How to tell if your website needs an update?

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It’s all too easy to find a design for your website that you like and to stick with it. But as anyone who works online will tell you, your website is never “finished” – no matter how much you like it. There will always be colours to be tweaked, elements to refine and features to add.

Our website has undergone innumerable changes over the two years we’ve been running, and we’re sure that it will undergo many more in the future. Whilst this might sound negative – having to change a website so often – it’s actually a positive thing. Consumer tastes change, and whilst a design might appeal to our customers at one point, it’s likely that they’ll prefer something completely different a year later. Anyone suspicious of this need only look at the amount of changes on sites like Facebook or YouTube to see evidence.

In a constant drive to increase our conversion rates, we’ve seen a positive impact from constantly making changes to our website. As we sell businesses, the most important part of our website to get right is our businesses for sale section. Since its first iteration two years ago, we’ve changed everything from the colours to the way people use it to how many businesses are shown on the page. This has helped us to increase the amount of time users spend on the page, as well as the number of pages people view when they visit the site. These are not only valuable to us, but to our users as well.

So how do you know you’re making the right changes?

As necessary as it is, changing your website can be a daunting and testing time. What if your customers don’t like the change? What if it doesn’t work as well as the current one? How do you know if you’re making the right changes?

Find out what your customers struggle with and fix it

Your site changes should be influenced by your users. Making the site easier and more rewarding for them to use will make them more likely to come back. Identifying issues they’re having can be tricky, but using free resources like Hotjar make the process far easier.

Hotjar allows you to record users’ session on your website, allowing you to watch what they did, how they did it, and any problems they’re having. If people tend to be getting stuck at a certain part of your website, you’ll be able to watch them and fix the problem far more effectively than just guessing or looking in Google Analytics.

Use chat apps to connect directly with your customers

Whilst spending time using tools like Hotjar will let you watch your users using your site, they will only go so far. Instant messaging apps like Intercom allow you to set up a direct line between your customers and you, giving them a way to chat to you in real-time, giving you an insight into problems they might be having. This human element gives you an invaluable peek into what your users want from your site, and how you could improve it.

Run A/B tests

A/B tests allow you to test two versions of the same page at the same time. By having two different versions of a page on your site, with users being directed to one or the other, you’re able to compare the performance of the two and decide on a winner to take forwards. This can save you time and money in the long-run, making you far more sure of any changes you make to your site.

Putting it all together

Your website needs to be a lot of things to a lot of people. It needs to be a store for your products or services, a repository of information for interested customers and a megaphone for your marketing efforts. There’s no one best way to do all of these things, and there’s no one way that will work forever. Constantly changing, refining and improving your site will help you to not only be relevant now, but stay relevant in the future.