When you visit a site, you do exactly what your customers do. You have an immediate reaction. It’s either, “These people understand me, they look like they’re at the top of their game, and they make it easy for me to get my questions answered, fast.” Or, “Ugh. Totally off-target. This site looks old and abandoned. I can’t even tell what they are selling, much less get my questions answered.”
If your site falls into the latter category, it’s time to redesign your website.
There are plenty of articles about the “10 reasons to update your website,” but I think, strategically, that your website redesign should be driven by three core principles. Your new site should:
- Exude success and passion.
- Make it obvious that you pay close attention to customers and the tiny details that improve their experience.
- Prove that your company is a thought leader, up to date on the latest trends, and constantly improving.
Let’s look at how you can pull all of this off.
Principle #1: Exuding success and passion.
Your site should be filled with proof of performance and success:
- Testimonials and case studies showcasing happy customers.
- Beaming executives talking about why they got into this business and how much they love solving problems for customers. Make the videos short—a couple of minutes each. People should be able to see your team and understand what gets them up in the morning.
- The “why” behind what you offer, from the customer’s perspective. Example: “The first thing we noticed was that everyone was frustrated by this one aspect, so we changed that in this product. Now you can do X without having to worry about Y.”
- News about achievements. Not so much “Aren’t we great?” pieces, but more along the lines of “This is going to make it so much easier for customers! We are so excited!”
- Statistics about how many customers you have served, how many problems you have solved, how many improvements have been made to your products or services.
In short, they should feel like they just walked into a wonderful environment where everyone is dedicated to helping customers and loving their work.
Principle #2: Pay attention to the customer, including tiny details.
If your site looks old and neglected, and like you couldn’t be bothered to keep it up to date, they will bounce out and keep looking. How do you know if your site looks out of date?
- Pick five of your biggest competitors. Take a hard look at their sites. That’s what your customers are doing. How does yours compare? Take screenshots of your home page and theirs, and display them side by side on your screen. Which one looks the most old-fashioned and stiff?
- Have you checked your copyright date lately? You might be surprised it is still stuck at 2017. This may seem like an insignificant matter, but an old copyright date is a terrible indication of company managers being asleep at the switch.
- How’s your navigation? Can they immediately see what they want to click on next, on every page? Do you know what they want to do next? Or do you give them too many confusing options?
- How are your products displayed? Services? Are your “latest offers” recent? Are you showing latest news or sale items obviously on the home page?
- Have you ever called a couple of current customers and asked them to go through the site with you while you record? I guarantee you will be surprised—and probably even saddened.
Principle #3: Prove that your company is up on the latest trends, and constantly improving.
You can’t be a thought leader if you are lagging behind. Being a thought leader comes from keeping up with what is going on, and then taking those observations a step further—putting all that information to use for your customers. How can you use these new ideas and tools to better meet their needs? How can you prove that you make this your business every single day?
- Your site should feel lively, fresh, and open, not boxed up. People are open to scrolling now, not like they were a few years ago. New = open.
- Even B2B customers expect self-service portals, customer reviews, and chat; an easy way to schedule an appointment with a salesperson; and transparent pricing.
- They expect to be able to visit your site from their desktop, tablet, or smartphone. If the pages don’t display properly, they will leave.
- Use of bots, AI, and sophisticated targeting methods are becoming the norm, not the exception; learn what others are doing and find ways to put these new technologies to work for your customers.
- Personalization is on the rise. Addressing different audiences differently, and speaking to specific uses of your product or service is the way to go. People are really tired of blah-blah generic marketing content.
- In my book, I talk about “selling the way your customers want to buy,” including understanding how much scrutiny your buyers apply to the process. The ultimate goal is to get them to the decision faster—by giving them exactly what they need at each step. How can you change a 15-step process into a 5-step process? Or a 5-step process into a “1-click” process for orders and reorders? A proper website design can do that for you.
- Going back to Principle #1, discussing these new technologies and methods, and how you are putting them to use, is yet another way to communicate your passion.
Of course, your site is not really up-to-date without these basics:
- Security—There should be an https: at the beginning of your site’s URL, not just http. If the “s” isn’t there, visitors will be warned that the site is not secure, and Google will ignore you. Get this fixed even before you redo your site. It’s easy—your site developer knows what to do.
- Search Engine Optimization—Best SEO practices include headlines, subheads, and content that is hierarchically structured for Google. All content should include your most important keyword phrases. You should know which keywords your competitors are being found for, so you can incorporate those phrases into your content. You should be refreshing your content frequently (you’d be surprised how frequently that really is—the most successful sites update their website every few days). Every page and post should have a clearly written meta description (the black text in the search engine results) that “sells the click.”
- Site Speed—Google will penalize you (and people will leave) if it takes too long for your site to load. There are always plenty of things you can do, such as reducing image sizes; minimizing use of complex coding; and more.
- Mobile friendliness—It’s true; some of our clients have more desktop visitors than mobile visitors. But even their customers still want to be able to visit by mobile every so often. And when they do, they will expect a clean, clear mobile experience.
- Ample Calls to Action (CTAs)—There should be more than one way to interact with your company on your site. A simple contact form just isn’t enough (most people assume no one will get back to them anyway). Chat is becoming standard. Figure out how to make it work for you.
Another article I’ve written that can help you in this endeavor, and when you are talking to website design services companies, include: Website Tech 101: How Websites are constructed.