6 Critical Tips for Improving Your Company Website

The following is a guest post by ChopDawg.com, an award-winning app development company that has worked with over 180+ startups and companies from all around the globe, helping them bring their web apps, mobile apps, wearable apps and software ideas to life.

Follow ChopDawg.com on Twitter at @ChopDawgStudios.

It’s been almost four years since Chop Dawg has had a refresh of its company website. Finally, I’m excited to announce that we are nearly complete with a brand new website. So the question you may wonder is, why now? Or, what has taken so long?

Our website has served its purpose since going live back in late 2013. As a tool to increase revenue, the current iteration of the company website was able to do that.

I believe that websites should go through iterative redesigns at least once a year and through major redesigns every two-three years.

We’ve been late on updating the website since we’ve been doing a lot to grow the company behind the scenes. However, it’s now pretty obvious that we’ve outgrown our current site, as it doesn’t accurately tell the story of what our company is today versus what it was then.

What a great company website should be able to do is to tell the story of a company’s offerings, why it applies to you, and why you should care. It should be able also to show, and not just tell, to get this message across. Furthermore, by not iterating on our foundation that we built in late 2013, we’re starting to look outdated even though behind the scenes we strive to be ahead of the curve.

Redesigning a website from scratch is a process that needs many careful considerations.

How do visuals impact the way that content is read?

So let’s jump through each of the six items we are using as our cornerstones for redoing our company website, that you can adapt to your own website redesign.

1) What is the primary purpose of your company having a website?

This might seem like a very rudimentary question, but the reality is, it is the most important question that any organization should ask themselves before writing a single line of code.

It’s common sense that a website needs to be presentable and accessible, but I want to discuss the “why.” Why should your website exist in the first place and what does it need to accomplish?

Because I need to have a website redesign” is not a good enough reason to invest thousands of dollars into a new website. If you don’t know why you have a company website in the first place, you need to go back to the drawing board and determine its purpose.

You’re probably wondering, how?

Figure out, if your website could only accomplish three specific things, what would they be and how you would you prioritize them?

For example, here are the three specific priorities that we came up with:

A. Better communicate our services, goals, and company culture to potential clients.

B. Position our content so that it is more easily accessible and readable for our fans.

C. Redevelop our website backend so that our non-technical content writers can easily populate the website with new posts and landing pages without assistance from our development team.

Let’s break down each one of these priorities to better understand the “why” for each.

A. Better communicate our services, goals, and company culture to our potential clients.

Let’s be real; our 2013 website, while ahead of the curve at the end, has become quite out of date. It hasn’t kept pace with how Chop Dawg has evolved since then. Companies should always be evolving, maturing, and becoming better at what they do. I would argue that if our site was still on pace with our company, we’d have a much bigger problem that needing to redesign the site. We’ve built almost one hundred more products since then, our average client engagement has gone from $25,000 – $50,000 to $50,000 – $500,000(+). Most significantly, though, our positioning has changed. Back then, we were a typical website design & development shop. Today our technical capabilities have expanded, and that’s why our average client engagements have increased. We are now building apps with advanced functionality, and we’ve been getting into artificial intelligence. Our 2013 site just isn’t going to communicate this change with its messaging and design.

We have changed our messaging on our site since 2013, but the design of the site itself hasn’t complemented these changes at all. This isn’t something just a change of content can accomplish. No, it needs an overhaul redesign of its core structure. We need to upgrade the design of how we communicate our narrative, better organize for those who want to learn a particular thing about us can easily find, and most importantly of all, better position us as a company.

B. Position our content so that it is more easily accessible and readable for our fans.

Content has turned out to be a consistent way that clients discover us. While we haven’t seen many instances of readers immediately becoming clients, investing in content marketing has given us fans, which over time can become partners and clients. Back in 2013, we didn’t even have a blog yet.

It’s become increasingly clear that our current design is not built for content delivery. While there is plenty of content to look at, it’s disorganized, difficult to read, and doesn’t encourage further reading.
Most of all, the way our content is designed right now doesn’t encourage further conversation. Our goal is to encourage discussion with our content, and right now we just don’t have the design to encourage the community to start building. The pages need to be more mobile friendly, given that most of our readership comes from social media on their phones.

With the new design, we will be presenting our blog as a magazine that can be independent of Chop Dawg but still integrated if needed. I’m excited for you to see the difference.

C. Redevelop our website backend so that our non-technical content writers can easily populate the website with new posts and landing pages without assistance from our development team.

We didn’t have writers in 2013. We now have a full-time marketing director, video production team, multiple individuals who create content. The issue right now is that our backend is hard for our non-technical technical writers to use.

Anytime someone wants to make a landing page, I have to take one of my designers away from a client in order to work on it. It just doesn’t make sense when we want to scale our content as much as we do. With the new design, any one of my writers or marketers will be able to create the layout that they want from our backend quickly. We also need it to support the next 4-5 years; so as we continue to mature, grow, expand, our website can help this to protect the investment we are making today. We need to rethink and rebuild from the ground up the foundation that we have created.

Starting to see our “why” for redoing our company website? Are you starting to see how methodical our goals are to accomplish our ultimate mission? Are you also seeing how we aren’t trying to overcomplicate things or spread ourselves too thin?

Sure, other minor goals need to be accomplished too, but, there is no reason for us to put such urgency, attention to detail, and hours into them. They’ll fall into place naturally. We need to focus on our primary objectives only.

Less is more. Don’t try to do too much, just focus on the few things that will produce the largest tangible results.

2) Who is your website catering to?

It sounds simple: our targeted customer base. However, we have many types of customers, and therefore that requires a design that can cater to many while still being personal.

Like I said when I discussed building a site that can be scalable for my content writers, one way to do this is to build a site that can cater many different customer funnels. How do we do this? Specific content that can be helpful.

Our services wrote to educate and spark the idea of why our value proposition could be worth it. Easy lead generation, for those who are interested, can reach out to us without any friction.

This is where so many of companies screw up.

Instead of being able to win over every particular niche of their targeted audiences, companies try to speak to everyone at once. Since Chop Dawg works with many different niches, I want the design to be able to speak to each one of those niches. Our current portfolio page is disorganized. If a potential client comes and asks, “Hey, Josh have you ever developed a location-based mobile app before?” I know that my design has failed. The new design will turn the portfolio into an easily navigable library. If you have a particular kind of app that you’re envisioning, you’ll be able to find it through custom filters and advanced search functionality.

Focus only on your most relevant audiences, the ones that will engage will you and provide a long term ROI.

3) What kind of content should your website have?

This is a long-term question. The content that I’ve written for my website has changed over time thanks to the feedback that I’ve received. For example, if I write about a topic that my readers really like, I’ll expand on that.

When it comes to justifying a redesign, one thing immediately comes to mind when it comes to content, though; optimization.

Our current site isn’t built for optimization because it isn’t built for A/B testing. That will change.

When you need to figure what content to write about, there is nothing like data. The numbers don’t lie, and with a backend that will easily let us A/B test anything from headlines to the position of our call to actions (CTAs), we’ll be gathering more insights on what we should be writing about in the first place.

4) How are you capturing warm leads and interested prospects?

One of the best quotes I have ever read was back in 2009-2010 about the purpose of having a website.

The best websites act as a 24/7 salesperson for your company.

So what are the tools that you’ll be using on your website so that it can be this automated salesperson?

The first step is to identify the current points of friction. Why is your website not selling right now like you want it to?

What is the most desired outcome of user behavior that you’re seeking to achieve?

If you’re running an app, that means you want visitors to quickly go to the App Store to download your product, or register right on your website without hesitation. For a service based company like us, that is getting you to call us, email us, or fill out a contact form. eCommerce? Getting you to click buy now, and check out.

More friction equals the more steps required to complete an action. The more digging that your customer has to do to find something out that they want to know or to make a purchase, the less likely they are to make that desired action. Less is more. Think simple.

CTAs have been overdone in the past few years; since 2013, pop-ups, opt-in bars, the list goes on. CTAs are not the guaranteed lead magnets that they once were. They have become obtrusive and annoying. However, it’s still important to display necessary information to allow visitors to make a choice without feeling under pressure. We will have a black bar on the top of every page, but it won’t be anything obtrusive. Just our contact information. Just our email address, phone number, and a schedule a free consultation link.

We want the moment you’re reading our content, and the idea sparks in your head to talk to us, our contact information is already there for you. You don’t have to click a single button, scroll anywhere. We are right there for you to engage if you want to, and if not, no worries!

For our posts, we’ll also be including handpicked suggestions of what you should be reading next. While this is nothing revolutionary, our approach to this is something that we carefully thought about.

Instead of writing a script that would automatically pick suggested articles, we will be handpicking each article that we suggest you read next. Why? Because your learning shouldn’t end at a single article. By including the most relevant follow up articles to read, we are coming up with a learning track for you to pursue by continuing to read our blog.

Guide your readers. Help them and build a learning track for them. Design your website so that it can satisfy all of your end goals.

5) How are you expanding your reach?

SEO has evolved since 2013. Writing content has certainly helped us with our search rankings because there are just so much more possibilities of where to rank than just “mobile app developers in Philadelphia”.

Remember earlier in this post where we reference how valuable our blog posts have become? What started as a hobby, just an idea in 2013 to better communicate to our targeted audience, has turned into our biggest weapon for finding new clients, educating our clients, building a bigger fan base, and growing our brand equity.

You need to ask yourself, with the platform you’re building, the new website you are creating; is it built for 2017? What exactly does this mean?

One thing is that we are building our new site around structured data. The importance of schema.org has significantly grown 2011. Schema.org is a collection of schemas for structured data markup that helps search engines better understand content on websites. This is something that we were behind on for our current site. Now you can work on this through Google Tag Manager, so we are adding that functionality to our new site so that our marketers can go to town with adding schema markup.

You need to be thinking ahead. When we started getting into the marketing and content game, we focused on this medium only, blog posts. Now? We have a podcast. We are going into the video world. We’re working on our first book. We’re pushing out more distribution channels, and we need our website to cater all of this.

Design your new website to do the same. As Wayne Gretzky said, “go where the puck is going to go, not where it is currently at.” Plan ahead.

Act ahead. Be ahead. Win ahead.

6) How is your website going to be scalable for future enhancements and growth?

You don’t want to build a new website just so that you’ll need to change everything again in six months.

We want to build a foundation for our website so that it can build on for the next 4-5 years. That doesn’t mean that our site will look the same in even a year, but we are building our site to be adaptable to change. We want to be able to make big changes without having to tear down the entire foundation like we are doing for our 2013 site.

You need to plan ahead. Will it always be just you running your website? Just your marketing department? Will you eventually hire more people to run it? Will the type of content you create upgrade, change, enhance? Will your services continue to expand? Will your application be provided on more platforms and operating systems?

Are you starting to get the idea now?

One of the biggest recommendations we provide to our clients, and even do ourselves, is build your frontend websites on WordPress. WordPress serves as the backend engine that runs the ship for us. The work comes when you want to add any kind of customization., Implementing this customization, though, is much quicker thanks to the framework WordPress provides.

Figure out what is the solution you want to use for the next few years, and support it starting now. The worst thing you can do when building a website is to pour months into planning, designing, programming, and training only to have to rebuild the whole thing soon after. Most companies, like us, will spend thousands on our online experiences.

Make it count, and make it last.

  • Thanks for so many good points for a business. I have reffered these points to our development and marketing team. Looking forward for such interesting topics.

  • Great content, thanks for sharing! Customer Devoted is all about making companies look at things from a customer perspective, from loyalty to web design! We’ve found that using tools like YouGov Profiler to get in depth insights into your customers so you can fully understand what your customers want!

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