Ready for a Website Makeover? Follow this Checklist
If you think your business website should be working harder for you, you’re probably right. Now may be the time to take a closer look – is it ready for a website makeover?
It can be easy to fall into a comfort zone when it comes to your website – you’re busy running a small business. Besides, it may feel like you spent the time on your website when you initially set it up and now your marketing focus is keeping up your social media presence.
But marketing professionals say your business website needs to remain a priority. It is a public window into your company and a central hub for your online presence. An effective website serves as a marketing anchor to your social media and other marketing campaigns, and generates leads for new customers.
Use this 4-point checklist to help determine if your website is falling short and where – and whether it needs a reboot or even a complete makeover.
1. Does it look good?
How your website looks – its visual design – says a lot about who you are, and can have an impact on your business success.
People new to your company website are inherently forming a first impression based on the visual designs, even before attempting any navigation (if they decide to stay on your website, that is). And, what may have looked good before may have already become outdated.
Christine Soeun Choi, a digital marketing associate at New York-based Fit Small Business, emphasizes the importance of website design and its impact on sales in a SCORE blog called “3 Visual Branding Steps to Attract and Retain Customers.”
“Having a visually compelling website with a branded URL builds trust, brand preference, and helps you beat competitors,” she writes. “Customers are likely to perceive your products and service as high-quality if the experience around it is impeccably designed.”
Choi cites an Adobe study that says 59 percent of customers will choose a company over its competitors based on good design, and 45 percent have paid more for a product or a service because of it.
2. Is your website communicating your brand? Are you steering potential customers?
You want a website that has the information that will help you sell products and promote your business. It is one that builds trust and guides people to look at what's important and great about your company, and on through the site to the next steps.
Potential customers are there to check you out – to find out more about services and products, so if your website is falling short, they may not stay long enough to inquire further, let alone make a purchase. Shortcomings include elements that don’t reflect the quality of your company or your products and services, such as unprofessional-looking photos, navigation flaws and unclear or incomplete copy. Keep in mind, your website design should also be mobile-friendly.
Your website needs to be a launching pad to drive sales. Are you using special offers such as discounts, coupons, and referral incentives? What about search-driven content like blogs?
Is your website encouraging people to take action while they’re there? These would be elements such as hyperlinks and call-to-action buttons that steer them through to purchase or to make contact. If not, potential customers may decide to move on and come back later. Or will they?
3. Is it easy to contact you via your website?
Sure, your customers and potential buyers can always reach out to you on social media platforms. But the fact is you’re sending people to your website (at least you ought to through SEO marketing, etc.), so there should be options for every type of customer to reach you.
How your customer base – and those considering buying your products or services – prefers to contact you may depend on where they fall demographically. Some customers will always prefer to call while others don’t. Your website should make it easy for every preference – options that go beyond the typical phone number and address, such as a contact form that’s very quick to fill out and/or a chat bot.
4. Can people see how others view you?
Using customer voices or reviews to highlight what people think of your business is a mainstay of marketing, and that tactic shouldn’t be confined to social media platforms.
Consumer influence (what customers think of you) is a powerful incentive for purchases. When people come to your website, they should readily see what clients think – what customers like about your business or how great your products and services are from their perspective. (Amazon does it big with customer reviews.)
Your website should have several elements that showcase your business via customers – from testimonials about your good customer service (make it great if it isn’t already) to customized content that highlights customer successes and your products and services, such as case studies. Also, an effective website will incorporate user-generated content, maybe a Q&A section that uses real customer issues.