An 8-step guide to evaluating website performance.
Today, it’s likely your website will be the first impression – and first line of communication, of your business. Therefore, it’s important to consistently monitor website traffic and analytics, as well as invest your time, creativity, and money when appropriate. You may find yourself wondering, “How do we know when it’s time to redesign – or rebuild – our website?”
The question of updating your website will depend on a variety of things. Here are some indicators that you should consider a redesign of your website.
Easy on the Eyes
First off, keep it clean and up to date. With over 80% of consumers conducting online research before making a purchase, it’s essential that you maintain an updated, modern website.
To help you decide when to update your website, here are some questions to consider:
Is your menu structure neatly organized and easy to navigate?
Have you included key pages with drop-down options where needed? Do you have About Us & Our Team pages?
Is there an appropriate balance of images & video? (Wait, your site isn’t just links & text, right?!)
Does your site pass the 5-Second Test?
What are your findings from Google Analytics? Number of page views & sessions? New & Returning visitors? Low bounce rate? High average session duration?
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)? Have you been updating & optimizing your webpages?
Your menu is your website’s compass. When your menu is clear and easy to understand, visitors are likely to navigate more widely through your site and have a positive experience. Use drop-down options where appropriate and avoid including a huge list of different pages bunched across your homepage. Simply break your menu down to your 5-7 key pages, and include drop-down sub-categories below.
From our findings, webpages that earn the most traffic are typically the ‘About Us’ and ‘Our Team’ pages. Website visitors want to see the people behind the organization and allow visitors to connect with your company on a personal level. Include why you started your company and why you do what you do. What’s your company’s mission? Include short bios and images of key team members.
Images & Video
You do have some images, don’t you? Include pictures, infographics, social media icons, and video to make your site more visually interesting. Too much text, and you’ll see your bounce rate skyrocket (more on that later).
Today, the use of video has proved to be very important on websites. Video can be powerful to help tell your story and the stories of those you are helping. People like to know who is supporting your organization or using your products. Research shows that organizations which use video in their marketing grow revenue 49% faster than those who don’t use video!
The aesthetics of your website go a long way toward a user’s experience. The 5-Second Test helps indicate the efficacy of your website. Can a visitor identify your area of expertise by quickly glancing at your homepage? If visitors can’t determine what your company does after looking at your homepage for 5 seconds, you should update/restructure your website.
If you haven’t already, install Google Analytics on your website, so you can monitor and analyze website traffic. Google Analytics will provide you with the data and insights needed to determine the efficacy of your website. Perhaps you don’t need a full restructuring of your website, but just need to update a few pages. You’ll figure this out using Google Analytics, as all of its metrics are applied to both the website as a whole and webpages individually.
Bounce Rate & Exit Rate
Your website’s bounce rate refers to how often visitors come to your website and leave immediately, without taking any action. It’s ideal to keep your bounce rate at or below 50% as much as you can. The higher the bounce rate, the less effective your website.
However, check to see if any webpages have an alarmingly high bounce rate or exit rate on their own. For example, perhaps page B’s 90% bounce rate is what’s leading to so many visitors leaving your site. Remove, or optimize the page, and check the analytics again a few weeks later. Does page C appear to have the highest exit rate? This means page C receives action, but is constantly the last page visitors are on before they leave. Perhaps it needs more content or call-to-actions to keep people on your site longer.
Average Session Duration & Average Time on Page
Average session duration refers to how long visitors are navigating through your website. Clearly, we want a high session duration. If you’re seeing an average duration time of 30 seconds or less, your website needs more attention. Check what webpages and blog posts have higher session times, and write more about these topics.
New & Returning Visitors
Obviously, we want as many page views and visitors as possible. However, while new visitors are great, pay closer attention to returning visitors. A high amount of returning visitors illustrates that your website is credible, interesting and visitors are finding the information they seek. If you’re noticing few new and returning visitors, you should consider redesigning your website.
Overall, your website is a constant, digital representation of your organization. It can be the deciding factor in whether you get to actually speak or meet with a potential client. As you consider the questions listed above, it’s a best practice to consistently optimize and update your website with monthly blog posts, keywords, company news, testimonials, case studies and new products and services. The more up to date, the better, and your website will appear higher in Google Search results.