Ideally, websites should be revamped every 6 months for Organisations in software, web technology or online marketing. Another measure is if your website is one that people visit daily or frequently, like say news sites, then you need to deliver fresh content matching this visit frequency and a new look every 6 months.
For all others, although not a must, at least once in a year is imperative if one is serious about leveraging the Internet’s benefits. Last year’s great site is no longer great today. In today’s Web 2.0 world this is happening every moment due to rapidly changing technology.
Well, so there it is – you are now revamping your website and would like to get the maximum bang out of every buck you spent. This is what most enterprises want but do not know how. Being experts in their line of business, most business executives cannot be expected to know much about websites and their related intricacies.
So this then is the typical problem put to me by our new clients, wary after their earlier revamp got poor feedback from customers or registered fewer hits leading to lesser business emanating from the site.
Having encountered this quite many a times, especially in these recessionary times when budget cuts, hiring freeze, declining sales etc are common, the need for having an up to date, better looking website with richer content has now become more important than ever. Hence, I thought its high time to respond to what my clients ask – “Ajay, why don’t you, as usual, write on this and make it available to those desiring to effectively deal with this issue?” And the result is this article freely available to one and all at our knowledge centre.
Coming to the issue head on, here it is:
1. Do it at least once every year. A revamp does not mean one has to completely overhaul the website – do small incremental changes that lead to better layout, color combo or updated content. This profoundly impacts business positively.
2. Good websites are those with strong design but Great websites are those with informative content coupled, no doubt, with strong design. (Now, did I hear, what’s content – Well, to that I say “Content is King” – euphemisms apart, content is all the information a browser gets through the text, images, videos/movie clips, diagrams, links and downloads available easily on your website.
3. What’s your strategy? Strategize in terms of how your website:
a.Adds to your bottom line by attracting new customers.
b.Interfaces with existing customers resulting in better retention.
c.Reduces communication costs.
d.Gets across latest product launches, events, happenings, improvements not only to external customers but internal ones too.
e.Attracts sales leads, RFQ’s and order closing.
4. Be User-centric – Conceptualize your website by putting yourself in your prospective and existing customers’ shoes. What would they need and like? Do not use this for self-expression or as an exercise in style. If visitors like your website only then will your cash register ring! Think about the different profiles of people who visit your website – age, education, location, function/department, information needs, one-time purchaser or repeat orders and so on… Does your target audience look for flashy, colourful presentations with audio coupled in, relevant to fashion/event/entertainment websites, or it is the suited, booted and tied variety of people, whose attention span vanishes after the initial 2 minutes, that will visit your website? – Here clean, robust looks with great knowledge-filled content and simple straight forward navigational elements that downloads fast is what would work. While it is important that your website looks clean and professional, it is far more important that you concentrate your efforts on the content and promotion.
If you want a professional website, stay away from:
i. Date and time stamps, unless your website is updated daily or weekly.
ii. Busy backgrounds.
iii. Freeware Hit counters, which say “you are nth visitor”.
iv. Too many Flash movies, animations or moving texts.
v. More than 3-4 pop up or pop under boxes.
vi. Auto play music. Allow your customer to play music only if they choose.
5. Have a clear path you would want your visitors to take and build the website’s navigation around it. Have clear but little actionable points scattered along this path where you would want to lead your visitors in to taking some action on the content you have put up.
6. Get views of all your departmental heads and integrate them in to a cohesive, well-knit presentation which projects your Organisation positively with content that interests everyone likely to visit your website. Make sure your content is sales driven because ultimately that is what your aim should be – to sell more!
7. Do not try to do the website internally nor try to cringe on the costs whilst hiring an external organisation for doing your website. Ensure the Organisation that does your website not just simply does what you say but advises, guides and questions to get the most effective factors out that leads to super-charging your website to make it a business driver for your Organisation. Also, things like latest web trends, key words, submissions and optimization for search engines, site analytics/stats are best left to this professional organization. Ensure all registrations and renewals are directly in your organisation’s name – this is one thing, along with continued balanced support and periodic performance reports that sets apart a good website technology organization from the others. However, make sure you learn something of these to understand what actually is happening – a little new learning never harms.
8. Be aware of what your competition is doing. This does not mean copying your competition or simply making a list of all the good things on your competition websites and then insist of your website design organisation to do this. List what grabbed your attention from their websites. Look at their features and offerings, style of presentation, key words used and most of all the content provided to the visitors. Build and customize these to suit your organization strengths. I repeat, build not copy.
9. Finally to re-emphasize Point 2 above – Be Creative with your content. Put the best of your content on your website since qualitative, fresh and creative content is what makes the difference between a good site and a great site. What does this mean? – As a website owner your focus should be mostly on creating great sales driven content that your competitors keep tab on and build upon into their websites rather than other way around! Leave the rest to the organization you hire for designing or revamping your website.
10. Lastly, fast track the development / revamp of your website – get it up on the web earliest to get maximum eyeballs since time is money and a visitor would go to another website that appeals and provides what one is searching for.
Finally, what I request all readers of my article – Your feedback is important to us – good, bad, ugly – doesn’t matter, but keep it constructive!