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A website redesign is not a small task or time investment, but it’s one that pays dividends in the long run. It’s important to understand that “redesign” or “modernize” doesn’t necessarily mean you need to change all of your branding, copy and design elements. In fact, website modernization can just mean making functional updates to modernize and help your website work better and assist you in reaching your marketing goals.
As of July 2019, over 4.33 billion users are active on the internet. The rapid growth of online users has led to an expectation for websites to provide a great user experience. User expectation happens in a millisecond after your web page loads in the search results.
The first impression of your company on a prospective customer is generally determined by what the customer sees or experiences on your website. In fact, the majority of visitors will judge the credibility of your business based solely on the appearance and functionality of your website.
In 1999, Jakob Nielsen, a well-known User Advocate, identified four ways in which a website can communicate trustworthiness:
Comprehensive and current content
Connection to the rest of the web
In a study by the Nielsen Normal Group, it was observed that the very same factors which Jakob Nielsen identified in 1999, continue to remain true and influence users today.
Quote: 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience. (Source: Case study by Gomez)
If you’re not certain whether your website meets the 2020 user experience standards, read the following 5 guidelines below. Then, examine your website with these guidelines in mind..
The architecture of your website has the power to dramatically influence the overall experience of its visitors. No matter how much money you spend, if your website isn’t well built, it will most likely result in creating one of the following critical issues for its visitors:
Slow Speed – A slow website can be the result of a wide range of issues. Issues such as excessive or incorrectly sized images, a poorly built theme, too many or poorly designed plug-ins, improper caching or misconfigured server resources. Many website owners think all WordPress website hosting providers are created equal. As a result, hosting consumers use price as the primary consideration when selecting a web hosting provider. If your website was built using WordPress, it is highly recommended that you use a WordPress Optimized Hosting provider. The WordPress Standard Hosting service solution is an excellent solution for companies who have the time and resources to manage and update their own site, but seek the added benefits of WordPress optimized servers. The WordPress Managed Hosting service is an excellent solution for companies WITHOUT the time, resources or expertise to manage their own site and want to ensure their website is constantly being updated, secured and performing at its maximum potential. To get a sense of how your website is performing, please visit one of our recommended tools, Google PageSpeed Insights.
Not Mobile Friendly (Responsive) – More than 17% of all web traffic comes from mobile devices. If your site isn’t mobile friendly, you’re absolutely losing leads and prospective customers. Now that the average consumer uses their smartphone so frequently during the buying process to identify nearby companies, conduct research and share this information with their friends, it is critical that these consumers have an engaging user experience across ALL their devices. Therefore, a mobile friendly website should be a top priority for any company seeking to harness the full potential of their website. We encourage you to visit your company’s website using your smartphone and/or a tablet, and use this checklist to determine whether your website is achieving its full potential across all mobile platforms.
Malfunctioning / Confusing Features – If you’ve embedded third-party plug-ins or modules to increase the functionality of your website, it’s very important that they are being managed and updated regularly. Things such as shopping cart widgets, contact forms, pop up widgets, membership managers and quizzes all require routine management to ensure consistent, optimized functionality. If these features of your site aren’t working properly, they will frustrate your visitors and quickly force them to go elsewhere. Additionally, if you have a great-looking site that is confusing or clumsy, users will also leave because they are frustrated or find the site difficult to engage. Functionality and usability, above all else, should be the driving focus for your web presence – if it’s not, your traffic and lead generation efforts will suffer dramatically.
Companies choose to redesign their website for a wide variety of reasons. Typically, an outdated site design is the first trigger. It is generally recommended that a website be modernized every three years, however, many companies choose to spend money to bandage and sustain a site that was built decades ago. Unfortunately, even people with no experience in web design can clearly see when a site is outdated. It becomes obvious to them when they are comparing you with your competitors during the shopping process. All things being equal, the average consumers will most often choose to do business with a company that has a modern-looking, engaging, easily navigated website. For them, it’s a direct reflection of what the company represents and it sets their expectations. More established businesses may be able to get around this, but new businesses and small businesses should absolutely use their website to demonstrate they are moving forward and in-tune with the needs and expectations of their existing and potential customers.
Having well-crafted, thoughtful, relevant content on your site will drastically improve everything from customer retention to search engine visibility — and with all the continual changes to the search engine algorithms, it’s imperative that the content on your website accurately represent your company in a meaningful, relevant way. Powerful, expertly crafted web copy can make a significant difference in providing your visitors with crucial details and information in a clear and effective way. It’s also important to understand that professional website content (copy) writing is a completely different skill set from that used in other forms of writing. It’s a skill which requires significant breadth of knowledge and sensibilities practiced and honed over many years. For example, website visitors typically scan pages rather than read them (as they would read a book). This means that if your website copy isn’t “scannable”, it is likely repelling visitors and not working to its full potential. There is no question that you understand your business best, however a skilled wordsmith can take that knowledge and understanding and craft it into meaningful, relevant content that will take your site to the NEXT LEVEL.
It may seem like an obvious observation, but all this meaningful, relevant content is useless if your visitors can’t find it! The thing that separates a website from a printed brochure sitting on a desk it the ability for a user to quickly navigate the site and find the information, content or products we are seeking; and this navigation process should be as simple and intuitive as possible. When someone visits a website, they expect to be able to move through it with relative ease and little confusion. Unfortunately, many sites are not designed with user experience in mind at all. A solid user experience DEMANDS a solid navigation system, without it your website isn’t doing much more than that 10 page printed brochure laying on the table. To evaluate your website, take a close look at how many items you have on your navigation, the language / messaging you are using, the location of the primary navigation elements and how many levels and sub-levels there are to navigate. Then, think about the most important content on your website – is it easily accessible from the homepage? If not, it may be time to rethink your website, your sitemap and how the site is navigated by its visitors.
Perhaps the appearance, content and navigation of your website are perfect, but you still find that your website isn’t generating any leads or consistently achieving the goals you have set out for it to accomplish. If you aren’t getting the results you want, once again, it really isn’t any better than the 10 page printed brochure sitting on the table. Your website is dynamic and alive. A website should exist to actively engage your customer base 24/7/365…morning, noon and night. As such, the data you are collecting from your website (the analytics) should demonstrate that it is consistently trending toward your goals. Your conversion paths should be obvious and simple. They should consist of easy to understand landing pages, compelling CTA (call to action) statements with engaging images and video. If your website isn’t doing this, you’re missing out on exactly what makes your website so powerful! Your website should be the primary major source for collecting new data, members, leads, referrals and revenue. If not, then it’s absolutely not performing at its maximum potential and the time has come to take a close, hard look at how to get it on track and generating results.
We have seen websites of all shapes and sizes, from brilliant to completely dysfunctional. Your site may live solidly in the middle of the bell curve in this regard, however that doesn’t mean your site couldn’t stand to benefit from some amount of modernization. Just like all other technology, the technology of websites is constantly evolving and changing. Often times, elements of a site which were highly effective when a site was built lose their effectiveness over time; and depending on the nature of your business, you may not even realize how significantly even a small issue can affect your business.
While it may be difficult to fully comprehend and validate the decision to move forward and modernize, it is important to keep in mind that time flies as it relates to technology and user expectations fly right along with it. Your website is a 24-hour, 7-day a week representation of your organization online. It needs to properly showcase your brand, your message and your mission. It should drive results, rather than hinder your efforts.