If you haven’t had a redesign of your business site in a number of years, you may be playing risk in diminishing returns. That’s especially true if your industry has serious competition out there who may be using web design techniques that exceed your own. If you think it doesn’t matter, consider that stats show a direct correlation between the aesthetics (and speed) of a business website and whether visitors stick around. When people are looking for something specific, they want it right away without confusing designs that don’t operate optimally.
It also just looks bad to have a website that appears to have had no updating in over five years. Just in that small time frame, so many advancements and design options have been made available.
As much as you may despise peeking in on what your competitors are doing, here’s why you should visit all of your competitors’ websites to see what they’re doing.
Checking the Attractiveness of Competitor Sites
Are those other websites using new graphics and special effects that make your website look overly dated and drab? In the last several years, web design techniques like parallax scrolling (a fixed 3D-like effect), the use of videos on the entry page, and flat designs have become just a few standards. What elements of these do your competitors use? Most of all, what are the general aesthetics in terms of color and layout?
With so many people demanding information through video rather than thick text, it might behoove you to create an introductory video on your main page. It also helps if you use at least one special effect to attract people’s attention. Even gamification techniques can keep people around on your site for hours rather than get bored and leave.
Checking the Images Your Competitor Uses
While videos may count as images, still images are going to be just as important in a web design. Are your competitors using colorful images that instantly convey a story to their customers? They may even be using the new design trend of filling the entire screen with one colorful background image.
If your site hasn’t been redesigned in over five years, you may not have any of those things other than just some static photos that don’t translate your company message. It’s not challenging to incorporate images into a web design when working with a smart web design team. While you may be influenced from your competitors, find new ways to integrate your images so it represents your own brand.
How Does the e-Commerce Work?
Not enough attention is paid to the e-commerce side of business websites. Visitors demand a fast checkout experience when buying something that isn’t overly protracted or confusing. While you may not want to buy something from a competitor, it doesn’t hurt to buy a cheap item to see how their e-commerce process works. Your checkout system may need some revamping if you have too many steps involved to buy one simple thing.
A Reliable Search Feature
Another aspect website visitors prefer is a good search box where they can search for something specific rather than sift through endless menu categories. Far too many websites don’t allow thorough searches. And even if some do, they may malfunction and not show results for an item they actually do have in stock.
Check your competitors and see if they have a search feature. Try experimenting with it and see how fast results are on something obscure. It’s a good template for you to use and perhaps get a leg up on improving over your competition.
If you take just one hour to check on these things, you can get immediate ideas that can be phoned in to a web design team. In fact, it doesn’t hurt to give the web designers links to those competitor sites so they can see what works and what doesn’t to avoid design pitfalls.