Be honest with yourself – when was the last time you gave your website a thorough read through? When did you last look at it with a really critical eye?
This post offers some top tips to consider and reflect upon to improve your website. Some small edits can make a big difference.
1. Data Analysis
Whilst I am no expert user of Google Analytics or something similar, it is worth looking at some data related to your website before giving it a once over. Most website hosts, such as WordPress or SquareSpace, will be able to give you some basic information about your site and its pages, including how many visitors, length of visit, top visited pages, etc. Take a look at this and do a bit of analysis. Which pages are most popular? Which are rarely visited? Where are your website visitors from? How do they find your site?
Once you have answered these types of questions, consider how you can rework your website content to capitalise on this. So, for example, if all of your visitors are from America is it worth using American English. Or if a page is particularly popular, would a refresh encourage more visits and could you offer more links to that page to keep new visitors on the site longer. Those pages which are rarely visited may be unnecessary. Is it worth streamlining your site a little or adding the information contained on a less popular page to another page, and condensing the information?
2. Core information
I think the hardest thing for more small businesses is considering what is the core information customers will want to know and remembering to include it all. Forgetting the absolute obvious happens far too often. I have visited websites for physical places and yet found it really difficult to identify the location of the place, with a map or address details hidden somewhere at the bottom of a contact page or about us page. If I visited a page about a café, as lovely as it is to see photos of cakes and a description of the atmosphere, my priority is to find out where it is and when it is open! Make sure this information is not only on your website but is easy to find. Think about questions you get asked by those making enquiries or by first-time clients. Then consider, are the answers to these questions easily found on your website? If not, make that information more visible. Website visitors are ‘skimmers’ at best and you have seconds to grab their attention and put the information they are looking for front and centre. If they can’t find it, they will move on to another site.
How many of you are guilty of leaving a ‘Summer offer’ or ‘Christmas treat’ type piece of information on your homepage for months on end. It looks really lazy and suggests you haven’t visited your website or taken the time to do any kind of update for ages…not a good look for a vibrant ever-evolving small business.
Check other areas of your site for ‘outdated’ pieces of information – are your opening hours still accurate? Are prices all up-to-date and consistent? Good business practice is to do a price check at least annually – checking competitors and seeing what items could handle a small increase (or perhaps a decrease) to help sales.
Also, consider sections like your ‘About page’ – is the information there still relevant? A lot of people, when writing an about section, say things like they are just starting out or talk about past experiences which becomes less relevant as time goes by. The other thing is a lot of this type of information is not very future proof – so, for example, if you say ‘Really excited to start x this year’ or something about a product or item being ‘new’, it will date quickly. It’s ok to use this language but you have to make a note that the content will to be checked and updated regularly.
Finally, what can you add? Have you got or recently had any events you could mention? Have you won any awards? Have you expanded your business, but not added this to your website? Make sure your content is up-to-date and all encompassing.
4. Proofread and check wording
A thorough proofread is always worthwhile and if you finished your website a while ago and haven’t changed any of the main pages since, you will proofread a lot more effectively. Or get someone else to do!
Don’t only look for typos or grammatical mistakes, also consider your wording choices. As your business changes and develops, check your style and tone matches where your business is right now. Is your website ‘on message’? Does it match the style of other content you offer?
You can do a bit of SEO checking and enhancing too – learn more about SEO here – but don’t get bogged down in it!
You can often feel that after 3-5 years a big website overhaul is needed, and then the thought of having to do an entirely new website becomes completely overwhelming and your website remains the same for at least another couple of years! If you don’t have much time, why not update the images? You can take great quality photographs easily, with a resolution high enough for a website, on most smartphones. You probably have a whole stash of images of your products, clients or shop front. With a good ‘DIY’ type website, it is really simple to go in and update any photos and give your site a fresh modern feel on a regular basis. Images are so important for a good eye-catching website these days. Don’t forget to add alt text and descriptions.
The other option is to use some stock images. Make sure you check any copyright and get the relevant permission (and make payment, if necessary) or stick to copyright and royalty free stock images available at sites, such as Stock Snap or Unsplash, just to name a couple.
Don’t create a beautiful website and then leave it to get ‘old and dusty’ …go and give it a ‘once over’! If you want a second pair of eyes, then give me a shout.