So, you just launched your new website? How exciting!! The site looks amazing and it is apparent that your team has put in a great deal of work for this successful redesign! Congratulations, what a wonderful accomplishment. Everyone who has labored over this project should be proud and praised for their excellent and diligent work.
Why? Because new website projects are among the hardest to go through and involve so much decision making on so many levels. Stepping off the launch pad is difficult, but you have done it and you have something beautiful and useful to show for it. Hopefully, your new website is very clean, interactive for the user and provides an intuitive user experience for navigating through your services and hopefully getting them to the point of calling or emailing for a consultation and ultimately, the sale! While we do have some recommendations, please know that most of them are quick and easy fixes.
URLs – All Lower Case with Words Separated by Hyphens
When you use consistent letter structures (all lower case) and separate each word with a hyphen, it makes the pages more readily indexed by Google (found when someone uses a search engine to find a topic you are writing about/trying to be found for). This URL structure is also more intuitive for the website visitor, your customer which is what Google tends to reward – think like a user and you will rank higher.
- Current URL structure: www.yourwebsite.com/About_Us.php
- Recommended URL: www.yourwebsite.com/about-us
Blog should be hosted on YOUR site
Your blog will likely be your most frequently updated area of your website. Updates are the second love of Google, right behind high-quality, useful content so if you are updating your website with high quality information on the topic areas that you want to be found for (for example, for a garden shop: how to get greener grass, how often should I mow my lawn, when should I plant my garden, how can I create a low maintenance landscape plan for my yard, etc. you get the idea!). And these updates to any page on your site add to the strength of your overall website. So, if you put these updates on a location that is hosted on someone else’s server vs. your own domain/host server, then you are giving them all the good search juice vs. keeping it for yourself.
The most common instance of this we see is when someone puts their blog on wordpress due to ease of use vs. building a content management system (CMS) right into the website to allow the blog and all other web updates to be managed by the business rather than having to wait on a third party web designer/developer to make simple text or image changes. So, why not just create the same news pages on www.yoursite.com instead of on www.yoursite.wordpress.com?
No More than 7 Menu Items
A ton of research has been done around this topic and every time the studies have shown that the brain becomes overwhelmed with more than 7 choices. So if you have 9 menu items to choose from, you are overwhelming your user.
- If you have “Home” as one of your main menu items, consider eliminating it from the menu and instead making your logo in the top left corner a clickable image to the home page. This is common practice and people have come to expect it on webpages.
- Consider removing the “join our email list” from the main menu and add a small embed form into the top right header or sidebar so that it is prominent and available on every page. This will surely lead to more email sign-ups which are valuable prospective clients. This sounds harder than it is – most major email marketing service providers (Constant Contact, MailChimp, GetResponse) offer great tutorials to help you set up this form quickly and seamlessly in your email account and then add it to your website. Visit our email marketing comparison guide to choose the right platform for your website.
Shorter Is Better
Shorten the menu item names so they do not run together in the menu. Here are our recommendations based on some common menu items we see:
- Our Services > Services
- Our Associates > Team
- Our Clients > Clients
- Photos of Our Work > Portfolio
- Community Involvement > Community
You probably noticed a theme here in my recommendations – if they are on your website, the “our” is implied”. There is no need to spell it out and add to the complexity of your layout. Again, less is more when it comes to web design because you are already trying to communicate so much in such a small space while also inviting people to click and dive in deeper into your website’s experience to learn (and buy) more.
Social Media links should open in a new tab
If when you click on any social media link or image it opens that page over top of your website, fix it ASAP. Remember, your #1 priority is to keep people on the website as long as possible unless they are placing a call or emailing you about service, right? So, be sure that all social media links and icons are set to open into a new tab or window so your prospects don’t get so distracted with wishing their friends happy birthday on Facebook that they forget all about your website and you.
Make Sure Your “Follow us on Social Media” box is intuitive
Why is it that when I click on the “Follow us on Social Media” box, the actual icons for each social media channel take me to Facebook vs. each one taking me to their respective location (again, in a new tab)? I mean if I want to find you on twitter or see all your pretty pictures on Pinterest, but you only allow me to click through to Facebook, then that is confusing! Each icon should lead me to the right place so everyone can see/read what they wish to, where they want to, when they do leave your site to explore your more social communication channels.
Which email should customers use to contact you?
If you have two (or more!!) emails referenced as a general contact throughout your website, your customers will not know which they should use. It may even lead someone to not use either. So pick one and stay consistent.
Our website is a great resource for website, SEO, social media and other tech-related topics. Since you recently launched a new website, here are a few additional articles that you might find helpful: