By Libby Hakim; Specialist SEO Website Copywriter
Is that little voice growing louder? You know, the one that says, “Your website really needs an update.”
Despite the little voice growing louder and louder, there are always so many other things to draw you away from the job of initiating a website refresh.
Like most jobs, though, the hardest part is often simply getting started.
Here, we help you kickstart your website refresh project by replacing that pesky little voice with 7 questions. By answering these questions, you’ll get clear on the scope of the required changes, get prepared to brief any external consultants, and be able to organise some quick fixes today.
1. What’s bugging you about your current website?
That little voice is in your head for a reason, so it’s important to uncover the reasons you want to change or update your website.
Does the design seem outdated? Was the content written in a hurry a few years ago? Are the images no longer consistent with your firm’s image? Have people told you the website is difficult to read on a mobile device?
Getting clear on the changes required means you can prioritise the work, bring in any external help and make better decisions throughout the entire website refresh project.
2. What is the ultimate goal for your website?
It’s okay if you have a website because, well, everyone else has one. But your website is an investment, and having website goals can help you get a better return on that investment.
Your website is the place many people are first introduced to your firm and the place your potential clients may go to make a final decision about using your services. It’s an extremely powerful marketing tool.
However, to use it as a marketing tool you need to understand how your website fits into your marketing plans and specify marketing goals for your website.
Do you want people to call after visiting your site? Do you want visitors to book a free 15-minute phone consultation? Do you want your website to lure in locals who are searching for a lawyer like you on Google?
By having a goal, you can start refining the website to help you achieve those goals. For example, if your goal is to bring in more local clients via search engines, then you need to start investigating options for optimising your website for search engines (know as search engine optimisation or SEO). If you want people to call, make sure your phone number is prominent in the top menu bar and the footer and easily found on the contact page.
3. Is your menu navigation driving people away?
User experience guru Steve Krug explains the importance of web navigation conventions with an analogy involving our physical navigation of the real world. In his book, Don’t make me think: A common sense approach to web and mobile usability, he asks readers to imagine the frustration if someone moved street signs from corners, put them halfway down the pole and aligned the signs vertically.
Make sure you’re not causing frustration for your visitors by following these menu navigation conventions:
- Your logo should appear on every page in the same place, usually the upper left corner, and link back to the home page
- The first item in the primary menu bar should be “Home” and should take you back there (no matter where you are on the website)
- The primary menu and footer navigation should include “Contact”.
5. Do you know who you’re talking to?
Have you ever read an article, book or website and thought, “Wow, that just hit the nail on the head. It’s like they know what I’m thinking.”
There are no mind-reading powers at work here. It’s just a case of the writer doing their homework about their target audience and writing with that target audience in mind.
Who is your target audience? Small business owners? Okay, that’s a good start. But you need to dig deeper and think like a marketer.
Marketers create target audience personas to help them better understand who they’re talking to. This involves creating a detailed profile of your ideal client. Cover things like location, age, gender, type of business, pain points, interests outside of work, and favourite products and holiday locations. It’s not an easy task, but it’s worthwhile to build up a clear picture – in writing – of the client you want to welcome through your doors more often.
5. Are you letting others do your boasting?
If you’re not letting happy past clients sing your praises, you should be.
When a potential client is in those final stages of deciding whether to use your services, a raving testimonial will often seal the deal. Your past clients will speak many times louder than anything else on your website.
How do you get these testimonials? Simple – just ask. Send a polite email to your satisfied clients asking if they’d be happy to email you back with a testimonial. Perhaps they’ve already told you how happy they are? In that case, just ask them to elaborate on what they’ve already told you. Otherwise, explain that testimonials are important for your business and ask for a few sentences about why they chose you, how you helped them and what they think sets you apart from others.
The best thing about this strategy is that it not only adds to your website, it also boosts your confidence!
6. Are you boring visitors with blocks of text?
Unless they’re to be found in the latest blockbuster novel, chunks and chunks of text will turn readers away. Indeed, online readers are known to be scanners, skimmers and a rather impatient lot.
So, you need to help people move through your content quickly. How? Here are a few tips:
- Break up text with headings and subheadings
- Use bullets and lists
- Use plenty of images
- Prune unnecessary words and repetitive sentences
- Have a main point for each paragraph and remove any content not related to that point.
7. Is your website healthy under the bonnet?
The mention of website development, back ends, plugins and coding can send some people into meltdown. But it’s helpful to have some idea about the more technical side of your website.
The good news is there are a lot of free tools out there to help you identify whether there’s a technical problem on your site that you may need to raise with your website developer. Here are a few of the best ones:
- Woorank – an SEO audit tool that will give you recommendations on issues impacting your site’s Google rankings
- Pingdom – grades the speed of your website and makes suggestions for improving speed
- Google’s mobile-friendly test – tests how well someone can use your page when on a mobile device.
Where to now?
Once you’ve answered these questions, jot down what action you need to take, prioritise the bigger tasks and organise those quick fixes. And tell that little voice to quiet down – you’re on your way to a cleaner, slicker website.
About our Guest Blogger
Libby now writes for law firms, legal tech companies, and other finance, insurance, tech and business organisations. She also works as a freelance communications consultant with law firms and government departments, and loves being able to bridge the gap between legal and marketing minds.
You can read more about Libby on her “Libby Hakim” site.