Most micro and small businesses started a company website at launch in order to establish a brand identity, build credibility with potential buyers, cross temporal communication barriers, create another opportunity for lead generation or customer education, or even conduct online sales. However, as the company has grown and more information has been added, the site has lost its focus, become difficult to navigate, and/or compromised the brand. The effects of these challenges can appear as decreased e-commerce or lead generation activity, negative feedback from users, or lack of contact made with the right customers. To remedy this, we recommend a thorough site review—in the form of our Site Review Report™. To provide those of you who like to do it yourself a foundation to work from, here are some key guidelines to consider when seeking to improve your existing website:
- Assess the current activity. To best understand what changes to make, you’ll need to know what is happening on your site. Take a look at the reports and statistics that come with your hosting plan. If they are insufficient, supplement them with a Google Analytics account. Looking at the numbers is an important first step in any site re-design project.
- Plan to put other data collection mechanisms into place. Consider what you need to know about customers to be successful, including demographics and psychographics. Design the necessary mechanisms or forms to capture that data if it isn’t readily available.
- Be clear about the product or service you’re positioning and its relationship to “online.” It sounds easy, but oftentimes we are so familiar with our product or service offerings that we forget what someone needs to know and understand when encountering it for the first time. Looking at the offering with an outsider’s point of view is important to see how others will respond it. Oftentimes, a professional external review is helpful.
- Make sure your content speaks to the intended audience with a clear, consistent, well-thought-out marketing message. Based on the above and an understanding of your market, scrutinize the content to identify any barriers to successful communication. Ensure all visual images support your message.
- Ensure the site is structured to meet your purpose. Users should be able to move through your site with ease and ultimately act according to your desired outcome. Consider the amount of information presented per page and anticipate reader reactions. Is the layout of each page engaging? Develop a sitemap or outline to get a sense of the current organizational pattern, restructuring content as necessary to streamline navigation. Verify that all links deliver expected content and incorporate only the technologies that are appropriate to your audience.
- Develop original, applicable, and up-to-date content. You might want to enlist the help of a professional copywriter if necessary to develop content that is unique to your business and relevant to your market.
- Control for quality, test, and measure results. Proofread the results carefully. Conduct preliminary testing, even if it is informal. (We have even done this with friends and colleagues and received incredibly astute feedback, although the best bet is with intended users.) If you have budget, formal user testing can be implemented. Revisit your reports and statistics to identify changes and new trends. Adapt and update your site as needed.
While these are just some considerations to get you started, TDA’s Site Review Report™ is a complete analysis of your site with easy-to-implement, specific recommendations and a good investment in achieving online results. If you have any concerns about your website, we can help!
More Resources & Stuff You Can Do:
- View a sample table of contents (Note: Actual contents vary based on site type and budget.)
- Contact us for an estimate
- Check out a basic intro for startup websites on Slideshare
P.S. This post was adapted from a previously published quarterly e-newsletter article. If you want more helpful marketing advice like this but only once a quarter, please sign up.