HOW TO: improve your website in 2016

Categories ecommerce, How To
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It’s that time of year again: the time when you sit down and look at how things are going for you personally and professionally. It’s time to take stock of where you started in January, where you are now, what progress (if any) has been made and what mistakes (there will be some of those) were made and how you can keep them from happening again. It’s time to figure out what worked, what didn’t, and what you need to improve so that next year is even better than this one. On the professional side of things, one of the best places to start this audit is with your company website.

Here are five of the different areas of your site that you’ll want to address so that users have a better experience with it in 2016.

Your eCommerce Platform

Is your site running the best eCommerce software? Did you have any bugs or glitches with orders over the last year? Does the software help you in all of the ways it could? If you’ve been managing the buying process with separate softwares for your shopping cart, customer retention and tracking, etc. consider switching to something more robust. According to this article of tips to help you get the most out of Magento, options like Product Alerts, Regular Automated Testing, Tiered Pricing and Customer Admin Timeout are important priorities this year. 

Your Communication Portal

Are you still using the same old c-form for customer communications? It’s time to switch to a new system for communicating with your buyers. It’s 2016, you should—at the very least—have options for emailing questions and concerns and methods for customers to connect with you via phone and live chat. It is also important to look at how customer requests and communications are managed after they’ve been sent through your system.

Your SEO

The rules of SEO are always changing. When was the last time you performed an SEO audit on your site? If you can’t remember, that means you need to do this right now. Go through your code, your meta data, your keywords, everything and make the changes necessary to ensure that your site is SEO-compliant.

Your Site Navigation

Remember, just because you know instinctively how to get around on your company’s website doesn’t mean that your customers have that same level of comfort. You’ve learned your way around over time. A new customer still has to figure things out. It is important to make this as simple and intuitive as possible. Navigation bars, buttons, links to the home page, menus, etc. All of these things need to be designed as simply as possible. The easier it is for someone to navigate your site, the more likely they are to stick around and buy from you. If you trap them in some web of links, they’ll just close out their tab and move on to another vendor.

Your Site Design

If your site is still following the rules of site design that existed when you formed your company, it’s probably time to update things a bit. Today’s sites need to be rich with images, have white space, use readable fonts, and be fast loading. Blinkies are out. Automatically playing music is annoying (and will likely drive people away). Light text on a dark background is difficult to read even on a retina display. Simplicity is key. And for goodness sake, if you’re still using a free template, stop it. Spend the money on a custom design (and make sure it’s mobile responsive). It’s worth it!

These are just five areas in which every small business owner can update and upgrade their website to improve user experiences in 2016. As you dig into your website audit, you’ll likely find a few more areas to tweak and improve, but don’t worry; if you keep working at it, you’ll create a site that your customers love coming back to.

header image courtesy of Chi Birmingham

<a href="http://twitter.com/zorzini">Catalin</a> is the founder of <a href="http://mostash.com/">Mostash</a> - a <a href="http://mostash.com/">social marketing boutique</a> - and he's always happy to share his passion for graphic design & social media.