By Sophie Barrington
Founder, Archer Creative
Your website is the front door to your equine business. Open and online 24/7, it is one of the first places prospective customers will choose to do business with you.
Are you building a new website from scratch or interested in upgrading your current website? In this blog post, I share my top 10 tips to improve your website.
To listen to the original podcast version, featured on Horse Chats Show, click here.
#10. Keep company and customer data safe with strong website security
It should come as no surprise this features in my top 10 list. While it may fall last in my top 10, it is – by no means – any less important.
Privacy and protecting sensitive information are today’s hot topics. Equine businesses need to familiarise themselves with data breach laws in Australia. Choose a reputable and reliable website developer who is equipped to install and manage your website security. I recommend using WordPress and installing website security in multiple layers to protect all aspects of your website, including server security.
#9. Invest in quality hosting from the outset to avoid issues later
When it comes to hosting, you truly get what you pay for.
While it can be tempting to cut costs, steer clear of cheap hosting providers. Often, you’ll find the cheapest hosting providers will end up costing your business more in wasted time, energy and money. At Archer Creative, we’ve moved away from offering standard hosting and now only offer managed hosting to our clients. The annual fee is well worth the peace of mind that comes from knowing your website is in good hands.
#8. Take a step back and assess your website using the five pace test
If you want to improve your website, then start with your home page. After all, it’s one of the most popular pages new customers will visit.
The five pace test is one of the simplest ways to test the readability of your home page. Can you read the main message of your website, even when you take five paces back from your computer? If your home page is cluttered, unclear or difficult to read, it can be a real turn off for new customers, so get to work on your home page.
#7. Ensure moving visuals don’t detract from the customer experience
Another key point to assess on your website is moving visuals. Are they creating an enjoyable customer experience or are they detracting from it?
Moving visuals, such as rotating home page banners, have been shown to distract and even frustrate website visitors, and should be used with caution. However, there are some moving visuals that do actually enhance the customer experience. One example where moving visuals work well is e-commerce and the use of dynamic image galleries.
#6. Keep your website updated regularly, both front-end and back-end
A regularly updated website will, ultimately, rank higher in Google.
You should endeavour to update the front end of your website on a regular basis. Add new content in the form of blogs and review your current content monthly at a minimum – weekly or fortnightly is better. You must also remain vigilant about keeping the back-end of your website updated. This is where a managed hosting provider can really help with a monthly check up. They will monitor your CMS, security software and plugins.
#5. Reduce page loading time
When it comes to page loading time, slow speed is the real killer. In fact, most internet users expect a website to load in two seconds or less.
If your website takes even a second longer to load, you may be losing the interest of potential customers who will then go elsewhere for similar products or services. But, there are a few things you can do. Start by optimising images that may be slowing your page loading speed. You should also enable browser caching to improve the customer experience for any future visits to your website.
#4. Only use high quality images and videos
High quality images and videos are well worth their investment.
The initial cost of professional images and videos will be much less than the potential customers you stand to lose with poor quality images and videos. Poor quality images and videos not only dull your product or service, but can actually create distrust, leading customers to question the quality of your business. It should be added that high quality images and videos can also be used for other forms of advertising, such as print.
#3. Ensure your website is mobile responsive
A mobile responsive website is the rule, not the exception.
In 2014, Google launched a new algorithm that rewards mobile responsive websites. But, even four years on, there are still hundreds of websites that aren’t mobile responsive. For those who aren’t familiar with this term, the easiest way to test this is on your desktop.
Open your website in a new browser and use your mouse to slowly drag in one of the bottom corners. Does your website adjust itself to fit the new screen size or is your website going out of view? If it’s the latter, then you have a problem.
Your potential customers are increasingly using mobile devices, like smart phones and tablets, to search the web for products or services like yours. They expect your website to be mobile responsive and they’re prepared to go elsewhere if it isn’t.
#2. Use clear calls to action throughout your website
Now that I’ve discussed some of the technical and display elements of your website, it’s time to take a look at your copy – the written words on your website.
When a website visitor arrives on your home page, what do you want them to do? When they view your product or service page, what do you want them to do? When they add a product to their shopping cart, what do you want them to do?
Calls to action are the action oriented words that direct website visitors to take the next step. These calls to action should be placed strategically throughout your website, in the form of buttons and coloured text, to direct desired action.
#1. Provide a solution to your customer’s problem
Above all, your website must solve your customer’s problem.
One of the most common mistakes business owners make is using their website to talk about themselves and their business. But, your customers aren’t interested in you, they are looking for a solution to their problem and they need to know you can provide one.
Looking for some outside support? Don’t wait for success, create it — with the experts in equine marketing, Archer Creative. To learn more about how we can help you exceed your growth goals in 2018, call us on 1300 077 126 or visit www.archercreative.net.au.