No time for a redesign? Too busy to give your site a full-on overhaul? Worried about the price tag that comes with the big fixes?
You can still make small tweaks and incremental improvements to your website – the kind of improvements that can mean the difference between a high bounce rate or a lower one, a converting site or a doorstop, more page views and time-on-site or bored visitors.
Best yet, most of these can be done without a bit of technical know-how. If you’ve got a WordPress or other self-managed site, these will be a piece of cake. In fact, you can probably do them all even before you finish eating a slice of cake!
If you have no management capabilities you can still make some of these changes off-site, visualize the rest and have your developer take care of them in about half-a-slice-of-cake time.
1. Delete Something
Most websites can stand to lose a few parts. It could be that extra graphic. Those random links on the sidebar. The repetitive stuff stuck in the footer.
It’s easy to get fixated on a particular layout but overlook the contents of the layout. Especially when it comes to WordPress themes, many come standard with a header, footer and sidebar or two. Instead of showcasing your relevant and important content, you stuff content into whatever open holes wait to be filled.
It’s time to undo that.
Take five and look at your site. Could you eliminate the extra ad, the list of links, the floating photo, the repeated navigation?
If your contact info is at the top of the page, do you really need it again at the bottom? Do you need that sidebar at all?
It might not be easy – we get very attached to those little snippets and boxes! But ask yourself whether that snippet or content is vital to the experience on your website and to furthering your goals.
No? Delete it. White space never lost a sale. Clutter did.
2. Increase The Font Size
Try one point or pixel more. See how it feels.
I bet you could stand to increase the font size a bit, especially now that so many visitors are using much smaller mobile devices. More often than not I find myself using the browser’s zoom function because I just can’t read without squinting and slouching closer to my monitor.
If your body font size is anything below 14 pixels then your website is in crisis mode. And that can change depending on the font – some fonts look at lot smaller at 14 pixels than others.
Remember though, that there’s more than the body font. There are headings, too, and those should increase in size relative to the body content and to each other. Check yours for scale – body copy at 14 pixels and a Heading at 48 pixels is going to look completely out of balance.
3. Add Headings
Once you’ve designated h1s, 2s, 3s and so on… use them!
Visually, headings add structure to the page, segment important concepts into chunks your readers can scan and make the overall page more open, organized and readable.
Consider the headings on this page. What if I told you there would be ten tips in this post but didn’t number or designate them? I bet you’d be a lot less inclined to stick around.
Take a good look at your page content and figure out how you can create at least one subdivision on each page – however short it is – to improve the readability and organization.
4. Break Up Your Paragraphs
Remember in school your English teacher taught you to start and end a paragraph with a single thought? Whether that was one sentence or ten, each paragraph meant one idea.
Well, it’s time to forget what you know, and think web instead. Short paragraphs work.
Single sentence paragraphs work.
Even single word paragraphs work.
If your paragraphs are more than 2-3 sentences, unless they’re super short sentences, reconsider and break them up. Shorter paragraphs are easier to scan. They’re easier to digest when our eyes are taxed by bright screens and plenty of distractions. And they’re a whole lot easier to read on mobile.
Better yet, aim for short and shorter paragraphs of unequal lengths. Three sentences here, one there. The asymmetry is more visually engaging – your readers’ eyes (and brains) are less likely to tire and the varying attention required will keep people reading longer than a monotonous string of the same.
5. Fix Your Page Titles
Take a look at the title of your home page – the one you see at the top of the browser and the one that searchers will see in search results. And yes, the one that matters to SEO.
Does it say “home”? Is it a string of keywords separated by the | symbol? Is it more than 60 characters?
If you said yes to any of those questions then do this now! Your page titles may be the only chance you have to make an impression on someone. Searchers who come across your site will click only if your title appeals to them and gives them reason to. That means it has to say something relevant to a complete stranger who only happens on your site by chance.
First of all, get rid of superfluous words like “home”, “about” or anything generic that means nothing to anybody.
Unless you’re an international phenomenon and you can trade on the value of your name, get it out of your title. Nobody cares about “John Smith’s home page”. But they may care if you’re a certified electrician serving all of northern New Jersey.
Secondly, get some keywords in there. It’s a small but important thing you can do not only to entice people to click your link in search results but to get your site into the search results in the first place.
Finally, shorten them up. You get about 60 characters of display space in Google before your title gets truncated. And while there’s no real harm in going long, if people can’t read it, what’s the point?
6. Add A Testimonial
I know, you’ve been meaning to do it forever.
Forget the full-on testimonials page and aim for a few dropped strategically into your content. One right before an important call to action. Another as a pull quote in between two paragraphs on your service page. A short one in a sidebar.
People may not bother to visit your testimonials page (long? boring? narcissistic?) but they’ll certainly browse through a few well-placed words of praise, especially as they relate to the content or product or service you’re offering.
7. Check Your Forms
Sometimes they stop working. Check yours periodically to be sure they perform as expected – that means they work for the user, are delivered properly to you and trigger any appropriate auto responses.
But beyond that, take a critical look at your form and see if…
- It has required fields and that if someone fails to complete one, an appropriate message is displayed.
- The user knows that the form has been submitted, by way of a thank you page or message that appears after they hit “submit”.
- The fields are relevant and don’t require too much or too little information.
And include an introduction. Plunking a few fields on a page doesn’t really say “Contact Me”. It says “I know how to build a form.”
Marketing doesn’t stop at your contact page. Tell people why they should contact you, tell them what to expect when they do and encourage them to do it.
8. Change The Color Of Your Opt In Box Or Call To Action
Sometimes you never know what will improve your website until you try it. Will a red box convert better than a blue one? A square button better than a round one?
Who knows! That’s why you’re going to take five minutes and change the color.
Look for a color that compliments but does not blend in with the color scheme of your site. Some studies have shown that red buttons convert better than green – which is easy to say unless the color scheme of your site is red and then that red button gets completely lost.
Any important call to action, including opt-ins, should be differentiated from the rest of the page and the easiest way for you to try improving your conversion rate right now is to try a new color. While you’re at it, try a new color and a bigger “buy now/sign up/hire me” font!
9. Punch Up Your Benefit Points
Whether you cranked out your content over a pizza all-nighter or spent months agonizing over every “of” and “the”, you can still probably find a way to improve.
Take a look at how well you’re focusing your content on your customer – not your skills, your experience, what you can do and how you do it.
Give you’re website a good old-fashioned WIIFM look. Make sure you’re spinning every sentence you can into a reason for your visitors to buy from you/hire you/trust your product or service.
Read the first sentence on your home page. Ask yourself, “Why does anyone care?” Answer it. Do that for every sentence on the page. Keep going.
10. Add A Photo
Surely you’ve got a new headshot? Some photos from a recent event? A bit more work for your portfolio?
Ditch the stock photos and go for something real. Even if you only add one photo today, that’s one more point of interest you’ve created for your visitors, one more way for them to connect with you (so much of our connection is visual) and one more sensory point that can engage them in an experience with your brand.
Now, how many of these do you think you could work into your day? Even if you only tackle one each day for the next ten days, that’s only a few minutes of your time each day (ok, maybe a few more if you really want your copy to shine…) and you won’t need to blow your budget or get swamped with a long or costly redesign project.
Which one can you start with right now?
Join the discussion 14 Comments
What a great post! Thanks for writing this – super tips for folks who are time-deprived.
Glad to help! I hope you can try some of these for yourself.
Specific. Targeted. Easy. SCORE! Great advice Carol Lynn.
Thanks Clare, that’s what I was hoping for 🙂
Great suggestions! Thankfully I have a new WordPress theme in the works, but these are great suggestions, since I still have to improve my pages and structure. Doing just 1 thing a day, will really improve things!
Good luck with your new theme, Daphne – while you’re working on it, try incorporating one of these small things at a time. It’s a lot easier than doing everything at once!
I love the mini-tip structure! I’m quite challenged when it comes to this sort of thing, so taking on a tiny bit at a time makes it a bit less intimidating. Thanks for giving me a place to start! 🙂
Glad you liked it! You’re not alone, trust me… everything in my brain is a HUGE project so I have a lot of practice trying to break things down into bite-sized pieces.
This is a great post with some good advice! I plan to make some changes to my website soon and will def. implement some of these ideas when I do!
The best part, George, is that you don’t even have to wait 🙂 You can do a quick one right now!
Great suggestions! many people find themselves overwhelmed by “website makeover.” This way you just fix everything, one tweak at a time.
There’s so much to do online that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. And nothing is static so being in “tweak-mode” is a whole lot easier that being in constant do-over mode!
Yes … although “punch up your benefits” can be more than a tweak. Most people need copywriting traiining and experience!
No doubt! That’s a whole post and an entire lesson (or a lifetime of practice) by itself. Plenty of people could stand to add **a** benefit – not be so self-centered and corporate-dull. So that would be a start.