By Bill Fukui, Director of Sales & Marketing
As your practice invests more money into more Internet marketing opportunities, the website plays an increasingly important role. Chances are, you pay much closer attention to the look, content, and performance of the website than before, and continually invest more time and money into it.
Not too long ago, the primary goal for your website was simply to convert it into a “responsive” design that is mobile-friendly.
Today, mobile-friendly alone isn’t enough. Your website needs to perform in more ways. It needs to be secure (HTTPS). It needs to be faster loading. It needs to promote your brand. It needs to be search engine optimized.
Most importantly, it needs to engage visitors and convert prospects into quality leads.
Start with Analytics Data
Many providers are prompted to update their site or redesign it completely when they see a successful competitor’s new snazzy website. However, strategic website decisions should not be based purely on emotion. You need to rely more on data: Google Analytics data. In addition to overall traffic data, such as Session Duration and Bounce Rate, the following are data points that should influence your website design.
- Device – Determining what types of devices visitors use to access your website is essential to understanding how you need to review your website and guide its design. In many cases, smartphone visitors dominate, but there are some markets and situations where the majority of visitors are desktop users.
- Timing –In addition to what device visitors use, one frequently overlooked, but highly strategic area is the time they visit. Knowing popular times can guide your call-to-action decisions.
- Pages – Are visitors reaching your highest-priority pages? And what happens when they do? Page data can help you make better decisions regarding navigation and linking, as well as the design, content and assets of your key pages.
Not Just Mobile-Friendly; Mobile First and Mobile Optimized!
Just because your website displays in a smartphone doesn’t mean it was built in a mobile-first manner, or that it is fully optimized to meet the needs of “on-the-go” visitors. Graphics, layout, navigation, content, and calls-to-action need to be planned and designed. Simply taking a desktop design and squeezing it into a smaller screen is not mobile-optimized. Many design elements, images, and functions that work on a desktop may undermine user experience on a smartphone.
In addition, using a responsive template website may be less expensive and displays in a mobile-friendly manner, but it significantly limits your ability to address updated mobile-first design strategies and build a custom layout that is unique to your needs, goals, and target audiences.
SEO Tip: Adding More Pages vs. Updating Existing Pages
One important 2018 goal for many practice websites is the ongoing addition of new pages, blogs and content, primarily for SEO purposes. There is no question that adding fresh, new or updated content to your website on an ongoing basis is a fundamental practice of good SEO. However, simply adding new pages or blogs alone will not generate results in competitive markets. In some cases, it may make sense to update a key page or consolidate a number of support pages into on authority page.
Generally speaking, pages that have already built credibility and positioning can benefit much more from upgraded content than new pages.
Logos Have More Value
Well designed logos have increasing value when the screens and design real estate get smaller. As branding becomes an increasingly important online marketing objective, logos play a larger role in quickly communicating your firm’s image.
If your practice doesn’t have a professionally designed logo, it may be time to develop one. If you are in the process of updating or developing a new logo, be sure to incorporate how it performs on a mobile device and in a digital environment into your development process.
Color is Key
Much like a logo, colors communicate a lot about your practice, particularly on small smartphone screens. Colors can also emphasize areas and make key elements stand out without taking up valuable screen space. The key is to utilize colors within a clean and easily viewed design. Overuse of dominant or high-contrast colors may create visual confusion and diminish user experience.
We all recognize that phone calls are the highest-quality leads that convert into customers at the highest rate. In a mobile dominated environment, phone calls are also the easiest, most convenient, and immediate means to communicate with your practice. Touch-to-call action elements and hyperlinked phone numbers need to be part of your design strategy.
Although email submission forms need to be available, particularly for visitors who are not ready to call or are visiting outside traditional business hours, phone focus needs to be the top priority.
Add Sticky Navigation
One strategy to develop a phone call-focused design and layout is the use of a sticky navigation element. Sticky navigation elements are typically banners at either the top or bottom of your website design. When visitors scroll down or back up, a sticky navigation bar remains on the screen, rather than scrolling with the rest of the page.
Usage statistics shows a continuing growth of sticky navigation and they should include key linked elements such as phone number, menu, directions, contact us, etc. If your sticky navigation is more contact focused, this element can be less “intrusive,” by positioning it at the bottom of the screen, and yet it will still convert.
Typography and Fonts
Typography is the style and appearance of text. In website design, creative, yet extremely legible typography can be leveraged to define a practice’s image and creates a more “designed,” and polished-looking page. Typography can be used to create high-impact headings and content blocks to help your message stand out. Font style, color, and size all influence how your design speaks to visitors and communicates your brand.
The use of stock images has run its course. Today, practice websites need to do more than just share great content. They need to establish rapport and a sense of connection with visitors. Building a relationship with prospective clients is a primary goal.
For years, studies have shown real photos outperform stock images, yet many practices continue to procrastinate on investing in good custom photography.
Practices with high-performing and effectively branded websites now invest the time, thought, and money to develop custom photos and images. This means more than just profile photos. It includes candid action-based images of your team members and engaged clients in a variety of office settings and other locations.
Video is a “Must”
Much like custom photography, high-quality video production can elevate the practice and communicate a differentiating message to website visitors and prospective clients. Custom video and photography go hand in hand to separate your practice from others in the market.
The need for investing in quality video production is magnified with the growing volume of video content being consumed on smartphone devices. In some markets, video has essentially become required, when all of the top performing websites utilize custom videos.
Get in the Fast Lane
If a new website or major update is in your practice’s 2018 plans, it is important that your website design is built to perform. This means it is user-friendly regarding website speed or load times. Streamlined and efficiency-focused design and functionality have become a higher priority than cool-looking, animated features that slow website performance.
Use Google’s website test tool to check your website’s performance: https://testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com
If you think people don’t scroll down web pages, statistics indicate that they do. As smartphones surpassed desktops in accessing the Web, user experience-focused designers responded and scrolling designs and layout now dominate the digital landscape. Add to that, SEO strategies like long-form content and pages, and the need to have more strategically designed pages increases.
Motivate scrolling activities by positioning higher priority elements higher on the page and reward scrollers by providing “next step” action elements/links strategically throughout the page, not just at the bottom.
Marketing to visitors that visit your site (even if they do not submit a form) through retargeting is an increasingly popular strategy. One way to improve the effectiveness of retargeting is to segment your audience and tailor ads based on target pages that they visit.
Develop your high-priority pages knowing you will be serving up more specific ads to visitors of these key internal pages.
Design as a Process, Not a Destination
We have all heard that a website is never completely finished and needs to be continually updated. Yet when many practices complete the process of developing a new website or make a substantial update, they check it off, put it out of their minds, and move on.
To ensure your website continually improves and addresses issues and new opportunities, it is important to collaborate with your website marketing partner on a regular and planned basis to monitor, update, and course correct.
For more website and Internet marketing strategies to incorporate into your 2018 plans, call us at 800-368-9910.