So your business has been around for a few years and your website is starting to look a little tired. It certainly doesn’t reflect the brand you’ve spent the last few years building and from a functionality point of view, it’s missing some key bells and whistles.
It’s time to upgrade!
Before you start the wheels in motion, however, it’s worth knowing this: online design is evolving at a mad rate. Things that were ‘nice to have’ as recently as a year ago are absolute essentials today. If you built your existing website more than a year ago … things have definitely changed!
Here are 10 things we believe every new website design in 2016 should include:
1. Your story
The best way to create a connection with people visiting your website is to share your story. (People like doing business with people. We all know this.)
So you need to ensure your About page (which is the second most visited page on any website after the home page) tells people:
- Who you are,
- What you’re about,
- What value you can bring to their lives and, most importantly,
- Why you’re the best person to deliver that value.
Of course, design also plays a huge part in storytelling. If you’ve engaged a great designer you’re in luck because they’ll ensure every element of your new website design – imagery, fonts, colours and layout – plays a part in the story you’re trying to tell.
2. Great copywriting
It’s really important that the text on your website does a few things:
- Gives people the information they’re seeking in as few words as possible.
- Conveys your brand personality.
- Builds trust.
- Conveys the value you bring to people’s lives.
If you’re trying to write your own web copy and feel frustrated that you’re struggling to tick all of the above boxes, don’t be. Even really great writers struggle to write their own web copy because no one writes about themselves well. So my big tip here is to write the first draft of your web copy yourself … and then hand it over to a copywriter to fine tune and finesse.
While tightly written copy goes a long way to telling your story and communicating what you can do for people, nothing conveys the value you add to people’s lives like great testimonials from your clients. Here at Swish we can say “we’re easy to work with” or “we’re great designers” till the cows come home, but it’s never going to be as powerful as a client testimonial that says “I have to say a special thank you to the team at Swish Design for the transformation they have brought into my business this year. Their generosity, professionalism and kindness are qualities not regularly found together in one company!”
How many testimonials should your website have? As many as you can gather.
Where should they go? Everywhere on your website. But especially on your home page and any page that states the services you provide.
4. Mobile-friendly design
Exactly one year ago Google updated its algorithm to detect whether a site was mobile-friendly or not. This took having a mobile-friendly website design (something many people weren’t willing to pay for back then) from being ‘nice to have’ to ‘essential’.
Nowadays, Google isn’t the only reason you want to have a mobile-friendly design. The fact is, more than 50% of website viewing these days is done on mobile devices. This means every website needs to:
- Look visually amazing on a desktop/laptop computer.
- Look neat and tidy and load quickly on a mobile device.
There are two ways to go about this:
- Have a separate mobile website to your main website.
- Have a website design that is responsive.
There are pros and cons to both of these and they are broken down here.
5. Intuitive page names and simple navigation structure
For a while there people were getting pretty cute with their page names and navigation. Mostly because they felt a need to ‘be different from everyone else’. So, instead of calling the About page ‘About’, they were calling it things like ‘Hey, get down with us’.
Here’s the thing – you don’t want to make the people who are visiting your website think. As soon as they have to think, they’re going to click away.
So don’t bury your contact page three clicks deep in the main menu. And call your pages what they are: About, Services, Contact or Who We Are, What We Do, Contact Us. Keep things logical and intuitive when it comes to page names and navigation.
If you want to show your brand personality, there’s plenty of opportunity to do that elsewhere on the site (your imagery, design and content).
6. Super-simple SEO
SEO does not need to be complicated. There are some SEO basics that every good website has: unique urls, meta titles, meta descriptions, and image alt tags on each page. If your site is built on WordPress, a simple plugin installation will allow you to input all of the above for every page yourself.
Get these basics right, give Google a bit of time, do some good content marketing … and your site will be well on its way to good rankings for the type of highly local, long-tail queries most search engines users are typing in these days. (ie No one ever types in ‘web designer’ any more, they search for ‘web designer perth’.)
7. A blog
This is something we’ve been telling our clients to have on their website for years. And the ones who listened are now reaping the benefits from:
- An SEO point of view.
- Having another avenue for showing the personality behind their business.
- Establishing themselves as authorities in their industry.
- Having something they can share on social media that drives traffic back to their website.
- Building goodwill with clients and prospects by sharing information that is incredibly useful for free.
If your business hasn’t started using blogging and content marketing as a business building strategy yet, it’s never too late.
8. A strong lead magnet
If you’ve been in business for even a short length of time, you will have heard this: your most valuable marketing tool is your email list.
Why is an email list so valuable?
The main reason is that, with few exceptions, the people your business is trying to reach/attract check their email every day. Those same people:
- Change the channels during the ads on TV.
- Are not necessarily on Facebook or Instagram.
- Ignore flashing banner ads on websites.
- Have eyes that skim over newspaper advertisements and billboards.
But they ALL check their email.
This is why it’s absolutely crucial to have a strong lead magnet on your website that builds your email list. Being invited into someone’s inbox in this day and age gives you a level of access you just can’t get via any other marketing medium.
9. Strong security
We’re so reliant on our websites these days:
- They’re a 24/7 salesforce for us,
- They represent our brand online and
- They’re the place we drive people to via all our various marketing efforts.
Our business websites are our online homes. The same way we do things to keep our actual homes safe and secure, so too do we need to protect our online homes.
No matter what platform your website is built on, or what website server it is hosted on, there will be security risks from hackers, and risks of loss from acts of god (like say a fire taking out the data centre where your website is hosted). So it’s important that when you build your new website, you also build in ‘insurance’ like weekly backups to two separate locations (cloud and local) and protection from hackers.
10. The ability to evolve
In the past, websites were often ‘set and forget’. Once you’d done the work to build a beautiful new website, you could leave it to do its work as an online brochure for a couple of years.
Those days are done.
The online world is changing so fast it’s essential that you’re able to evolve your website as and when needed. This is why we love the WordPress platform for building CMS (Content Management System) websites.
- You can extend the capabilities of any WordPress website quickly and easily with plugins.
- WordPress makes it super easy to update your site content and imagery yourself.
- Its code is clean and well set up for all SEO considerations.
- And if you ever want to give a WordPress website a complete visual overhaul, you don’t have to rebuild the entire site from scratch – you can get a new custome theme designed, coded and applied to the existing site.
Now all of the above might make it sound like it’s easier to put that intended website revamp straight into the ‘too hard basket’. But they’re all things your web designer/developer can take care of for you very easily.
And if ever you catch yourself wondering what the different between a $2000 website and $8000 website might be … hopefully you’ve got your answer now 🙂