Websites are one of the best marketing tools we have in our tool box when it comes to telling the world — and more importantly, our customers — what we have to offer. Yet we often forget to give them the regular attention they need so they can do their crucial job of serving our customers. Technology and design changes SO QUICKLY that after only two years your website may very well not be healthy or effective any longer.
But how can you tell when it’s the right time to invest some time and money to update your site? I had a conversation with one of my web design partners, Donna Mavromates, owner of MavroCreative, about the things that will most often drive a business to reach out to either of us about their website. We came up with this checklist:
Signs that Your Website Isn’t Healthy & Needs Updating:
- The About page/team bios are out of date (TIP: The About page is NOT all about you!)
- Your Services or Product offerings have changed
- Your mission and/or ideal customer has changed but it’s not reflected on the site.
- You’ve made no updates to your site in over two years
- Your site analytics show a high bounce rate
- The site doesn’t show up in organic search (you may need SEO expertise to really make this work)
- Your site isn’t fully mobile optimized
- The website takes too long to load
- It’s too difficult to make updates (you have to rely on your website designer to make them)
- It’s been more than 5 years (that’s a lifetime in technology years!) since your site was published
- You’re embarrassed to share your URL
How did you do? How many items in this list are now making you look twice at your website?
If you have just a small amount of out-of-date copy and have your own in-house copywriters, you can make the edits on your own. If you discover that your copy needs are extensive or that your site is really outdated, you’ll likely need outside help — content and/or design.
But, there’s no need for overwhelm. This is exactly what we do and do well. And the Message Artist Creative Group team is certainly here to help you if you need it. Don’t hesitate to schedule a free consult call because a conversation can really help clarify what needs doing and what doesn’t. (We can even talk about doing a website audit for you if you’re really unclear about what needs attention.)
Of course, we also want to make sure to look at the POSITIVES of your site, too … the elements you would keep, even if you need to update your site.
So let’s look at what goes into a healthy website that can easily do its job.
Must Haves for Every Healthy & Effective Website
Make sure it’s clear what you do, how you do it, and who you are. People want to know WHY they should spend time and money with you. They also want to know who you are. What’s your background? What’s your training/experience? What’s your why for doing what you do? So the “basics” of your website offer:
- What, How, and Who
- Accurate Contact Info
- Points of Contact
- Email Capture
- Calls to Action!!!
- Mobile Friendly/Mobil Responsive
To take it beyond the basics and into things that begin to differentiate your site from your competitors, you want to hit this list:
- Consistently published blog (video, written, or both) and/or podcast
- Primary & secondary website objectives identified
- Established Brand Messaging with engaging, on-brand, and converting copy content
- Professional Help
Key Components of an Effective & Efficient Website
Naturally, websites differ in complexity depending on business needs and resources. For the sake of simplicity, let’s look a little more closely at the must-have components for any business.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
When your customers do a search on products and/or services, you want your website to come up as a match. That means you need to use the RIGHT KEYWORDS on your website, in your back links, and in your blog. (A blog is an effective way to consistently update your content and search engines LOVE new content.) There’s a lot of strategy to SEO, including site structure and copywriting … enough for it’s own blog post! The bottom line is: SEO is crucial to being found … and you need to be found so your website can do its job of engaging and converting customers.
Now that your customers have found you, you want them to stay a while. I call websites your storefront (whether or not you have a brick and mortar or not). You literally have only seconds to capture a person’s attention, so don’t neglect the importance of design to support your copy content. The site needs to be inviting with a clean, branded design — think plenty of white space — and have images, graphics, and colors that consistently reflect and support your message.
And don’t forget fonts. They’re an important part of your site’s visual appeal. But make sure that all of your fonts (in headings, logos, copy, captions …) can be easily read on all types of devices. When people land on your home page, they’ll subconcisouly decide if they like (or not) the look and feel of it instantly, so even if you have the best copy ever, you need to be sure your customers want to stay and engage with it.
We’ve all been on websites where we’ve tried multiple drop-down menus looking for what we want only to never find it or to not be able to make the jump to the next drop-down menu. You certainly don’t want your customers experiencing navigation frustration. The solution: keep your navigation simple and intuitive. Aim for that sweet balance of providing just the right amount of options so customers can easily access the information they need — and use your header, footer, and Contact page strategically. TIP: get rid of “home” in your navigation and turn your logo into the “home button.” This is pretty expected these days.
These are the basics, but are pretty non-negotiable:
- Home — The page that must capture attention, engage, and direct them to the CTA for which you want a response.
- About — This page is NOT all about you. Instead, it shares what your customers want and need to know about the business, its culture and values, as well as the people behind the scenes.
- Team Bios (if appropriate)
- Products/Services/Programs — Be really clear about what you offer and how it solves your customer’s problem.
- Reviews (Testimonials) — Today, everyone reads reviews to help them make a decision. Don’t forget this crucial piece.
- Contact — Include multiple ways for customers to reach out and interact with you. It’s vital this information is always up to date!
As we mentioned before, you very well may have a site with considerably more pages than this. The number of pages really depends on your business needs as well as your resources. However, no matter how many pages you have, make sure that each one has a purpose and a clear CTA so it can be an effective part of your website.
Copy That Converts
Your copy content matters. The messaging your copy conveys matters. It needs to engage your customers AND offer your business as a solution to their problems. Your copy should share the What, How, Why, and Who of your business. It’s also your opportunity to broadcast your UVP (unique value proposition and the WHY) that helps you stand out from your competition.
Calls to Action (CTA)
All your web pages need CTAs. They lead the way for your customer to take that next step. You can use CTAs to help your customers …
- Navigate to another page
- Sign up for your email list
- Contact you
- Register for an event
- Purchase your product, program, or service
How We Can Help
When your website is healthy, it’s effective. And by effective, I mean it delivers a good (or great!) ROI (return on investment.) The whole point of investing in our marketing and marketing tools is so that we get our clients and customers to take action. If our website doesn’t have the must-haves, or our content is out of date, or it’s not aligned with our current mission, and it doesn’t support our business goals, it will never deliver the results we want and need.
Here at Message Artist Creative Group we offer a variety of website services because we know that businesses need different levels of help at different times. If your site needs a major overhaul, we can help with that. If your site just needs a little tweaking or to update a page or two, such as adding team bios to an About page, we can help with that, too.