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Is Your Website Ready for the Future? 5 Things You Need to Know

| July 18, 2018

Fundamental tips for future-proofing your website so your small business can be flexible, adaptable, and ready for anything.

By Grant Hickman, Product Manager for Website Development Solutions at TEGNA Marketing 

As technology in 2018 continues to evolve, it’s important to take a closer look at your website presence and make sure your website is fully tuned. The way the average person interacts with businesses today is dramatically changing. Mobile continues to overtake desktop as the primary device for accessing a website. Online interaction is evolving to include mobile apps, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, OTT Advertising, On-demand TV, YouTube, chatbots … the list is becoming exhaustingly, tirelessly long.

While it doesn’t make sense for every business to develop an app or take a foray into virtual reality to grow their business, there are some fundamental tenets for future-proofing your website so you can be flexible, adaptable, and ready for anything.

Fresh, crisp, and responsive mobile-first design

When people search on mobile, it leads to action. In fact, 92 percent of consumers who searched on their phone made a related purchase. Because even the most benign of purchases are often tied back to some smartphone-related research, having a responsive “mobile-first” design is a must.

→ Not sure if your website is mobile-friendly? You can run a quick test here.

On top of being mobile-first, Adobe found that 38 percent of people will stop engaging with your website if the content/layout is unattractive. That’s not to say your site won’t be successful unless it wins a Webby Award, but make sure your site is well designed and designed in a way that influences your users. It’s a moving target, but if you have a site built to scale and designed with best practices in mind, you’ll likely be ahead of the curve, and most of the competition.

Lastly, keep in mind the larger impact as technology continues to shift. Google rolled out its Mobile First Index this March, suggesting that sites with a poor mobile experience will suffer.

Optimized for speed

The emphasis on fast delivery is only becoming more crucial. The average time it takes to fully load a mobile landing page is 22 seconds, according to a new analysis by Google. Yet 53 percent of visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than three seconds to load. This isn’t news, but with the data overload we continue to experience, the emphasis on fast delivery is only becoming more crucial.

→ Check your website’s page speed with Google’s Mobile Page Speed Test or GTMetrix.

Beyond keeping visitors on your site until it loads, engagement and conversions also feed back into your website rankings. If you have more bounces because your site is spinning its wheels, your conversion rate will drop and signal search engines that the quality may be amiss.

Personalized for target audiences

It’s necessary to connect with customers on a deeper level, providing information relevant to their interests, demographics, and their phase in the buying process. If a business can’t keep up, 66 percent of consumers suggest they would rather find another brand than become just another order number.

→ Take advantage of personalization tactics that encourage conversion, such as providing unique offers to new visitors vs. returning visitors; sharing limited time offers based on geolocation, and personalizing the content based on campaign URLs.

Several sectors anticipate between a 6-10 percent increase in bottom line revenue due to personalization efforts. Luckily, personalization tools are no longer available only to Amazon and the Enterprise businesses, and it couldn’t be more crucial for SMBs to take advantage than in 2018.

Top-notch security

There’s no question about the importance security plays when it comes to businesses operating online in any capacity. The “big players” aren’t solely the target of these attacks. As a matter of fact, four out of 10 cyber attacks target small businesses. Fortunately, there are measures you can take to protect your business and customers likely visiting your website.

  1. Make sure your website has an SSL Certificate. An SSL Certificate will protect your website visitors when they submit information in a form to your business. While it’s crucial for ecommerce, health services, and financial services companies, it’s becoming more significant for any business website. In fact, certain browsers draw attention to a website’s security within the address bar — labeling websites as “Secure” with a positive green check icon versus the “Not Secure” website with a jarring red exclamation icon. Consider how to show your business and website as trustworthy, as it too can impact the success of your website, from bounce rates all the way through to conversions.
  2. Site support and maintenance. Do you improve and update your website on a regular basis? Having a strong foundation and a mentality of “continuous improvement” may be the most important aspect in future-proofing your website. Vulnerabilities can evolve and require patches and updates. It’s extremely important to keep your website up-to-date with the latest version of your Content Management System or any related technologies used to maintain your site.

Laser focus on conversions

One of the most difficult challenges is maintaining an objective and long-term vision. It’s important to understand website traffic and engagement metrics — these KPIs help guide you on long-term improvement. By doing a quick self-evaluation, you may discover if your website priorities are in order:

  • Does your website have Google Analytics? If you don’t or don’t have a similar analytics tracking tool, how do you know what your website is doing for your business?
  • How many website visitors converted by completing a “goal” on your website? A goal could be filling out a form, purchasing a product from your online store, or tapping the phone number on your site to call your business.

About TEGNA

Consider if your website strategy achieves the “future-proof” status. What will be your competitive advantage? Having a valued partner, like TEGNA, can give you that advantage. On top of its mobile-first designs, TEGNA has a proven Lead Accelerator feature to help with personalization and get customers to convert. TEGNA can also support your security efforts with included SSL and maintenance plans to ensure your site stays up-to-date and working great. At TEGNA, we feel every customer should be a partner, and that we have the mutual goal of growing your business. Click here to learn more.

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