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by Eric Sharp on May 20, 2016

Topics: Business, User Experience (UX)

How to improve website 12 practical ways

Trying to improve your website, but not sure where to begin?

I don’t know about you, but I’m mildly annoyed with all the boilerplate advice that many “experts” suggest because it’s generic and not actionable.

Tips like:

Improve Conversion Rate!
Increase Traffic!
Have a better Design!

Yes. But, how exactly?

Most of us understand these big picture concepts in theory. However, concepts don’t improve a website — practical, specific, and actionable ideas will.

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If you’re looking for generic tips, this blog isn’t for you.

Below are 12 easy-to-understand tips that’ll inspire and show you how to take action.

Each one hits on a different area of website improvement.

If you do all 12, you’ll dramatically change your website for the better. If you do just one, you’ll still be making headway and will see measurable progress.

These 12 Website Improvement Ideas will span various aspects

I’m not just going to focus on conversion. Or design. Or SEO. These 12 tips will cover these major areas (listed in no specific order):

  1. Conversion
  2. Content
  3. Research
  4. Maintenance
  5. Mobile
  6. Usability
  7. SEO
  8. Measurement
  9. Design

Now, let’s explore each of these 12 practical tips and how you can turn them into actionable to-do’s to improve your website.

1. Answer 100 of your prospects’ questions on your Blog

I learned this tactic from the super smart Marcus Sheridan at The Sales Lion.

Marcus suggests locking yourself in a room with a big whiteboard and brainstorming 100 of the top questions your prospects are asking. Then answer them one-by-one in your blog.

website-improvement-tip-whiteboard-100-questions
Grab your whiteboard markers and list out 100 questions your potential customers are asking. Then blog the answers.

Whenever I feel a client getting overwhelmed with their Content Marketing strategy, I dumb it down and pass this concept along. And it works every single time because it’s so easy to understand.

Within a few hours, you’ll have 100 blog ideas!

Adding valuable content to your blog that answers your potential customers’ questions will dramatically improve your website. It’ll make your company more trustworthy and transparent, but also drive more traffic and improve conversion rate!

Still not convinced you need a blog? Read this: 3 Simple, Non-statistical Reasons to Start a Blog

2. Ensure a site-wide Call to Action is in the header

What’s the most important action on your website? Is it filling out a lead generation form? Downloading a lead magnet? Buying a product?

Whatever the action, you need to make it obvious for people. More specifically, you need to find a home for it in the header of your website, so your CTA is:

  1. Accessible on every page
  2. Above the fold (giving the prominence & attention it needs)
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Cactus Technologies nails their site-wide CTA
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This website does NOT nail their CTA

Follow the 4 C’s of a website call to action to help you design an effective CTA.

3. Document 3-5 user personas to get a better understanding of your website’s audience

Improve Your Website with User Personas
A user persona, like this one, will enhance your website by guiding all future decision-making.

Do you really understand the people visiting your website? Are their needs and wants guiding every website decision you make?

They should be.

“People assume their website’s users think and act like they do”, states Steve Mulder, author of The User is Always Right.

Documenting user personas won’t have an immediate impact on your site, but they’ll improve your website in every way over the long-haul because you’re crafting an experience for them (not yourself).

Create personas using both quantitative and qualitative website data. Learn more here: The What and Why of Creating Website User Personas

4. Add/Edit/Remove content on landing pages with little engagement

Conversion Optimization experts L-O-V-E this tactic.

Why? Because it’s plugging leaky holes on your website.

If critical pages of your website have a low “Session Duration” (the minutes & seconds a user spends on a given page), this could be a sign that the content is:

  1. Too light
  2. Not relevant
  3. BORING

Detect 5-10 of these pages in Google Analytics and put them under a microscope. Is the content helpful? Does it need some TLC? Does it need blown up and re-written?

improve-website-with-addressing-low-engaging-pages
In Google Analytics, go to [Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages] and then scan the “Avg. Session Duration” column for pages with low engagement

5. Run User Testing on your website’s core functions

Many people let User Testing (aka Usability Testing) intimidate them. They think you need thousands of dollars, your own testing lab, and a data scientist to spearhead the whole thing.

Don’t overthink this.

There are plenty of useful services available today (like UserTesting.com) that’ll help you set up a usability test within 24 hours for under $100. Selling a product? Run a test on the ordering process. Offering a service? Run a test on finding specific pages and inquiring more information.

The results will help you improve your website’s core functionality and translate into a higher conversion rate!

User Testing Lab
Gone are the days of needing your own user testing lab (Image Credit: TheNextWeb)

6. Fix Bad Grammar/Typos

Don’t snicker. You’d be surprised how little details like misspellings and typos impact a website in big ways.

Typos will damage your website’s credibility. It’ll also impact your bottom line and could cost you money.

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Attention to detail matters. (Image Source)

Don’t let simple oversights, that are easy to fix, hold back your website. You’ll improve your website and your bottom line with some proofing and editing. Hire a freelancer editor or roll up your sleeves yourself and fix these credibility killers!

7. Fix browser-specific issues

Imagine that your visitors couldn’t click your website’s call to action. Or your lead generation form doesn’t show all the right fields. Or your navigation menu is missing a section.

Imagine that your visitors couldn’t click your website’s call to action.

These are all very real situations (that I’ve seen firsthand) that surface when a website has browser-specific bugs from lack of browser planning and/or testing. What many website owners forget is that not everybody uses the same browser. The big 5 are:

  1. Chrome
  2. Firefox
  3. Internet Explorer (being replaced by ‘Edge’ eventually)
  4. Safari
  5. Opera

So, how do you get detect these errors and fix them? Start with Google Analytics and view this report: [Audience > Technology > Browser & OS].

You’ll see something like this (I prefer the Pie Graph):

Improve Website by Browser Testing
Oh look, Internet Explorer makes up 25% of this website’s traffic. Hopefully there are no major IE issues!

Once you get a snapshot of your browser distribution, it’s time to test run your website in the most popular browsers by either:

  • Installing the browser on your computer
  • Using a service like BrowserStack.com (plans start at $29/month)

Fixing common website errors, like browser bugs, is certainly not a sexy website improvement to get excited about, but it needs to be addressed.

8. Make it Mobile-Friendly

google-mobile-friendly-testAlready mobile-friendly? Great. But, you may want to double check with Google’s mobile-friendly test.

I’ve had a few conversations, just this year, where the person thought their website was mobile-friendly, and then I become the bearer of bad news. Not fun.

I’m sure you know by now that your website needs to be mobile-friendly. If you haven’t, learn more about “Mobilegeddon”.

If you’re not mobile-friendly, you have 3 options:

  1. Create a separate mobile version (example: mobile.website.com)
  2. Use mobile plugins (if you’re running a popular CMS platform, like WordPress)
  3. Convert website to RWD (“Responsive Web Design”)

This improvement isn’t the cheapest or quickest to implement, but should be near the top of your list.

9. Fine-tune your SEO on high authority pages

You can improve your website’s Search Engine Optimization in 30 minutes. It just takes a little data extraction and some sharp copywriting.

Step 1: Get your “Top Pages” by authority using a tool like OpenSiteExplorer.com (Note: The free version of OSE will only reveal your top 5)

improve-seo-finding-high-authority-pages-open-site-explorer

Step 2: Inspect those page’s Meta Titles and Meta Descriptions and ensure they don’t wrap (your Content Management System has this data)

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Meta Data as shown in the Search Engine Results Pages. See how there’s no wrapping?
meta-data-wrapping-SERP
Meta Data is too long and shows a searcher the dreaded ellipses. This is bad for SEO & click-through rate.

Step 3: Truncate Meta Titles to 50 to 65 characters and Meta Descriptions under 155 characters.

These three simple steps, applied to each of your top pages, will not only improve the on-page optimization but will inspire more people to click over to your website.

Pro tip: Use this Snippet Optimization Tool to visually see your Meta Data as you write it.

10. Redesign homepage to communicate your Value Prop

Your homepage is one of the most critical pages of your site. Not because it’ll get the most traffic (most sites get more traffic to other pages), but because:

  1. It provides a bird’s eye view of our company
  2. It’s your website’s “reset” button

More about designing your Value Proposition:

The #1 Most Important Element to Your Home Page Design

Your company’s value proposition should be the front and center element to your homepage. Learn what one is and why it’s critical for your homepage.

If you haven’t documented your value proposition, start there. Then follow ConversionXL’s formula and put it front and center on your homepage:

  1. Headline. What is the end-benefit you’re offering, in 1 short sentence. Can mention the product and/or the customer. Attention grabber.
  2. Sub-headline or a 2-3 sentence paragraph. A specific explanation of what you do/offer, for whom and why is it useful.
  3. 3 bullet points. List the key benefits or features.
  4. Visual. Images communicate much faster than words. Show the product, the hero shot or an image reinforcing your main message.

Improving the articulation of your value prop will boost your website’s clarity. And clarity can’t be underestimated in today’s noisy world.

11. Set up Goals in Google Analytics

If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.Peter Drucker

Mr. Drucker loved measurement. If he were still alive, he’d revel in using Google Analytics goals data to improve his website.

Are you tracking website conversions in Google Analytics? If not, it starts with setting up “Goals”. Here’s Google’s guide to configuring goals.

improve-website-measurement-with-analytics-goals
“How many conversions did we receive via organic traffic?” This client’s Analytics can answer that question because they have Goals set up (the answer is 498 by the way)

Taking a data-driven approach to understanding how your website is converting is a scientific way to improving a website. But, it begins with goals!

12. Simplify conversion forms, add specifics, drop in “click triggers”

Conversion forms, when done right, are a mixture of both art and science. When designed well, they make it smooth as butter for those wanting to fill out the form — and inspire those who are on the fence.

This topic (conversion rate optimization) is loaded with best practices, strategies, and tactics. For this blog, here are the 4 most practical ways to quickly improve your website’s forms:

  1. Limit the number of required fields
    The less options you present, the lower the friction
  2. Add “click triggers”
    These are extra boosts around a button to convince more people to click it (e.g. testimonial, star ratings, privacy messaging, guarantees, etc.)
  3. Avoid certain words on buttons (such as “Submit”)
  4. Explain clearly what happens NEXT
    Email confirmation? A sales rep will call them 1-2 business days? They’ll receive message in a bottle?
conversion-form-website-improvement-ideas
This website’s form creates ambiguity & doesn’t inspire

Start Improving Your Website Today!

Don’t let this list overwhelm you. Start with one, complete, and move onto the next. Website improvement is all about incremental changes and measurement.



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Author Info

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Hey there, thanks for reading! My name is Eric Sharp and I’m the Founder of ProtoFuse. Learn more about me, follow me on Twitter or find me on Google+. Oh, and I’ll call you family if you’re a Chicago Bears fan. Daaa Bearsss.