A client considering a website redesign requested I review the effectiveness of their current site. Developed by a web hosting company that specializes in the client’s niche, the site was built from a template which included industry-relevant copy, with designated fields to “personalize” the site.
In fact, the resulting site was impersonal, perfunctory and no more engaging than a Yellow Pages listing. The user experience was inefficient and cumbersome, and the images (obviously stock photos) neither reinforced the copy nor enhanced the client’s credibility. The client and I were in agreement that the website wasn’t particularly compelling or effective.
Analytics: The first step toward an informed redesign
While not familiar with his site’s actual analytics, the client understood the value of using past visitor metrics to inform our redesign. Website analytics provide a variety of data relating to visitor behavior (including location data, as reviewed in a recent post). To assess the current site’s merits, we focused on the Content menu, which provides data about where visitors clicked, how long they spent, and their next steps following the initial click. (Did the visitor close the browser or click through to other pages — and if so, which ones?)
Our review of the website content analytics was very revealing. The website included three content teaser blocks on the Home page, leading to key interior pages. Of the three teaser blocks, the two with descriptive messaging showed high numbers of clicks, demonstrating visitor interest. The third one, which used a vague industry term, received zero clicks over the entire prior year.
Five best practices
With the analytics data validating my instincts, my recommended design and copy edits focused on these five areas:
- Use real estate judiciously. Assign placement and relative amount of space based on relevance to the needs of prospective clients and the top goals of your business.
- Communicate clearly. Replace tech-speak with succinct, customer-focused, compelling language that’s easy to understand.
- Build confidence in the company and its leadership with content and visual elements that demonstrate knowledge, training, technology, business practices and integrity.
- Add authenticity with high quality imagery. Include videos, images and visual elements that enhance the messaging and complement the copy.
- Guide the visitor. Pique their attention with effective headlines and teaser copy, then guide to additional details with logical, intuitive navigation and appropriately placed calls to action.
The missing link
While your website analytics provide revealing insights about which content your visitors valued, they can’t measure visits to content that’s not on your site. The key missing link (pun intended) is the information that’s absent, hard to find or not clearly communicated — like the teaser content in the client case study above.
A sought-after service buried deep on a sub-page, or one that’s not clearly articulated, is unlikely to receive a high number of views. If your site is missing a Company or About page, a skeptical visitor may elect to exit your website rather than explore further. For most websites, top pages viewed include the Home, About, Contact and key products or services pages and blog posts that offer evidence of your capabilities or knowledge. This content helps a visitor to gain confidence in your company.
Measure and assess
Spend a few minutes reviewing your Content insights for the past quarter. Do your website analytics indicate that you are driving traffic to key content? Are the top pages viewed by your visitors the ones you want to drive them to? Do you have a key service or offering that’s not being viewed by visitors? Or perhaps your site isn’t converting visits into customers?
If your website metrics indicate that you have some gaps, review the five best practices above and apply a critical eye to your website’s architecture, imagery, and most importantly — content — to shift visitor behavior. Or contact us for help improving your website’s effectiveness.