Are you looking to market a new product online? Maybe traffic is down, or maybe you want a new look to your website. Whatever the reason may be, there are a few good tips one should keep in mind when going through a website redesign. Try not to focus too much initially on the aesthetics of the website. Functionality and user experience should be your top priorities when looking to redesign. You definitely want exposure to your website, which is why we’ll go over some key points on search engine optimization (SEO). Similar to website appearance, you don’t want SEO to be the sole focus of your web design. Reasons to undertake website redesign include:
- Improving the overall user experience on your site
- Optimizing for mobile use
- Promoting new services or products
- Improving SEO
- Increasing the amount of revenue generated by your website
- Changing the visual appeal
Analyzing website performance
Before you begin the actual website redesign phase, you need to research how your website is performing. You do this by looking at metrics. You obtain those performance metrics from analytics. Those analytics can come from a variety of web analytics tools like Google Analytics, Mint, or Kissmetrics. The data provided by web analytics tools help you determine what works and what doesn’t after implementing whatever changes you want to make to your web design. The data from the analytics tools are used as a baseline to compare with future website performance. When reviewing performance metrics, be careful not to focus too much on what is known as “vanity” metrics. An example of a vanity metric is a high number of visits to your website. Great, you have a lot of hits, but that does not tell the whole story. Better metric: How many of these visitors convert into leads or actual customers? If users are getting to your website and not sticking around to sign up or purchase anything, having a lot of traffic means very little. Therefore, make sure you focus on the metrics that matter.
A few metrics to consider:
- Number of subscribers to email or blogs
- Total number of online sales
- Number of users that take a call to action
- Bounce rates
Let’s look at a couple of these metrics in more detail. First, a call to action is when a visitor makes a purchase, fills out a form for a subscription, or browses to other pages on a website. Bounce rates measure how often a user arrives on a website’s landing page, does not navigate to any other page on that site, and does not take a call to action. The bounce rate is the percentage of users, that for whatever reason, be it lack of user friendliness or simply not finding what they are looking for, do not do anything on the website beyond getting to the landing page. Now, let's review tips to improve these metrics when changing the web design.
Optimizing user experience
Forty percent of visitors abandon a website if a page takes more than three seconds to load. This is why I emphasized above that a great user experience needs to be top priority. Without a good user experience, people become frustrated and don't stick around. This means navigation buttons should work properly, the site should be mobile friendly, and pages should load quickly. A good method for preventing slow page loading times is to avoid self-loading multimedia content and pop-up ads. Personally, nothing can be more annoying than having a website take forever to fully load because of a pop-up ad. You can test how quickly pages on your website load with tools available online such as Pingdom and Yottaa’s Website Test.
External links on your website should be set to open in a separate browser window or tab. Hosting your own videos also contributes to slow page loading times. Instead, consider having your videos embedded with a third-party service such as Vimeo or YouTube. Another tip for a better user experience is to make sure your site is optimized for mobile usage. As of this year, mobile traffic has surpassed desktop by about ten percent and is expected to continue growing.
Next, let’s focus on how to attract visitors to your website. We do this by improving SEO rankings. Having the right keywords to attract the targeted audience minimizes bounce rates. Again, you learn about your site’s visitors by analyzing metrics. From this you can determine the following:
- Where are the visitors coming from?
- What keywords are most effective in attracting visitors?
- How much time do visitors spend on each webpage?
Continually changing or adding content to your site will no doubt improve SEO rankings. A good strategy to keep content ongoing is through blogging. Companies that blog have seen a 63 percent increase in their traffic as compared to sites that do not blog at all.One more thing that is often overlooked regarding SEO is not preserving URLs when making changes to the web design. When you change a URL, it will hurt SEO rankings because search engines store webpages in their cache. Even if you change the URL on a single page on your site, links will be broken and rankings will take a hit. Try preserving URLs, but if you must change them for any reason, use 301 redirects. 301 redirects are commands that let search engines know a page or entire site has moved and should be indexed.
Make sure that navigation is efficient. A good practice is to use “breadcrumb” navigation. It’s a secondary form of navigation and should never be a replacement for your main navigation buttons. If there is a lot of content on your site, then breadcrumbs offer an easy way for visitors to know where they are in a website’s hierarchy in order to navigate with fewer actions like using the back button. Also, the homepage should link to all other pages on the site such as the contact, about page, and so forth.
From a marketing standpoint, great visual appeal will attract visitors and result in great first impressions. Keep in mind that a good user experience engages visitors and is likely to convert them to your call to action. Though not an easy task, balancing the two will ensure a successful website.
When was your website’s last check up? Time for preventative maintenance?
CATMEDIA is an award-winning Inc. 500 company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1997, the company specializes in advertising, creative services, media production, program management, training, and human resource management. As a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB), CATMEDIA provides world-class customer service and innovative solutions to government and commercial clients. Current CATMEDIA clients include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
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