Since the first website in 1991 there are now more than a billion sites, all competing for attention and mindshare. When did your current website launch? Are you wishing for a redesign but can't afford it?
According to one calculator, the average 10-50 page website with standard database integration could run $12 to $18k to design, build and launch. Even a DIY model with a pre-designed theme will cost you numerous hours of management, coordination, design, copywriting, development, integration and testing time, not to mention hosting, maintenance and security costs.
So, what do you do? How can you breathe some life into the site you already have with little investment?
Here are 3 cost-effective ways to revitalize your current website.
1. Think Refresh not Redesign
There are ways to work within your current layout design and navigational structure and still energize and boost your website performance.
Amp Up Your Branding: Design trends can quickly date your website. Look for ways to rid your site of outdated imagery or graphic tricks. Aim instead for a simple, clean look. Can you replace tired stock photography with something more authentic and unique? Look to modern brands you admire in your space for inspiration (but don't steal or copy them outright). Take cues from how they use imagery to convey ideas and concepts or how they customize an image with color treatments or overlays. Use your brand colors in thoughtful but contemporary ways. Remove outdated shadow techniques or boxy treatments that limit the browser view. If in doubt, go for simple, flat color treatments.
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Tweak Your Messaging: Your brand is also expressed by the words you choose on your website. This is called your brand voice. It should be uniquely you and consistent throughout your site. Some websites are all business and authority (Hubspot). Others are brash and provocative (Red Bull). Some brands represent a sense of cause and purpose (Cisco). Modern websites are no longer an online, self-promoting corporate brochure. So, consider how your corporate story can convey punch and personality. Are you attracting customers, investors and prospective employees by the way you speak about your company and solutions?
Aim for Clarity: While related to your brand voice, this area has more to do with substance than voice. Is it absolutely clear what your product or service does when users first land on your home page or product pages? Speak to them about the problem(s) you can solve for them and how you will make their life and work easier. Let them see it in action or via case studies or ROI. Show them with purpose, persuasion and clarity. For each main webpage, have in mind what information they are looking for and give it to them as clearly as possible. And if you can say it with less words, do so.
2. Be the User
Our second tweak to make your website work harder is its structure and function. I know, I said we weren't going to change navigation, which can be expensive. But this has to do with improving on what is already there, not changing it.
SEO: To get users to your website you must address SEO basics. This means knowing which search terms people use to find information related to your offering. Your Google Analytic stats will tell you what search terms are working for you. What terms are you missing? Next, update your on-page content and keyword metadata to better target your new keywords. Use synonyms, short and long-tail versions or phrases. Focus mainly on your home page and main product page(s).
Site Nav: Without a completely reorganization of your site, you can make sure that site navigation is clear and users can find the content they are looking. Some navigational areas are standard practice and shouldn't be missed--like "Company/About" sections or "Contact/Service" sections. Also remember users do not always enter your website from the homepage, in fact, your keywords are doing their job if visitors are entering via other internal pages. Once there, can they navigate the site clearly? Can they tell where they are on the site and easily move to other content areas? Is back-navigation user-friendly? What about adding a search function to help them find exactly what they want?
CTAs: Calls to action are the bread and butter of your website. To make your website work harder, identify the top 3-5 CTAs you want visitors to take on your website (there are many, but prioritizing the top few will help you manage them within limited resources). Consider different types of users and where they are along the buying cycle.
These may include the following:
Now that you've identified the most important CTAs, decide where they logically should appear on your website and build persuasive and supportive content around each of them. Be sure the buttons themselves stand out visually from the surrounding content. Then be sure you have a strong landing page and form for each of these actions (as appropriate) that are also consistently well-branded (impactful visually and with brand voice).
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3. What's Outside the Box?
The final tweak to refresh your tired website is to look beyond the constructs of the website itself to the methods you use to drive traffic to your site. These include things like your social media, a blog and an inbound content strategy.
Content Calendar: An inbound strategy ties all your marketing tactics together into one neat package, so it's best to start our discussion with the content calendar. This doesn't have to be labor-intensive if you don't have the resources for a full-blown content marketing strategy. Instead, just consider what events and tactics you plan on using in your marketing arsenal throughout the year. Map them out. Think about what assets and supporting resources will be used for each and plot them.
Blog: If you don't already have a blog on your website, this is an easy add-on and will help drive new visitors to an otherwise static website. Launching a blog will give you a way to incorporate your keyword topics and link to other areas of your website that highlight your expertise. Don't forget to include sharing and engaging functions within your blog design too. Now, add blog post ideas to your content calendar above. Next is social media.
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Social: Even though B2B marketers have been slower to jump on the social bandwagon, most recognize the added boost these mediums can have on the overall marketing mix. B2B social media like Twitter and LinkedIn are now considered key avenues for sharing information about tradeshows and events, or in raising awareness about trending topics and solutions. As you develop new collateral offerings, think of ways to optimize this content with infographics, charts and quotes that will play well in social media. Now, add these social media posts to your content calendar.
You'll quickly see how this "outside the box" mindset of content, blogs and social media all work together to form an inbound content marketing strategy--much like coloring outside the lines of an integrated and dynamic website.
Now Measure, Rinse and Repeat
So, you've tackled your tired website with these 3 manageable tweaks: Think Refresh, Be the User and What's Outside the Box.
Now it's time to measure your success and see where you have impacted ROI, increased traffic or improved conversion rates. But a website (design or redesign) is never really done.
A good webmaster is always tweaking and boosting something. There should always be some fresh content, some new initiative, the latest product features to focus on, or better ways to explain your differentiators. So, reiterate the redesign process as often as possible to keep your website fresh.
Then, when the timing and budget cycle deem it appropriate, you can plan for and embark on a complete redesign project--where the sky's the limit (so to speak).
NEED HELP? Even the simplest website tweaks may be more than you have time or bandwidth to handle. No worries. Give me a buzz. From creative direction and branding to graphic design and copywriting, you only need one creative expert, so you can concentrate on your business. Win-win.
Hi. I'm Barbara Bogue. The name [double b] came from my initials. Here I share tips and advice on marketing, design and copywriting.
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