We have a saying here at Ethical Pixels – the best websites are like the best gardens – tended often. You have to take the time to prune, weed and water if you want a nice garden. When it comes to websites, the main thing is to make sure that the content on your site still reflects your most up-to-date thinking, and that you make changes or updates regularly.
This has a dual benefit:
- Anyone visiting your website will get the correct, most relevant information, which saves confusion or misunderstanding later on.
- Search engines like Google will see you’re updating your website regularly, which counts positively towards your SEO ranking.
In an attempt to help our clients (and anyone really) keep their sites relevant, we’ve put together the following steps:
1. Blog, or add new content to certain areas of the site
Generally, the key pages of your site that explain who you are and what you do don’t tend to change all that regularly – unless you’re changing something fundamental about your business. Blogs exist as a way to quickly and easily post updates without having to redesign these key pages.
Businesses blog in different ways – you might have news articles, case studies, resources, articles, recent testimonials or any type of content that reinforces your skills and experience. Making regular updates to these types of content sends a signal to search engines that the content on your site has materially changed, and gives the impression you are active.
If you don’t have a blog or a simple way to add new content to your website, we can help.
2. Have a single point of truth for key information
A common problem some organisations encounter is having critical information like opening hours or pricing duplicated in multiple places across the site. This is a great way to lose track of what information lives where, and when it comes to updating the information, some pages can get left out. This means users visiting one page might get different (and erroneous) information on certain pages, and subsequently have trouble when deciding whether or not to engage with you. The worst case is if someone shows up at the door when you’re closed or thinks you’re trying to gouge them on price because they read a different figure.
There are different ways around this, but one of the easiest is to have a single page where key information lives, and link to it, instead of trying to include it on every page.
If you do have to include it, you can use a central information store or database to hold one true version of the information and embed it on different pages. That way, when you update it once, you update it everywhere instantaneously. If you don’t know how to do this, we can help configure it for you.
3. Social media integration
Some people find blogging and content changes tricky. If you find you naturally post more regularly on social media than update your website, then use it! You’re making an effort and keeping people up to date on these platforms.
In this case, rather than duplicating your efforts, you could integrate your social feed into your website so that the site changes when you post new social updates. this gives you all of the benefits of blogging, but without the need to write lengthy articles, although you are directing some of your traffic off-site, which works for some people and not others.
Of course, we would advise social media channels to be the top end of a funnel, driving users to your website where you have more control over the flow and aesthetic instead of the other way around, but we understand your organisation may require a different model.
4. Get someone to read your site and report back
Have you noticed that it can be easier to criticise than to create? If you’ve spent a long time looking at your website, you sometimes aren’t able to see the wood for the trees. Getting someone you trust to review your site with a fresh perspective can be really useful in questioning the content and design decisions that you’ve taken so far.
You know why things are the way they are, but if this doesn’t make sense to someone who doesn’t have the benefit of your knowledge, then it may not make sense to your users either. If nothing else, you get to challenge and defend your design choices and make changes in the best interests of the people who use your site. Although you pay for the site, you aren’t necessarily the user.
If you aren’t sure who your average user is, you may want to discover and document this with our User Experience Consultancy services.
5. Use analytics to diagnose issues and make changes
Analytics is a great tool that can tell you what is happening on your website. It provides signals that you can use to further scrutinise the site and potentially make changes that improve things for users. For example, if you’re getting a lot of 404 errors, that means users can’t find certain pages and you can repair broken links. Or if a lot of people reach your checkout but no one completes a purchase, there may be an issue on the page.
Analytics is a useful signal, but it doesn’t tell you why things are happening. You have to follow up and investigate further. Or, even better, talk to your users and find out. This is one of the benefits of our User Experience service.