Is your existing website old and tired feeling or maybe just not performing like you want it to?
One of the biggest mistakes businesses can make online is to think that once their website has finished being built that it’s ‘done’.
The reality is that a website is a dynamic thing: it needs ongoing attention to make sure that it keeps performing the way you want it to, to make sure that it stays relevant and to keep it up to date with current trends and tech.
Here are some reasons why you might need to improve website performance:
- Bounce rate: if you’re getting plenty of traffic, but it’s not hanging around, then chances are there’s a disconnect between what’s bringing them there and what they find when they arrive.
- Speed: if your site is built on an old platform, your content is bloated or images haven’t been properly optimised, your site will take longer to load. These days, you’ve got about 2 seconds for your site to load before people get impatient and wander off.
- Mobile responsive: a mobile responsive site is a must have these days, with mobile traffic increasing over 200% in the last 7 years. Devices are king when it comes to connecting with ‘in the moment’ traffic.
- Outdated: a site that looks like it’s not keeping up with the times may very well be affecting your success. If its outdated, slow or clunky to use, people may just not bother if there’s a better option just a click away.
- Irrelevant: has your business changed aims, goals or direction since your website was built? Keeping your public face up to date with what’s happening inside your business will help to stop people from feeling a disconnect between what they see online and what they encounter in person.
First things first: you need to conduct a full website audit.
Step 1: conduct a cosmetic assessment. Find some friends/colleagues who you know will tell you the truth and get them to tell you exactly what they think of the look and feel of your site. Tell them not to hold back – the more honest they are with you now, the better your end result will be. The aim of most websites is to create a good user experience – and that’s hard to do if people don’t give you an honest assessment of their experience on your site.
Step 2: get someone with technical knowledge to analyse your analytics, check your foundations (URLs) and take a look at the back end of the site. One of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to renovating websites is removing content and pages that are actually working so make sure you do an SEO audit before you change anything. Just like renovating a house, you have to be careful you don’t remove any loadbearing walls when you refresh a site – you really don’t want to damage anything that’s already working.
You also want to use your analytics to see the behavior of the traffic that’s coming to your site – have a look at where people are entering the site and where they’re spending the most time. There are also cool tools that will allow you to use a heatmap to see where people are looking on specific pages, where they click, and where they bounce.
Caution: DO NOT RUSH THIS PART OF THE PROCESS. Once you’ve done your audit of the website it’s time to decide whether you want to renovate your site (think adding fresh paint and carpets: refreshing and updating content, adding alt text, updating metadata) or whether a more extensive rebuild is needed (demolish and basically start from scratch).
Get good advice on this! You really need to understand the impact that doing a full rebuild will have on your existing traffic and website reputation as well as being clear on how long any changes you make might take to improve website performance.
Planning – still a good thing to do first
Regardless of what you decide to do, planning is going to be your very best friend in this process. You need to plan how the process will work, create deadlines for new content to be created, factor in downtime for your site as it’s inevitable that the site will be down for periods of time, and most of all, you need to plan for testing. Preferably by serval different people, using serval different devices and browsers to make sure that your site functions properly across all environments.
Plus, you need to plan for the fact that the changes you make may take time to bear results, particularly anything you do to increase your search engine rankings, so you need to be willing to be patient and not change everything every five minutes.
Having said that, there’s one thing that you need to accept when it comes to your website performance: the job will never be finished. Keeping your website current, relevant and productive means you need to be in a constant cycle of evaluation.