In yesterday's Nugget, I gave you 4 ways to prepare for ecommerce. Long before you get to the ecommerce state, you need to have a perfectly working website that reflects how your business operates and the customer service you provide. To help you achieve that today, I'm giving you 5 ways to improve your website.
1. Make It Easy for Them to Contact You
Every website should have a specific Contact Us page with the address, telephone number, and a contact form. You should include a link to your contact page in the header of your site. Most sites place that link in the top right. However, don't limit your contact information to that one page.
You might consider including your address and phone number in the header or footer of every page. Where you place it is up to you; just remember that it's all a matter of creating convenience for your users.
2. Refresh Your Website Design
Don't let your website get stagnant and look dated. Older website designs are easy to identify, and sometimes they are even frustrating to use through the latest browser or smartphone. A website designed at the beginning of the recession has a very different look than those designed after the recession. While a consumer might not be able to specifically identify the age of a website, they might think something about your website looks dated, or simply "off" compared to other sites.
I suggest that you refresh the look of your website every 18 months. Additionally, I also suggest you upgrade your hosting service at the same time. Your web designer should be able to help you with an upgrade of your site to the latest inexpensive themes available.
3. Hosting and Page Speed
The programming of your website isn't the only contributing factor of your website's speed. Your hosting service is another large factor. Not all hosting companies are equal when it comes to their connection to the internet. Large hosting companies, like GoDaddy, have several extremely high speed connections to the internet through multiple backbone providers. Smaller hosting companies usually have slower connections through a single provider.
The final factor contributing to your website speed is the physical computer that your website is on. Hosting companies usually maintain their equipment for as long as someone has a website on it. In order to avoid downtime, most hosting companies will not replace their equipment while someone is using it; this is especially true with virtual private servers.
If you choose to rent your own virtual private server, you must realize that you are renting a real computer somewhere on the internet, aka "the cloud," and that that computer has a 3 year lifespan. Every 3 years, you should be renting a new virtual private server and migrate all your services to the new equipment. With this strategy, you'll avoid potential data corruption from hard drives being older than 3 years, and you'll also benefit from a faster server that you'll be renting.
Get started with testing your own website speed with this PageSpeed test provided by Google.
4. Photos and Video
The home page of your website should offer a good balance of photos and written copy. Photos could be of products, your storefront, or even staff, and you should change them on a routine schedule.
Large rotating home page images are a popular design choice amongst many retail jewelers, but these usually create a higher bounce rate and offer little in the way of customer satisfaction. Instead, organize blocks of text next to photos and even videos on your home page along with clearly clickable items the lure visitors deeper into your site.
5. Add a Call to Action
Something on your home page should be clearly clickable and inviting to website visitors. This could be simple button that says "click to see more" or it could be a sign-up for your newsletter, or an invitation to browse your product catalog. It might seem silly that you should tell someone where to click, but adding a specific call to action does help to get people deeper into your site.
Although I didn't mention it above, you should also update your website content on a regular basis; at least once per month. Your repeat website visitors will value the updates to your content and it also tells the search engines that you have an active website.
Lastly, every website should be mobile-friendly now. If you haven't done it yet, the next time you update your website design, you should include a mobile version.