Anyone who takes the time to create a business website wants to make sure it's the best it can be. Unfortunately, too many people have rushed to “throw” something up because we were eager to get started. I've been there.
These types of websites “work” for the moment but eventually they stop serving their purpose.
Your website should never be a fling project if you're serious about your business and brand. I'll share some strategies to keep in mind as you build, launch, maintain, & improve your website.
Stop with the Non-Responsive Layout
It's 2020 and your website still looks and acts like it 1980. What's up with that mess?
Get your Responsive on & poppin' already. More people search for businesses while on the go and the Mobile-First approach is vital. it has been for a minute now.
Everything from fonts to images should be taken into consideration as you create your website for responsiveness. Shift content around and display only for specific devices.
More and more users expect this and have been over the last three years. We can all blame and thank Google for making responsiveness and mobile-ready top criteria as they grade more websites by harsher standards.
Now you might wonder why should I even care. Here's why. Google is not playing around as they place penalties on websites and even push certain sites and content to the top of their search results.
Why would they do that?
Google has made themselves the gatekeepers of website standards to a point. They have helped to dictate how websites should flow, feel, and look to an extent. Encryption security as part of their push and responsiveness is another major issue they have tackled.
Now I may sound like a “hater” with all this, but Google actually did the world a huge favor.
Too many websites created, especially for businesses, have been done so in such a horrible manner that it takes away from visitors enjoying the experience. With so many different devices hitting the technology market, it's a shame when a website is built in a jacked-up way.
So if you want to avoid Google from “hiding” your website from their search engines, make sure your website is ready to serve a mobile experience.
Testing is a Must
As you start thinking how best to please the search engines and make sure your website is displayed properly to your visitors, you should head on over to Google's Mobile-Friendly Tester or you can use your browser's Developer Inspector Tool (Chrome) to view how your site looks on various devices.
These tools help you gain better insight to how your visitors will experience your website. Too often sites promise “responsive” and/or “mobile ready” layouts but they are not in the true sense.
Working with a client's Squarespace site proved that even in 2019 you still have to read the fine print on many of these websites building tools. He was frustrated because, despite the service promising to produce all mobile-ready & responsive templates, there were still some that weren't. The user had to manually adjust their site for the various devices.
Now, there is nothing wrong with this – unless you're a platform promising that users don't have to be “tech-savvy” and can simply plug & play. 😏
Bottom-line, test your ish!!
Users Are Less Patient in 2020
Users are not trying to be frustrated with a handful of websites when there are tons of others waiting for them to show up.
Why push your potential clients over to competitors or people less qualified to do what you can? Too often businesses take for granted how important having a website is. Unfortunately, simply having one is no longer the end goal. You need to have a functional and informative website that quenches the thirst of your visitors.
The goal is to allow them to fully access all they can on your website on any device. Some dope ideas are creating content that only mobile users see or only desktop users can access.
For example, Instagram mobile users are the only ones, for now, who can access IGTV, IG Live, and IG insights through their accounts on the mobile app. The desktop experience is limited.
The same for Canva users who have limited access to their full experience when on the mobile app. The Canva website gives full experience access to desktop & laptop users who use their browsers to create their visuals.
So think of this being the same for your website. What experience are you providing your visitors – mobile and desktop/laptop visitors? Are you giving them different experiences to look forward to or to dread? Are you thinking of how you want t=people to fully interact with your website?
Optimization isn't a Myth
Websites are an awesome opportunity to display images, videos, audio, and text if you allow your imagination to take over. Unfortunately, most people don't know that dumping tons of photos on a page that are over 3MB can seriously slow down your website's loading speed.
If you're DIYing your website, I'm sure you've come across issues uploading images larger than 2MB for the most part. Cleaver hosting companies cap users to that maximum because some of y'all out there uploading 12MB images – overdoing things all wrong. Ridiculously large images slow downloading times of websites.
No hosting company wants its servers packed with oversized content (images, videos, audio, etc.) that their servers weren't designated for.
So to help eliminate this mess I always strongly suggest to my clients that they create the following accounts: YouTube (for public content), Vimeo (for private & protected content), Dropbox, pCloud, Amazon AWS, SoundCloud, Libsyn, and the like to house their heavy media.
Once these accounts are created they can use links or embed directly into their website without dragging their loading time down to a grinding halt. Many of these come with fees because you want to make sure any service you use is capable to handle the access load and reliable to display your content on-demand.
Now some of us love to add extras to our sites and customized coding, color pallets, & fonts are part of this. If you tweak your website yourself or hire a pro to help, make sure the code is structured properly or this will break your site.
Streamlining your code and font helps your website load for your visitors quickly and with minimal drama. Without getting too technical, hundreds of things run at once just to get your website pages to download from your remote servers to any and every device that accesses your website. So you want to make this as smooth as possible.
Lazy loading is also an amazing way to provide an optimized experience for your users and score points with search engines. This leads me to testing your site with Page Load Speed services. You shouldn't obsess with these services, but they can help for those who have extremely sluggish websites.
No matter which platform or hosting provider you use, your main concern should be to simplify access for your visitors as much as possible.
We touched on this briefly before but to give a bit more flavor to the conversation, you want to be able to give your users an amazing experience when they roll up on your website.
Some websites tell you the weather depending on your location (if you allow the site to gather that information) and others display personalized messages or giveaways to particular users (iPhone users, East coast users, etc.) so they feel more connected.
You can also add animated, interactive, and smart content that is displayed once the personalized tech on your site recognizes the new visitors on your site and depending on how you set things up. Certain website content may be hidden from mobile users from the East Coast while you have a special only meant for visitors from the Southern region of the U.S. – they would be the only people to see and participate.
Some of these personalized experiences can be added with ease for the non-techie using add-ons or plugins. These are quick widgets that allow you to improve your website without needed to learn how to code them in.
Keep It Smooth
As you think about personal & unique touches to add to your website also consider that you need to keep your site optimized so you can keep things running smoothly. You'll lose visitors faster than you think as they bounce right up off your website and onto your competitors'.
Whatever you do you want to make sure that your visitors enjoy coming to your website. Everything else that we spoke about is part of that. So is helping visitors find more of your existing content that can further help them. You do this by interconnecting your blog articles and pages using links. Just make sure these links make sense and are not fluff.
Fluff annoys most of us and that will be a quick way to lose visitors and overall credibility.
Now who doesn't love a Giveaway!?? Especially if it's super fly!
Giveaways are another excellent way to make sure folks not only visit your website but explore it to see what else you have going on. The Giveaway doesn't always have to be a huge grand prize – but those are super fly if they're done right.
You can also create Lead Magnets that give your visitors a gift exchanged for their emails. These Lead Magnets are seen all over the Internet and some are awesome while others… well, they suck.
If you don't want to give-a-way something to read, a video, or a podcast you can consider creating a contest in which you send out special gifts to the winner(s) and tie this into a cross-promotional with a partner or affiliate.
You can even send ‘Thank You' gifts through the snail mail or surprises to your email list. I've been the recipient of such cool gifts!
Either way, you should look into creating some type of excitement or gamification opportunity for your visitors, so they want to keep visiting!
Social Media & Content Marketing
These two play a pivotal role in helping you accomplish one goal – get the word out about you and your website.
You need a way to share the content you've created on your website and using Social Media sharing icons or images that can be shared quickly are great ways to get this done. This can be done with floating buttons that allow you to share an entire website or specific pages. Spice up your icons to match your branding too!
You can also have content on your website shared automatically through 3rd party software. I've used some and it comes down to preference on how your website gets shared.
The next option is to create social media images that can be shared from your site by visitors. Include tracking codes from Google and your social media profiles so you can see which content is bringing them in.
How soon is too soon to share?
I've learned that the first place you want your major content to live is on your website. Keep it there for 2 hours or 1 day before sharing it. This helps establish your website as the place of origination and all else places are secondary.
Yes, share on social media, but in snippets. Never share your content word for word as this is seen as duplicated content to search engines. Send out tasters so folks come back for the Main Event on your site!
Repurpose with a purpose
Part of creating awesome content for your site is so you can use that to repurpose your content. From social media to guest sites, sharing teasers can be helpful for marketing what you've already done and bringing more traffic and attention to your main platform – your website.
Your website is an awesome place to create exclusive content pushing folks to come to your site and discovering your world. You can block content behind a Pay Wall of sorts. They can “pay” with their email or funds. At the end of the day you have folks come to you for the goods.
Create Quality Content
So far we've covered the logistical and technical ways to change your website from Trash to Yaaasss! However, what good is all of that without the foundation of high-quality content being produced on your site?
Quality vs Quantity
Many times I see folks post amazing images and other such content on social media but when I head over to their website – it's a dud. Why create top-notch content for others while leaving the scrapes on your website? I've seen websites with tons of crappy content and I've seen websites with about 20 amazing pieces of content and that was all.
The quality, amazing pieces had traffic and the Internet buzzing about them while the fluff-filled site were hosting Cricket Parties. Which site do you want to own?
Value Over Fluff
Trash content is a sure-fire way to cause visitors and search engines to discredit your website. It took me a while to decide on what type of content I wanted to create myself. I wrote on multiple topics but didn't connect to what I was writing about.
I went out looking for help and working with coaches to help me hone in on what I truly connected with and what my own clients always asked me about.
The next hurdle was me learning how to tell my stories or share solutions in my own way. Getting out of my own heard, stop over-thinking, and speak as I normally do with clients and friends who ask me the same things over and over.
I had to get comfortable being myself on my own website. Never easy when you continuously doubt that how you say things is the best way to share your knowledge. I focused on why I shared things and the “how” soon followed.
The quality went beyond the look and feel of my content. The quality was the focus and even quantity became secondary.
You Down with OPC? Yeah, you know me!
In case you're wondering what OPC is, that's Sharing Other People's Content. Some folks look down on this but that because they either don't know how to share or fail to gain permission or give credit to the creator of the content.
There's nothing wrong with showcasing other people if you do it respectfully. You can even have others share your content by sharing your links and social content redirecting them back to your website.
With all the strategies I've shared with you one of the important things to remember is to remain consistent. Your consistency may not reflect someone else's but find a rhythm and stick with it. Your audience will get to know it and flow with you.
At the end of the day if you want to make your website one that not only wows your visitors but also educates them, you want to make sure you use the following strategies on your site:
● Make sure you're responsive
● Keep things optimized
● Focus on user experience
● Use social media & content marketing
● Create quality content
Many websites use some of these strategies but you experience powerful results when you use them all together. Again, don't use these haphazardly. You should have a game plan on what you want to cover on your website and build your other strategy uses around that.
As you develop and design your website, you should be thinking mobile-first because that is where a large amount of your traffic will come from. As you do this, consider what elements of your website you want to show your mobile users and desktop users and go from there.
Never feel that you are boxed into Standard Rules when building your website, but before you break the rules, you should know what they are.
Now that you have these five strategic moves to improve your website go forth and make some changes!
Are you ready?
Let's do this! Time for you to take action.
Drop a comment below on what you've done to improve your website and if you have any strategies that have worked for you and I didn't mention!