Facing a year full of new opportunities, now is the ideal time for businesses to assess their website priorities and bring focus to the months ahead.
Last year brought relentless and unexpected change, effecting businesses and their audience in numerous ways. As with any period of significant upheaval, it’s important to take a breather and reflect. Consider how you adapted, where you succeeded and evaluate the opportunities that can be seized this year.
The accelerated shift to digital was notable in 2020 and with this, the crucial role your website plays. When it comes to evaluating your website priorities for 2021, there are three ruling factors we recommend you consider:
- What caused you the most pain in 2020?
- What were your goals, and did you achieve them?
- What support do you need to help you achieve your 2021 goals?
What caused you the most pain?
Ensuring your website continuously works hard for your business, we believe it’s important to start with the pain points.
Take time to consider if your website was as an internal barrier to reaching specific objectives. It’s also imperative to reflect and take on board feedback from your users and internal teams. As the people using your website, they will be able to provide insight into the difficulties it caused them.
To get you thinking along the right tracks, consider:
- Is your site an internal blocker?
- Are you receiving more calls as people struggle to self-serve through your website?
- Is your site incapable of carrying out certain tasks?
- Is your website slow and unresponsive?
- Is your site’s branding out of date?
Your greatest pain may have come from site performance. But site performance is a huge subject, and it can be difficult to pinpoint specific issues. A great way of answering some of these questions is by scrutinising your website through a comprehensive audit.
Considering a variety of factors including your code, user experience, content, Google Analytics data and responsiveness, a site audit can help you understand how your website is really performing and the improvements that need to be made.
Getting stuck into the data can shed light on your website’s performance which enables you to:
- Use the data to inform your actions
- Recognise issues with performance such as bounce rates, a drop in users and time on site
- Spot problems with the user journey which may explain a lack of conversions
In short, there’s no point spending your budget to drive traffic to your website if it isn’t pulling its weight. We advise conducting an annual website MOT which will create a list of prioritised actions that can be worked on through a retainer plan.
What were your goals?
If you’re struggling to define where to go next, we recommend referring back to your goals. Does your site help you meet these or is it falling short? In a year swamped with change, it’s not surprising that your goalposts may have shifted. The environment your business operates in will likely have changed due to the pandemic and with it, the needs of your audience. What are the knock-on effects of this? Are there new opportunities available today that weren’t this time last year?
Maybe it’s time to rethink your onsite content. Does it need repositioning to meet the needs of a new audience? Are there now new sectors to target? Has there been a change in the type of users you want to target?
When you review the current market and what’s changed, you may discover that the role of your website has evolved in line with your business. But, if your website is no longer doing you justice, it’s important to update it to reflect your proposition.
Consider and analyse factors including:
- Website design and branding
- Site speed
- Limited functionality
- Poor user experience
- Technical debt
- Legacy technology
Whatever your objectives are, your website should play a big role in reaching them and if it isn’t, it could be a sign that updates need to be made in order to get the most from it this year. If you don’t, your website won’t effectively sell your business and what you do.
With firm business goals in place for the year ahead, it’s easier to benchmark your website against them to ensure it will support your business in the best way possible.
What support do you need?
More than any other year, 2020 has tested businesses and their teams alike. Your resource may be squeezed due to restructuring, redundancies or rolling furloughs – all of which pose a challenge.
Has this affected the skill set within your team and do you, therefore, need different support from your agency? Perhaps now you need an agency who can be more proactive, or you may need to outsource tasks more than you once did.
It isn’t uncommon for businesses to work with multiple agencies to cater for their different needs. As businesses seek efficiencies and goals change, now is the right time to review whether your agency partnerships are as efficient as could be. Are the agencies you work with right for achieving your objectives now? Is your agency offering you the right support?
Your agency will likely offer some level of support as part of your ongoing partnership. But as your objectives change, their support needs to change with it.
- Support helpdesk: As the digital world evolves at an accelerated pace, a support helpdesk can provide quick fixes when you need it most. Using a support helpdesk and ticketing system allows your agency to give fast website development and maintenance support whether it’s bug fixes, small site improvements or CMS support. The aim of our ticket system is to respond to clients within eight business hours of a ticket being logged to help prevent disruption to your company as much as possible while resolving issues as fast as possible.
- 90-day warranty period: If 2020 was the year you decided a digital presence was no longer a nice to have but a must-have, one of your top goals for 2021 could be to launch and maintain a high-quality website. Some agencies offer a warranty period which extends beyond launch, providing peace of mind that a dedicated team will continue to support you. All of our websites come with a 90-day warranty. If a change or fix sits within our warranty, you won’t be charged for the work and our in-house support desk will solve the problem for you.
- Timebanks: A timebank allows you to top up your development hours with your agency. These can be considered a dedicated bank of hours for supporting your website, whether it’s for installations, design and UX, guidance or general maintenance. We design our timebank slots in 15-minute increments rather than hour or half-day blocks. This allows us to ensure only the time required to rectify the issue is taken from your timebank at any one point.
- Retainer plan: A retainer plan enables you to work with an agency to prioritise work and ensure continuous site improvements. From a commercial standpoint, this allows you to control investment in your website by allocating budget towards activities that provide the biggest payoff. Taking part in a retainer plan empowers your agency to be proactive with your website and helps to avoid a costly rebuild earlier than needed while allowing you to plan for the future.
What can your website do for you in 2021?
As we get stuck into all that 2021 has to offer, how do you make your website work harder for you? A challenge we see all too often is businesses requiring support with their site but limited by budget.
Understanding what you want to achieve in the year ahead is the starting point to deciding how you can best allocate your budget. Perhaps a rebuild isn’t on the cards right now and that’s ok. There are many other routes you can take, and it is often these small, incremental changes that generate a faster return. So, what are your options when you don’t have the budget? Here’s just a few for you to consider:
- Website reskin
- UX improvements
- Additional functionality
- Security and performance
- Accessibility considerations
Once you’ve pinpointed your specific pain points, find the one thing that will make a significant difference to your business. Taking this phased approach to fixing your site issues can not only encourage buy-in from the wider business but can also establish quick wins that yield real results.
In 2020, your website became one of your most important assets. A website that doesn’t serve your business or your audience has the potential to damage rankings, traffic, conversions and also your reputation, brand image and the trust with your audience.
A new year is a new chance to get even more from your digital offering. If you’re unsure what’s next for your website, we’re happy to provide guidance. With over 20 years of experience, we know a thing or two about building great websites and helping businesses solve their challenges with the budget they have.