Your website needs to keep up with the latest digital marketing trends and best practices to find new customers and maintain a healthy, sustainable rate of sales. Unsure where to start? Here’s our list of business website essentials.
Creating a website for your business is a great step. (Check out our action plan to see how you can do it.) But it can be a challenge to keep it performing well.
Customers can be dubious of websites that appear old or out of date. Couple this with the fact that search engines, such as Google, rank websites that haven’t been updated recently below ones that have, and you can see how an outmoded site can quickly lead to less traffic and fewer sales.
You don’t have to rebuild your website from scratch to keep it looking and running its best. A simple tune-up every couple of months is enough to keep customers interested. Below is our checklist of important website best practices.
A good website is easy to navigate and pleasing to interact with. Hopefully, these human-centred principles were taken into consideration when you built your business website. (If not, take a look at some of the user-friendly templates offered by Telstra Business Digital Marketing Services.) Of course, what counts as easy and pleasing changes over time. Here are a few design principles to keep on top of.
In 2019, 52 per cent of all website traffic took place on a mobile device. Given this growing trend, it’s important to make sure your website is responsive. This means that it looks good on a variety of screen sizes and devices. Does your layout make use of ‘thumb-friendly’ navigation, with the menu or navigation bar near the centre of the screen? If not, more than half of your visitors may be having a poor experience.
A clear website hierarchy makes it easier for users to find their way around. If your website contains many individual pages, subpages, sections or subsections, you might want to consider using ‘breadcrumbs’: often at the top of a webpage, these links show where that page is within the broader website hierarchy. For example, a breadcrumb trail on an e-commerce site may appear like this: Home > Shop > Accessories > Sizing Guide.
The need for speed
According to a Nielsen Norman Group study, 47 per cent of consumers expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds, and 40 per cent will abandon a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. The take-home tip? If your website is running slow, you’re almost certainly losing business. Unfortunately, even a well-designed website will slow down over time as it grows or attracts more users. To keep your site running fast, look out for the following.
Limit image sizes
One of the easiest ways to improve your overall loading speed is to make sure your images have been optimised for online use, using web-friendly compression. Keep your image sizes low and your speed should increase.
Check your plug-ins
Avoid using too many of those little software components that add new features to existing programs. While you might like the features they provide, plug-ins create extra demands that can increase your website’s loading time. You should also periodically review any plug-ins you decide to keep, to make sure their software is still supported and running smoothly.
Consider hosting options
If you do the steps above yet your loading speed fails to increase, you might need to consider upgrading your hosting plan or consulting with tech professionals.
As well as running regular software updates, it’s important to make sure you install the right SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificates for your needs. An SSL certificate authenticates your website’s identity, blocks hackers and is represented by a padlock icon, so visitors will know they’re in the right place and haven’t been taken to a fake website set up to scam them. SSL certificates also encrypt any data shared between you and your visitors, ensuring privacy on both ends of the conversation. This is especially important for e-commerce websites, where sensitive financial information is shared.
What search engines want
Search engines are always tinkering with the algorithms that determine how they rank websites. For example, Google currently favours recently updated websites over older ones, so the more often you update your site, the higher up it will appear in Google’s rankings.
If your website hasn’t been updated in a while, a simple refresh can be a good idea. You might start by adding new images or applying SEO-friendly meta elements to existing ones. Many businesses find that regularly posting content of a significant length and quality works to their advantage. Consider whether a blog or routinely updated case-study page could strengthen your digital strategy, and then consult our guide on building an effective content marketing plan to see how it’s done.