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Rethinking Your Website? Steps to Consider Before a Complete Overhaul
Rethinking your website? Before a complete overhaul, assess your conversion rate, scope out the competition, and engage your target audience. Don't underestimate the power of SEO. Avoid costly mistakes in web development and design.
Owning a website in today's digital era can feel like managing a temperamental pet. Sometimes, despite all your efforts, it just doesn't seem to cooperate. Perhaps it's not fetching the right customers or it's lagging behind its more sprightly competitors. It's natural to feel like throwing in the towel and starting afresh. However, if you're considering a complete overhaul, there are a few things to consider before pressing that reset button.
1. Assess Your Current Conversion Rate
Before taking any drastic measures, take a hard look at your website's analytics. Is your conversion rate lower than the industry average? Remember, even if you dislike the look of your website, what matters most is its functionality and effectiveness in turning visitors into customers. If your conversion rates are high, it may be worth reconsidering a complete redesign.
2. Scope Out the Competition
It's always wise to know what your competitors are doing. Take some time to visit their websites. What are they doing differently? Is there something in their user experience or design that stands out? This exercise isn't about copying, but rather gathering inspiration and understanding industry benchmarks.
3. Engage Your Target Audience
Before making any changes, have a chat with your target audience. Understand their pain points with your current website. You may find that the aspects you dislike aren't even on their radar.
The voice of your audience is the compass that should guide every decision about your website. Before making any drastic changes, it's paramount to have in-depth conversations with the people who use your platform most frequently. Here's how:
A. Open the Channels of Communication
If you haven't been regularly communicating with your audience, now's the time to start. Whether it's through monthly newsletters, feedback pop-ups on your site, or active engagement on social media platforms, ensure that you're not only broadcasting messages but also actively listening.
B. Understand Their Pain Points
What are the recurring challenges your audience faces when navigating your site? Slow loading pages, difficulty in finding specific information, or perhaps a cumbersome checkout process? Identifying these hiccups can provide you with a roadmap of what needs immediate attention.
C. Use Diverse Feedback Tools
Surveys: Create short, concise surveys that are easy to fill out. Tools like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms can be embedded directly into your site or sent out via email.
Feedback Forms: A simple feedback form on your website can allow visitors to voice concerns or suggest improvements. Make sure to review this feedback periodically and take it into account in your redesign efforts.
One-on-One Interviews: While this method might be more time-consuming, the depth of insight gained from direct conversations can be invaluable. Consider hosting focus groups or personal interviews with select customers to dive deep into their experiences and preferences.
User Testing: Platforms like UsabilityHub or UserTesting allow you to see how real people interact with your website. Observing someone use your site can offer direct insights into where users get stuck or frustrated.
D. Prioritise Feedback Over Personal Preferences
It's easy to become attached to certain design elements or functionalities that you personally love. However, if the majority of your audience finds it confusing or unnecessary, it's worth reconsidering. Always let user feedback be the guiding light in your redesign journey, rather than personal biases.
E. Act on the Feedback
Collecting feedback is only half the battle. Once you have a clear picture of what your audience wants, it's crucial to act on it. Document all the feedback, prioritize the most recurring issues, and create a clear action plan for your redesign.
4. Never Underestimate the Power of SEO
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) isn't just about cramming your content with keywords. It's about ensuring your website is easily navigable, has high-quality content, and is recognised by search engines as an authoritative voice in your niche.
Here's a cautionary tale: A business once decided to leave behind hundreds of its old blogs during a website revamp, thinking they were irrelevant. After relaunch, they noticed a drastic dip in traffic. Those old blogs, it turned out, held significant SEO value that was keeping their site on Google's radar. In neglecting them, the business had unknowingly damaged its own digital standing.
A Few Cautionary Notes…
Be wary of developer-led website projects that focus only on aesthetics. While a visually pleasing site is important, understanding the key metrics driving traffic is paramount. A website that looks pristine but doesn't cater to your target audience's needs or search engine requirements can end up being a costly mistake.
And remember: in the world of web development and design, you often get what you pay for. Going for the cheapest option might save you some pennies now, but it might bite you later. Instead, invest in a developer who has a deep understanding of both design and SEO.