You’ve done the hard slog of creating your own website. You’ve overcome obstacles, you’ve googled, you’ve read 57 different ways of achieving the thing you wanted.
Or maybe you had it built for you by someone you found in a FB group, they were keen, they seemed to know what they were doing and they were affordable.
And now it’s LIVE. It’s OUT THERE. On the world wide webs. And now when you look at it you’re not quite so sure anymore. How are you meant to know if it’s any good?
You have a nagging feeling that it’s not great. Something is stopping you from wanting to show too many people and when you do you say “Well, I did it myself so…” or “It was all I could afford right now, I’ll upgrade it when my business has grown”
But there ARE things you can do yourself to get the most out of your web real estate.
I’m a big believer in having a basic understanding of all aspects of your business, so you can make sure the people you hire to do what they do, are doing what they say they will do.
And your website is no different. One of the most annoying things has to be having to ask a web designer or developer every time you discover a spelling mistake on your website, or you want to change your opening times so people stop rocking up at your door when you’re in your pyjamas.
So even if you had Sally down the road help you set it up, or you slogged it out yourself, here are 5 simple hacks to improve your website yourself.
Note: This article concentrates on WordPress websites, but most things are relevant to whichever platform you’re using
1. Improve loading time.
There are a million ways to do this but the simplest ones are a) Your web hosting and b) Your theme and plugins c) Your images.
By changing your web host to WP Engine you can get rid of any complicated cache plugins you have, and trust in the built in cache from this awesome WordPress specific host.
By changing your theme to a fast loading, lightweight theme like Genesis you can avoid loading all that extra information that WordPress themes with a million options have. Think KISS. Keep It Simple Supercoolhuman 🙂
Ok so maybe the first two steps here are not that simple. They do require a bit of work. But here’s one you can take by the ears and run with, right now;
By making sure that your images are as small as they can be whilst still looking good and running them through an optimisation tool like tinypng.com, you can vastly improve your loading time.
This is hands down the biggest issue I see with slow loading times. Images that are 3000x2000px and 3MB littered everywhere on your site like cigarette butts on a beautiful beach. Pick them up peoples, for the love of all crabs and seagulls!
By reducing the size to 1400px wide at the most, rarely do they need to be bigger than this, and then running them through tinypng.com you will get them down to a much more manageable size.
A good rule of thumb is to never allow an image with an M through. We want to see kb, never MB. And under 500kb if we can.
2. Make sure your message is simple and clear.
You have a few seconds to capture the attention of your visitor, so make sure you’re communicating clearly what it is you can help them with, and what you want them to do next. Concentrate on the problem you’re solving for your visitor, and get to the details later.
3. Remove unneeded links and CTA’s from the homepage.
Don’t give your visitors too much choice. A few links in the header menu, a clear call to action and a clear message is all you need on your homepage. Once they go further, make it easy for them to follow the cookie crumb trail and find what the next step is, and make sure each step is crystal clear.
The footer is a good place for all the other links that need to be accessible but that are not necessary for the initial customer journey.
4. Make sure the design is complementing your message and content, and not distracting from it.
Just because you like bright, loud colours doesn’t mean your visitors do. The design should be a buddy to take your visitors by the hand and walk them across the busy road of the world wide web, not yell them in the face.
Similarly, have a look at the spacing of things on your website, how does it feel? Does it feel like the crowded tube in London with a strangers breath in your ear or like a fresh spring day, frolicking in the field with your unicorn friend who is NOT touching you inappropriately?
Don’t be afraid of some healthy white space. Hands to yourself people.
Whether you’re running a business with plenty of staff, or you’re a lone ranger on the savannah of entrepreneurship, are YOU visible on the website?
Whilst nobody wants to know what you had for breakfast (unless you’re a fitness trainer or, Oprah) they DO want to see who’s behind the business. You can enlist Sally down the road with her iPhone, or go the full shebang and get professional photos done, but make sure you’re visible somewhere on your site.