The days of window shopping at the local mall are numbered. The global, internet-driven marketplace features thousands of businesses that live online. Their customers live there, too. Websites have become modern-day storefronts – mannequins and all – and must be striking, relevant and current to entice today’s customers. A well-designed website can attract and convert window shoppers into buyers. A poorly designed website can turn people away and drive them to competitors. Is your website working for – or against you? If you have a website, consider trying on this fashionable questionnaire.
- Do visitors enjoy spending time on your website?In the brick-and-mortar world, the most successful retail shops and thriving business offices are the ones that appear clean and inviting. The same holds true for websites. This is likely the first – possibly the only – physical part of your business your customer will see, so it needs to make a great first impression. If the colors are too jarring, or if too many stock images are used, it’s time for an overhaul. If it’s too hard to read and find information, spend some time cleaning it up. The first impression usually comes down to how someone feels after using your website. Eliminate user frustrations at all cost and encourage positive vibes.
- Does your website work on a mobile device?Look at your website on a smartphone. If it doesn’t automatically scale to the size of the screen, forcing you to pinch and zoom up, down and sideways, it’s not made for mobile viewing. The average person spends 4+ hours on a phone every day, so the likelihood that someone is viewing your website on their phone or other mobile device is high. Plus, with the rise of the smart tablet as a primary computer, many people rarely even touch a desktop computer or laptop.
If your website is not adapted for mobile viewing, you’re losing a huge chunk of the market right off the bat. At best, people are spending a few minutes on your site – enough to painfully search for the information they need. At worst, they write off your website (and possibly your company) because it’s too hard to navigate. And surely a competitor will be there to fill the void.
Additionally, Google’s algorithms favor mobile friendly websites, so if you don’t want to get buried in the depths of Google Search, you’ll want a website that works across all devices.
- When searching your business, product or service, where does it rank on Google?Speaking of Google search results, if your website shows up on page two (or worse), it’s unlikely your audience will find it. Gone are the days of looking up the local salon in the yellow pages. Google is today’s business directory, and if customers can’t find you online, chances are they don’t know you exist.
The first three websites to show up in a search receive up to 54 percent of user traffic. Viewership after that drops exponentially, with results on the second page only receiving 4 percent of click-throughs.
This can be fixed by focusing on updating keywords used on your website, providing valuable content your audience is looking for and making it easy to navigate.
- Do you have dated information on your site, including people who no longer work there or services you no longer provide?Nothing turns off a prospective customer quicker than old, irrelevant information. Would you continue frequenting a restaurant with an outdated menu, or a retail store with the wrong pricing posted online? The same holds true for your website.
People are coming to your site to learn something new or find a service they need. Customers have so many options these days. If they can’t find the information they need on your site, they can – and will – find it somewhere else. You don’t want to jeopardize your credibility by not reflecting current/accurate information.
- Does your URL have “https” in front of it?This means your site is not encrypted and therefore is not a secure site for users. Anything transmitted over an unencrypted site is easy for hackers to steal. It’d be like setting out a box of goods and just letting people use the honor system to pay. People want assurance that the sites they visit have protection measures, especially those taking personal/financial information.
Moreover, Google penalizes websites that are not encrypted, pushing them further down on search results or not allowing people to access them at all. To fix this, check your web hosting and update to an SSL certificate. This is usually a quick and cheap fix, so there’s no reason to not update today.
- Could you brew a cup of coffee before you site finishes loading?Average users wait three seconds for a page to load, after that they’ll move on — maybe never to return. You don’t want to turn off visitors before they even open the door. Use a free online tool like Google Developer or Pingdom.com to check site speed and load issues. If it’s more than three seconds, you’ll want to optimize the coding, images and files on your page to get it loading quicker.
This list can feel daunting, but with a little time and care, your website can be working for you to attract new customers and keep your current ones happy.