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Is Your Website Ready to Take Over 2019?
For many, welcoming in a new year is like starting with a clean slate. It provides us with the opportunity to step back and examine the previous year’s successes and failures.
Were there things you could have done to reach more customers? Is there something you can do to ensure growth in 2019?
As your online storefront, your website can dictate how successful you are in the online world. If you can make it work well, it can help turn first-time visitors who’ve never heard of you before into paying customers.
In this post, we’re going to point out some improvement areas for your website. Read our tips and make sure your website is positioned for success over the coming year.
Let’s get started.
Renew your domain and web hosting.
In late 2010, the official website of the Dallas Cowboys, an American football team, went down. Instead of the homepage, a photo of two boys playing soccer welcomed visitors. A purchase link for the domain told everyone that the website was down for one reason.
They forgot to renew their domain.
It took up to 48 hours for the football team to get its website back up. During those two days, the news spread across various channels. Visitors took screenshots, preserving the gaffe for all eternity.
Needless to say, this was an embarrassing experience for the football team, but it could’ve been much worse.
If you forget to renew your domain, domain squatters could purchase it. They’re people who buy domains with the hope of profiting from it in two ways:
- They could resell it to the original owners for an exorbitant amount.
- They could also create their own website using the domain and place ads on it.
Domain Authority is a scoring system developed by Moz that predicts how well your website would rank in search engines. Your domain could score anything from one to 100. The more quality websites link to your domain, the higher your Domain Authority will be.
If your website has been around for years or you’ve created popular content, your domain could be quite valuable. This could make retrieving it difficult if you ever forget to renew it.
In a nutshell, never forget to renew your domain. Enter 2019 knowing you’ve secured your domain for the next year or so.
To avoid forgetting, you could try the following options:
You’re giving your domain provider the authority to automatically renew your domain every year. As long as you ensure your payment information is up-to-date, you won’t have to worry about renewing your domain at all.
Renew your domain for two or five years.
Some domain providers give you the option to pay for your domain for the next five years or so. You will have to pay a bigger amount in one go, but you won’t have to worry about renewing for the next few years.
Evaluate if your website is due for a redesign.
First impressions are important both online and offline.
According to a recent survey, users make up their minds about your website after 0.5 seconds. This means that you could lose potential customers in less than a second…if your website doesn’t grab their attention.
Having a website that demands a second look could mean the difference between gaining more revenue or losing out to your competitors.
Your website looks like it belongs in the early 2000s.
This could mean several things.
Are you using an explosion of colours on your website, none of which actually match? It’s almost 2019 but your footer says your website was last updated five years ago.
You could also take a look at your website’s overall structure. Does it have a clean navigation bar and content visitors can easily scroll through? Or is it a mess with tons of unnecessary images and tables?
The bottom line is, if your website doesn’t look fresh and professional, it reflects badly on you.
With 2019 on the horizon, take a step back and examine the overall picture. Is your website as modern and efficient as it could be?
If the answer is no, you might want to consider an overhaul.
You’re trying to appeal to everybody.
Popular author Meg Cabot once said, “You’re not a 100 dollar bill, not everyone is going to like you.”
Your business won’t appeal to everybody. Some people might not like how your business presents itself or what you offer.
And that’s completely fine.
Your job is to ensure you appeal to your ideal customers. These are the people your products or services are tailor-made for. They’re the ones who will see how valuable your solution is.
Figure out who these people are. Try to create an ideal customer profile using the following questions:
- How old are these people?
- What are their hobbies and interests?
- What are the problems you can solve for them?
- Where do they usually spend time online?
- How do they talk in both formal and informal settings?
Once you answer the above questions, use the knowledge you gain and apply it to your website redesign.
For example, when deciding on colour schemes, don’t just pick the colours you like. What colours will appeal to your ideal customer?
Survey says women prefer blue, purple and green. Men, on the other hand, like blue, green and black. These preferences change once you factor in age, mood and culture.
Dig deep. Get to know who your ideal customer is. Figure out what they like, and make sure your website reflects that.
Optimise your website for mobile.
First of all, what does mobile optimisation even mean?
Users view your website using all sorts of devices–laptops, mobile phones, tablets, you name it. If your website is mobile optimised, it can adjust to the device used to view it. The size of the buttons, the images, the text size, everything.
If it isn’t mobile optimised, users will have difficulty viewing the site and finding what they need. When searching for information, they might not be able to find the search bar or it might not work at all.
Having a mobile optimised website is more important than ever. Survey says that 52.2% of all online traffic was generated through mobile phones. 51% of consumers say they find new brands and products through–you guessed it–mobile search.
This means one thing. You’re missing out on a wide pool of customers if your website isn’t mobile optimised.
Create a responsive website.
Before we proceed any further, let’s define what a responsive website is.
If you’ve read articles about web design or web development before, you might’ve encountered terms like mobile-friendly and responsive. A responsive site is one way for website owners to be mobile-friendly. There are other ways like creating a mobile website (separate to your desktop version) but there are disadvantages in taking that approach.
A responsive website is the recommended way to make websites mobile-friendly. Responsive sites keep the content of the site the same (images and text) but simply display them differently based on the screen size of the device. This adjusts the presentation to each screen so that it displays in a user-friendly way.
If you’re using WordPress, almost all themes available are responsive these days so it can take care of that for you. These themes can be free or can be purchased at a low price and provide you with plenty of options depending on your content and needs.
This is a great option if you’d like a responsive website without shelling out the funds for a fully customised one. You can still change the fonts, colours, headers and other elements to reflect your brand.
Conduct a mobile audit.
Learning how to optimise a website for mobile requires time, something you may be in short supply of.
With this in mind, you could take advantage of tools available online. Hubspot created a tool called the Website Grader.
All you have to do is open the Website Grader and enter your URL. It will then conduct a quick audit of your website and grade it in terms of overall performance, mobile-friendliness and more.
Website Grader doesn’t stop there. It also offers suggestions you can implement to make your website more efficient. These suggestions might be a bit complicated so you could consider asking for professional assistance.
This tool is completely free. You don’t have to create an account or even enter your email address. Give it a try today.
Improve your website loading time.
In July 2018, Google rolled out their Speed Update. The update made page load time a major factor in mobile search engine rankings.
For example, you own a Sydney travel agency and you wrote a blog post about the top tourist spots for families in New South Wales. Your competitor wrote a similar blog post about it as well. Both blog posts contain equally useful information for visitors and are also about the same length.
However, your website loads faster than your competitor’s. With the new Google Speed Update, this gives you a bigger chance of ranking higher in mobile search results.
Don’t get me wrong. This update doesn’t give you an excuse to slack off in content creation. You still need to create content that’s better than your competitor’s. However, having a faster website will give you a much-needed leg up.
Conduct a pagespeed audit.
You might be wondering how to even begin with this step.
Don’t worry. Google offers a free tool called PageSpeed Insights that will conduct the audit for you. All you have to do is type your website URL and hit enter. It will then review your website, score how fast it loads and offer improvement suggestions.
Just like with a mobile audit, these suggestions may be too difficult for someone with limited coding knowledge. Asking for professional assistance may be required.
Use correct image sizes.
If you’ve been uploading images without thinking about how big they are, now would be a great time to reconsider.
Large file sizes don’t benefit you in any way and slow your website down.
If you upload an image that’s too small, your browser will stretch it, making the image look pixelated. However, if you upload a correctly-sized image or an image that’s too big, both images will look the same on your website.
The main difference is, an image that’s too big takes longer to load. Today’s online users are used to getting what they want quickly. When a user has to wait more than a few seconds to see a photo, there’s a huge chance they’re going to leave.
Because surely, they’re going to find another website that gives them the information they need faster.
You might consider this a difficult task if your website contains hundreds of images. Resizing each one will take too much time, time you probably can’t afford to waste on such a task.
But there are plenty of software and tools available that let you resize photos in bulk. Bulk Image Resizing Made Easy (BIRME) is one such tool.
Drop or upload the photos you’d like to resize on their homepage, select the correct dimensions and hit enter. It will then resize all your photos for you and allow you to download the results once completed.
The dawning of 2019 is an excellent time to review your website and determine how it could do better.
Renewing your domain should be first on your agenda. It’s such a simple task that you could easily forget it. Forgetting, however, could cost you in ways you’ll find it difficult to recover from.
Look over your website and consider if it’s time for a redesign. Is it as modern as it could be? Does it reflect your current brand? Is it using colours, images and copy that could attract your ideal customer? If you answered no to any of the previous questions, you might be in need of a redesign.
A large majority of Internet traffic comes from mobile phones. So, you’d be missing out on a huge pool of potential customers if your website isn’t mobile optimised.
Google now considers page speed a major factor in search results rankings. You’d be wise to do the same. Conduct an audit and see what’s slowing your website down.
Ready to take your website to the next level in 2019? Cornerstone Digital is a web development company in Sydney. We’d be glad to help you. Call us on (02) 8211 0668 or email us at [email protected]
A self-professed book and digital marketing nerd, Darlyn Herradura focuses on building trust between customers and businesses with the written word. She understands that creating valuable content is the best way to get found online and happily spends her time doing that.