Optimize My Brand

Strategy, tactics, ideas and tips from Creative Company.

Website evaluation: get more visitors

A website evaluation will improve response and results

Your website is a constantly evolving element of your marketing. Regular updates and review will ensure it’s performing for you. It’s all about your audiences and what they’re looking for … and they have a plethora of choices online. Your website must stay current.

website-evaluation

What are the critical areas for review?

A website evaluation covers navigation, content, user flow, layout, images, analytics and much more. Yet the main purpose for your evaluation is to show how to get more people to your site … then keep them looking through your pages. Measure success by how many visitors turn into qualified leads and/or customers.

Here’s our mantra:

Feed them, then lead them

FEED: Feed visitors (the right visitors) what they’re looking for …

LEAD: Then lead them through your website to specific, visible and compelling calls to action.

Evaluate your website using these key points.

How does your website measure up? Ensure your site incorporates these 6 critical areas first. It will give you the foundation for your website evaluation … and help you prioritize what to work on first.

1. Mobile friendly

Mobile is the preferred path to the internet. Google will rank your site lower if it’s not mobile-friendly, and more than 50% of web searches are now on mobile devices.

2. Measurable

Analytics will help you measure critical statistics. Track visitor volume over time, bounce rate, which pages have the most traffic, average time on site and traffic sources. Without stats or a baseline, you can’t improve.

  • Do you have Google Analytics (free to install if you don’t) or some form of analytics to track this data?
  • Do you use those analytics? Or just maybe get the reports and stick them in a drawer … Google continues to update the reports you can get and provide more information in a more usable format.
  • Traffic sources will tell you whether traffic is coming from Organic, Direct, Referral, Social Media and more.
  • A rule of thumb is an average bounce rate is 50% (the number of people who get to your site but don’t stay). In some industries it may be lower, others it could be higher.

Which 10 pages get the most traffic? Those are the ones to pay attention to and improve first because people are already finding them. Update them to meet the following standards.

3. Quick to see/read

attention-of-a-goldfishToday’s web visitors have no patience. In fact some studies say the average visitor has a shorter attention span than a goldfish … 8 seconds.

Don’t make it hard for your visitors to find the information they’re looking for, to see the next step, or read your content.

  • Is contact information clear and easy to find? We recommend putting your email contact and phone number at the top of each page, so it’s easy to access quickly on mobile.
  • Does your home page pass the blink test? “Who are you? What do you offer? Why should I care?” You only have 3 seconds to connect on your home page before a visitor bounces off.
  • Is it readable? Ensure body copy is no smaller than 16 pixels, keep paragraphs brief and to the point.
  • Don’t let your copy ramble, use lots of subheads and bullet lists to make it easy to scan. No dense text.
  • People read headlines, subheads and captions first. Use those to draw readers deeper.
  • Do you use dark text on a light background? (good!) Reverse text (light text on a dark background) is much harder to read, especially for older eyes. Pay attention to contrast.
  • Are pages well-organized with a clear call to action on each page? Can visitors quickly see a next step or action to take?
  • Is navigation simple and easy to follow (even on mobile)?
  • Do visuals support copy and show off what you want people to see/know? Today’s websites fill the screen and use big pictures, not tiny inset photos.

4. Updated regularly

  • Do you review and update your website at least monthly? We recommend the home page and one or two other pages. Keep the high traffic pages updated.
  • Google looks for fresh content and will rank your site lower if it doesn’t show someone is paying attention and giving it some love.
  • Do you have a blog? Are you posting at least weekly? A blog has been proven to increase both traffic and leads. It has worked really well for us.
  • A blog is also a good way to add fresh content to your site. Keep in conversational, one-on-one in tone. It can be less formal than the rest of your website.

Answer customer questions on your blog to add fresh content to your site (which Google wants). When you answer questions, you’ll deliver what people are searching for.

5. Engaging and useful

It’s one thing to have a creative design, but what people usually want is information and answers. Don’t go overboard on the “cool” factor. Ensure you reflect your brand but also make it easy for people to see the answers they’re looking for.

Consider your audience and what they need to make a decision. Answer their questions, show them how

  • Do you have a strong, engaging introduction that lets people know what to expect from you? From their point of view, not yours.
  • Does your home page clearly lead a visitor to the next page? The goal of the home page is to get someone to more content on inside pages.
  • Is copy more “you” than “we”? Are headlines benefits to the reader/potential customer?
  • Is copy actionable and engaging, or just describing your goods and services?
  • Is information concise and to the point? No fluff. No buzzwords. No default words like “quality, service, needs.”
  • If your name wasn’t on the page, would people understand what’s unique about what you offer? Or could images and content be from anyone else in your category?
  • Is content actionable? Do people know what to do next?
  • Do you provide information of value to the right visitor? Demos, downloads, guides, checklists, videos, FAQs that will help them learn about what you provide and appreciate what you offer.

6. Visually appealing

Good visuals are essential. Our brains process images 90x faster than words. The look of the layout and the visuals chosen will communicate more quickly than words. (Back to #3)

  • Have you used pictures to tell your story whenever possible? Do they reflect your brand and the audiences you’re want to reach?
  • Are links or calls to action shown as boxes, badges or in photos?
  • Are your images relevant to your content? Do they amplify content and copy, or drive home a point, or add the right emotion?
  • Are the style, color palette, font choices and visuals appropriate for your audiences? Do they reflect your brand?
  • Are pictures recognizable at a glance?
  • Are pictures distinct and unique or do they look like they came from a generic stock photo library?

This website evaluation covers primarily layout and content. Another critical piece of content is how copy is written to optimize it for search. Choosing the words and phrases that your target audiences will type in to look for what you offer is both a marketing talent and a technical tool that will draw more visitors to your site. But that’s for another post.

Here are other posts to help you improve your website results:

Download our updated website guide below, which includes HubSpot’s recommendations for 8 website mistakes to avoid when you redesign.

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About the author

Jennifer Larsen Morrow

Jennifer's four decades of work in the industry, starting as a designer and adding marketing, copywriting and digital marketing, has generated response for clients since 1978.

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