If your business website is more than a few years old, chances are it’s outdated. The page structure that used to work may not anymore, it may be built with old technology, or perhaps it just looks old. There are new website conventions popping up every few months, and sites like Google, are constantly updating their search algorithms. It’s especially a good idea to upgrade your site, if it’s currently not mobile responsive, or if you don’t have a separate mobile site.
If you decide that your website is ripe for an overhaul, try to make the most out of the redesign process. Likely, you will have this website for a few years.
Here are two important details to always remember:
- Don’t forget the “You Are Here”
Most businesses spend a lot of time figuring out how to lay out their page navigation. They consider elements such as what will appear in the top-nav menu, if there should be drop down menus, what those would be about, and where to place them. These are very important components to keep in mind, so it’s great that companies put so much effort into figuring them out. However, that’s not the whole navigation battle. In particular, if your site has multiple pages, make sure you design a highly usable system, that allows browsers to see where they are within the site — an easy way for them to see a “You are Here.”
A few reasons why this is important:
- Many of your website’s visitors won’t enter the site through the homepage and won’t have used the normal navigation path to get to their current page.
- It makes it easier for users to go back 2-3 levels and try a new search.
- It makes for a better user experience, eliminating the need to use the top-nav constantly to start over.
Three of the most common ways to design the “You are here” feature are:
Using Color. The current tab in the top-nav is shaded or highlighted to show where the user is.
Using Breadcrumbs. Used most often on larger sites, such as www.bestbuy.com, breadcrumbs look something like this (using desktop computers on Best Buy’s website as an example): Best Buy > Computers & Tablets > Desktop & All-in-One Computers > All Desktops
Using a Sidebar. The visitor uses a left or right-hand sidebar menu to see where the page lives in the website. For instance, on the TribalVision website, the visitor can easily see the full scope of what TribalVision does and where they are on the site.
- Don’t forget to start simple on your homepage
Imagine you own an e-commerce company that sells accessories and supplies for swimming pools, and your biggest differentiators are your fast shipping, price matching, and satisfaction guarantee. It may be tempting to have your new website’s homepage slider include “2 Day Shipping”, “Price Match Guarantee”, and “Satisfaction Guarantee” as the 3 slider rotations. But it’s critical to not jump the gun. Don’t immediately tell people why they should buy pool supplies from you. This should be the second thing you tell people. First, tell them that you are an e-commerce pool supplies company.
It might seem obvious, but surprisingly, companies often neglect to lead off by being crystal clear about who they are. For your new site, make sure that first-time users can, within seconds, figure out exactly what your website does and offers. Also, design it so that it takes just another few seconds for visitors to realize how to navigate your site.
A great way to stay on track and test how well the design would work, is to show early-stage designs to someone who doesn’t know your product or brand. Pay attention to how long it takes them to figure out what you do, and how to interact with your website. If it takes more than a handful of seconds, you’ll probably lose a fair amount of prospects.
A new website is a great idea for many businesses and can be a very sound investment. However, it’s very important to put time and thought into your design. Focus on making it easy for prospects to understand and use your site. Don’t forget the “You Are Here” feature, as well as to start simple on your homepage. Doing these two simple things will certainly prevent prospects from becoming uninterested.