This article was originally published on Medium.com.
Are you on the fence when it comes to overhauling your existing website? There may be a variety of design or coding issues that are leading you to consider website updates — images not displaying properly on retina screens or outdated design and content, for instance. These issues can often be overlooked as annoying — but livable — problems.
What you can’t live with are the types of problems that will stand in the way of growing your business. These big issues will lead to decreased or nonexistent revenue from your digital properties, disappointing experiences for your users, or an online presence working in direct conflict with the direction you are working to move your business.
These are the biggest red flags that should move the needle on a redesign. Many new clients who turn to Mostly Serious are struggling with one or many of these issues when we enter the digital strategic planning phase.
1. Your conversion rates are low.
Often, the most important responsibility of a website is to convert leads or sales. If your website isn’t doing this most basic task at least to industry standards, it’s time to start asking why. The answer to your conversion woes isn’t always a total overhaul, but finding the right answer does typically require thought-out problem solving.
We work with every client through our needs assessment and planning phases to define the goals of our project and how we can best support conversion goals and build realistic measurements of success that we can then track against after launch.
2. Your competition is leaving you behind.
An early step in our needs assessment process is to audit our partners’ peers and competitors to build a detailed map of the digital landscape for their industry. We want to ensure we’re accounting for the best features among competitors along with unique value opportunities where competitors may be falling short.
If you peruse your competitors’ websites and notice a trend that the industry has moved ahead of you in the digital space, it’s time to consider not only how you can catch up but how you can be at the front of the line.
3. Your business goals weren’t considered.
All too often we sit in a sales meeting with potential client partners to uncover how we may be able to help them, only to find out our point of contact is unaware of his or her company’s business goals. This is not an effective way to see a return on your digital investment.
Just as introducing a new product line without an understanding of the strategy or potential return is a quest for failure, the same is true when starting a digital product without a clear connection to the business goals you should be aiming to achieve.
We start new client relationships with digital strategic planning and an analytics deep dive to ensure we have uncovered and documented a clear set of business goals we can help our clients achieve through our digital solutions.
4. Your site isn't responsive.
There aren’t too many nuts-and-bolts items on this list that relate directly back to the design and development of a website, but responsive design is no longer an added feature. It’s a non-negotiable requirement for all digital properties.
As of November 2016, more users accessed the web from a mobile device than a desktop device for the first time in history. Additionally, Google has begun penalizing websites that are not mobile friendly while ranking mobile-friendly sites even higher, making it even more vital today that all of your digital properties are fully responsive.
5. Your site has high bounce rates.
There are a number of reasons your website could sacrifice from high bounce rates*, from content on the page not matching what the user expected to slow load times, to name just two. This problem isn’t always terrible news, as high bounce rates can sometimes mean you’re getting plenty of traffic — just not converting that traffic by presenting engaging content and a fluid user flow from landing through conversion.
*A bounce rate above roughly 56% is considered high in most industries.
The best way to decrease bounce rate is to start the process of a website overhaul by understanding your business goals and users, then building a solution that follows best practices to achieve those goals.
6. Your site has slow load times.
Speaking of slow load times, this performance killer is a common issue facing the smallest and largest company websites alike. A recent study found that 30% of site visitors are likely to abandon a page if it takes more than 6 seconds to load. Six seconds may seem like no time at all, but in the fast-paced digital landscape, it feels like an eternity to users.
Like high bounce rates, slow load times can be caused by a variety of website issues ranging from larger-than-needed images to poor code quality to an off-the-shelf content management system (CMS) loaded up with third-party plugins.
7. Your site is misaligned with your marketing messaging.
Your website should serve as an enhancement tool to your content marketing, capable of converting your online marketing strategy as well as being a support mechanism to other campaigns.
A website that is not aligned with your overall marketing message loses the benefit of an integrated campaign and positions your website as a tool sitting on an island alone. The most effective way to solve this problem is to build your website with flexibility in mind from the start, ensuring you can adjust key areas of content through the CMS—without needing to call on a developer for assistance every time you need to refocus a page.
In addition to adjusting to marketing shifts, a flexible site will allow your team to conduct A/B testing and other strategies to continually improve and enhance your web presence.
8. Your site suffers from outdated content.
Content marketing is a core focus for us at Mostly Serious. According to a Demand Gen Report 2016 survey, 96% of B2B buyers want to read content with more input from industry leaders, and over half of buyers said they now rely on content to make buying decisions. However, 83% say they are overwhelmed by the amount of content available.
What’s the missing link? How do you possibly cut through the noise? The answer is actually pretty simple: quality content. Buyers are looking for information that will drive their purchasing and vendor decisions, but many companies are coming up short. One of the main reasons is due to outdated content that is no longer relevant or engaging to your audience.
9. Your site needs a more flexible CMS.
Many off-the-shelf content management systems, like WordCompany News, are pieced together from third-party plugins that turn what is essentially a dated blogging platform into a workable CMS. Unfortunately, this leads to a lack of true flexibility by the people trying to actually update the content.
We don’t have a single solution for content management, but we have worked with a number of excellent platforms that fill specific needs for our clients. Most importantly, each solution is built from the ground up to do very specific things (but, at the heart, manage content) while remaining highly flexible for future expansion, page additions, and generally keeping your website fresh for existing and prospective customers.
10. Your customers need custom tools.
Many of our clients come to us ready to take a leap forward. Some of them have relied on a brochure style website for a few years that met the bare minimum requirement of a website — to have an online presence. Now, however, they’re ready to turn their digital products into truly useful tools for their company and their customers.
This can set the groundwork for a true conversion machine that is focused on getting customers into your orbit and holding them there until they’re ready to purchase your products or buy your services. This can also mean building features specifically to enhance your customers’ experience, such as portals to store information, interactive elements to deliver updated content, or forms to let existing customers access information they may have lost.
These are all simple — yet obvious — signs your website needs to become a revenue generating and customer-pleasing tool for your business. It all starts with defining business goals and building a digital solution to meet those goals.
Want to hear how Mostly Serious can help your business as a digital partner? We’d love to talk.