Written by Ernest Kuo & Derek Wenzell
Yes, this is a blog post about updating your website from a company that, amongst other things, updates websites. No, we are not going to try to scare you into updating your website by telling you that your current site is such a mess that you’re basically paying consumers to go to your competitors. You might be, but we’re not going to tell you that.
Our goal is to help simplify the way you look at your website to determine whether any updates are necessary.
You can do that by asking your website these 5 questions:
- Are you competitive?
This is an easy place to start, and something you are probably already doing — looking at your site and comparing it with your competitors’. Just like in other aspects of your business, you are constantly evaluating the competition to ensure that you are delivering a product or an experience that is in line with the expectations of your target consumer.
You don’t have to have the most highly designed website in order to have an effective one. That being said, if your site is noticeably dated compared with your competitions’, then you have a problem. The key to evaluating the answer to this question is to make sure your website reflects your positioning in the market, and you are not just trying to clone competitors’ sites that you like. It’s important to have a site that matches the way you present yourself as a company in other mediums, but if there is certain content or a certain feature that is used by your competitors that will benefit your site and your consumer, then for the sake of being competitive, you should definitely consider making an update.
- Are you easy to use?
It’s easy to use something that you’ve used a hundred times before, and it’s easy to find something if you know where to look. But if you were a consumer using your site for the first time, would you know what to do? User experience continues to be one of the most important aspects to consider when evaluating a website. Is your navigation easy to understand? If you’re on your phone, are you getting just as good of an experience as you would be getting on a laptop? Is it obvious what you need to do to see more content? Scroll? Swipe? Click?
Users don’t have much patience and will go somewhere else if they find the functionality of your site to be frustrating. Being cognizant of how your target consumer consumes media is fundamental in being sure your site has commonsense functionality.
- Are you pretty?
You probably put a lot of time and effort into making your site what it looks like today. But like anything that has a visual impact, every now and then you need to take a good long look to see if it still has that same appeal. Once you do that, you are on the way to one of the more manageable, yet certainly the most subjective, updates you can make.
Look at the colors. Do they line up with your brand everywhere else? Are they too bright and obnoxious on a screen? Are there too many?
Look at the fonts. Are they easy to read? Does it look like a child designed your site (see: comic sans)?
Look at the images. Sure, that one is of your store, but does it look like it was taken in the last decade? Is that stock image too “stocky”? Does your product or service come across as matching the experience that you know you deliver?
Look at the nothing. Is there too much white space? Is there so much content that your eye doesn’t know where to go?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and with more cooks in the kitchen, it can be hard to determine which way to skin the cat. Translation: This can be a very subjective process, and these questions will likely have different answers depending on whom you ask. Keep your feedback loop limited, and don’t over complicate it.
- Are you clear?
If you were to tell someone what they needed to know about your company, product or service in 60 seconds (your elevator pitch), would that story come across by scanning your site? User behavior is much more predicated on scanning content than diving deep to answer a question. It is important that the story you are telling throughout your website is easy to ascertain and told in a way that is engaging and makes people want to stick around longer.
Limit the amount of big text blocks and utilize more immersive content like images, video, infographics and features like search to make your website’s message as clear to the consumer as possible.
- Are you effective?
Last but certainly not least, and I can’t emphasize that enough, is making sure your website works. Remember that your website is not just a repository of all the information and content you could dig up about your company. It is a strategic vehicle in your marketing funnel that drives consumers toward that final action.
Your website should be laid out and designed to play that specific marketing role. Whether that is a place to learn more about your offering, to drive traffic to a sales center or to make a purchase online, your website shouldn’t contain any content or features that take away from that objective.
If you feel like your website is designed to do just that, then make sure you have established KPIs to measure performance to prove to your boss that it is indeed working the way it was designed.
These questions are easy to ask, and if your website is being honest with you, the answers should come pretty easy as well. Remember what role your website should play in your overall marketing efforts, and that should help take some of the subjectivity out of translating those answers.
If you do feel like you are struggling with the translation, however, then consider reaching out to a company that, amongst other things, updates websites.