Sure you have a website, but is it performing to its full potential? Be honest with yourself. If a major redesign is overwhelming, at least consider these low-cost ways to make it better. Incremental changes can provide a high return on investment.

  • 01

    Short and sweet.

    One of the most common mistakes is putting too much text on a Web page. Most people don’t like to read long text on the Web. Many people will try to scan, and will skip reading entirely if the text is too long or too dense. Shorten up your text. Avoid long sentences and lots of punctuation. Keep it light and conversational. Break up text into shorter paragraphs. Use a headline and choose the words thoughtfully. Give the eye relief with section headings. You don’t have to say everything you know, shorten everything you say by half. Ask yourself, “What’s the most important message I want people to get from this page?” A Web page that says less can be MORE effective than what you have now.

  • 02

    Satisfy the searcher.

    Some people are “searchers” by nature, and hate to browse. Studies have found as many as 30–40% of Web users will immediately leave a website if they do not find a Search box. They want to immediately type what they’re looking for. They don’t have the patience to poke around in your menus, trying to guess where you’ve hidden the stuff that interests them. Your site should offer search, and it should be easy to find.

  • 03

    There’s no place like home.

    Remember that the Home page may NOT be the first page people see when they arrive on your site. Search engine results may link them to an interior page. Will they be disoriented? Or will they quickly understand what kind of organization you are and where they’ve landed? Every page on your website should include essential branding and friendly menus. Ideally, the menu design is “stateful”, meaning that it visually emphasizes where you are right now in the menu system. Otherwise, people arrive on the site and immediately leave—a missed opportunity.

  • 04

    Check out the competition.

    Look at the websites of other organizations in your field. How do you compare? Get ideas about things you could be doing better. Visual design? Message? Features? Borrow good ideas, or let them inspire you to make your website even better.

  • 05

    Take a ride in the traffic chopper.

    Get a birds eye view of your website with traffic analytics reports. Who is coming to your website and why? If you don’t have traffic reports setup for your website, setup Google Analytics (it’s free). If you already have reports available, spend a little time each month (or week) looking at them. What are your most popular referral sources? What search engine words are bringing people to you? How are you doing relative to your success metrics? We ALWAYS gain valuable insights when we look at website analytics reports. You can take a shallow dive in by yourself, for a deeper dive, ask a professional for help.

  • 06

    Don’t make them think.

    Navigating your website should be effortless.  Every visitor is different, so, what’s obvious to you is not always obvious to them. Website users are gone with a click when the friction is too great — awkward navigation, inconsistent presentation, dead links, buried information, no search feature.  No matter who developed your website, hiring an expert to do a usability assessment will make it better.  Create a “friction free” experience and your organization will instantly stand out.  And you’ll start getting better results.

  • 07

    Serve Google food.

    Where do you come up in Google search results? We don’t mean when people search for you by name. Imagine someone looking for what you offer. What words might they type into the search engine? Make a list of these keywords with a colleague. With any imagination you may be surprised how long the list is. How many of these words are used on your website now? That’s just the beginning of search engine optimization, but it’s a start. Why do we talk so much about Google? Because they currently dominate search with nearly 75% of the market.

  • 08

    Reach out and touch someone.

    Capture email addresses and build your mailing list. People will give you their email address and more if you offer them something useful in return. Offer a white paper, report, or other downloadable document. A mailing list is gold, especially when people have opted in. Stay top-of-mind by sending an occasional email, people will be glad to hear from you. Careful though, understand best practices and avoid SPAM.

  • 09

    Freshen up.

    Update your site content. Start with a single page, ideally your Home page. What’s new? Give people a taste of your dynamic organization. Make it look like you’re paying attention to your website and people are more likely to value what you say there. If you don’t have a content management system (CMS) yet, start making plans to get one. A CMS will give you control without requiring technical knowledge, and make it easy for people in your organization to keep the site fresh. If you don’t have any content that’s “shovel ready”, invest in some copy writing help or photography.

  • 10

    Get social.

    Try social networking. There are so many ways to be seen and heard today. Facebook isn’t just for kids anymore. Ask friends and colleagues where they hang out online. Find online communities where people share your interest in business or birds. Post comments or forum entries. Share your photos and videos. Start a blog. Hard sell is bad etiquette, but you can point people to your organization’s website for more information if it’s relevant to the conversation.

  • 11

    Gear up for action.

    What results do you want your website to generate? Whatever action you want people to take, turn it into a big, fat button for people to click. Do you want customer inquiries? Put that Inquire Now button on every page where it makes sense. Each page should draw the visitor along with an obvious next step. When you’re clear about the outcomes you want, you can sometimes dramatically improve results with a few well-crafted refinements. One more thing, unless you DON’T want people to contact you, make sure your contact information is visible on every page.

  • 12

    Buy clicks.

    Google built their business on pay-per-click advertising, and their AdWords service remains the leader in easy and affordable online promotion. You can setup an account and be online with your first campaign in an hour or two. You control your budget with maximum daily spending limits and maximum cost per click. Experiment, see what works. Pay per click is one of the most underutilized techniques for increasing website traffic, and a method with great upside potential.

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