A couple of weeks ago when I decided to take a break from the biz and actually didn’t take a break (smh), I spent time changing little things on my website to refresh it and make it appear a little interesting without changing much.
I think that when we have our websites designed we tend to forget that we regularly need to maintain them to ensure that things don’t get boring for a while. Think about it; how many websites or blogs do you continually visit everyday and how long does it take you before you start noticing little things that you wish could be changed, like maybe you wish the dang sidebar wouldn’t have so many things and my goodness! Is that pop-up form going to appear every single time you visit the site!? Amirite or am I right? If you have experienced that, chances are your loyal (or even new) website visitors might also encounter that.
Now, as your resident Web Designer/User Experience designer (ahem) I’m going to let you in on a few ways you can refresh your website so you keep visitors interested and make sure they keep coming back. Okay, content is the most important factor in getting people to keep coming back but design, in this case user experience design, is also a big contributing factor.
First, let’s answer that question you probably have. What exactly is user experience design anyway? User Experience (UX) is how a user experiences a particular platform. Everything from visiting the website, ease of use, navigation and system performance to the design of it forms part of the user experience.
User Experience design is particularly important in that you design your website around how you would want a user to experience it. Do you want them to find it fast? Then improve your page load times. Do you want them to find valuable content? Let them find it on your website. Do you want them to find it easy to use? Design it so that is it easy to use. If your website’s user experience is satisfactory, you’ll be seeing more pageviews, more visitors to your website, more clients, etc.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get on with how you can refresh your website with the optimum user experience in mind.
1. IMPROVE HOW YOUR WEBSITE VISITORS MOVE THROUGH YOUR WEBSITE
You probably have 2 or 3 important things you want visitors to do when they visit your website. Perhaps the first thing you want is for them to sign up to your mailing list. In this case, you’ll need to have an attractive and prominent opt-in to your website. Perhaps you want them to check out your blog? Make sure the link to your blog is visible in your main navigation and if possible, on your homepage as well.
Tip: I use a handy app called Hotjar where I’m able to see how visitors interact with my website. I see where they click and what they don’t click on. It’s been rather handy in helping me refresh my website and I can’t recommend it enough! There’s a free option too, which I am currently using. Check it out here.
2. SPRUCE UP YOUR HOMEPAGE
Don’t let your homepage become stagnant! As you grow and your goals change, your website should reflect that, starting with your homepage. Ensure that every first time visitor to your website has a clear idea of what you are all about and do tempt them to come back (and hopefully bring their friends with!). You can either change your header (if you have one) or include awesome graphics to designate your links. The refreshing options are many!
3. UPDATE YOUR 'ABOUT' PAGE
Did you write your about page and promptly forgot about it? It happens to most of us, my friend, as long as you remember to update it regularly, you’ll be sorted! Again, as you grow, your website should also grow with you. Perhaps since the day you published your About page you have achieved a couple of great things that people should know about especially if it’s related to your niche so you can provide some proof that you are knowledgeable about it. If you’ve been featured on platforms like The Huffington Post or some other authority, consider placing a little ‘as featured on’ section on your About page to reinforce your expertise. Yes, podcasts do count.
4. UPDATE YOUR HEAD-SHOTS
Do you have a head-shot from 4 years ago? *gasps* You’ve been slacking, haven’t you? It can get a bit boring seeing the same face for months, even years, on your favourite blog. Spoil yourself (and your viewers) and book a fun photoshoot or even dig through your camera roll for those lovely photos of yourself to put up on your website.
5. DE-CLUTTER YOUR SIDEBAR
Before making some refreshing changes to my website, I had a rather cluttered blog sidebar and by 'cluttered' I mean, extremely cluttered. I have since made quite a few changes to it because it was so full of unnecessary things it was like its own webpage. This brings us to the next point:
6. GET RID OF UNNECESSARY THINGS
Do you have some links that are not converting? A signup form (including a pop-up form) to one list rather than multiple lists? Do you have an annoying pop-up form!? Bear in mind that all of these do depend on your audience and what they like.
Some people don’t mind pop-up forms, others find them annoying or would like them to appear at a different place and time. Some people don’t like blog sidebars; others -like me- find them very useful and as gateways to more blog posts and information. The best way to find out what your visitors like or don’t like is to conduct a survey or use the Hotjar recordings mentioned above to find out what they click on or what they don’t click on then make changes accordingly. Seriously, Hotjar is amazing and it’s such an amazing tool!
That’s all I have today...or do I? I have created an in-depth checklist to guide you on refreshing your website and I’ve written guides for each option to ensure that you’re well covered. You can get it fo’ free, just tell me where to send it.
Are you new around here and curious as as to what I’ve done to refresh my website? I’m all about sharing over here, so here’s what I’ve changed:
Made the width of my website wider and increased text readability
Created a handy landing page for my free email course
Got rid of my pop-up form (boohoo!)
Instead of a grid of my most popular posts that took up space, I opted for a carousel.
Got rid of ‘New in the Library’ pictures of new resources I’ve added in my exclusive library. They were unnecessary tbh.
Added a handy little ‘return to top’ button so you won’t have to scroll all the way to the top after reading a post. Just click on it and enjoy the ride back to the top. You can see it to your right.
Updated my about page. People really need to know about my obsession with The Flash, come on!
Hey, don't forget the checklist!
Don't be shy, share some tips in the comments for me and other readers! In what way do you refresh your website?