Running a business requires wearing multiple hats, so to-dos like design updates for your website might get pushed to the backburner as you struggle to tread water and stay on top of daily tasks. However, your website is the face of your company and often the first impression a visitor has of your page. Keeping it current is a crucial element in your brand image.
A mere 64 percent of small businesses have a website, which gives those with an online presence an edge over competitors. If you already have a website, you’re a few steps ahead of the game. Now, you must update your website and ensure it is the absolute best it can be. Does your site make a strong statement about your business? Here are seven design updates to ensure your message is a positive one:
1. Secure Your Site
Make sure your site has an SSL certificate and an HTTPS prefix. In the last year, Google began looking at the certification of websites, and some browsers offer a warning if a site isn’t secure. The warning dissuades some people from moving through to the site because of fears of catching an online virus.
Check with your web hosting company and see if they provide an SSL certificate and what you need to do to change your site over. For WordPress users, the process is as simple as registering your certificate, enabling SSL and changing the default address for your website in the WP dashboard.
Hosting providers offer free SSL mostly a single domain but, if your site works on numerous sub domains then, a wildcard can be of a great help. For example, there are many brands available in wildcard SSL category like GlobalSign, Sectigo, Comodo, AlphaSSL, etc. You can choose any one as all are best in their segments.
2. Add Animation
In recent years, the use of animations has expanded to include website videos, parallax scrolling and other eye-catching additions. Adding a feature here and there shows you understand current trends and keeps your site looking fresh and new. Ignoring your design and failing to focus on new trends could cause your site to fall behind your competitors and may even create a dated look.
Epic Fitness uses some basic animation features on their website, which engages visitors as they take various actions on the page. For example, if you hover over the logo, it fades out, indicating it is clickable and helping users navigate back to the home page. The call to action (CTA) button also fades when the cursor hovers over it. Adding small animations grabs the interest of site visitors and keeps them on your page.
3. Balance White Space
Over time, it’s easy for your website to become cluttered. You add an event notice, post an image of an award you won in the sidebar and place additional features on your site. Unfortunately, too much clutter also creates confusion for the user. Have you ever been faced with so many choices you didn’t even know where to start?
When a consumer lands on your page, their next step should be limited and precise. Think about the journey you want your buyer to go on and point everything in that direction, eliminating elements which divert attention somewhere else.
4. Improve Your Images
More than 40 percent of marketers surveyed felt original graphics worked much better than stock photos. The takeaway for businesses is that stock photos should be replaced with relevant and unique images whenever possible. While your budget might not include enough to hire a professional photographer at first, you can still replace pictures a little at a time until your site is completely unique, or at least have key elements feature original photos.
Viper Capital Partners uses beautiful images on their website to draw in site visitors. They first apply an attractive hero image which fills the width of the screen and highlights some of their work with the sun setting in the background. Further down the page are additional photos showcasing some of their proprietary programs and mineral package opportunities.
5. Focus on Mobile Capability
This year, mobile phone internet penetration reached 63.4 percent of the world population. If your site isn’t responsive and mobile-friendly, you risk losing site visitors and taking a hit on your search engine ranking. Search engines such as Google now factor in your mobile site when they rank you in search results.
First, test each aspect of your site on both Android and iOS devices. How do different elements look on a smaller screen? Do your images adapt to different resolutions and does the size of the text remain readable? You should also test all functions of your site, making sure forms and buttons work via mobile.
6. Improve Communication
People are used to instant responses from large companies, and this trickles down even to smaller businesses. In a world with automated telephone systems and instant messaging, anything you can do to improve communication helps your customer service image. Add a contact button, invest in a toll-free number and add a live chat to your pages.
Tea Drops provides easy methods for contact, such as the live chat feature on their home page. Even if you close the live chat for the day, the user can still leave a message and get a response quickly from the company.
7. Add Content
One of the top things you can do to keep your site current and updated is to add relevant content. If you don’t already have a blog, adding one gives you material for site visitors as well as items to share on social media sites. Content drives traffic to your pages and keeps people coming back. You can even use your content as a way of gathering email addresses and other customer details. Simply offer to send the user updates about new posts. If the content is of value to users, they’re more likely to sign up for your mailing list.
Frequent Design Updates and Testing
Your site is a representation of who you are as a brand. Regular design updates, plus A/B testing to see how visitors respond to changes, are vital if you want your site to serve as a customer lead generation tool. Invest just a little time each week into making your website better and you’ll see big dividends.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.