Is Your Website Fit For Purpose?
Do you want a website that converts visitors into paying customers? If so this article has been written especially for you. Ask yourself these diagnostic questions to determine if your website is helping or hindering your efforts. Then take action!
1. Do the features of your website align with your business strategy?
What do you want your website to achieve? Subscribers? Sign ups? Sales? Whether you are building a site from scratch or revamping an existing site; whether your site is an e-commerce operation or a brochure site ; it is important to identify and define exactly what you want your website to achieve.
If you start with the end in mind, you will have a much greater chance of producing a website that achieves these goals by mapping with your team the best possible website featurs that will facilitate the achivement of your goals. Look at successful sites in your niche and take time to critically examine how they achieve success through their website. What do you need to start doing? Do more of? Do less of? Make sure you do a regular spring clean to ensure that every element of your website helps and does not hinder your goals. Continuous improvement is the name of the game – as I well know!
You cannot generate sustainable improvements without measurement so it is important to track those key performance indicators that you have identified in your marketing plan. Install an analytics program such as Google Analytics to track useful information such as:
- What keywords are bringing visitors to your site?
- Which pages appear to be most popular?
- Which pages are least popular?
- How many visitors leave after viewing just one page?
- How long tdo your visitors remain on site?
There are also inexpensive resources such as Silverback which will allow you to capture activity on screen and video record users' reactions. This will give you a good level of insight and improvment.
2. Have you avoided flashy elements?
There are of course minimum standards for website design- legistlation for instance has encouraged us all to make our sites easier to read, and complaints from customers have meant that the majority of web publishers no longer use the complex Flash-based sites that take so long to load. Flash can also present mobile users with a nightmare. Apple's iOS does not support Flash, Android does support Flash but with unpredictable results. Alternatives to Flash include HTML5 and JavaScipt.
Many sites I browse are full of gimmicky , unecessary clutter which will put visitors off and hinder the chances of making successful conversions. How many times have you 'skipped intro' on a video that appears totally unexpected or out of context? Animations, pop-ups, uncued audio and video are all potential conversion killers that do your business no justice. Ditch them. Instead make the experience of your site a welcome and unflashy one which pulls on your visitors' natural curiosity to know more.
3. Is your website architecture intuitive?
Your visitors are unlikely to be web-savvy gurus so it is imperative that your site architecture is geared towards your 'average' customer. There needs to be a logical structure to your site architecture through which visitors will have no more than around 3 levels to click through to, in order to get the information they need. You want people to stick around, right? Go beyond four or five levels and it's 'adios amigos'.
Making sure you have a search box in a prominent positon will also make it easier for people to get the information they need , and quickly.
4. Is your site accessible for most people and for most platforms ?
Firstly, sites should be accessible to people of all abilities and disabilities. The corollary to this is that you will ilncrease the number of people who are able to use it. Visit www.w3.org for more information on this.
Furthermore, as Mobile gains ground it is key to work to optimise for mobile. In other words, make sure that your website is compliant with all mobile platforms and devices, including touchscreens and tablets.
A good test is to google your webiste on a modern mobile phone. You should be able to browse through it, view all your content and functions without any problems. Having an interface that is as clutter-free as possible will help you make as much use of your website 'real estate' and allow the most important content to be displayed.
5. Does your site have a simple navigation system?
If you have employed a web designer to design your site, it is doubly important to give clear instructions at every stage. Question without fear of recrimination, and at every stage – what each suggested design or feature will bring in terms of value to the site. Trust me on this- you have to take control. I ditched a significant number of suggested features on this site- and for good reason. In fact, I probably haven't been ruthless enough.
Simplicity is the key here so make sure you have a navigation system that is so easy and so intuitive to use that you barely notice it is there. Ensure visitors can always return to your homepage with a simple click. It is again worth having a look at other sites in a similar niche. People do appreciate design that is similar to what they know, so whilst unique is good, do not make your site so unique that nobody visits!
6. Continuous Improvement
Do ensure that spring cleaning your website is not just done in April, once a year. Continually refine ,particularly if your objectives change. Keep up with technology- there may be smarter and more effective ways to achieve your objectives. Keep your website updated with fresh content. Use the results of testing and visitor analysis to continuallly improve your site, gibving your visitors more of what they do want and less of what they don't.
Then watch your conversions grow.
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