Remember the 90s, when websites included things like page counters, cheesy music that played on load, clip-art graphics, and intensely patterned backgrounds?
We’ve come a long way in the digital age (thank goodness), and creating a professional, responsive, user-friendly website is more important than ever. If it’s been awhile since you’ve updated your website or the results from your web traffic haven’t been as strong as you’d like, it may be time for a website redesign. Unfortunately, the process can be a lengthy, challenging, and expensive one. But – good news – it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few cost-effective tips to make sure your investment in your website yields the results you’re looking for.
Use online tools to understand how visitors are interacting with your current site
The first step in a successful website redesign is to gain a data-based understanding of how visitors are engaging with your current site. Two tools that we find invaluable for this are Lucky Orange and Google Analytics.
With pricing options as low as $10 a month (plus a 7-day free trial), Lucky Orange is a great bang for your buck. The platform provides you with a wide range of intelligence about your website including form analytics, reverse IP lookup, visitor recordings, and more. One feature we find especially useful is the heat map overlay of each page of a website, which reveals visitors’ engagement on that page (such as mouse movements, clicks, how far down the page visitors viewed, etc.). This provides valuable insight into how placement of certain information affects its visibility.
Practical application: Lucky Orange heat maps measure visitors’ scroll depth. For one client, these maps helped us realize that our web pages were too long, as the vast majority of our visitors were losing interest about 60% of the way down. During our website redesign, we were sure to reduce the content on each page to ensure we held visitors’ attention.
You could make a full time job of assessing all of the website information that’s available through your Google Analytics account, so we’ll just focus on one specific tool here. Beyond using Analytics to understand basic website information like the number of visitors, which pages received the most visits, and average visit duration, use the “Behavior Flow” feature to understand how people are navigating through your site. Wherever you see significant drop-offs, explore the reasons why that might be happening. Also, assess if you’re guiding visitors to the right pages at the right time through your use of internal links, calls to action, and menu navigation.
Practical application: During a website redesign project for a client, we found through “Behavior Flow” that visitors were going from the home page right to our “Get Started” button in our header navigation. We found this strange, since the “Get Started” button was intended to be where people would click to start the process of becoming a client after exploring the site and learning more about the company’s expertise. What the Behavior Flow told us, however, is that visitors understood the button to mean, “here’s where you should go to get started learning about the company.” That certainly explained the high abandonment rate for the form on that landing page! We changed the name of the button to simply be, “Contact.”
Once you’ve looked at your website’s data, you’ll also want to incorporate your knowledge of the customer’s decision-making journey by considering what a visitor needs to know in order to move to the next level of engagement. Ask yourself a few questions:
- Does the reader need to self-educate before he or she can understand the value of your product or service? If so, consider using “Learn More” buttons throughout your webpages to provide additional information, or add an introductory video right on your home page.
- Are logos or client testimonials from reputable brands essential to building credibility? Use a sliding brand banner on the homepage, or create a “Client Portfolio” right on your menu navigation.
- Are there any dead-end pages on the website that leave your visitors unsure of where to go next? Make sure there are internal links within your web copy, and make sure each page provides an opportunity for visitors to keep exploring additional pages or take action.
Of course, there’s much more that goes into a website redesign, and you can read about some of these aspects on my colleague’s blog post, here. Whatever your product, service, or mission, take the time before a website redesign to understand how visitors are engaging with your site so you can build an experience that generates results.