Most often, even successful websites can be improved to increase performance. Let alone their less successful brethren. How do you improve your already functioning website smartly?
Why improve a website?
If your website is helping you to get customers to your brick and mortar business, or even is the only source of customers for your online one, you should seek ways to increase your business efficiency. Increasing the number of customers from the same amount of visitors (or the so-called 'conversion rate') or just getting more website visitors should prove pretty helpful for your business. Which means you need to to find ways to get you more customers by improving your website.
What to improve?
Normally, the best way to be successful is to be better, than your competitors. Not necessarily the best in the world company, but just being ahead of the pack should be good enough. The easiest way to do this is to study the weaknesses of online businesses (their websites and marketing strategies) and do better. For example, the list of weaknesses could be the following:
- the website looks amateurish or loads slowly
- the site text is written in corporate language, so real people don't buy from it
- the site text is hard to read
- there isn't any useful information on a website
- the site visitors can not communicate with the site owner or their peers through the website
- the website is not properly optimized for the search engines
- the website isn't accessible
From the list above, you can make a pretty good list of ways to improve your own website:
- get a great custom designed website template
- get a professional copywriter to (re)write text for you or learn how to do it yourself
- get the copywriter to write lots of articles or do it yourself
- get a website usability consultant to improve your website
- setup a blog or a forum (if you can handle it) or both on your website to talk with your customers
- research your keywords or get a search engine marketer
- improve your website accessibility or get an accessible designer to do this for you
Let's take a look at the list a bit closer.
Get a custom template
The first thing your site visitors see is your page design (pretty obvious, right?) This means that you have less than a second to keep or wave goodbye to them. A custom, professionally designed (for your target audience) website template will ensure that your site visitors stay to learn what you have to offer and to read and wander around your website
Write great text
Simply having text on a website is not enough. It should provide useful information to your visitors in a simple manner. In a way they could read it too. So, you either need to learn how to format website text and how to write in a simple language, or hire a copywriter to (re)write site text for you. In short, try to create the text that will inspire the visitors to learn more about the product or to try it out.
Have great content
Just having well-crafted product pages is good, but not enough. You also need to have something your visitors will return to, will recommend to their friends and relatives and will link to, too. All this is about great content - and it is not just site text. Create something that provides value to your visitors and they'll return to you (and possibly buy from you, too).
Improve your site usability
One of the rare things that most websites do right is website usability. How often have you abandoned a shopping cart or haven't even tried to order anything, because you had to register before that? To make sure your visitors can buy your product as easily as possible, you either need to learn website usability yourself, or hire a website usability consultant.
Talk to your customers
As you might have guessed, just having useful pages and articles on your website is not enough (it never is, as a matter of fact). You need to find ways to communicate with your potential customers. A part of this direction should be a blog or a forum, hosted on your website. This way you can not only share your thoughts in an easy format, but will also be able to build trust and get feedback from the interested people.
Improve with the search engines in mind
You can significantly get more search engine traffic, if you use the right keywords and place them right on your pages. This will not only ensure your visitors will understand what you are talking/writing about, but will also allow your potential customers find you from the search engines.
Additionally, making your URLs crawlable and using proper internal linking structure should help too.
Make your site accessible
An accessible website is a website that can be easily read by people with disabilites. At least, it should be read by low vision people and at most by the screenreaders. In practice, it means that the site has to be in text, for the most part.
By making your website accessible, you not only gain more market share and will be able to sell more, but you'll be making your website search engine friendly, too, because search engines can only read text for the most part. So website accessibility is another thing you can do to your website.
When to improve?
Ideally, you need to think about the above points before building your website to make sure all necessary site elements are present beforehand. But, if you already have a running website, you'll need to find the budget to improve your existing website.
Of course, you can't spend the money you don't have or when you'd be spending your last coin on your website. It should be reasonably safe, when your business can work smooth, if you take a certain part of the budget out and invest in your website. Generally, consider it as your business expense to make a good decision.
How much to improve?
Generally, there are no limits, except the bottom one. You should be thoughtful in picking the right person(s) to do the job right. Afterwards, the amount of work you can do on your website can be virtually unlimited, as a website can always use extra well-researched articles, extra usability or even website accessibility.
I'd suggest investing at least 20-30% in your profit in your website. While the sum may seem huge at first, the improved website will be able to get you 50-200% more sales. So this is a wise investment. Not to mention that once spent your money, your website (and the investment) will be bringing you more money as long as it exists.
If you can spend your own time on your website (writing articles, posts, communicating with your customers), then your website will be more successful than otherwise.
In today's competitive world being one of the best is not the best marketing strategy. Striving to be the best in his own niche should be a common goal of every business and website owner. That's why improving your website is not only a reasonable thing to do, but also a very efficient way to foster your business. So improve now and improve wisely.