Your business website has to accomplish a lot of different tasks for your company. It has to show off the personality of your brand, offer information for potential customers and keep site visitors engaged. In addition to the underlying goals you wish to accomplish, you have to stay on top of current technology. You need to create something users not only want to visit again, but also share with others. It seems like an almost insurmountable task some days.
At last count, there were 30.2 million small businesses in the United States employing about 47.5% of American workers. The competition in some industries is fierce, and with more people shopping both online and offline, it’s important to offer an omnichannel experience whenever possible. Owners of smaller operations, in particular, may have a hard time keeping up with all the things that fall on their shoulders, such as bookkeeping, marketing and keeping the website updated.
Because your time is limited but you still want to reach as many customers as possible, it’s vital to focus on the elements that will give customers the best experience possible and also protect your assets. Here are some things you should do to get your business site ready for 2020.
1. Cut Clutter
Over time, a website tends to accumulate extra elements it doesn’t need. Maybe you added a small award banner from that best business contest a few years back. It isn’t pertinent info any longer, so it would be best to remove it completely or relegate it to a past awards page.
When visitors land on your website, you must guide them through a sales funnel so they aren’t distracted by too many things not related to the exact journey you want them to take. Reduce the number of choices the user has to make to grab attention and keep it.
2. Secure Your Site
Hackers develop new techniques every year. The security that worked for your business site when you first created it isn’t going to work in 2020. Sophisticated brute force attacks and smart phishing may have put your site at risk. Spend time studying the current security threats so you can protect your website against hackers and even competitors seeking access to your customer lists.
Some simple things you can do include making sure all your software is up to date, creating stronger passwords and changing them often, and using HTTPS. Of course, there are more advanced security measures. If necessary, hire an expert to help you implement them and protect your site.
3. Implement GDPR Compliance
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) became active in May of 2018. In a nutshell, if you have any site visitors from the EU and you collect any information on them, you must make sure you are GDPR-compliant. If not, you could face big fines — even if your business is based in the United States or a non-EU country. You must be transparent with data collection, and you are responsible for keeping that information secure.
Most of the GDPR requirements are plain common sense. Collect only the information you need, secure those facts and keep data only as long as you need it. Inform your users about your processes and policies. If you do that and use some of the standard forms available, you should be fine.
4. Analyze Your Website Budget
How much money do you allocate to your website each year? Perhaps you set aside a few thousand dollars for updates, design changes and driving traffic to your site. Crunch the numbers and take a hard look at what you’re spending and whether it is effective.
Investing in content, for example, is a long-term benefit that brings people to your site long after you pay a writer for the article. Perhaps you need to add some videos and make sure your budget allows for that expense. Think about the things you’d like to implement in 2020 and plan accordingly.
5. Search for Inaccuracies
With so many online businesses, customers are a bit leery of trying out a new company. Google believes we’re facing a trust crisis because of the way people have seen businesses use their data in the past. They are much more reluctant to share personal details with just any website out there. They have no reason to trust you until they’ve done business with you, so it’s your job to make sure everything on your site is consistent and that you provide clear contact information and privacy policies.
6. Review Mobile Responsiveness
Experts predict there will be 6.95 billion mobile device users in 2020, and by 2023, the number will reach 7.33 billion. More people each year use their smartphones and other portable devices to browse the internet. While you’ve likely heard the advice for a while that your site needs to be mobile responsive, you may not have realized you could miss out on half or more of your audience if your site doesn’t adapt to smaller screen sizes.
7. Revamp Site Navigation
One trend websites went to in 2019 that may not work for every site is a hidden navigation menu. Although this is a natural move with hamburger menus and mobile designs, it also can reduce the overall user experience, particularly on desktops or when it’s impossible to find without poking around the page endlessly.
Test different navigation methods for your site. If you currently use a hidden menu, try unhiding it and see what the result is. Conduct some A/B tests and order your categories in different arrangements. There is a perfect mix and look for your nav bar, but you have to figure out what works best for your target audience.
8. Check Your Links
Over the last few years, user experience has grown more important. You likely have numerous competitors, but what can set you apart is how comfortable people are using your site. One thing that really impacts the overall UX is broken links. If a user clicks on a link to an article they’d like to read only to land on a 404 page, then you could lose them forever. Your competitor may offer the same information without the broken links.
Fortunately, plugins for popular content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress check all the links on your site and report back on any broken ones or potential problems. Unless your website is massive, though, you should still physically click through each link, following the path the typical user takes.
9. Highlight Recent Successes
It’s easy to let a site get outdated or forget to share big news. If you had a new product launch, won an award or implemented changes in the last few months, include this information on your business website. Add new images and expand your portfolio so visitors see your work is current and you are still conquering mountains. Don’t clog up your page with too much of this information. Just give people a taste of why they should choose you. A press release page or awards page is also a nice addition that people can navigate to if they’re interested.
10. Fix Accessibility Issues
The Americans with Disabilities (ADA) act ensures people with disabilities have equal enjoyment of goods and services — and this also applies to websites. If your site isn’t accessible, now is the time to ensure it is. This can mean anything from making sure you have alt tags on your images for reading software a blind person uses to ensuring there is enough contrast for color blindness. Enable voice commands to take advantage of increased traffic from smart speakers and to help those without the use of a traditional mouse.
11. Embrace Virtual Reality
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are popping up across different types of businesses. Think about the app you used that let you plug the couch you’re considering into a photo of the actual space where it will be used. Shoppers expect conveniences that give them a real-life shopping experience from the comfort of their home.
If you sell any type of good, then think about how you can highlight it for users. Eyeglass companies might let people upload a headshot and try out different frames on their own faces. A jeweler might showcase a 360-degree video of a ring on an animated hand, showing the various facets of the gemstone.12. Speed up Load Time
12. Speed up Load Time
The ability to access the internet at speeds faster than we’ve ever seen increased in 2019 with the introduction of 5G technology. More towns gained fiber-optic cables, and smartphones are faster than in the past. This means people expect their content delivered in the blink of an eye, and they’ll leave a site that doesn’t do so. Talk to your web hosting company about how to make your website faster. You may need to upgrade to a bigger package, invest in a virtual private network (VPN) or even use a dedicated server.
Get Ready for More Changes
If the past has taught website owners anything, it is that the internet constantly changes. Google will come up with another algorithm update, fresh technology will arrive that changes the way we engage online and people will become more impatient with slow load times. Pay close attention to web design and technology trends and adapt your site as needed throughout 2020 and beyond.