Step 1: Identify where your visitors are going, and fix that first.
Analyze your website to identify the most popular sections and landing pages beyond the home page. Then focus your redesign efforts there. Don’t spend unnecessary time on pages that few people visit; putting resources there won’t make a big difference in your top communication goals or your bottom line. The pages that everyone visits are the ones you want to improve because that’s where your visitors are finding what they’re looking for. An add-on to this exercise would be to audit your information architecture and navigation to analyze and ensure that your visitors are able to find the right pages—for you and for them—to streamline and optimize the ways they find the right content.
Step 2: Define your goals.
What do you want your visitors to do in that page or section? Get more information? Fill out an application? Register for an open house? Make a gift? Use a precise call-to-action (CTA) so it’s absolutely clear what you’re trying to accomplish. Here’s how:
- Have a primary (singular) CTA that stands out from the rest of the page.
- Limit the number of other links on the page. More links equal more confusion.
- Focus on key outcomes, like funnel activities.
- Use metrics and specialized software to manage users, test, and optimize.
Step 3: Be relevant.
No ROT (Redundant, Outdated, or Trivial pages), please. Changes in technology, interests, and competition produce changes in everything, including your audience’s online behavior and expectations. What was considered relevant and engaging five years ago—or even two years ago—may no longer fit the bill. Follow current best practices for website design and structure. Do away with outdated home pages and landing pages, as well as cumbersome navigation.
And pay attention to search algorithms and optimize for SEO. This is no longer about keywords and keyword saturation, which may even do harm. Consider three P’s for SEO: Prominence, Proximity, and Preference. (Email me if you want to discuss.)
Step 4: Remember your audience.
Always keep your visitors in mind and look at things from their perspective. Get to the point on key pages by answering the same questions visitors will ask:
- Does this page (and organization) have what I want?
- How will it improve me or what I have?
- What do outcomes look like for me and what I care about?
The information should include a brand narrative that defines how your version of the programs, services, events, products, etc., is different from other organizations that provide the same or similar items. Show your visitors why they must have what you’re offering. And do it in a tone and voice that they’ll understand.
Step 5: Show, but don’t overwhelm.
Don’t give your readers every possible bit of information or option. It creates paralysis by analysis. For example…
- If you’re tackling your navigation, consider a lean and efficient structure that focuses on the most important wayfinding, and then use contextual links when needed. Or, use faceted navigation to reveal related links and direct traffic. Meaning, if a visitor types ‘C’ in the navigation window, Career Development and Conferences pops up; if they add the ‘O,’ only Conferences appears.
- If you’re optimizing content on the page, reveal just enough content to pique their interest. And then provide a call-to-action.
These five steps cost a fraction of an overall website redesign. But they’ll do more than just provide a short-term fix. They’ll get traction with your key audiences and make your content shine until you’re ready for a complete overhaul.
Contact me if you’re interested in a free discussion about your top-level site and how to apply these principles.