GGer Erin Gaffney outlines what a successful website looks like and how organizations can determine whether it’s time for a website redesign.
An organization’s website is more often than not the first way that clients, potential partners, future employees, journalists, and competitors are introduced to an organization.
A website is a reflection of your organization, and to leave the right impression, it should clearly reflect the mission and value of its work. Ensuring that the content is up to date and accessible to visitors is essential for any successful website. In order to figure out whether your website needs an upgrade, ask yourself the following questions:
Look at the homepage of your website from an outsider’s perspective. Think about what information or message you would take away from it at first glance. Do the language and photos leave a clear impression of the organization’s mission and the kind of work it does? If not, a website redesign can be an opportunity to rethink what you want your website to communicate and refresh the words and images to align with that vision.
If your organization’s impact isn’t being showcased effectively, there are a couple of simple ways to bring it to the fore. The first is to include a “News and Events” section where you can showcase recent achievements, upcoming activities, and articles that feature your organization or its spokespeople. Doing so can easily demonstrate the organization’s breadth of work, expertise, and success stories. Second, consider incorporating a “blog” section of the website with articles on topics related to the organization’s work that can be resources for site visitors.
Your website may attract a variety of audiences, but it’s important to consider which groups are most important for your organization to resonate with. For example, if you are a consumer-facing website focused on home insurance, you can anticipate people coming to your website to learn about the different home insurance options in their city, tips and tricks for applying for home insurance, and other pieces of advice. If your website doesn’t have that content readily available, site visits will be short.
Your employees are also an important audience of your website. When determining the need for a website facelift, consider asking employees for their insight – what do they like or dislike about the current website? What do they think is missing? How can it be improved? Your employees are equally invested in the appearance of your company and might have some valuable observations.
Potential new employees may be looking to get a sense of the company culture and determine if they could see themselves working for your company. Including photos from a staff retreat or quotes from current employees on what it’s like to work for your organization are quick and easy ways to showcase the values of your company and draw in new people.
It can also be helpful to browse competitors’ websites to figure out what you like and dislike about them to inform how you approach your own website redesign. Which websites stand out the most to you and why? Take the time to analyze why certain websites stand out and are more memorable than others.
The structure and interface are some of the most important aspects of any website. Outdated or difficult to use systems will leave viewers with a bad impression and will often send them away to find the information they’re in search of elsewhere.
Consider features that provide opportunities to engage visitors to your website. For example, a banner or a pop-up can provide a “Call to Action” to prompt visitors to register for an upcoming webinar or sign you’re their names to a petition. Better usability and interactivity will increase the amount of time a visitor spends on the website.
Consider also analyzing your company’s full online presence, including all social media accounts. Consistency from LinkedIn to Twitter to an organization’s website shows that you care about your online appearance and makes it even easier for potential partners or new clients to connect with you.
It is very common for an organization to have a very strong presence on one platform and a drastically diminished presence on another. If your website doesn’t have easy-to-find (and not broken) links to your social accounts, it might be time to make some updates.
Is your website sending the message you want it to?