Beantin

James Royal-Lawson

small business

How can I improve my website?

No website is perfect. It’s not going to be. The pace of change within digital media is far too fast for us to reach perfection. We can though make them more effective.

People learn and adapt. We learn and adapt. We adjust and improve.

Testing and tweaking. That’s how you can improve your website. Adjusting and improving. Optimising what you’ve got.

A wise man said to me that you should aim to increase the conversion rate of your website every single month. A good goal to keep things moving.

4 areas of optimisation

The way in which you can improve your website is quite straightforward. There are four areas of website optimisation you should focus on.

All of them are interconnected and all of them affect your bottom line. They cost you money if you neglect them, they earn you money if you give them a little love and attention.

The four focus areas of optimisation are:

  • Web performance optimisation
  • Search engine optimisation
  • Usability optimisation
  • Conversion rate optimisation

Freeing up untapped potential

Everyone working with digital media and e-commerce is aware of Search Engine Optimisation. Often “optimisation” is taken to mean SEO and nothing else.

Many companies have spent a fair bit of cash over the years paying for SEO and SEM services to drive more traffic to their websites.

Increasing (relevant) traffic to your website is almost always a good thing. Unfortunately, if you’re site has poor usability or is sluggish due to poor web performance then you’ve got untapped potential.

The best way to free untapped potential is to turn your attention to your website. A good starting point is a website review.

Web performance optimisation

Start with web performance optimisation – in plain English, we’re talking about page speed. How fast the page loads and responds for your visitors in the context they use your site.

For some this context might be sat at a desktop computer connected to the internet via a high speed connections. For others it could be via a mobile telephone whilst in a moving vehicle.

For every second it takes for you pages to load, you could be losing you could be losing 7% of your online business. That’s expensive. Here are 5 practical tips from me to improve your page speed.

On-site SEO

After web performance, I’d tackle on-site search engine optimisation. This is where you make sure that your website is presenting the right content to search engines so that they in turn can present the right content to your potential visitors.

We need to help convince them that your page is the one they should click on amongst all the others.

Usability

Your website needs to be usable. Visitors need to be able to complete their tasks without falling over as if their shoes have been tied together. Optimising the usability of your site is your way of untying them.

The most basic (and critical) usability issues can be pinpointed quite easily. But you learn the most by testing and then analysing the behaviour of real visitors to your site. They are the ones trying to use it, not you. It’s their behaviour that counts.

Conversion optimisation

Once you’ve worked our way through these three areas of optimisation, it’s time to set your focus on CRO – Conversion rate optimisation.

This is where we look at the goals of your site and the steps a visitor goes through reach them and try to make sure the highest number of people possible make it all the way to the end.

Although usability and conversion optimisation are intrinsically related and overlapping, they are different.

You could say – Usability is making sure that it’s possible for visitors to complete their tasks. Conversion optimisation is giving them the right nudges to make sure they actually do.

User experience

I’ve laid out these four areas of optimisation for you in a specific order, but you can switch the order around or run the whole lot in parallel. It’s just a matter of resources and a bit of planning!

All-in-all we’re optimising the user experience. I could have sliced this up in a few difference ways, but all-in-all if we create high quality digital experiences, both the customer and your business will be as happy as the cat who got the cream.

Take the first step in optimising your digital business: check out my website review and audit service.

James Royal-Lawson+ is a digital strategist, web manager and optimiser based in Stockholm Sweden.

Start-ups are winners at social media

…or alternatively I could have written Incumbents are doomed to fail at social media.

At The Really Realtime Disruptive Media Conference in October 2009, Lesley Pennington, CEO and founder of Bemz, gave a presentation explaining how, thanks to social media, she had suceeded in creating a successful and profitable company.

As an Internet start-up, Bemz was at an instant advantage over older, incumbent organisations. There were starting with a clean slate. No baggage. No existing corporate culture. No massive shift in existing behaviour needed. No explaining “complicated” (read that as “everyday”) web concepts to C-suite executives who forged their careers before the Internet became mainstream.

This is why Internet start-ups & small businesses can leap-frog incumbants with their web-presences.

Unfortunately for old and established companies, I fear the only hope is for a generation shift – to wait (or to push) for the non-web-enabled executives to be replaced by their (younger) web-enabled equivalents. (Lisa Welchman discusses the C-Suite problem in great detail in No Chief Web Officer Required.)

By and large, the older executives are old dogs who are not going to learn new tricks. To them, both web strategy and web presence will remain a tactic, a side issue, rather than a strategy

They will not be able to convert their organisations into fully web-enabled enterprises with all the benefits it brings. That task, for this generation at least, is left to the start-ups and small businesses such as Lesley Pennington’s Bemz.

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