Is your small business website helping or hindering your business?
If you’re like most small businesses, your website is outdated, and not helping you to increase revenues and sales.
Even worse, your website might be completely disconnected from the brand you’ve been building.
Here are 7 key reasons why you should consider redesigning your website.
- You aren’t getting the results you want
- You updated your brand or marketing strategy but not your site
- Your website is designed for you, not for your customers
- Your site isn’t responsive or mobile-friendly
- You want more effective content
- You want to incorporate a design trend or best practice
- Your site is slow or suffers from bad usability
Let’s look at each of these in detail to help you assess how you can make your website design work for you, rather than against you.
1. You aren’t getting the results you want
Probably one of the most straightforward reasons to revisit your website’s design is that it’s just not working the way you’d like it to.
Perhaps your site’s e-commerce performance isn’t living up to expectations, or you’re not getting as many conversions you’d like.
A redesign or revamp might be the thing you need to fix these issues.
Often you don’t need to redo the entire site to boost performance or address an issue. Redesigning just a section of your site, or reevaluating how your customers get from point A to point B (also known as a “user flow”) might be all you need.
A famous example of how a small change can have a considerable effect is Jared Spool’s “$300 million button”. Jared explains:
It’s hard to imagine a form that could be simpler: two fields, two buttons, and one link. Yet it turns out this form was preventing customers from purchasing products from a major e-commerce site, to the tune of $300,000,000 a year.
Here’s the design change that shocked the business:
The designers fixed the problem simply. They took away the Register button. In its place, they put a Continue button with a simple message: “You do not need to create an account to make purchases on our site. Simply click Continue to proceed to checkout. To make your future purchases even faster, you can create an account during checkout.”
The results: The number of customers purchasing went up by 45%. The extra purchases resulted in an extra $15 million the first month. For the first year, the site saw an additional $300,000,000.
What “fixes” the problems on your site might not such an easy fix, but you won’t know unless you try.
If your site’s issues are more fundamental, you may need to do a complete overhaul or refresh of the design.
Keep in mind that the potential effects of a website redesign on your conversion rate are unknown without testing the changes. It’s not enough to redesign – you should also consider how you’ll test the new elements to ensure that they’re performing better.
Marketers and business owners usually go into a website redesign without a process in place to test the page templates and landing page elements that are being changed. For more about website design testing, we recommend you read How A/B Testing Can Help Your Small Business increase Conversions and Revenues.
2. You updated your brand or marketing strategy
Brand and marketing strategies are fluid, living things.
It’s important that they adapt to changes in the business environment and shifts in your audience’s demographics or desires.
If you’ve changed your company’s logo and branding or overall marketing strategy, it is critical to update your website.
Many small businesses assume that brands start and end with their business name and logo, and overlook all of the other important marketing content that is a part of any substantial branding effort.
As we wrote previously:
A brand is more than logo design. But marketing efforts can fall flat if you lose credibility with your marketing collateral. You must keep an eye on branding (easier for the world’s biggest brands – they can spend billions building their brands) because it’s too easy to make a branding mistake that can cripple your small business. For example, if your branding is inconsistent or consistently poor in email and content marketing campaigns, people will notice.
Your website is a critical component of your brand, and as your marketing strategy evolves, your site should as well.
After all, your website and your brand should work in tandem. A misalignment can damage not only your brand but also your customer’s trust.
BrandExtract, a branding firm with over a century of experience, explains the importance of maintaining consistent branding:
A consistent brand helps increase the overall value of your company by reinforcing your position in the marketplace, attracting better quality customers with higher retention rates and raising the perceived value of your products or services….In contrast, erratic, inconsistent behavior quickly leads to confusion and mistrust.
Make sure consumers see consistent branding in every interaction with your website. It provides them increased familiarity with your brand, which inspires confidence and trust in your brand.
3. Your website is designed for you, not your customers
A common issue for many sites is they were designed with the company’s needs first.
You can see this in sites where the website’s navigation uses vague internal terms like “Back Office Services” or the names of your company’s various divisions.
This visual structure of your company might make sense to you, but it’s often bewildering or confusing to your customers.
Another example of misguided site design is ones that prioritize company information over the products or services you sell.
If you’re looking for a way to display information about your business that is important, but not relevant to your customers, try putting it in a less prominent place.
One of the reasons many companies stick their corporate info at the bottom of the page is so it’s out of the way of the main content but still accessible.
Amazon puts all of their corporate information in the footer of their page. This allows their products to take precedence but keeps the links on the page, so they’re still accessible.
Your customers expect your site to clearly show them how to get to the things important to them. If your company’s forte is information, your site should be structured and designed to get customers in front of that information quickly.
If you sell products or services, your site should be optimized so customers can access these things with as little friction as possible.
Try to look at your site as if you were the customer.
Think about your customer’s goals and the reason they use your site. How many clicks does it take for a customer to achieve their primary goal? Consider whether they are buying an item, signing up for an account, or reading an article.
A redesign of your site can adjust the priority of the layout so what’s most important is easier to find.
A good first step is to talk to your customers – both existing ones as well as potential ones. Find out what’s important to them, and get them in front of your site to offer their opinion.
As we wrote, customer interviews will help you identify your customers’ wants, needs, and motivations.
When you interview customers, you foster a direct line of communication that will give you valuable insight into their feelings about their experience with your product and branding. This information can help you identify any pain points, and will allow you to explore exactly how to update your website.
4. Your site isn’t responsive or mobile-friendly
According to research by comscore, mobile users spend more than double the minutes online than desktop users.
If your website isn’t “responsive” – that is, if it doesn’t adapt its layout for screens of many different sizes (desktop, mobile, tablet, etc.), you may be presenting your users with a subpar experience.
You’ve probably experienced it yourself, where a site you’ve visited required you to zoom in and painstakingly pan around to get to what you were looking for.
If that’s your site, it’s time for an update.
The amount of work required to rejig an existing site to be mobile-friendly often means a complete redesign is more effective.
Need another reason to go responsive?
Consider how people search for something.
According to Google, over 48% of all users started their search for something on a mobile device.
This fact is in itself not a reason to be alarmed until you take into consideration Google penalizes sites that are not mobile-friendly in its search results. As the company stated:
…we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high-quality search results that are optimized for their devices.
With the number of customers using a mobile device as their primary way of accessing the web continuing to go up, having a site that works just as well on a desktop computer as it does on a mobile device is critical.
5. You want more effective content
Content is king.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, 70% of the surveyed B2B marketers say they are creating more content this year than in the prior year.
To execute a successful content marketing strategy, you need to be very familiar with your target audience. Developing user personas is a great way to do this. As we wrote,
Personas are helpful. Whether you’re marketing, selling, creating, or providing customer service, these fictional characters help businesses relate to customers as actual people, rather than anonymous numbers.
When you know your target audience, you can connect with them better by offering targeted, relevant content that will lead to significantly better conversion rates.
But most websites were not designed to showcase content. Even if you have a blog, it might be lost in your website navigation and might look like it was designed in 1997.
If you want to take advantage of content marketing, you should be sure that your website design can support the content you plan to create and share.
6. You want to incorporate a new design trend or best practice
No one wants to be seen as out-of-date or behind the times, and leveraging design trends can be an excellent way to refresh the look of your website.
As we said in our look at this year’s web design trends:
A dated or poor looking website design can make even the best businesses appear non-professional and unreliable.
If you want your business to thrive, you have to stand out and one good way to do so is to take advantage of hot website design trends to give your website or landing page a sharp, contemporary feel.
Adding a trend to your site isn’t as clearcut as dropping it into your layout. Whatever trend you choose and how you integrate it into your site should be tied directly to your brand and your marketing strategy.
It’s also vital that you weigh the benefits of a particular trend against the understanding that trends change. What may seem fresh and of-the-moment today could look ridiculous a couple of years from now (we’re looking at you, legwarmers).
Trends may be a great way to keep your site looking current, but adding one means committing to updating your site when the trend moves on. This isn’t a bad thing: you want your site design to stay fresh, after all.
7. Your site is slow
A site that plain doesn’t work or works terribly is one of the most critical reasons to redesign. You don’t want a poorly working site to weigh down your brand or lower your customer’s trust, do you?
According to studies by content distribution network provider Akamai, a two-second delay in webpage loading time increases “bounce rate” (the number of people who immediately leave a site) by a whopping 103%.
Not only that: 53% of mobile site visitors will leave if a page takes longer than three seconds to load.
With attention being the most important currency customers spend online, losing site visitors due to poor performance can put a big dent in your company’s fortunes.
Just ask Amazon.
The company once reported that a 100-millisecond increase in site speed resulted in a 1% increase in revenue.
Google created a tool for web developers to test the speed of their pages. It’s called PageSpeed Insights and it’s very easy to use. You simply enter your site’s URL in the form and press the Analyze button.
The results are quite technical but should give you an idea of how well your site performs.
A redesign is an excellent way to improve site performance. Think of it like moving homes: the change allows you to reevaluate what’s important enough to keep, and what can be removed.
Use a critical eye to go over all of the elements on your site’s pages. Make each one fight for its survival: does it help your customers achieve what they came to your site for? If it doesn’t, removing the element may help speed things up.
At the very least, “cleaning house” is a great way to optimize your site for your customer’s goals, and ultimately that’s what your site exists for in the first place.
How your business website looks and works reflect on your business. It can either help or hurt your revenues and profits.
Your website may not be working as well as you’d like now, but you’re only one redesign away from one that does.
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