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Seven Ways to Whip Your Website into Shape

Seven Ways to Whip Your Website into Shape

When's the last time you read your own website? No, seriously -- the last time you looked at every page, clicked every link and read every word on it.

If it's been a while, it's probably time to refresh both your site's content and its look. Here is a seven-step program for giving your site a tune-up -- some tips are courtesy of David Rusenko, CEO and co-founder of the site-building platform Weebly, while some are my own:

  1. Simplify. Do you have three sidebars crammed with different widgets? Get back to basics. Look at each page of your site and ask yourself what one action you'd like visitors to take -- sign up on your email list? Pick up the phone and call you? Whatever it is, make that the only action to take on that page. Too many choices cause confusion and make prospects leave.
     
  2. Fix the problems. As websites get updated, things tend to get hinky in the design. One page uses a different color or font. Another has different margins or a different template. Links get broken. The next thing you know, the whole site looks chaotic or sloppy. Take the time to check each page, smooth out the bumps and make sure information is accurate and links are working.
     
  3. Get a makeover. If your site hasn't gotten a new look in several years, it's probably starting to look dated, Rusenko notes. Customers become bored and feel nothing new is happening at your company. Consider a redesign that reflects your company's current direction and attitude.
     
  4. Add news and stories. Want some free media coverage? Start putting out press releases and posting them on your site. When reporters visit, they'll scan those and get the sense that your business has a lot going on. Each of those releases might spark media interest on their own, too. For extra credit, post a specific media contact name, so reporters know just who to call.
     
  5. Refresh the About page. Your About page is usually the second-most visited page of any site, which means it's an important page that needs to put a friendly 'face' on the company. Rewrite it to include fresh company news -- awards won, new products introduced, offices opened or new team members who've joined.
     
  6. Blog -- or don't. If your business website has a blog that hasn't been updated in three months or more, it's time for a serious talk. Blogs can drive new prospects to your site, but a dusty, dated blog doesn't send a good message. Make a decision to either kick that blog back into gear -- posting at least once a week -- or get rid of it.
     
  7. Don't be mysterious. You wouldn't believe how many business websites I've scanned where the phone number, address, contact names, product prices and hours of operation are either hard to find or missing altogether. Check your site to see if your vital info can be easily found. Get those contacts in bigger fonts, up higher, and visible on every page of your site, not hidden under a 'contact' tab.

Have you changed your business website lately? What updating tips did you find useful? Leave a comment and let us know.

Carol Tice, a freelance writer, is chief executive of TiceWrites Inc. in Bainbridge Island, Wash. She blogs about freelance writing at Make a Living Writing. Email her at carol@caroltice.com.

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