Let’s start with a bit of a cliché: your website is your company’s business card. Potential buyers often begin the purchasing process by asking for recommendations, browsing search engine results and looking at the websites of alternative service providers. Just as in every other encounter, first impressions are lasting, and you only have a few moments to make a good impression.
Most companies recognise that they need to have a website. At their best, websites serve the company and the company’s customers, offering a useful channel for information, generating leads for sales and telling the most up-to-date story about the company. At their worst, websites can look like dinosaurs, stuck in the past and abandoned by the business, last updated in 2005.
Often, it does not take more than a cursory glance to notice that the website needs an overhaul. If your home page uses a font that screams 1990s and it is illustrated with blurred photos from an image bank, it is high time you updated your site.
However, things are not always clear and straightforward. The idea of updating the website often creeps up on a company or is suggested in an appraisal. A feeling that “something needs to be done” hangs in the air but nobody can put their finger on exactly what should be done.
There are a few different ways of approaching it. Surf your company’s website and conduct a self-analysis. Do any of the following stand out on your website?
1. Is your website heading in the same direction as the business?
Think about your company’s core business. What is the beating heart that generates cash flow for your business?
Take a few good looks at your website. Does your website communicate your core business? Potential customers should not be forced to guess what services your company offers. If you plotted a different course for your company’s core business five years ago but your website seems to be sailing in the old direction, it is high time to start heading in the right direction by updating your website.
Dot-to-dot exercises are fun for kids, but users of your company’s website should not have to play detective. The appearance of a product range that was re-branded a year ago will not be able to flourish if your website is still telling an old story with the product group’s old look.
2. Is your website pumping out leads for sales?
Have your company’s salespeople run out of leads? Are sales lagging behind? At the next sales meeting, you could point the finger at the lazy salespeople. Alternatively, you could open your company’s own website. Even a beautiful website may be ineffective at generating leads and marketing if the website does not inspire customers to make a purchase.
At their best, websites are places where customers’ wishes and willingness to buy align perfectly. A customer-oriented site also reflects the company’s customer orientation. You should be looking at your own website through your customers’ eyes. The content may feel clear to those within your company, but it may look like an indistinct muddle of overlapping things to the customer.
A site optimised for sales makes it easier to extract leads. A clear and inspiring website will encourage visitors to fill in the contact form and leads will start flowing in again.
The number and quality of leads can be boosted with analytics and optimisation. It is a good idea to pay close attention to the number of visitors to your company’s website and what they do when they get there. If the idea of this sounds totally alien to you, and analytics and optimisation are not among the ways you use your site, a website overhaul is long overdue.
A recently updated website or online service may need an update if you are not even close to meeting the targets set for the site and potential users cannot find their way to the service. By rearranging a few of the pieces, you can make a dramatic impact on the functionality of the service, and user numbers will grow.
It is also a good idea to update the website when the marketing team brainstorms visionary goals of marketing automation or downloadable materials, but they are held back by the rigidity of the old website. Overhauling the website can make it more adaptable to new ideas, laying a better foundation for marketing experimentation.
3. Does your site take forever to load?
A few decades ago, potential customers were willing to sift through the yellow pages to find the service they needed. In the 2010s, if your website is slow to load, it is more likely to give users second thoughts and make them close the browser tab. Google also punishes slow websites in its search results. Potential customers looking for a solution want to find answers and alternatives with speed, efficiency and ease.
Technical problems on websites are mountain-sized stumbling blocks in terms of the user experience. A website that is slow to reveal itself will be quick to dampen the potential customer’s willingness to buy. It is easy to switch from a stuttering site onto a competitor’s smooth, reliable website.
Obsolescent technology is also reflected in the challenges faced by the person who updates the website. If you are forced to listen to hold music on a service provider’s phone line because you want to change the heading on a single page, it’s time to start thinking about a new website. In the open-source era, agile updating and editing of websites is possible, and it should be demanded. Of all the content management systems, WordPress is perhaps the easiest to adapt and manage.
4. Are you turning mobile usage into a threat or an opportunity?
In the 2010s, mobile phones and tablet computers are indispensable to users. Service providers’ websites are encountered and browsed on smaller screens than computer monitors. Optimising websites for mobile plays an increasingly important role in creating a successful user experience.
In the early days of websites, pages were built from entirely different building blocks and technologies than are used today. Outdated practices often mean that websites are not optimised for mobile, analytics is a stumbling block and accessibility is overlooked.
You should visit your own website using several different mobile devices. If the site looks a bit funny, words or menus wander off the screen or searching for information on a phone screen is a painful experience, it is high time to begin updating your website.
Get the process off to a good start by contacting us – we will give you a handful of ideas completely free, as well as an action plan for starting your project.