9 questions to consider when designing or reviewing your website.
Currently, there is a deluge of articles relating to Google’s forthcoming requirement that, for your business to rank on mobile search, it is necessary that your website is mobile-friendly. We will be undertaking that change on behalf of a client, shortly and in preparing to do so, it made me reflect on website credibility in general, and how far I’ve personally come in the last two years.
Of course starting off, we all imagine that our site will be the ‘go to’ site in our industry and jump into building our award-winning offering. After all don’t we just need to embed our business video, publish a white paper and have a chat room to attract our ‘target’ audience? What helped me two years ago were the 9 questions (see tips below), a web developer asked me when I was on the baby slopes of digital visibility.
After we launched our site, I devoured numerous blogs/articles on digital marketing which had me spending my time trying to ‘outthink’ the spiders. In order to battle our way to the top of the search page (SERP), we were filling up our pages with plug-ins and keywords. I’m slowly learning that the ‘user’ is the focus and in this regard, our site will always be work-in-progress.
Here are some of the questions I still ask myself about maintaining a relevant and credible online presence. Does any of them strike a chord with you?
- If an audience engages our service, should we not deal directly with them instead of pushing them to our website?
- Aren’t all pages, landing pages? Does anyone need a homepage?
- Shouldn’t high ‘bounce rates’ be a good thing? If somebody quickly gets what they want from our site, it has delivered on their expectation. (Also, the statistic that almost 40% of visitors won’t wait longer than 3 seconds for a page to launch surely tells us something)
- Shouldn’t a website do just three things – tell people who you are, how you can help them and facilitate a purchase / CTA if required.
The answer to these thoughts could fill an eBook entirely, but suffice to say that they are always in the back of my mind when reviewing our online visibility. I wanted to share them with you.
Having website credibility is a must.
Needless to say, just by having traffic on a website does not mean your business is an overnight success. Obviously traffic does not equal sales, especially as Google algorithm updates keep changing the goalposts. If visitors believe what they read on your site and it’s relevant to what they want – they are going to reward you with engagement. The visitor/customer just wants information, education or entertainment so we need to deliver on this, and not spend our time trying to game the system. Semantic search is here and not too soon in our opinion.
The visitor/customer just wants to be informed, educated or entertained so we need to deliver on this and not spend our time trying to game the system. Semantic search is here and not too soon in our opinion.
Think about it – there are so many excellent tools out there now that allow us to create, curate and distribute relevant content for people. The danger is that sometimes the website we are driving them towards doesn’t live up to their expectations when they get there. And I repeat, this is usually down to relevancy and credibility.
Here is a marvellous Slideshare presentation from Bruce Kasanoff, which lists 31 specific elements of website credibility. Bruce contends that for your site to be credible, it needs to succeed on six levels:
- Look and Feel
- Who stands behind your promises
- Who believes in you
- Why should I care
- How do I (your prospect) take the next step
- Don’t ignore the absolute basics
Maintaining your website credibility.
Hand on heart – until I started up our business two years ago, from a punter’s point of view, I wouldn’t have given website design a second thought. Now that I am exposed to the dynamism of the digital world, I realise that staying up to date with developments is the norm rather than the rule.
Whereas the levels mentioned above are essential when reviewing/ designing your site, here are four things that I believe must be constantly checked if you want to maintain website credibility. The first and foremost thing is having your site, mobile device friendly. The world is going mobile (e.g. wearables etc.), but there has been enough written on this topic already, so I’m not going to duplicate the effort
Even if it is device responsive – you need to constantly check on your own smartphone/tablet to ensure that links etc. are working. Credibility goes out the window if somebody clicks a link and finds out that it doesn’t work. The next thing is that you really should have social sharing buttons on your pages. Even if you don’t bother with social sites yourself (?), it’s a wasted opportunity for brand awareness and annoying for the reader if they want to share with others.
The one that really cracks me up is not keeping a blog (or social site timelines displayed on your website), fresh and up to date. I mean, if you have a tab for a company blog and it hasn’t been updated in a year, what does that say, about your efficiency. Use it or lose it, I say.
Site speed is the last one. I’ve recently become much more fussy about this. I have less patience (could be old age, of course), with pages that take longer than usual to open. There are too many tools available for increasing your site speed to allow site owners away with this one.
Tips and Timesavers.
I remember meeting our own web designer for the first time. I was nervous because, as I said earlier, I had never been exposed to the ‘other side’ of a website. In fairness, he asked me some very relevant questions to guide me, which I am going to repeat here as tips that will save you time and effort:
- Do you know what you want the site to do for you
- Who will be the hosting account (do you have an existing domain name)
- What is your budget (what does it include)
- Have you any examples of other sites that you like
- Will it be device responsive (now an imperative)
- Have you brand principles that need following (logo, colours etc.)
- Who will be updating the website on an ongoing basis
- Will there be a web shop element required
- Will you need ongoing webmaster support
Once you have agreed on how to move forward, based on answers to the above questions, the creative designer in you gets a chance to shine. Consider such things as colour, font, imagery but most of all usability and simplicity.
Have you checked if your website is mobile friendly recently? Put your company website address into Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test here, and see if you’re really ready for the world.
“We hope you have enjoyed our marketing tips and timesavers blog” – Aidan & Jim.
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