aspect of the design has been created with best practices in mind and has been optimized for the best user experience.