Making the decision to build a new website is a major marketing task that often requires budgeting and specific objectives. It requires time and equity from both your company as well as the design team assigned to the overhaul.
In fact, YOU are a large part of the overall success of the website. Allocating efforts to maintain, manage and update are all key factors in the success of a beautifully designed website.
As your design team is busy bringing your brand's vision to life, there are a few things you can do to help set the site up for success at its launch. Here at Speak, we use our own content management system called Sitewrench to house the design and content. In each web design project, we provide training of the CMS system to whomever will be managing your website. This allows you to learn the ins and outs of the system and where to find, edit or load your content.
After your account managers have walked you through Sitewrench, you're encouraged to start loading in content that will be featured on your new site. During the "content load" there are a few things you can do to help enhance the user experience.
1: Name Your Pages
Whether or not you are hiring an SEO expert to help boost your search engine rankings, page titles matter. Your old site may have had a one-size-fits-all approach, naming every page with the same title. This is not only discredited by search engines, but does nothing to promote user engagement.
Naming your pages exactly what they are is beneficial for two reasons. First, it gives an overview of what kind of content can be found on that page (a blog, a calendar, a list of frequently asked questions, etc.). This helps the user find exactly what they are looking for and adds structure to the website. Secondly, search engines favor this method of transparency. Google not only looks at the page title, but looks at the headings and content on that page, favoring content that is well organized. This determines how relative the entire page is, and is a major ranking factor in where your website will fall in search rankings.
2: Titling Pictures
Imagine you received a request for specific photos of your business to add into your website from your web design team. Chances are you found your best photographer, went out and took the shots needed. When these pictures are put onto a computer, you will probably see some camera manufacturer lingo naming the pictures "DSC702313".
While this means nothing to you, it's an important process to rename those photos. Again, taking into consideration any SEO opportunities, as well as the back-end organization of your website, it makes sense to name your photos with any relative keywords that are important to your business.
For instance, if you have an attractive garden that receives special attention, naming the photos "Martin Garden 1" is much cleaner and simpler than trying to recall a photo with an obscure file name. This helps find the photo when you want to upload and place it into your site, and is a great opportunity to optimize your page with keywords.
3: Image Sizes
It's been proven that high performance web sites lead to higher visitor engagement, retention and conversions. In order to create a high performance site, all elements on the page must be optimized, including your images.
The aforementioned photos directly off your camera are best suited for high resolution printing, or 300dpi. Photos that are best used on the web are 72dpi, meaning the computer screen has less "dots per inch" of color to process before showing you. This is why an image from the internet often can print blurry, however shows up crystal clear online. We recommend clients that aren't Photoshop savvy to use TinyJPG, which is an online solution for reducing image size.
Loading images that are 'print ready' or high resolution means they are larger files. The time it takes to load these large files decreases your page speed. This equals a frustrated user who will likely bounce out of your website and on to another if not resolved. In fact, recently our SEO team encountered a website that was taking more than four minutes to load on a desktop computer! Upon inspection, the culprit came from several high resolution photos. Compressing these images to the right resolution, allowed the page speed to increase all the way to 6 seconds, making it 40 times more SEO and user friendly. This major speed increase will soon see a major decrease in bounce rate and will have a positive effect on total web traffic.
4: Linking Pages
A structured SEO plan will include an internal linking plan that will make the most out of the information on your site. Linking to other pages on your site through hyperlinks, call-to-action buttons and menus are all great ways to keep a person actively on your site for longer. However, this only works if the links do.
Before site launch, it's important to take a look at each page and make sure that every link that has been added to the site does in fact link to the correct page. Without the right link being set, you may be linking to an obscure page (if at all) that can turn your customer off from continuing on your site and can stall the sales process at whatever stage they may be in.
Additionally, making sure that links are easy to find, and that content is easy to access is important to the user experience.
5: Content Planning
One piece of advice we offer to each of our clients is to think of their website as if they weren't behind the scenes, but rather a brand new user. When you enter the home page (or any page via a search engine result), your user should be able to find the information they need to continue to move forward.
If your business is consumer facing, promoting industry jargon over your hours of operation and location doesn't make sense. Chances are a new user is finding you for the very first time. Putting your best foot forward online and readily making available the information they need to become more involved will increase the chances that the user stays on your site and engages with your brand.
Structuring your site is one of the most important pieces of its creation, and will map out the flow of your user experience. To determine what pages are most important to your navigation, think about the questions most often asked by your customers, and use website analytics to find popular pages on your current site. Your account manager also has the expertise to advise on sitemap planning and can help make the most out of your new site.
With these easy to follow steps, your website is on its way to making a spectacular presentation to your customers, old and new. If you haven't made the decision to build a new website yet, our digital experts can talk to you more about the benefits of having a responsive, beautiful website for your brand.
Did we miss any tips? Leave us a comment or head over to our Facebook page to discuss what tips you have for fellow business owners that helped you successfully launch your website.