Is Your Website Ready for 2018?

A website that is so 2008 may be more than an eyesore, it could be costing you valuable marketshare.

Just like cleaning a house or keeping up with landscaping in the yard, having a website for your business is not a one-and-done activity. It requires constant revisiting and upkeep to maintain relevance and effectiveness. Best practices change with new technology, and the way users interact with the online world evolves as marketing trends come and go.

With the new year upon us it’s the perfect time to assess if your online presence is ready for what’s coming next. So I’ve compiled a list of important things to look out for in 2018 online:

Mobile First

Many people believe that this is the year Google will introduce their mobile-only index. What does this mean for your business? Well, if your website doesn’t play nice on phones, tablets, or other non-desktop devices, you could experience major issues showing up in search results on Google in the future. It’s no longer just about design; having a site that doesn’t display well on phones can cause serious online reputation damage in the future.

So what can you do to ensure you’re ready for Google’s next round of changes? Take an audit of your current site’s mobile experience. Grab someone who may be less familiar with your site, and have them run through the pages on a mobile device.

Check for the following:

  • Do pages load quickly and completely with no missing elements?
  • Is the flow of the page easy to understand?
  • Is text big enough to read?
  • Can you click on all links and buttons (including top navigation) easily?

If any of the above items present problems, it may be time to reassess your design.

User Experience

Google has always prioritized keywords as a way of cataloging websites, matching terms users are searching for to relevant content, but many believe that in the future, Google will be placing more emphasis on usability and clarity of websites. Just like with the mobile first approach, more clout will be given to sites that are easy to navigate and keep users sticking around for longer. Here are a few ways you can ensure that your user experience is up to snuff this year:

Maintain clear organization
Strong user experience is all about making it easy for viewers to get what they want out of your site. Does the organizational structure of your site make sense? Are popular pages, posts, or links displayed prominently? Do buttons take users where they are expecting to go? Having clear structural organization hinges on eliminating bad surprises. You don’t want to make your viewers guess their way them!

Anticipate needs
At every turn, you should be asking yourself, “What would my customer want to see or hear right now?” If you can anticipate their needs and make the information your viewers want available to them right where they need it, they’ll feel like you’ve created a custom experience just for them. Run through your site’s pages today and check for opportunities to beef up information that might be missing.

Give a call-to-action
Every page on your site should offer a next step. And no, your next step shouldn’t always be “Buy Now!” A next step could be diving deeper into a topic, reading a blog post, or filling out that magic contact form. But no matter what the next action may be, you should be offering your viewers something to do. Without a clear call-to-action, viewers will reach the end of your page, think, “So what?” and move on. This kind of “bouncing” off your site can contribute to negative rankings with Google, and certainly won’t help you convert your website visitors to leads or sales, so give them a next step every chance you get.

Converting Through Clarity

Website design has always been about converting, but gone are the days when flashy “BUY IT NOW!” buttons will do the trick. Customers want to understand and learn, not be persuaded and swindled. Effective copywriting is your #1 weapon when it comes to creating that key sense of clarity on your site. Clearly outline the benefits of your product and why it’s the best thing to solve the problem you know your customers have, and do it well. It sounds too simple to be true, but keeping your message clear and concise is one of the best ways to keep visitors scouting around the pages of your site.

If you want to dive deeper on this one (and I highly recommend that you do), you owe it to yourself to check out Donald Miller’s Building a Storybrand; this book is a total game changer when it comes to crafting a strong message that resonates and converts for your brand.

Sure, it’s a new year. There are new trends, technology, and research out there to ponder upon. But ultimately, the same principles hold true that always have: keeping your customer at the forefront of everything you do will lead to the greatest likelihood of success and prosperity in the future. So whether it’s online or across the board room table, don’t forget who makes your world go round!

If you feel like it’s time for an online revamp, contact me today. I can help you craft a brand strategy that will not only convert viewers into buyers, but also provide you with a sense of direction and a plan for moving forward in elevating the status of your organization.

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