Quality Content Conversions

Is Your Website Content Doing Its Job?

Making sure your website content is in order is important not only for SEO purposes but also for helping convert visitors on your website into leads or sales.

In our Ultimate Website Planning Guide chapter on Content is King we talk about the importance of planning and creating quality content.

To help you get your website content in order, we have put together a website content checklist for you to work through.

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New Release: The Complete Guide to Website Planning

Building a website has become an easy thing to do, or so we are led to believe.

In truth, it has, there are tools, content management systems, themes and guides everywhere that allow us to produce websites and content faster and with better quality that ever before.

Not all websites turn out to be the Business Asset they were intended to be, though.

Why is that?

My view has always been that it’s because of a lack of quality planning.

Most people approach their new web project like they do with getting fit.

They head to the gym or out the door for a run to ‘make a start‘.

As long as that’s followed up with sensible planning followed by consistent action, then they have a pretty good chance of achieving their goals.

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Will you lose traffic when Google releases it’s Mobile Friendly Change

Will you lose traffic when Google releases it’s Mobile Friendly Change on April 21?

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The writing has been on the wall for several years now about how Mobile Devices are impacting the way the internet is used and how it is impacting on businesses. Now we are about to see how this impacts the traffic (read: new prospects) we get from Google.

Last month Google gave website owners advance notice of their upcoming algorithm change. On April 21 they will be including “Mobile Friendliness” as a ranking factor.

This effectively means that if your site is not mobile friendly your ranking will be affected by it.

This is significant and follows on from the movement of much site traffic from desktop to mobile devices over the last 3-4 years. Keep in mind this isn’t just about smart phones albeit that they make up a large chunk of the traffic, it also includes Tablets and the hybrids known as Phablets.

What does this mean for you?

If your ranking for mobile devices is affected then yes you will lose important and valuable traffic!

When we look over the traffic data with our clients many of them have well over 30% of their traffic now coming from mobile devices with others now up to and over 50%.

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That means that if you haven’t already taken the necessary steps to fix your site for mobile, you potentially could be closing the door to up to HALF of your potential customers.

This reinforces how serious the impact this could be for site owners.

Note also that shift is only going to continue and the majority of traffic will in the foreseeable future be driven by non Desktop devices.

Numerous well regarded optimisation experts have highlighted the impact this could have and Google’s own Zineb Ait Bahajii was noted by Search Engine Land as stating this change will have far reaching consequences and will be bigger than either the Penguin or Panda algorithm changes.

Why is Mobile so important to Google?

It makes sense. When so many users are searching on mobile devices and want to use mobile devices why should they be pushed to a site that is unusable or difficult to use. The usability and usefulness of a site should and does impact on the way that site is ranked.

Given how big an impact the smart phone has made already it makes sense that search engines want to make sure they are providing relevant and accurate rankings to their users.

Now we are all well warned about when the change is happening the race is on to make sure your site complies and will not be adversely affected.

So what can you do?

Hopefully you already have a responsive design in place for your site and so now it’s about ensuring it performs well rather than actually having to majorly fix your web properties.

There are some easy tests you can run to see what sort of mobile friendly state your site is in.

Google has provided guidance to site owners on how to best improve their sites for this change, and predominantly their recommendation is to use Responsive Design as your main strategy in rebuilding/ reworking your websites. While that isn’t the only method it is their recommended method and we have written previously about that.

They have also been sending out notifications to site owners on issues commonly found on sites, even those using responsive design, as they seek to ensure that the mobile standards adhered to are even higher than they previously requested. They are now directly forcing us as developers and you as site owners to ensure you focus heavily on usability especially across mobile devices.

There are simple tests you can run to check your sites mobile performance:

  1. The Mobile Friendly Test
  2. Google PageSpeed Insights

These will highlight some key issues, and many sites will show some issues on the 2nd test even when they pass the Mobile Friendly Test. Utilising WordPress or Drupal with responsive Themes won’t necessarily make you fully compliant as there are a number of more complex issues that might need addressing depending on how you run your site. If you are using less current or up to date site content management issues / themes you may have more to consider.

Note that the Mobile Friendly Test is just stage 1 of the process. If you fail that, then you have a much more urgent need to address. Get your site responsive and fast! (we can help with that)

If you pass the Mobile Friendly Test then the second test becomes an area that you need to focus on and improve. Especially the Usability areas. These areas are also highlighted in Google Webmaster tools Mobile Friendliness Section.

Run the tests and if what you see worries you let me know so I can discuss your options before the deadline.

 

Related Posts:

 

Website goals should be commercial

Are you making the mistake most people make with their website goals?

If you haven’t seen my recent video about Goal Setting for your website (as part of Writing a Better Website Scope) then you should! This post offers an additional very important thought process to the goal setting, to avoid making the mistake many people make.

What I discovered when I was discussing that video with many clients and colleagues was how wrong people were setting their goals.

Not only was it wrong but if those goals went through to being implemented (as many rushed to do) the end result was a weak or distracted website focus.

Here’s the big take outs:

  • Don’t use tactics as goals
  • Don’t confuse all your marketing goals with your website goals
  • Stop designing in your scoping process
  • Make your goal a commercial objective

In my goal setting video I talked about setting one primary goal and possibly 2 sub goals. Go watch it if you haven’t already and you can download the linked template.

A primary goal is just that. The primary goal you are setting for your website.

The Example:

Your business sells Shoes. You have physical stores and an online store. Your business goal is to sell more shoes overall with an improved profit margin etc.

You will then outline marketing goals that will help this be achieved as well as operational goals.

In these goals you will set website goals. In doing this you have outlined that you want to increase sales and get better profitability per sale by increasing the repeat sales through the site.

So the Primary goal for the site will be: “Increase sales on the website for shoes by X % to Y Level by Z date”.

Note: No mention of repeat sales.

In our above business goal there was an AND between increased sales and better profitability.

A sub goal could then be: “Increase repeat sales on the site by D %”.

If we make the repeat sales the primary goal then we may not end up with the key primary result which is increasing sales overall.

Why is this important?

The purpose of scoping a website is to invest upfront in planning to get the right result in development.

It will help make decisions not only in the build phase but also afterwards when measuring the results.

If making a sale is the most important part of your site then as you scope it out each and every decision will be based around that.

What do you mean Tactics as goals?

By this I mean don’t put a squeeze box on your home page to get someone to sign up to your newsletter when your primary goal was Sell more shoes.

If your primary goal is entirely get more signups to my newsletter, I still doubt I would have a squeeze box on my home page. That lacks understanding of the process of selling people on value.

If you want to sell more shoes then on your home page your home page goal will be based around that. If you know you need to get people to see the current specials to engage them first, before showing them other offerings this is part 1 of the sales process on this site.

You use tactics to meet a goal, not to be a goal.

The correlation between getting people onto our newsletter and then getting them to buy is a process that you need to craft into your overall site and process, not to make it the primary focus in development.

This isn’t the post to cover that topic in depth.

This post is about focusing back on what your real primary goal is.

Get SO tunnel visioned on what your END is that you narrow it down to the major result you need to get success in your business from this website.

Is it:

  • More sales
  • More leads
  • More signups
  • Faster Customer support
  • ??

Get clear. Really clear. Write it down.

Get REALLY clear on what you are trying to achieve and NOT how you are going to achieve it.

When you are trying to design how things will work before you even have a clear set of goals is when you mess this up. Don’t design anything until you are well into the scoping. Just clearly outline what you need as measurable results!

SO when setting your goals:

  • Set goals that are about your business (not other peoples)
  • Make sure the goal is simple and improves your business
  • ONE primary goal. What is the main purpose of your site in supporting your business?
  • Sub goals are fine, just know the hierarchy of your goals
  • Don’t bother even thinking about how it will look or even exactly how it will function, just state the goals
  • Write then down and stick them on page one of your scope

That’s what Ireckon! What do you reckon.

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See our “Complete Guide to Website Planning“. A Free Online guide to help you set goals and plan your next website

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PS. Of course if you can’t be bothered with all this and want to pay me to come and do all this for you, that’s great. I look forward to your call

Setting Clear and Useful Goals for your Website

This post covers how to go about Setting Goals for your website and more importantly how to make them “clear and useful“!

If you are like most people then you are probably thinking that you have goal setting down and are pretty clear on how to set goals. Well that is probably correct. The issue is are you applying the same principles to your business website scoping / planning process and the ongoing management of your website?

An easy way to answer this is to think about your monthly performance meetings for your site/s.  How many times do you review statistics and information and discuss it based around your goals?

Like many of us you may well probably get caught up in how many leads or sales it generated at a high level but not necessarily did it meet the goals you set.

Some of you might we wondering why goal setting is up front in the process. Well imagine building out an entire website plan or scope and getting it quoted and approved only to realise you had completely missed something business critical. It happens. It is so easy to get caught up in the technology or design discussions that the core of what you are aiming to achieve is overlooked.

Many times people forget to outline the specific goal and generalise what they want.

“We need a more modern look for our company” is a design and feeling based statement but not a goal that means anything tangible to the business.

Imagine coming to me as your Car Broker and asking me to get you a car in the next two weeks for a very important event. You tell me you want it with less than a set number of kms on the clock and it should be red or white. You even suggest you quite like 2 or 3 types of vehicles. I go and rent you a vehicle that matches these specification, that you agree like the look of and have it sitting outside your office for you on the agreed date.

I leave the keys at reception for you and feel like i fulfilled my part of this deal. Then you ring me all upset telling me the car is not going to work properly because the reason you needed it was to get 7 people to an event all together.

That Mini I got you doesn’t work for the actual specifics of what you needed it to achieve.

The missing piece – what your actual goal and need for it was.

Take a listen to the video and think about your goals.

Here is the website-goals template.

If you haven’t read Part 1 you can here: You can write a better website scope.

Transcript:

Welcome to part two in the series on How to Write a Better Scope for Your Website or App.

In the previous post we laid the ground work of why the scope is really important, and there is also a video about thinking about how you cost out websites and apps as well. Hopefully you’ve had a look at those.

In this video we’re going to talk specifically about one of the most important parts of the scope, and that’s goals, and why the goals are so very important to getting a great scope.

So you might think you know everything about goals. In other areas of your life and in business you might have great goal setting regimens. We want to touch on these very quickly today, go through them, and give some guidance on why they’re so important and how you include them in your scope.

So why goals? Stephen Covey talked about beginning with the end in mind, and that’s pretty much what we’re talking about here.

The goal for your site is the destination that your scope will be the roadmap for. Without a destination you might as well just get in the car and drive. That probably makes you like 80% or 90% of people rolling out websites. They have loose goals, they just need a website. They need to get something fulfilled and they tick those boxes and move on. We’re not going to be like them.

The goals that we want to set here are going to help us stay really focused on what matters as far as the whole development and build process that will come later. So that’s why I want you to listen and focus on the goal.

There are only a limited number of goals that you can use in reality in the website; there are not 50 different types. So in general terms the types are sales, enquiries or leads, calls as you want to generate clicked calls or phone calls, sign ups or other forms of positive engagement. So that might be a download of an e-book, it might be sign up for a newsletter, a sign up for a product, or a webinar.

There’s a whole raft of positive engagement experiences that could go on on a website that might lead to future conversions, but they can be a significant goal. Traffic – less people are so concerned about generating raw random unqualified traffic these days, but maybe that’s a goal and this isn’t about telling you what your goals should be, it’s about helping identify goals and set them.

There are other types of goals, but these are the primary goals that you’re likely to be thinking about when scoping your website. For the exercise I want you to pick just one primary goal, and this is really, really important. Later on when we have to make some critical decisions in the development and design phases of the site and defining a scope, there can be conflicts, there can be issues that compete. So we need a hierarchy of goals that are most important to our business objectives that we are focusing on.

You can have a couple of other sub-goals, and when we go through the exercise, the template that I’ll give you allows you to do that. Obviously you can write as many as you want, but I really want you to focus on what these are and really nail down that primary goal. If I want to generate more sales then that’s what we want to focus on, and then there might be some other parts of the process that lead to that that we know, and we’ll get to those.

This is a hugely important part of the communication for the team that you are going to be working with. Everyone from copywriters to designers and developers, picking that primary goal and being able to identify it will really improve your processes.

Get specific. All goals are like this.

Not increase sales but a thousand sales of a certain product, or a thousand sales across all our products with an average spend of $150.

I want you to break down your goals into something much more specific like this. Unless there’s a really special need, we don’t want all the focus on a low margin accessory rather than the primary product that we want to sell.

So you really need to think about what goal and what specific goal matters more than others. Use some research if you really have got it. If you really know a lot about previous interactions on your site, what sells better, what you think should sell better, what your competitors are selling, use that knowledge.

Go look at your statistics, but get really realistic about these goals. It’s much easier to go from ten sales to twenty than ten to a hundred. So set something that’s achievable, but also within your goals of your business.

Let’s not get way, way out there unless it’s a two or three-year stretch goal. Make sure that they’re measurable, because that’s how we’re going to validate this whole process, both to your boss or the budgeting process. However we’re going to work on it we need to be able to say, look, we did this, we achieved that. Write them down. There’s a template that I’ve provided that you can use.

You can use your own documents, but if we’re going to be writing a scope, recording the information is really, really critical. So what we want to do is a really simple step, defining this, putting them on paper, but it’s really, really important about what comes next.

So quickly to recap, get really specific about what your new site needs to achieve. What is the goal? Have a primary goal. Use two other secondary goals, maximum. Set very specific measurable targets for them that are both realistic and important and write them down. That’s it.

We’ve covered the goals and that’s all we need to know right now. Download the documents. You can see it below the video in the attached post. Then in the next series we’ll be talking about site architecture and how we draft the blueprints for what the site will turn to. I really appreciate you listening.

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See our “Complete Guide to Website Planning“. A Free Online guide to help you set goals and plan your next website

Scoping your website better

Writing a better website scope

I have noticed that, despite the advances in use of the web and how many people use the internet every day for both personal and business use, preparing a workable and practical website scope to build a new site or to fix an existing one is something missing in most skill sets.

That’s understandable, but it doesn’t remove the need for that to be improved, so I figured now is as good a time as any to fix it.

So why don’t people invest more in building better website scopes?

There are several reasons that people don’t;

  • Time
  • Understanding
  • How to do it

Time

Preparing any good plan (for anything in business) takes time and a degree of effort. Time is also something we are apparently poor in, so preparing a good scope or plan for your web site seems too hard.

Understanding

There are several schools of thought that affect many people. Too easy is one. This is where sites are supposedly very easy to ‘knock up’ so investing a lot of time in them doesn’t make sense. Another is that it is too technical for them so people shrug it off as too hard or assign it to more ‘technical’ people. In a world where we all use highly powerful computing devices daily this is a cop out.

Some people claim they don’t get much from their web sites or don’t see how it will help them. Despite the obvious, that this approach is a self fulfilling prophecy, there is the need to get educated and understand that in many cases this is absolute rubbish and quite simply not doing a good job is going to cause more problems.

How to do it

Uncertainty of exactly what constitutes a website scope or good website development plan is probably the other key factor that holds back site owners and marketing teams from preparing such documents.

When I stated researching this topic I couldn’t find anything complete or practical that I could give to anyone to help either so it isn’t surprising people are struggling to do it.

So I have started preparing a way for you to document and plan your site better.

Why is this important?

  • It helps developers pick the right platform for you
  • It sets clear expectations of what you are trying to achieve (and something to measure)
  • Helps to create a more realistic way to look at the work required
  • It highlights how much you do or don’t know about your digital side of business
  • It helps everyone make better decisions

When you layout requirements and confirm exactly how they are to be used and what benefits you expect from them then it becomes much easier to determine whether or not you are meeting your goals.

A scope isn’t necessarily a massive technical document and many developers will add additional information to your scope to lock in the development process they will use, but that Is what you will pay them to know.

A scope will ultimately answer this one question:

What do we want from our website?

That is really what a website scope is. It is a written or documented way to answer that question.

Thus this series has come about and the subsequent posts, videos and guides are being produced to help you know how to do this better for your self or in conjunction with your agency.

While I would like everyone to allocate a real budget for their site (see my video: How much does a website really cost), this isn’t always possible. So hopefully this series will help you in getting together a much better brief and working better with your web team.

Of course if you don’t want to write your own website scope / plan that’s fine. You have two choices; a) Get a bad result for your investment or b) Pay for the scope to get built for you.

If it’s is choice (b) I’d be happy to help do it for you, and if you choose (a) then I look forward to providing this information in the coming posts and would love to hear your feedback on what you would like to see in this series.

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See our “Complete Guide to Website Planning“. A Free Online guide to help you set goals and plan your next website

How much does a website cost?

How much does a website cost? It’s a question we get asked all the time and one which we explore in this video. We talk about getting you to think beyond just the basic cost of a website, and thinking about what your website’s goals are, building a site to meet those goals, and breaking down all components needed for your website to help you see if you are really investing enough, or if you are spending too much.

Transcription:

How much should you be spending on your website? How much does a website cost? Great questions. They’re questions that we all want to know the answers to. Lots of people want to know the answers. Being in an agency, it’s one of the first questions we get asked, “How much does a website cost? How much will my website cost?”

And without going into scoping, and functional requirements and all those things, today’s topic is going to talk about, what should a website cost? What should you be spending on a website? And how will you know if you’re spending too much? And equally, how will you know if you’re not spending enough to get the results you want?

So thinking about the costs, and what these costs are, it’s really important to understand the goals of a website. And your website must have a goal. You must know exactly what you want it to achieve. Do you want to sell more of certain products or all of your products? Do you want to sell a certain number? Do you want to get a certain number of qualified leads per month? Do you just want some subscriptions? Are you offering a newsletter or an online course or seminar series? Are you pre-selling something? Are you trying to garner interest in something? Are you doing market research or something else, a support mechanism? There’s a lot of things that your website could do. And only you can answer that. But it’s a really, really important question.

Your approach is going to be different to mine, and someone else’s, in how we allocate costs, and what budget we have. But all of it needs to be based around this goal, so we can see if we’re spending wisely, and not blindly. So what is the goal for your website?

You probably think your website is part of your marketing, and it is. But rather than just being part of your communication strategy, part of your marketing strategy, where people can look at it, let’s think about it differently. Because what we’re here to do is to find a great way to cost out our websites, and how we’re spending money on them.

So we think about our website as a really key operational part of our business. Let’s think of it in retail terms. I’m a shop. I already have a shop, I have an inventory, and I sell. And I want a new location. So I go out, and I find a new location and I rent that shop. At that point, it’s an empty shell. It’s a set size. I then fit it out. So I paint it, furniture, everything, signage, the whole lot. I hook up utilities, power, water. I get those all connected. Security set up, alarms, safe, if I need it. Equipment that I might need, like, point-of-sale systems. I then stock the shelves with inventory, which is a critical part, because that’s what we’re selling. Staff, got to hire some staff. Train them up. Share staff between my stores, if it’s local or otherwise new staff.

All of this is really, really necessary. And then I’ve got to get people in there. So the next part of it is I’ve got to promote it, advertise it, and run campaigns, to get people in the store. They come in, they buy. We recycle the inventory, get new stuff through. We change it up. We modify it based on the demographics, and people coming through the store. So that, we really understand, and that’s fine.

The website though, for the retail store is no different. The rent for our website is our hosting, and our content management tools, and things we’ll end up using, so any software or things that we require. And if they’re open-source, we’ve still got to upgrade them, this costs. Make sure they’re up to date, and plug-ins are updated. And even though they might be a lot smaller, the costs are there.

And if you’re using proprietary systems, you might be using tracking software, and stuff like that on your website, those things have license fees, and rentals. And so they’re a part of your store’s rentals. Your fit out costs correlate directly to the build and construct phase. So the build and construct phase is building the website, designing, getting that all done.

Inventory: massive part of your online store. And it’s not actually just the product. To me, your content on your website is your inventory. And even more so, if you’re a services business, where you don’t actually have a widget per se to sell. Your story comes from your content. So your text, your images, your video, your audio, that is your inventory of your website online. Think about that for a moment, how much attention do you give your online inventory versus your offline inventory?

Utilities, you’ve got to have utilities. You’ve got to have security. And then we’ve got all these things online. Then we’ve got to run these promotional campaigns. We’ve got to do advertising, to bring people through our online store. And then we cycle it through. We change the inventory. We add new stuff, we remove stuff. We do specials. We do all these things.

So those things correlate really, really closely together. So if we think about it that way, rather than just this marketing piece, over here, that we may or may not focus on, suddenly, this is a really, really critical part of our business. And we can segment it out into little bits and pieces, to say, “How do we cost out these elements, and how do we relate them?” And more importantly, we have baseline costs that we can use, from our existing business.

Now that we know the fit out cost is very similar to the build and construct cost of our retail shop or office, we can base on those costs. So a 70 square metre shop in Sydney, $1700 per square metre, is $120,000. An office for 20 people, 250 square metres at $1000 per square metre is $250,000. So here’s a couple of figures that relate to certain size businesses.

So if you have a smaller shop or a bigger shop; if you have a much smaller office or a huge office; if you have a market store, each of those have costs that you can baseline against. And they should match your needs, and the goals that we talked about earlier on, which is, what are you trying to achieve? So if you have a retail shop of 70 square metres, that you spend $100-150,000 outfitting originally and you now want a second shop, why not spend the same money getting a great experience online?

The reality is, you probably don’t have to spend that much. But you go with a really clear idea of what you’re expecting to get. You’ll define that really well to the people who are going to do the work for you. Now, you can get a freelancer, you can go to an agency. You can employ someone in-house to do it. But in each of those instances, you’re going to be paying the equivalent rates, at the time, for the length of time you need someone to build it.

So a full-timer that’s highly experienced, is going to cost you that sort of money, that’s a given. Agencies and freelancers, their rates will vary, and their overall cost will vary. But they’ll only vary in an hourly rate. What you need out of it, won’t vary or shouldn’t vary. And at the end of the day, if you can’t afford what you think you need, then you’ll have to adjust your expectations. But you should be able to baseline against that.

And equally when you’re looking at content for that site, if you separate those costs, you now have a way to think about, “What am I prepared to spend for inventory? What am I going to go and spend for my content? What am I going to spend on maintenance? What are my advertising and marketing costs going to be? What do I need to do to get people to this site?”

There’s some ways to think about it. It’s not an exact cost, because I didn’t promise that. But what I did say, was I want to give you a way of thinking, and a way to think about what you should be spending, and a great way to know whether you’re spending enough or not spending enough. So hopefully you got a lot out of that. Hopefully you’ve got some ideas now, particularly useful if you go sell it up through senior management, about what you’re putting into the budget, what you think you’re going to spend.

If you really like what I had to say, please subscribe to the channel, down there. You can share this on social, I would love that. And I hope to see you next time, on the next video.

mobile-ready-l

2 things you must do to your website in 2014

Quarter 1 for 2014 is over.  April is upon us and we are knee deep in the year. It’s easy when the year takes over to forget to keep focused on important strategic things that matter.

You looked at your website last December and had great plans to get lots of things changed in 2014 and yet here we are at the end of March and have you made any headway?

Instead of waiting any longer and not making any progress by the end of the next quarter here are the two most important things you need to make sure you are getting done this year:

  1. Mobile Ready
  2. Conversion Optimisation

There are plenty of other areas that matter of course, but we can’t do everything at once, and you will find that the further you push into these two topics the more other related areas they will drag in.

For example, when you are optimising your experience for mobile users, you will be forced to  look at the user journey and the content you need for that, as well as how you are targeting mobile users with your PPC campaigns and SEO. It is all connected.

For now let’s just stay zeroed in on the top level topics.

Mobile Ready

Mobile devices are everywhere. People use phones and tablets anywhere and any time and the volume of search queries, research, and purchase done on mobile devices is growing every month and year.

Google fully expects that mobile search will overtake desktop search later this year or early next year. Without even reading all the statistics all you have to do is take a look around you.

Any day in any café, home, or business there are people everywhere looking, searching, buying, talking and sharing on the devices they own.

Smart businesses know that users are all on mobile devices and understand that they have to be part of that. They know they have to ensure their web strategy and marketing strategy includes a mobile solution and that this can’t just be left to chance.

So where do you start?

  • Understand where you are at
  • Research
  • Make changes
  • Measure and improve

You need to know you must have a decent mobile user experience if you want to compete and grow your business. This isn’t even debatable. You have to accept this first and foremost and then get started on making it happen. (6 Undeniable Reasons Why The Future of Web Design is Responsive)

So start with where you are now. How does your site work on mobile?

Get your phone out of your pocket and look right now.

When did you last do that? What is your reaction? If you were one of your customers what do you think of the experience?

Another good quick snapshot is this tool from Google (Page speed Insights). This measures predominantly the speed and rendering of the site from a mobile perspective compared to the desktop. Just enter your site domain name into it.

NB> Google now show the mobile results before the desktop results, a pretty good indication of which they think matters more.

This is where research comes into it.  Either you or your developer team need to start understanding the right ways for your audience to get the best experience on your site. Don’t just follow what someone else has done, look at the options and understand your users / customers and what their needs are.

With this in mind make the change to a mobile friendly site.

You MUST and have to get your site mobile friendly. If all you can do is make this change for now that is a win, and then you can do smaller progressive changes along the way (article about making small changes).

There are two key ways you can do this:

  1. A responsive web site
  2. A mobile website

Google has also clearly stated they prefer responsive web design (our preferred method for mobile compatibility) for these 3 ‘main’ reasons:

  • single url
  • saves resources
  • no re-directions are required

There are also good use cases for a mobile version  of a site and also for some businesses to push an app for mobile experiences.  Each of these decisions should be made based on your budget and user needs.

For a smaller / medium business without the budget of a Major multinational the big issue is how to maintain the best solution within a limited budget and provide a useful experience for the end user.

In my opinion a responsive site will offer the best bang for buck and enable you to win more than lose on all fronts. Keep in mind you don’t necessarily have to completely rebuild your site to make it responsive.

If you aren’t really sure what the term responsive web design means read Optimizing User Experience with Responsive Web Design  and How Responsive Design Improves User Task Completion and Building Smartphone-Optimized Websites.

A responsive design means you are using content globally across devices, which over time will lead you to looking at how good that content is, how it works on each device, and how that can be improved. It means you have to think in broader ways about what you add to your site and why and where you add it.

You will have to understand the size of the images and videos, the way calls to action are made, and many more decisions.

It isn’t right to limit the experience users get on a mobile.  In fact, the content on the mobile version is MORE important than your desktop.

Don’t make decisions to cut out content to make going mobile easier.  Make decisions about how content needs to work on all devices and, if anything, cut it out of the desktop version.

A mobile site isn’t like a small market stand you use to sell a few of your products to get people interested, it’s a fully furnished store that moves anywhere, anytime, and should offer everything you have to anyone looking.

Conversion

I will keep topic two for the next post. Conversion optimisation is the second item to focus on after you have your mobile solution fixed.

Small tweaks win over major website redesigns

blog-car-tune

Skip the major redesign and use small tweaks to win.

Were you about to start on a brand new web design for your business or do you regularly sit back thinking you need to find the money to completely redo what you had built a few years ago? Have you been convincing your boss or yourself you need a new model?

Do you feel your site is holding you back but everyone says it’s the design that’s wrong, too old or not like your competitors?

Maybe you should wait just a little bit.

While there are many reasons for a redesign or complete overhaul of a website in many cases you are best served to make sure you have really tuned the performance from the existing site first.

Why?

  1. A new look won’t fix broken parts.
    A new paint job won’t make a bomb of a car run any faster, and it will break down just as often. What you need to do is make sure your vehicle is regularly tuned and running at the best it can. We all know the difference between a car that gets serviced regularly and the one we ‘can’t afford to touch’ that eventually degrades into something that is lucky just to start.
  2. You need to know what to do when rebuilding.
    You should only be investing in new when you have compelling reasons and data that support the decisions and goals for the new redevelopment. The best way to make sure your new site or app works better than before is to know you have stretched the current one way past it’s capabilities.
  3. It takes a lot of effort and resources to build new.
    A complete rebuild costs a lot more money than small ongoing tweaks, it requires a lot more internal resources and takes up a lot of your work energy. It can be exhausting reaching the finish line on a new project and then suffering from fatigue it is easy to ignore the new site and just assume it is doing well. No one wants to tell their boss that after all that money they have nothing extra to show for it.

Think Evolution not Revolution.

Making a series of small changes that dramatically improve the existing site results by 1% every month will result in an overall net gain of 12% in a year, which depending on your volume and goals could be a massive improvement.

What would you do to improve your inquiries by 12% or more?

In a Formula 1 racing team a 1% improvement to them could mean the difference between winning and losing. They use all sorts of data and feedback mechanisms suited to their ‘race’ to help them adjust in real time how their vehicle is running and then between races what they can do better.

By the time you have tweaked your current site to death and have nothing more you can do then moving to that new site you are dreaming of will not be that big a jump from where you are and you will already know almost everything you want it to be.

The overall investment required to get it built will be significantly easier for all involved. Of course you might even find you don’t need a new site and that’s even more awesome!

So save yourself or your boss that big expense right now and see how you can give your site or application a bit of an overhaul, in some small steps and adjustments that are like taking it in for a regular service.

A well-managed maintenance plan for any online marketing asset is much more cost effective and profitable than periodic big spends that don’t get supported and often are built with the wrong motivations.

What sort of service can you give a website or application?

    1. Content fixes
    2. Fix flow blockages
    3. Basic site technical errors
    4. Customer Focus
    5. Conversions fixes

Conversion Numbers

Firstly understand what you are trying to achieve clearly.

Rather than saying just “more” get very specific about what it is you want more of. If you are going to make change and are looking to have it work better you need to define quite clearly what ‘better’ is. When you car isn’t working right you don’t say to the mechanic “just make it better”, you state clearly “it won’t start in the wet, or it’s blowing a lot of smoke”.

Are you aiming to get more inquiries, more sales, more phone calls. Are you targeting a specific demographic rather than just any inquiry, for example do you want more results related to Hotel Bookings for Brisbane, than Travel Australia?

Having a clear understanding of what you want to achieve means you can then start looking at measuring what you do change and what a win will look like. Ideally you can make many wins along the way to improving your business results from your site or application.

What race are you in?

Think of your business (and it’s site or app) as being in a Motor Race Competition. There are a lot of races you have to run, and in those races you have to do a lot of laps before you get to the finish.

In each race, there is the ongoing diagnostic and feedback loop that helps the driver keep the car on the track and in theory win the race. There are pit stops and tweaks to the way the car is driven that help to get through this race.

After each race all the learning’s go into preparing for the next race.

A Formula 1 team doesn’t throw out this years model just because they came down the results in any one race.

They take all the information from their data computer, driver and overall observations to tweak their vehicle for the next race.

They sometimes get it very wrong, and the results mean complete failure in the next race, again they take that data and fix it for the next race.

After a season of results and data they get an opportunity to do a more major overhaul to their vehicles and look forward to the next set of races. They don’t make those decisions blind or based around what the other cars look like. They work with their data.

Yes of course they are influenced by the team that won, they think about what they need to do to beat them, what element in their team wasn’t good enough and they set to improving that area.

With your site you currently have this years model. Before you get caught up thinking about how good your competitors site or app is and what other things they might be doing you first need to make sure yours is running at it’s absolute best. Then and only then should you try to take a significant technical jump to the next level.

You might determine you are actually only in a Formula 3 race and a long way from playing in the F1 series. That’s ok, it’s much better to understand your own capabilities and work them to their maximum than enter the big race and just be out of your depth.

Finding some strategy to get you an extra 10,000 unique visitors a month might sound attractive but if you site fails to convince and convert those visitors to take actions you want, or if your systems can’t handle the load then you will fail much more than taking a simpler approach.

In the workshop

So where do you start?

  1. Gather your baseline data.
    Start with what you have. Learn everything you can about it. Start reviewing your Google Analytics regularly so you can see what is happening and you can start to ask better questions. Start looking at weekly or monthly data depending on how busy your site is. There are so many ways to gather data that it is important you start small and grow as you and your team become more experienced. You don’t have to do full Usability studies, Heat Maps, Conversion tracking on everything on Day 1. They of course become important along the way but start small.Google Analytics Snap Shot
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask about what you don’t know.
    Use your developers, internal teams, an external agency or freelance expert to help you understand better what you don’t know. Never be afraid to pay for knowledge from an expert and not just for getting the actual work done. Smart people get the knowledge first before making their decisions and getting the work done.
  3. Formulate your basic metrics you want to improve.
    Starting small is best. Create some ratios that make sense for you right now. For example for your restaurant site it might be as simple as visitors that viewed our restaurant information page (or menu page) and then went through and made a booking inquiry. These numbers are easily accessible and you can set them up so that you can quickly grab that data immediately and even automate emails to advise you of significant changes in the data.
  4. Start finding your broken or spluttering pages.
    By using simple measurement methods you can start to see where in your site you are having issues. You can see pages that might be getting viewed a lot but aren’t getting any further interaction. This gives you important information and you can start to determine whether the people looking at that content aren’t your ideal targets or if there needs to be changes to the page to get them moving through the conversion steps you want.
  5. Use your site.
    Funnily enough many people inside a business very rarely use (test) their website and when they do they do it with insider knowledge. Go to your website and have one question you need answered. See how you go about answering it. What would a site user do if they didn’t know you or your business. Use different computers, use your phone. When your blood pressure rises because you realise something doesn’t work that should, you are on the right track. You will be amazed how many little technical issues you can discover just from using the site.

This is where the tuning process starts.

A car that splutters from clogged up spark plugs gets attention very quickly. What about a page that has a bounce rate of 90%? Is that spluttering?Bounce = 90

Immediately you have a page you can review as a one off and look at making adjustments.

Should the page go altogether? Can we rewrite the content? Is the content too long – too short? How are people getting to it? Is it targeted wrongly? Etc.

These are all the questions you can ask about how to make change.

Investing in quality content is one of the most important parts of any marketing tool you use. Online or offline. Using your analytics you can get a much better idea about what content gets read, what incentivises users to take action and where you are losing people. Engage a copywriter and get a great piece of copy as the first part of your test.

The Tune Up

You can run A/B tests if you have enough traffic to generate suitable results, or if traffic is very small and a niche space then make one set of changes and give the site time to show you if it worked or not. If your traffic is so small that effective A/B testing or other forms of testing are going to be hard to measure there are some great options in this article from Website Visual Optimizer about low volume test scenarios.AB Test Example report

Examples like sequential testing versus A/B testing, Site wide tests and others are some good ways to use your smaller traffic volumes but still run useful tests.

Testing options is the only real way to know whether the tweaks you are making are ‘keeping you on the right track’.

Remember if it is a massive fail now there isn’t much you can do to harm it. Making an adjustment or a re-write really only has upside at this point.

Make your changes systematically and in such a way that you can measure exactly what made the impact.

In a formula one racing team a 1% improvement to them could mean the difference between winning and losing. They use all sorts of data and feedback mechanisms suited to their ‘race’ to help them adjust in real time how their vehicle is running and then between races what they can do better.

How often do you get your data signals back, and who is empowered to help interpret those signals and then relay their expertise back to the teams driving the car in the race scenario.

Do you have one person responsible for it all? Are they fully equipped and trained to interpret the signals and do they even have time to analyse and improvise from that data?

Don’t be afraid to try changes in small chunks, as long as you are monitoring the results and don’t over react to the initial change results a small blip / mistake is just another piece of feedback material you need on the pathway to getting the absolute most out of your existing site.

In summary these are the things you need to remember to improve any website you own:

  • Make many small changes to improve results based on data from your site.
  • Setup a realistic and focused baseline and set reasonable goals.
  • Invest in small regular tweaks will most likely get you much more long term benefit than going for a major overhaul.
  • Don’t be afraid to make some mistakes they are all part of learning to do it better.
  • Most of all you must have your hand on your site data at all times.

You can make significant improvements to your business without having to reinvest in a new website.

Well that’s what ireckon. What do you reckon? I would love to get your feedback.