The following post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon. Andy is the Founder of Wedding University and The Wedding Marketing Blog, and is an International Public Speaker, Writer and Consultant based in Las Vegas. Andy travels across North America and beyond, presenting to Associations, Wedding Industry Conferences, Regional Gatherings, and Local Meetings.
Your website is always evolving, but it has one singular purpose: to generate inquiries and leads. Creating an engaging, optimized, easy-to-navigate site is a critical part of your success. Now, more than ever, an impressive website is the sign of a successful and trustworthy business, so it’s vital that you modernize and update your website often.
These seven components of a successful website will help you update your site to today’s standards and put your best foot forward for potential clients in your area.
How your website functions and responds to visitors is the starting point of your website’s user experience. If visitors can’t find what they need or your website is broken in some way, the content you write doesn’t matter. There are several considerations to take into account when thinking about your website’s functionality:
- Intuitive Navigation: Your website’s navigation is the blueprint for visitors – they’ll use your framework to find what they’re looking for. Give your web pages logical names, and keep it simple. The ideal number of pages in your main navigation is seven or fewer. If you have more pages than that, consider adding sub-pages that drop down from the main pages. Additionally, recognize that there is a top-down or left-to-right bias in order and choice. A user is more likely to click one of the first three tabs, so be thoughtful about choosing the order.
- Internal Search: Our collective brains are wired differently. Some people will follow your carefully thought-out main navigation menu, while others prefer a search box to find specific information quickly. Offering a search box gives visitors a number of options for how they prefer to navigate your website. Most website builder platforms/programs offer this sort of option, plus third-party widgets are available to incorporate a search function into your site.
- Mobile-friendly: Google reports that more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries, including the US and Japan. It’s no longer acceptable to expect users to pinch the screen to zoom in or out to view all the features of your website on a mobile device. In fact, Google has begun prioritizing mobile-friendly, responsive sites in search results to encourage those who have not yet updated their sites to make the necessary changes. You can check your website’s compliance with Google’s mobile-friendly test. The best solution? Choose a responsive template that automatically adjusts to the visitor’s screen size.
While functionality is the first (important) step, the content of your website is ultimately what drives a visitor there in the first place. The content of your website is made up of a number of elements – text, photos/videos, and white space. All three are equally important, so let’s dive in to the importance of each, below.
- Text: Good website copy answers these four questions:
- Who are you? Your website should clearly and concisely tell the visitor who you are and what your business is about – and this should be apparent in the first few seconds of landing on your site.
- Where are you? Help qualify your website leads by plainly outlining the areas you serve. Adding your location also helps you build your SEO so that those searching for wedding professionals in your area can find your business.
- What do you do? Be explicit: What services do you provide? Explain how your business is unique from the local competition.
- What do you want visitors to do? Tell them what to do next, and make it clear and easy to take that action on each page. Whether you want visitors to read your reviews, look at your photos, or contact you, add a call-to-action on every page.
- Photos: Update the photos on your website at the end of each season. Remember: the site with the most photos doesn’t win a prize. It’s more important to substitute newer photos, of better quality, than it is to have a large collection of photos your visitor has no hope of looking through completely. Every photo on your website should have a caption or context surrounding it that clearly describes the photo. Remember to add alt tags with your desired keywords to help with your search ranking.
- White Space: Although you may want to fill up every page with tons of great content, don’t forget to allow for moderate space between lines of text and around images. Avoiding overcrowding actually helps your content stand out! Beyond that, remember the amount of content on a computer screen may not translate easily to a mobile device. Think through how much content will work on a screen, across all formats.
Understanding how your website performs is important for understanding how and where to make improvements. Whether you monitor the analytics of your host, through Google Analytics, or any other analytics platform, it’s extremely helpful to benchmark these core metrics on a monthly basis:
- Number of visitors
- Number of unique visits
- Average number of page views per visitor
- Average length of a web visit
- Top pages viewed
- Conversion rate for your contact form (contact us form submissions divided by the total number of website visitors)
- Percentage of mobile visitors
It’s critical to be familiar with these metrics to determine which elements of your site are working (and which elements are not).
Remember that as websites evolve, the requirements for a good website will change. How well you maintain your website will determine when it’s time for a total redesign. If you keep up with your website and blog, the reasonable life of your website will be 3-5 years. Letting it go longer than what will affect its usability (it will not work properly on current web browsers or hardware) and the content will become stale.