When’s the last time you updated your website or created new content?
I recently walked by a store I use to shop at years ago. Being so busy and with the convenience of purchasing everything online, I haven’t been there in a while. I felt nostalgic as I looked in the window. I saw that they were weathered from our East Coast winter. As I went in, I instantly felt that it hadn’t been kept-up well. The displays weren’t modern, the featured items weren’t attention-grabbing and it could have been just generally neater and better put together. I wondered if it had deteriorated or if it had always been this way and I just hadn’t noticed.
Either way, I left without purchasing a thing. Truth be told, I probably will not return. Why would I when there are so many other options, so readily available, that clearly take the extra time and effort to win my business. Harsh? Maybe. But that is the reality of our modern world. Make no mistake, your website IS your storefront. You may not actually have merchandise to sell, but you are selling yourself and your business along with it every time someone visits it.
“Store windows are like landing pages on the website.”
– Angela Ahrendts
We all know how hard it is to get someone to even “walk in” and browse. Thus, logic would have it that if and when they do, they will have the best and most impressive experience that can possibly be provided. As a long-time business owner myself, I know and appreciate the ever-present need to monitor expenses and cut corners where I can. But if there is one place I will invest and reinvest time and time again, that is my website. Without hesitation. The window to my work will be pristine and portray my professional brand exactly as I want to be showcased.
“Websites promote you 24/7: No employee will do that.”
– Paul Cookson
So, other than the obvious immediate look and feel, how do you know if your website is as effective as it can be?
Here are seven basic factors to help evaluate your website’s overall health:
- Speed – How long does it take your pages to load? Are you losing visitors and traffic to slow loading times?
This is a visitor’s first impression. As the old saying goes, you may not get a second one and this could domino into a lot more than just one potential loss. Sherice Jacob states “According to surveys done by Akamai and Gomez.com, nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less, and they tend to abandon a site that isn’t loaded within 3 seconds. 79% of web shoppers who have trouble with website performance say they won’t return to the site to buy again and around 44% of them would tell a friend if they had a poor experience shopping online.”
- Reliability – does your site experience downtime?
Your website needs to be available for visiting at all times. This is equivalent to a store being closed during their posted business hours. The client will not wait by the door for it to open. They will go to the next store. That is almost a guarantee.
- Compatibility – is your site compatible with all web browsers and various mobile screen sizes?
Would you offer a shirt in only one size? Would you have only one item, in only one style? We live in a world of choices. Different phones, different screens, different browsers – and it needs to look good, in every option.
- Security – Is your site secure? Is it safe from hackers and malware? If you accept payments or process purchases, are you protecting your customers properly?
Would you leave your cash register opened and unattended? Would you call out a client’s credit card number over the store paging system? Your site being ultra-secure is not just a ‘best-business practice’ but could prevent criminal activity such as theft and fraud. That may equal to more than just lost revenue – it could lead to legal headaches.
- Functionality – How well does your site function for users? Have you tested buttons and checked for broken links lately? How are your navigation and search options?
This is akin to unnecessary clutter, damaged mannequins and missing price tags. Broken links are just sloppy. Keep navigation simple and logical. No one ever enjoys a cumbersome experience.
“Great web design without functionality is like a sports car with no engine.”
– Paul Cookson
- Content – Is your content unique? Is it professional? Is it engaging?
Think of this as the physical cleanliness of the store. Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors are messy. Too many different fonts make you appear inattentive and careless. Content needs to be captivating, well written and properly presented.
- Optimization – is your site showing up in search rankings? Are you getting adequate traffic?
Last but not least, you need to get people in the door. They need to see your door to walk in. Vinny La Barbera gives us some facts that are hard to ignore: “Search is the #1 driver of traffic to content sites, beating social media by more than 300%. SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate.”
We have heard from many entrepreneurs that have “revising their website” as one of their top priorities for the new year. It’s easy to let to-do lists slip among the daily grind of small business operations. We appreciate that it can often be intimidating to even know where to start. So we’re offering a complimentary review! Our team of experts will provide you with a customized website review. We will target the top 12 factors, what is lacking, and what improvements are needed to take your site from where it is to where it can be and should be. Contact us for more information!
“There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.”
– Milton Glaser