How To Improve Your Website Without Spending Money
How To Improve Your Website Without Spending Money
Your website matters. If you’re like most business owners/bloggers, your website is essential to the way you do business. It may even be the only way you do business.
Websites are one of the most powerful tools a business can have. They have the ability to create trust & credibility. They enhance professionalism & establish relevance. They can grab more attention & help your business grow.
Websites are often the first impression of our business to potential customers & clients. They act as online billboards and virtual sales people.
It’s no surprise that web practices & design trends are forever evolving, but it can be exhausting to keep up.
That’s why I compiled this list of 5 Ways to improve your website without spending any money.
These insights could help you overhaul your entire online presence…or at least point you in the right direction on getting started!
In 2012, Google ran a “First Impression” study to determine which type of web design users find more visually appealing. They compared visually complex websites & visually simplified websites.
What did they find?
Researchers found that not only will users judge websites as beautiful or not within 1/50th – 1/20th of a second, but also that visually complex websites are considered less beautiful than visually simplified websites.
So, in English, what does that mean? It means that simple websites are better.
Visually complex websites have too many competing elements that distract the user. Some of these elements might be; ads, banners, logos, pictures, large blocks of content, distracting headlines & titles, typography, color scheme, menus, etc. Basically any kind of visual element that takes away from the white space of the website.
Whitespace allows your user’s eye to rest & helps them focus on your content.
When they focus on your content, they’re focusing on your message. When they focus on your message, they’re more likely to convert (buy your products, invest in your services, sign up for your newsletter…whichever goal your website is set-up to reach)
Scientifically speaking “The more color and light variations are on the page (visual complexity), the more work your eye must do to send the impulses to your brain. Your brain must then work harder to translate and store the information.” – Search Engine Journal
Simple websites are more user-friendly & conversion-oriented.
“38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content/layout is unattractive.” – Adobe
How can you simplify your website?
- Eliminate unnecessary things. Every part of your website should have a reason behind them. Take a step back & think of your audience and your business goals. Focus on what your ideal user needs & trim down on everything else.
- Don’t worry about fitting everything “above the fold”. That’s an outdated web design tactic. User’s are now used to scrolling to find out information. Space out your important elements.
- Utilize whitespace. The absence of visual elements is actually a form of design all on it’s own.
#2. Understand your audience
The main point of a website is to provide value to your customers & ideal audience. Whether that value is in ways of information, products, services, entertainment, etc.
If order to provide VALUE to your audience, you have to know who your ideal audience is. What information are they coming to your website for? What social media platform do they hang out on? What’s their age group? Are they mainly male or female? What other topics are they interested in?
After you’ve figured out your ideal audience, you have to combine that with your website goal. What do you want your ideal audience to do once they get to your website?
If your answer is “anything, as long as they’re on my website!” then you are already setting yourself up for failure. Without having an ideal audience & goal in mind….how are you supposed to measure your success? How are you supposed to tweak your website and make it more effective? How are you supposed to make your website, your biggest business asset as powerful as possible?
What are some ways to help you understand your audience?
- Ask them. Reach out to your website users & email subscribers. Getting feedback from the people that are actually using your website is an extremely useful tactic. You get a chance to get inside their head & understand the impressions your online space is giving off.
- Google Analytics to be exact. This free web analytics service tracks and reports website traffic. It provides you with insanely useful insights about your website users. Want to learn how to set up Google Analytics on your WordPress or Squarespace website?
#3. Optimize your content
Before you run off creating a dozen more blog articles for your website, you should take the time to optimize the content that you already have.
If you’re using WordPress, I highly suggest installing the Yoast SEO plugin. This plugin will make your life 100x easier.
Plugins, like Yoast, allow you to easily improve your on-page optimization.
On-page search engine optimization is one of the most valuable practices that you can implement on your website. Without on-page SEO, your backlinks & content get lost in the deep dark ocean of blog posts and websites.
Need help with your SEO? Check out DIY SEO for Solopreneurs
Did you know over 2 million blog posts are published, PER DAY?! Isn’t that nuts? So instead of just hitting publish & hoping that people find you, take advantage of on-page SEO. It could end up being the biggest advantage you have over your competition.
Here are couple things you can do to optimize your content:
- Check your URL’s. Are they clean and pretty? Or do they look like a jumbled mixture of characters? Create short & sweet URL’s that focus on your page/post keywords.
- Break up your content; Utilize headings to break up big chunks of content, use bullet points or numbered lists when you can, toss in visual elements like graphics to visually engage your readers.
- Spend some time creating enticing meta descriptions. These descriptions could be the make or break on someone clicking on your web page in search results. The Yoast plugin makes the super easy to do!
- Make sure each page & post has a focus keyword. What is that page content about? What kind of information will user’s get by reading that page? Take your keyword or keyphrase and include it in your page title.
- Add internal links to your content. Connecting your pages & blog posts together are one way to help reduce the bounce rate on your website. It’s also a great way to continue to provide value to your users by giving them more relevant content to read.
#4. Improve Your Website’s Speed
Run your website through a website speed tool like Google Page Insights or GTMetrix. Taking a look at the reports that these tools give you can help you reduce your website’s loading time.
Did you know that 25% of visitors will leave a page in less than 4 seconds if it doesn’t load? That’s ¼ of your website visitors.
“39% of people will stop engaging with a website if images won’t load or take too long to load.” – Adobe
These stats are HUGE.
How fast should your website be?
Honestly….as fast as possible.
Some of the most common things that slow down websites are:
- Large, un-optimized images
- Poor website/theme coding
- Too many plugins
- Excessive usage of Ads
- Shared hosting plans
If you’re on WordPress, one of the easiest things you can do is utilize a caching plugin like W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache.
Want to learn more ways to make your website FASTER? (without spending any money)
#5. Borrow Someone Else’s Eyes
Sometimes the only thing we need to take our website from mediocre, to powerfully effective, is a second pair of eyes. When you’re the one creating your website or focusing on daily business tasks, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle.
If the goal of your website has changed, or if you’re just putting together the plan for your business, it’s hard to differentiate and figure out what you need on your website & what you could do without.
Is your website mobile responsive?
Are you communicating efficiently to your audience?
Is your web design outdated?
Is your navigation menu confusing to users?
Who can you ask to give you a little feedback on your website?
- Your website users. We touched on this one above, but don’t forget the power of their opinion. They’re the ones that are using the website.
- A web professional. Who knows the web better than a professional in the industry? Web designers & developers like me work, breathe, obsess and focus on web elements, best practices, and increasing conversions. Our entire industry is created….to help you.
The only true way to improve your website is to nail down the problem areas.
I want you to get the most out of your website. It’s your biggest business asset & your best employee. Your website runs 24/7, 365, even when you’re sleeping.
Getting a website audit can make sure that your website is performing like it should. It can address problem areas that you didn’t even know existed….like site speed, poor SEO practices, broken links, large images, bad usability & confusing functionality.