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Analyse the Effectiveness of Your Existing Website

Identify your high-level website needs and then review specific suggestions for improvement.
Website Design

Analyse the Effectiveness of Your Existing Website

Analyse the Effectiveness of Your Existing Website 1920 1280 Gravity Strategic Marketing

Identify your high-level website needs and then review specific suggestions for improvement.

Analyse the Effectiveness of Your Current Website

Is your current website as effective as it should be? If you’re considering a new site because your existing site isn’t performing, it’s a good idea to evaluate the cost of improving it versus the cost and potential benefits of a new site.

After evaluating your current site’s effectiveness in areas such as its design, navigation, content quality, search engine optimization, role in digital marketing campaigns, reporting, content management and functionality, you’ll have a clear understanding of your website requirements, even if you decide to build an entirely new one.

Identify Website Areas to Improve

It’s hard to be objective about your own site, especially if you were involved in creating it. Consider putting together a panel of people to give you unbiased feedback. Use the questions from this section as needed.

Here are areas to address:

  • Visibility on mobile devices
  • Marketing campaign value
  • Design
  • Content
  • Navigation
  • Functionality
  • Technology
  • Reporting
  • Content management
  • Brand: Does it support it or hurt it?

Do you know whether your site needs help in any of these areas?

Mobile devices: 
New websites today are developed for smartphone, tablet and laptop users.
Does your website use responsive design?
If not and you have a small site, should you switch to a pre-built template that is responsive?
If you’re not ready to build a new site, can you convert your existing site to a responsive design?
If you have a sophisticated site, should you build a mobile version of the website that is viewable on smartphones or tablets?
Marketing campaigns: 
Is it a true marketing vehicle?
Is your site optimized for search engines? (If you’re not sure, it probably isn’t.)
Could you generate more leads from people who are searching for vendors or suppliers online?
Could your site do more to help you generate new leads or drive potential customers to purchase?
Do you need to do more email marketing, but your site isn’t strong enough?
If your product or service is a high-ticket item with a long sales cycle, could your site help to educate and nurture your prospects?
Could your site be more valuable in marketing to existing customers?
Could you use it to process orders?
Does it truly help you deliver information and educate prospects?
Design: 
General look and feel of the site
Is the design clean and simple, or is it cluttered with images and copy that compete for attention?
Is your copy so long that users see a wall of text and avoid reading?
How appealing are the graphics?
Are they stale or interesting?
Do they match your brand identity?
Are typestyles and colours attractive?
Do they convey what you want them to convey?
Is your site at least as attractive as those of your competitors?
Are you proud to have prospects visit your site?
Content: 
The information you present
Does your home page have content on it, or is it primarily images? 
Is your copy easy to scan with meaningful headlines, subheadings, and bullets?
Is your copy written in an engaging way, or is it dull?
Does your copy answer important questions, or is it vague and generic?
Is it easy to get right to the information a prospect wants? Is the navigation intuitive rather than vague?
Does the content sell?
How good are your messages?
Do they convey your true value? Are they succinct?
Are they compelling?
Do you have content that can be used in marketing campaigns?
Functionality: 
Special tools and capabilities your site offers
Do you need more functionality to process orders, provide tools to users, or deliver more customized content to particular users?
TechnologyDoes the site load quickly?
Does the site use technologies that aren’t search-engine friendly (flash, heavy graphics, frames, dynamic content?)
Is the technology appropriate for your market (i.e. executives may not have the patience for a lot of flash that needs to load)
Does your site need to be viewable in mobile browsers?
Do you need a special mobile version of your site?
ReportingDo you have good metrics for traffic sources and traffic flow on your site?
Do you want more data than your current reports can generate?
Content management: 
Your system for changing or adding content
Do you need to be able to quickly and easily add pages without programming skills?
Do you need to quickly and easily manage other aspects of your content without calling your developer?

If you need help in any of the areas you’re not sure about, review the information below. Then consider how much work these changes will require before deciding your course of action.

Area to ImproveComments
Mobile devices: 
New websites today are developed for smartphone, tablet and laptop users.
Mobile web visitors surpassed desktop visitors in 2014 and the trend is continuing with the improvement of smartphones and mobile devices. More than 50% of B2B emails are now read on a mobile device, and if that email includes a link to a non-responsive site, your conversion numbers will suffer. Responsive design has become the norm, driven by need, so use it if your visitors view your content via a smartphone or tablet.
Marketing campaigns: 
Is it a true marketing vehicle?
If you’re serious about upgrading your site to make it a true marketing vehicle, you’ll need to learn more about internet marketing (search, email, online advertising, publicity) to determine what kind of campaigns are best for your company. Then you can develop your site requirements with confidence.
Design: 
General look and feel of the site
If you’re happy with the way your site functions and satisfied with its content, but just want a new look, it’s usually a straightforward project. You’ll need a new interface design, then the design will need to be applied to your pages. If you need additional changes, you’re potentially building a new site.
Content: 
The information you present
If you just need to rewrite your existing content or add a section or two, it’s a minor project.
If you need to reorganize the way your content is presented, alter your navigation, develop new content and rewrite it, the project is more substantial.
If you have a lot of content already but need to optimize your site for search, your project will include keyword research, site architecture, rewriting, and programming.
If the site uses any technologies that search engines can’t read, they’ll need to be redeveloped.
Functionality: 
Special tools and capabilities your site offers
If you need to add a large database-driven product catalogue, you may need a major overhaul. Complexity is based on the extent of the functionality:
Do you need to store a large amount of data?
How do you update or modify the data?
How is the data presented?
Will you need a lot of if/then variables to present the right info to your users?
TechnologyIf your site is built in flash, with frames, or uses other technology that search engines can’t read, it will need to be reprogrammed and potentially redesigned. If it’s a large site or it can’t be easily transferred into a new format, it could be a major programming project.
ReportingThere are a lot of good services and software packages that can provide you with better reports – and typically it’s fairly easy for a programmer to integrate them with your site.If you’re adding new functionality and want to be able to generate more sophisticated reports, that’s custom programming.
Content management: 
Your system for changing or adding content
Most good website developers include a basic content management system in the sites they build. If you have an older site, your programmer may be able to add a piece of software to help you edit it in a more user-friendly way. If you have a site with a lot of database functionality, you may need a custom system built.

Thinking of your website, make notes about the following.

  • Area to Improve
  • Improvement Needed

Improve Website Role in Marketing Campaigns

A well-designed website with rich content can be a powerful tool to help generate and qualify leads for B2B marketers and build brands and facilitate sales for B2C marketers.

Review the below list of marketing mediums that utilize your website. Then, determine your current site’s ability to support your marketing campaigns and record any changes you’d like to make.

Marketing Campaign Mediums
Email marketing: 
Individual, regular campaigns (or newsletters) to a house list with links to feature articles on individual pages within your site; content is archived on the site as well.
Organic search marketing: 
Has your site been formally optimized to improve your ability to connect with buyers when they’re using search engines?
Social media: 
Does your site support your social media campaigns? Can your viewers connect with your social sites, and do your social sites funnel visitors into the appropriate content?
Paid search: 
Can you easily create custom landing pages for use in paid search programs so you can generate targeted traffic from search engines?
Publicity: 
Do you have a strong publicity area with news releases stored on individual pages and links on both a master News page and your home page?
Content: 
Do you offer deep, rich content on your subject matter? With more content, you can generate more traffic through search AND better serve the needs of your visitors, especially when your product is an investment or has a long sales cycle.

Consider your websites capacity to support marketing campaigns. Make some notes about areas for improvement.

Improve Presentation on Mobile Devices

New websites today are developed for smartphone, tablet and laptop users. Over 50% of website views now come from mobile devices.

  • Does your website use a responsive design?  
  • If you have a small site, should you switch to a pre-built template that is responsive?
  • If you’re not ready to build a new site, can you convert your existing site to a responsive design?
  • If you have a sophisticated site, should you build a mobile version of the website that is viewable on smartphones or tablets?

Improve Design

Evaluate the look and feel of your website: The way the elements are organized on the page, the amount of content on each page, the graphic images, the typestyles and colours.

Does the design support your positioning and brand experience? If you’re looking for design ideas, take a look at some of the below websites that have been recognized for excellence in design, layout, navigation or interaction with the user.

IndustryWebsite
Professional ServicesBlenderbox
22squared
Chandelier Creative
Corporate CommunicationsThe GE Show
FedEx – Our Changing World
IBM – Smarter Planet
RetailLiving Social
Zappos
Nike Golf
RestaurantChipotle
Trios Mec
Juniper and Ivy
ScienceDiscovery News
NASA Global Climate Change
Expedition Titanic
Financial ServicesCNN Money
DealBook
Mint
ITDell
The Scam Machine
IBM
PharmaceuticalsFlumist
Speak from the Heart
Eli Lilly
InsuranceUnited Healthcare
Progressive
Geico
Web Services and SaaSDropbox
Eventbrite
Zendesk

Most of these sites were designed by agencies or big companies. If you’re a small or mid-market company, don’t worry about the cost of them – just review them to get ideas about using colour, graphics, video and navigation.

Also, consider how you deliver value to your customers. Good websites support how they deliver value to the market.

Your Value PropositionSite Considerations
Product leadershipIs your site current and innovative?
Is your site more than a few years old?
Does it make your company/product/service look like a leader in the field?
Customer intimacyIs the design warm and appealing?
Operational efficiencyIs the design streamlined?

What’s the personality of your site? If your site were a person, how would you describe him or her? Is the description consistent with your brand personality traits?

How well do you think your site design appeals to your potential customers? Are you selling to any of the following prospects? Does the design convey this trait?

Prospect TypesCriteria
CreativeIs the design unique, innovative, creative, appealing?
Does it use strong graphics rather than mostly text?
ExecutiveIs the design clean, simple, not garish?
Do you focus on a few key elements on the page?
Is the design professional?
Technology or scientificIs it current, as if it’s been developed in the last few years?
YouthDoes the design appeal to your demographic? Is it current and “hip” for your group?

Consider the criteria for your viewers and determine how well your current site supports your brand.

Now take a look at the competition. How does your page design compare to that of your competitors?

Quality of page design:

  • Better than ours
  • About the same
  • Not as good

Make a few notes under the following points:

  • Competitor
  • Website Design Comparison
  • Recommendation for Design

If you’re recommending updating your design, take a look around the web and find some sites you like.

Make a list of Website Design You Like:

Improve Content

Look carefully at the information you present on your site. Do you have enough content to meet the needs of your users? Does the content persuade? Is it well-organized and well-written?

Here are more questions to consider:

  • What’s the key message on the home page?
  • Does the home page offer a compelling message and content? 
  • How is the navigation — is the information easy to find?
  • Does each page have a strong, action-oriented headline, subheadings, and bullets to help the reader scan?
  • Do you offer content for all of the users who visit your site?

As you’re thinking about content, also consider your user types and the importance of each. It’s a lot to consider, but you’ll want to come to a conclusion about your most important user types and the information you need them to receive.

User TypesImportance of User
ProspectsVery
Moderately
Not important
Current customersVery
Moderately
Not important
DistributorsVery
 Moderately
 Not important
Resellers or channel partnersVery
 Moderately
 Not important
Strategic partnersVery
Moderately
Not important
VendorsVery
Moderately
Not important
SuppliersVery
Moderately
Not important
MediaVery
Moderately
Not important
InvestorsVery
Moderately
Not important
Job seekersVery
Moderately
Not important
EmployeesVery
Moderately
Not important

What information do your most important user types need?

Here are more questions to consider:

  • Are you missing any of the content you’ve listed above?
  • How many clicks does it take to find that information?
  • How thorough is that information?
  • How compelling is it?
  • Is there a strong call-to-action?
  • What type of content (copy, pictures, graphics, videos) might you need to add?

How does the quality and depth of your content compare to that of your competitors?

Decision: Will you make any of the following changes to your content?

  • Just rewrite/tweak what’s there
  • Add content

Improve Navigation

Good navigation is critical to any site, particularly when there is a lot of content or your users are in the early research phase on a topic. What seems intuitive to you may not be intuitive to your user, and if the user doesn’t find what s/he needs within a few moments, s/he’ll leave.

It’s easy to use the standard Products and Services sections in your navigation, but these titles are deceptive. When prospects come to your site, they’re looking for solutions. They may not know whether the best solution is a product or a service — they care about how you can solve their problem.

Instead, think about a more intuitive, user-oriented organization. For example, you could create one section called Solutions and then let users choose from a list of industries or sample problems. The next page would just focus on the products and/or services that are appropriate for them.

Question to consider:

  • Can each user find solutions to their problems within two obvious clicks from the home page?
  • Is it obvious to a user what each main navigational section contains?
  • Is the navigation simple and streamlined, or does the user have to look around the page to figure out where to go next?
  • Does the navigation drive the user through the site toward an end goal (to buy, request info, or other action)?
  • Are there any problems with the navigation?

Improve Functionality

Your website’s functionality determines how many “functions” it handles. Is it simply a brochure (a.k.a brochureware or a tombstone in marketing lingo)? Or does it handle numerous functions that your users find valuable?

For example, do you have any type of online order processing for prospects, current customers, channel partners or distributors to place orders online?

If your site processes orders, how simple is the ordering process?

  • Does it take more than four screens?
  • When you enter invalid information, does it erase the previous data that was entered?
  • When you enter invalid information, is the error message well-written and clear?
  • Does the system show you how far you are in the process?
  • Is the price and shipping price displayed upfront rather than buried in the back?
  • Are your return policies and guarantees posted upfront in the process?
  • Can a user see real-time inventory figures?
  • Review the emails that are generated afterwards. Are they cleanly designed and well-written?
  • Are there any tools that the site could provide to help move users through the sales process (or example, calculators or custom questionnaires)?
  • Do your competitors offer any functionality that you don’t?

As you’re considering your website’s functionality, it’s a good idea to review your competitors’ sites and their functionality.

Decision: Do you need to add functionality to your site?

Improve On-page Search Engine Optimization

It’s important to optimize your site for search if you want to be ranked on the major search engines. When you enter a keyword or phrase into a search engine like Google or Yahoo!, the “organic” search results are displayed in the main body of the page. If you don’t find what you want on the first page, you may click several pages deep, then try another term if you’re unsuccessful.

Search engines “spiders” or “bots” visit websites, grab information and calculate the site’s subject matter. The engines display sites that the database believes are most relevant to your search.

Search engine marketing and organic search optimization is such a detailed topic that we have entire plans dedicated to it.

To see how well your existing site is optimized, test it with HubSpot’s free Website Grader tool.

Improve Reporting

Reporting is vitally important if you need to understand how users find your site, what they do on the site, and how you can improve it.

You can access your website statistics from your web server log files (typically delivered by your webmaster) or by using a third-party reporting tool. Google Analytics is free and very popular. Here are other popular paid web analytics offerings that can give you greater insights into how your users are interacting with your site:

In looking at your current site, do you have good metrics that measure the following: traffic sources, traffic flow in your site, conversion rates? Do you want more data than your current reports can’t generate?

Make notes about your requirements:

  • Recommendation on Reporting
  • Metrics Needed in Reports

Improve Content Management

How do you update the content on your website? In the early days of the web, sites were hard-coded and web-developers needed to change the content in the programming language to change what appeared on the site.

Today, content management systems (CMS) have become very popular and present an easy way for marketers to update the content on their site without requiring any programming skills. Many web development companies include custom CMS with their websites. These can be very powerful or very limiting, depending on your web development company’s skill. Plus, custom development can also tie you to that company for future developmental changes.

In recent years, third-party CMS’ have gained significant traction. With these, you can hire any developer that is familiar with the product to make changes to your site. Third-party CMS’ include:

In a CMS, data can be defined as documents, text, graphics, movies and pictures. Most use a standard text editor to change copy, so if you understand Microsoft Word, you can update the words on your website.

Evaluate Your Website CMS Needs

  • Do you need to be able to quickly and easily add pages without programming skills or calling your developer?
  • Do you need to quickly and easily manage other aspects of your content without calling your developer?
  • If you don’t have a CMS, are you willing to invest in one? Many are free, but the costs of the developer adding it to the backend of your site are not. To evaluate the cost/benefits, find a developer and ask for a quote. Then compare that to the amount you spend (time and costs) on current updates, including lost opportunities for not being able to update your website in real-time.

Decision: Do you need to add a content management system to your site?

Upgrade Website Technology

Technology can be important – for search, user experience and functionality. We won’t dig into programming languages here (HTML + tables, PHP, Java, Ruby on Rails, ASP.NET), but we’ll cover the higher-level technology issues. 

For example:

  • Does each page in the site load quickly?
  • Does the site use technologies that aren’t search-engine friendly?

Here are technology terms that you, the marketer, should understand when addressing your website:

TechnologyDescriptionNeed Improvement?
Heavy flash contentSearch engines can’t read content that’s written in flash.Yes   No
Heavy graphicsSearch engines can’t read the content within your graphic files – they can only read a tag that describes the graphic.Yes   No
Javascript menusSearch engines can’t follow links in JavaScript menus.Yes   No
FramesSearch engines can’t read your content through frames.Yes   No
Dynamically-generated contentIf your content is served through a database, search engines may not be able to read that information.Yes   No
Browser capabilitiesIs your website viewable in the most recent versions of popular browsers? Is it viewable in all popular browsers?Yes   No
Mobile browsersYour site isn’t viewable in mobile browsers, or you need a separate version for mobile browsers such as the iPhone, iPad or Android.Yes   No

Is the technology appropriate for your market? For example, executives may not have the patience for a lot of flash that needs to load, but ad agency executives want to see the most creative presentation possible.

Summarize Website Revision Plan

You’ve evaluated your website’s ability to support your marketing campaigns, its design, content, SEO, navigation, functionality, technology, reporting capabilities and content management.

Now summarize the changes you are recommending into a succinct plan:

  • Explain why you recommend these changes.
  • Purpose: Why do you recommend revising your website?
  • How will the improved website contribute to your marketing programs?
  • What are the key steps in implementing the project?
  • When you implement the changes, what kind of traffic increases do you project? (Consider new visitors, conversion rates and new customers.)
  • Are you projecting on a monthly or yearly basis?
  • What’s the average projected lifetime value of your new customers? How much profit will they deliver to the company?
  • What is your project budget? What does it cover?
  • What’s your anticipated ROI on the project?

Next Steps

Do you need to gain budget approval to revise your website? If so, here’s a process for developing your recommendation:

  • Explain the revisions needed
  • Quantify the benefits as much as possible
  • Estimate the cost to optimize your site and implement your program
  • Perform an ROI analysis to justify the program

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