If your business’ website is underperforming, you’ve probably been asking yourself why.
Here are the most common reasons that indicate it really is time to bite the bullet and invest in a website design that will give you ROI for a few more years to come.
Just like “dog years” time flies in the world of the web. What was acceptable 5 years ago can be outdated now. Even when “mobile first” and “responsive design” became web industry buzzwords not every web design agency was quick to adopt to the new norms.
Being out of date includes the templates you’re using. Templates aren’t always about just looking good, many include a lot of built-in functionality too.
So, you may need a fresh new design, fresh templates and maybe it’s time to consider a new CMS too.[I saw a 2001 website built in HTML frames that was live in the same format for over 12 years! – Ed]
If you don’t know then that’s cool, we might be able to find out for you. But if we take a good look and then we don’t know either then that may be an issue. We can usually identify what platform a website is built on. If not then maybe it’s so unusual it will be “hard to find the parts for it”.
A custom-made website, built completely from the ground up, may have been a good idea at the time. Or maybe it was the CMS of choice from your hipster web devs fulfilling their funky, esoteric needs and not those of you the customer.
The question to ask yourself now is was it a sound business choice?
Answer these solid questions:
Has the website’s core code been kept updated? Is the website secure, upgradeable, stable, and scalable? Does your website keep up with the demands of modern browsing habits? Are the needs of modern users satisfied by the latest technology?
If the answer is yes then you may be OK. But if not, then it might be a good time for a new website.
If you’ve got one of those custom-built websites AND your designer went AWOL, went bust, abandoned the project or moved to another platform then those are big issues too.
With a “common” CMS like WordPress, Drupal or Joomla you should be OK. You will be able to find a new designer, developer or digital marketing agency to continue developing your site. If not, then coding, designing and SEOing a bespoke site could be problematic.
Time for a new website.
The website is old and on a custom-built platform.
Your designer and developer are nowhere to be found and neither of them ever mentioned SEO?
If your website wasn’t designed with SEO in mind and no optimisation has been done since the last launch then that is the reason why your site’s not doing well in search.
Time for a new website.
As your business grows then so should your web platform. The handful of static pages you’ve had for the last few years just don’t reflect where your business is now nor where it is going.
Besides, all your competitors have these new-fangled whizzy websites and when you check out where you rank in the search engines they always outrank you.
What you need is a sound, stable, scalable CMS that will cover every base right now and be ready to handle better content, more features and new functions.
Perfect. You should be able to redesign your website by reskinning it, in other words updating your template to reflect the new branding. But what if your site is all of the above?
It’s highly likely that you’ll have a few issues in making your old site work with a rebrand so, once again, maybe it’s time for a new website!
You know what will work? Getting Clever Marketing to build a new website.
We consider SEO from the very beginning. Clever Marketing look at creating a successful content strategy. We will design and build your business a brand new, fully functioning website that does well in the search engines, keeps your visitors happy and drives leads and conversions too.
This might sound like a silly remark, but it’s quite common for us to utter it. The situation goes something like this…
We’ll be talking with business owners about how things are going…
How’s your website doing?
Is it bringing in any new leads?
Are you getting much traffic?
The answer to all these questions usually leads us to look at the website in question and within just a couple of minutes there are the usual telltale signs that the website looks good and has a lot of great features and functions, but underneath the bonnet…
…the designers did nothing to SEO your website!
We’ll save these telltale signs for another blog post but first, let’s look at the whys and wherefores.
Sometimes, a great website design is just that – a great website design. It looks good. It has the wow factor and everyone who sees it loves it. But that’s not enough. How many people are actually seeing it?
Did all the “oohs” and “aahs” come from people in your business? Did everyone who was involved in signing it off love it? Then that’s great. But if those are the only people who see your website then what’s the point?
Now the first reason you’ve got a website without any SEO functionality is that the web designers did just that – design. Web design is a sophisticated mix of art and science and specialists are very good at building good-looking websites.
But it takes the input of digital marketing specialists at the time of build to make sure that your site is created properly. If there is no SEO/SEM, no content management nor social media involvement with the design then it falls flat on its face.
Maybe the designers do not have the resource. Maybe they don’t have the skills. Well, that’s an issue because, in our opinion, every website absolutely MUST have SEO baked in from the very start.
What if they do but the client doesn’t have the budget for SEO and decided to go for the cheaper option, cutting out the SEO features and functions?
Again, there really is no excuse. If you build a site that has not been SEO’d then it will probably fail.
The old line from the film “Field of Dreams” comes to mind here…
“Build it and they will come”
Well, in our experience that isn’t the case.
If you have a website built but nobody knows it’s there, then how is anybody going to find out about it?
It’s never too late to apply SEO techniques to your business’ website but you have been at a disadvantage having to do it so late in the game. You have probably missed an increase in traffic at the launch of your new site. When was that? Last month? Not so bad. Last year? Oh, that’s not good. A few years ago? OK, now that’s a problem.
But don’t worry.
SEO is best talked about and integrated during the website conceptualisation and build phase and, if you’re lucky, it can still be fully applied at this late stage.
However, be aware that some things cannot be undone or fixed immediately. For instance, you could be on the “wrong” Content Management System (CMS), have the “incorrect” templates or be held back by the fact that the e-commerce plugin is not the most SEO-friendly or customisable one.
Also, your information architecture might be a bit of a mess, your content might be a bit “thin” and the supporting social media structures could be somewhat flimsy if not non-existent.
But again, don’t worry.
As a digital marketing agency with a great many years of experience, we have a solution for you.
Pick up the phone and give us a call on 020 3146 4341 and we’ll have a chat about your website.
We’re happy to give you our insights into what we can do now, in the medium term and for your long-term traffic strategy.
We’ll probably perform a website audit for you so that you can see what’s wrong and what needs to be done.
Then you can look forward to the peace of mind that your site really is in ship shape and you’re getting the traffic you’ve worked hard to earn.
Every Business Needs a Website, Right?
Of course, we are going to say that, aren’t we? We’ll tell you that you need funky business cards, glossy brochures, a nice prospectus, cool flyers, wicked posters, eye-catching bumper stickers, a shiny new website and some SEO and PPC services thrown in to boot, right?
Well, yes. We do all that. And more. We are Clever Marketing.
But we are not going to advise your business to do everything, especially if, in our experience, we can see it’s not an essential for you. Not every business will need brochures and flyers, posters and stickers.
However, every business needs a website, right? (more…)
Web Design Trends. 2017 is an exciting time for the web industry with technology and customer needs moving at pace. Of course, the digital landscape is continually changing so we all need to evolve with it to ensure we remain ahead of the curve. With this in mind, we take a look at the top five web design trends we think you should be looking out for in 2017.
Focusing on content is nothing new, after all, the old adage that content is king is still true. Content is an essential part of the marketing mix and your content marketing strategy enables your company to show they are experts in their field but more importantly drive web traffic. While social sharing, sign-ups and pop-ups remain a key way to drive leads, content will continue to be significant.
Similarly, animation is being used more regularly on websites these days. It’s of particular importance when there’s a need to show meaningful content or demonstrate how to do something. Video is a great way to communicate and it’s easily shareable across platforms such as YouTube. GIFs are also becoming more sophisticated so we anticipate an increase in these over the coming months also. However, don’t overuse GIFs: they are good up to a point but we don’t want to go back to the crazy GIFs of the late 1990s!
With content becoming more refined and ultimately more shareable, it’s likely we’ll see a rise in landing page design. Of course, all websites need a home page but there is a need to provide visitors with pages that are more targeted and best meet their search query. Content marketing is a great way to drive traffic to a website with tailored pages created to increase those conversions, feeding your social media output.
With so many users accessing web content via mobile and smartphones, there’s a need for navigation techniques that provide a good user experience (UX). Gone are the days of complicated navigation with the majority simplifying their content. Keeping navigation to a minimum also helps put the focus back on content, relevant to the visitor’s needs.
Creativity is all about showing a brand’s personality and more imaginative techniques may result in the end of flat designs. Shapes, lines and patterns certainly took off last year and it’s likely we’ll see this trend continue in 2017. Equally, basic heading styles are being replaced with more innovative options like overlapping text and images or bold typography. More experimentation is taking place and some are even going back to basics with simple, straightforward text. There’s also been an increase in illustrations and hand-drawn elements such as icons, fonts and graphics. Again this is bringing a unique look and feel to website content.
With the industry changing at such a quick pace, we cannot wait to see these (and other) web trends develop over the course of 2017. If you’d like to speak to someone about your website design, please contact Paul Mackenzie Ross at Clever Marketing on 020 3146 4341 or feel free to fill in our contact form.
When it comes to designing or indeed re-designing your website, it’s easy to focus on the aesthetics. However there are a host of things to consider before forging ahead with your web design strategy – there’s the domain name, web hosting and technology to take into account with functionality, user experience and mobile friendliness just as important.
Clever Marketing takes a look at what to consider before undertaking a website design.
A domain name should reflect your brand and if it’s easy to spell your website has a higher chance of being discovered in search results too. Ultimately if prospective clients can find your website online, you’re more likely to generate new business.
On the technical side, think about the type of content management system you require. Also, will your website design be media-rich and require regular updates? Think about expertise and resource too, if this is available internally or whether you require a web design agency (Who can also do all your digital marketing too).
Also consider what you need from your hosting partner in the way of technical support, back ups and website security.
The objectives of your website design must align with your audience.
Think about the kind of visitors you want to attract and what makes you stand out from your competitors. Conduct a website review to understand the navigation and design of your competitors’ sites.
Also, note down any ideas and what these companies are doing that’s particularly interesting or innovative. This will help you understand how you compare and what you need to do to make your business website design really stand out.
When a prospective client lands on your website, it’s crucial the information they require is easy to locate. Consider how visitors will interact with your website and what the user journey might be.
How will they get back from each page, can they get home and are social media channels visible?
Keep the structure of your navigation simple and accessible from the top of the page. Remember to include a search box and call to action with contact details.
With more and more users accessing websites from tablets, smartphones and mobile devices, it’s essential your website design is mobile friendly.
Google now penalises websites with low search rankings that are not mobile-friendly too (See the article 54 days to be mobile friendly)
With a responsive website design, the content is automatically resized to fit the dimensions of a device. This also ensures you provide visitors with a consistent experience regardless of how they’re accessing your website.
An eye-catching website design that’s user-friendly is most likely to provide a positive user experience. Visitors need to focus on the content without being distracted by unnecessary graphics. Keep it simple by not using too many colours and keep the typeface consistent so it’s easy to read. Think about how you’re going to draw visitors in so they see the most important information.
While you’re considering the design, take into account the content requirements for each page. Credibility goes a long way so be concise and honest about what you do too. Make sure you think about how you can keep the site fresh with new content.
When it comes down to it, your website design must be created with your end user in mind. Consider the budget and resource required before starting a website design project, creating a timeline with realistic deadlines for each stage.
Websites are continually evolving so don’t forget it’s an ongoing process.
Considering a new website build? Get in touch with Clever Marketing, Woking’s premier digital marketing agency, today and see how we can help you with our web design service.
If you believed everything you read on the internet, you’d think that mobile phones are taking over the world.
In a way, though, they are – last year for the first time mobile traffic exceeded desktop traffic, reflecting the momentous shift that’s been happening in consumer browsing habits for some time now. Namely that we now use our mobiles for everything. Checking social media, browsing the news, shopping – our mobiles are never out of our hands.
And this is why brands with mobile optimised or responsive websites have been enjoying the spoils of higher traffic and increased conversion. A lot of companies are trailing behind when it comes to making their website pleasant and easy to use on mobile. Where does your website fall on the spectrum?
To help you make boost your mobile conversion rates, here are five ways to improve your mobile website.
First things first; is your website responsive, or do you have a mobile optimised version? If the answer to both of these questions is no, then don’t read the rest of this blogpost and get yourself a responsive website!
If you need help checking to see if your website is mobile friendly, visit Google’s Mobile-friendly test and enter the URL of the web page you need to test.
If you’re still relying on the desktop version of your site to carry you through, your conversions are likely to be suffering. The standard of mobile websites is so high these days that consumers have little to no patience with pinching, scrolling and squinting in order to just read content or perform an action. If your website acts this way, it’s likely to be slow to load and will also make you appear dated and old-fashioned in comparison to competitors.
We all have pretty high standards when it comes to mobile browsing these days, and will quickly lose interest and move on to something better if any process becomes too difficult or takes too long (our attention span is only getting shorter – we can only spend a few seconds on any one webpage now without giving up). Consider one click ordering and guest checkout options to encourage conversion.
Consumers will also be put off by payment forms which are too long. Keep questions rudimentary and also consider features such as a postcode finder and numerical calendar to make things as user-friendly as possible.
Put simply, you have a lot less space on a mobile screen than you do on a desktop, or even a tablet. There’s less room for distractions, such as pop-up ads or external links. Padding out your content with too many added extras will make your pages look cluttered and visually unappealing to a consumer.
In addition, if they’re too busy being distracted by ads and banners then they’re less likely to be doing that one thing you’ve brought them to your website to do: convert. Keep your mobile webpages as clean and simple as possible and only prioritise the most relevant content in order to see the highest conversion rates.
Are you noticing a theme emerging here? To be successful on mobile, you basically need to serve up a cleaner, more streamlined and simplified version of your website.
For starters, your navigation menu should be collapsed to allow a user to expand it and explore their options with one tap. Secondly, present them with only the most essential layers of navigation to prevent confusion and the possibility that they’ll get lost in your website and leave out of frustration. Bring your product pages to the forefront and reduce the number of clicks it takes them to reach the checkout.
We’ll say it again – mobile screens are (comparatively) small! To make sure a user doesn’t miss anything, (remember, they’re likely to be commuting, watching TV or chatting away to a friend at the same time) make your calls to action as big and as inviting as possible.
Don’t be afraid to use large or colourful buttons to draw attention. There’s a dual reasoning behind making your calls to action even more prominent than on desktop – users also need to be able to click them easily with one tap. Too small, and we’re back to that pinching and scrolling issue which leads to nothing but frustration – and a failed conversion.
Autumn’s here already, which means it’s probably time to decide how next year’s budget is going to be spent.
How much you attribute to your online marketing will likely affect the growth and success of your digital channel in 2015. But having a powerful website is not only about reflecting your brand, but about positioning yourself as an innovative player in the digital space. When you combine intuitive user experience with this innovation, you become the one to beat.
So how can you make sure your website is up to the task? Here we outline the top ten trends we predict will make you sit up and take notice in 2015.
Responsive design (link to responsive design blog post) will not be so much a surfacing trend in 2015, but a proliferating one. Designing websites responsively – that is, designing a site that automatically resizes to an aesthetically pleasing interface regardless of the device being used – has cemented itself as the new standard in web design.
The rapid increase of internet usage on mobiles and tablets, particularly in the B2C market, has rendered this trend essential. Those who don’t step up to the plate will start to look dated next year, and quickly. We predict that responsive design will continue to change and adapt as new technology comes to the fore.
The enigmatically named ‘ghost buttons’ – also described as ‘naked’ or ‘hollow’ – are transparent buttons displaying calls to action. They commonly feature a very fine outline, and their transparency allows the background image to show through. Effective examples of ghost buttons belong to digital agency Union Room and retailer 20 Jeans among many others.
The release of iOS7 last year contributed to the growth of this minimalistic trend, and they have many advantages when used correctly. Ghost buttons blend seamlessly into the composition of a page, resulting in a finish that is both elegant and subtle. Best suited to simple designs with large photo backgrounds, they also contribute to your page’s overall structure. And they are certainly less intrusive than a big red button saying “BOOK NOW”.
A small word of warning on ghost buttons: use them wisely. These spectres are slippery and will easily get lost in your background if you don’t take care over positioning.
Flat design, originally inspired by Windows 8, has proved its staying power this year.
In 2015, flat design will most likely begin to morph into material design; a development recently unveiled by Google. Material design features delicate layering and use of gradients to produce a subtle 3D effect, whilst still retaining the sleek benefits of flat design.
As Google’s own product, you can be sure material design will be around for some time, but it remains to be seen what direction this will take in 2015.
Picking the right font can split the hair between a sleek site and an outdated one. For this reason, typography will continue to dominate in 2015.
Beautiful fonts and typefaces will become a staple for all brands looking to give their website serious standout. Whereas emphasis on typography used to require a large budget, type kits have become more and more affordable and accessible over recent years.
How can you capitalise on the typography trend in 2015? As desktop screens get larger, designers have more real estate to play with than ever before. Therefore, text is larger to get bigger, bolder and have more breathing room on the page. Variation of font weight should also be used to break the mold and produce a layered effect.
Long-form, or parallax, scrolling is a user-friendly and attractive form of structuring a webpage. By allowing a user to scroll instead of hiding content behind clicks, it mirrors the way we navigate on mobile and works well across a range of different platforms.
Parallax scrolling also makes use of dynamic transitions which appear to make the different elements of your content move and interact with each other, as seen on the Royal British Legion site. This presentation of content is much more striking and involving for a user than a static page.
Large, attention-grabbing images and videos have also become the mainstay of the modern, well-designed website. Like typography, they benefit from the fact that desktops are getting larger, and are also fairly simple to apply and execute. By offering a lot of ‘wow factor’, the trend for large images and videos as backgrounds is set to remain popular throughout 2015.
The success of platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram has meant that we consume visual images more regularly than ever before, and are also becoming accustomed to digesting information and consuming content in this way.
Just be careful not to get too carried away with your imagery. One big, beautiful image will definitely make an impression; but after five or six, your reader is likely to start searching for meaning on your site and if they don’t find some useful copy there, you risk losing them.
We predict that the ‘content card’ approach to dynamically pulling content to display on various pages will continue into 2015 and beyond.
Card design aids designers building responsive sites, as it allows modular components to stack attractively on top of each other without requiring too much extra coding. Again, Pinterest has had a part to play in the rapid uptake of this trend, which allows us to view a lot of different pieces and types of content all at once. Card design also allows for organisation and tagging of content, in a way that’s intuitive and easy for a user to understand.
“Designing with details” is a new way of thinking about website design, and is characterised by micro-interactions. This term refers to small, self-contained instances occurring within a website. They tend to revolve around a single call to action – prompting you to download an e-book, for example, or sign up for email alerts. These interactions are designed to increase user engagement and add a new experience to their visit. For you, they’re pretty handy for lead capture.
These tiny scraps of copy, imagery and branding should be carefully crafted to maximise their potential. They can be fairly intrusive, taking them a step away from most other new web design trends, however micro-interactions also provide a playful and dynamic movement to a static website.
Personalisation is the holy grail of digital marketing, and marketing in general. Delivering a targeted, optimised experience for each individual visiting your site can lead to higher engagement rates, return visits and ultimately, sales. Providing content that is genuinely useful for a particular customer makes your site feel more human, increasing their positive feelings around your company in general.
Using cookies to display content based on a user’s past browsing history or preferences is not a new concept. However next year, things are set to get even more interesting with content cards, which, as we’ve already discussed, can be used to show only the most relevant content to a user through tagging and geo-targeting.
The principle of storytelling takes the focus on both imagery and typography one step further, and concentrates on immersive storytelling to really bring a reader on board with your brand.
The term ‘content marketing’ has been buzzing around the digital marketing sphere for a while now, and although its meaning has been diluted over time, its core principle remains: people want stories, not a sales pitch. They want valuable content that is interesting and engaging, so it’s time to get innovative about the way you talk about your brand. Companies are achieving this by combining engaging narrative copy with image galleries, standout quotes and video, producing an altogether more tangible, immersive and magazine-style experience online.
For great examples of storytelling, take a look at some of our blog articles such as The Benefits of Working with a Local Design Agency or Identifying Thin Content for SEO Purposes.