Your website represents your business on the Internet. It only makes sense for your website to undergo a redesign that corresponds to changes in your market, business status, objectives and goals. Business should never remain passive. In order to be competitive, business should always remain dynamic; ever evolving to accommodate changes in demand, tastes and preferences. Therefore, your website should likewise remain dynamic and ever evolving.

So yes, your website should undergo a redesign. The question is when?

There is no clear cut rule on determining the need to change your website’s design and functionality. A web designer manipulates design elements to arrive at a look and feel that best captures your business purpose while presenting beautiful aesthetics and user-friendly functionality.

The initial design of your website was based on the information that was provided at the time. Over the course of your business, conditions may have changed.

Perhaps you adopted new strategies, presented additional products and services or experienced a shift in market demographics. Online analytics will help you determine how these changes have collectively asserted their influence on the flow of business.

Or you could subscribe to the Amazon.com and Apple.com school of thought which applies an iterative approach to website redesign. These highly successful technology companies continue to follow a process of consistently getting feedback from customers on their experience using their respective sites.

A combination of online analytics, customer feedback and a frequent review of company financials, should give you an accurate evaluation of the decisions that you need to make regarding your business.

And that should include redesigning your website.

3 Questions You Need to Answer Before You Redesign Your Website

A website redesign could be a minor undertaking. You may only want changes in the color combination, the type of content or add another web page for your portfolio.

But it could also mean a major overhaul. The extent of the redesign will impact your budget for the project.

When clients ask us to redesign their website, we ask them a few questions so we can have a better idea of where they are coming from and what they hope to accomplish with their decision.

1. Why Do You Want to Redesign Your Website?

This seems like an obvious question but we always prefer to hear from the client first.

We view the client as the expert; no one knows the business and the market better than you. No doubt there are very real factors or reasons on why you believe it is time to redesign your website.

  • Does your website look outdated or behind-the-times?
  • Are your competitors redesigning their websites as well?
  • Are you planning to improve your search rankings?

As the web design company, we are here to listen to you. Our job is to offer solutions to your problems or concerns. We will translate your needs into design elements that will help you achieve your goals and objectives.

2. What Problems Are You Currently Experiencing With Your Website?

In the same way that no one likes poor service in a brick-and-mortar establishment, poor user experience is unacceptable in website design.

  • Is your website taking too long to load?
  • Is your bounce rate high?
  • Are the social sharing buttons functioning well?

Part of our web management service package includes a website audit for our clients to identify potential pain points. The audit can be an eye-opener; it gives them a clearer perspective on how the website affects their bottom-line. It becomes a valuable reference tool in managing their business.

3. Have You Changed Your Brand Image?

It is normal for businesses to change its brand or company image. This is done to accommodate changes in the market demographic. You want a brand that your target market can relate to.

Changes in brand image should be incorporated in web design. Your brand represents how you want your business to be perceived in the market. It must be consistent throughout your marketing channels.

In an online marketing campaign, your website is the destination point where all inbound avenues converge and drive generated leads. Its redesign should be in line with any change in your brand or company image.

Checklist: 8 Signs Your Website Needs a Redesign

The best way to determine if your website needs a redesign is to get a professional opinion. An experienced web designer can review analytics and run tests to give you solid bases on the extent of work that needs to be done.

Of course, you can always get a second or third opinion before deciding on the course of action to take. It is very important to be comfortable with the redesign recommendations and at the same time be confident with the ability of the web designer to get the job done.

At Mountaintop, after we meet with the client, we go through a standard checklist covering eight signs your website might need a redesign.

The checklist is a great way to confirm all of the information and details given by the client during the meeting. We will use online analytics plus a thorough site audit to validate their concerns and spot potential problems that may have been overlooked.

It is not necessary to have all the items checked in the list. Our job is to identify the pain points and offer solutions for you to consider.

1. Poor Mobile Loading Capability

You may have commissioned your web designer to create a mobile responsive website for your business. But when you tried to view it from a smartphone, the site’s text did not appear legible and the images seemed distorted.

At a time when 65% of online traffic comes from mobile devices, you can’t risk visitors having poor user experience on your site. This is especially true if you are running an ECommerce website.

Your website must be accessible to various mobile devices. Laptops, notebooks, tablets and smartphones come in different screen sizes. How your website sets up in these mobile devices will determine whether the user will further explore or abandon the search.

2. Slow Loading Website

Research conducted by Akamai and Gomez.com showed that Internet users expect websites to load in 2 seconds or less.

One second more will make 79% of visitors abandon the site and never return. Another 44% will relay the poor experience with a friend. You would not want your website to be representative of these statistics.

If from your own experience, your website is not loading fast enough on desktop and mobile devices, you definitely should have this looked into by a web designer.

 3. Social Media Shares Don’t Look Enticing

Social media is a powerful driver of traffic. But if your links and thumbnail don’t look good when you share on social media, people who come across it may not be enticed to click on your content.

Not only should your link and thumbnail grab attention, its title and description should give readers an immediate idea of what to expect from your content.

If your link doesn’t look enticing in social media, give it an update. Keep in mind that social media accounts for 31% of all referral traffic.

4. Content Does Not Display Properly

Don’t you get frustrated when you click on a URL and the website comes out like an unfinished template?

Images are not displayed properly and content is nowhere to be found. You refresh the page and the results are the same. Your next course of action would be to click out and look for a similar website.

You would probably never click on that link every time you see it.

The same thing could happen to your website if its content does not display properly.

It’s possible your website is using obsolete software. If it’s been around for some time, it may no longer be compatible with newer devices and browsers. This is a problem that is best handled by a professional web designer.

5. Unsatisfactory Business Results

As we discussed in our article “0 Benefits of a Website for a Small Business”, it is absolutely important to have a website in this day and age of the Internet and social media.

It will be difficult to capitalize on opportunities if you have no destination point for all the inbound traffic that you plan to generate with an online marketing campaign.

But having a website is never a guarantee for business success. Like all ventures, there will be hits and misses. You should never look at a website as a “magic potion” that will cure all business ills or the veritable “lightning in a bottle”.

The advantage of having a website is that the availability of online and offline analytics allows you to identify strengths and weaknesses:

  • Are you having problems generating leads?
  • Is there an increase in the rate of shopping cart abandonment?
  • Is your conversion rate decreasing?
  • Is the level of engagement declining?

Once the problem areas have been threshed out, the web designer can come up with a redesign that might provide remedy to your current situation.

6. Visitors Leave Your Site Right Away

In retail, the longer you keep visitors inside your store the higher the probability of making a sale. The rule also applies to websites.

If you have a blog page, you would love for people to hang around, read content while nursing a cup of coffee. The more they read, the more likely they would share your content with social media.

If you are managing an ECommerce site, you would want your visitors to take their time, browse your site, zoom in your product offerings and place merchandise on the shopping cart. In time, they might follow through with the purchase.

Visitors leaving your site early is never a good sign.

A web designer will use the following metrics to check the online behavior of your site visitors:

  • Bounce Rate – Measures the rate by which visitors leave your page. It is not a good sign if your bounce rate is high.
  • Pages/ Session – Measures the average number of pages a user views per session. A high number means the average user views more pages whenever he or she is in your site.
  • Behavior Flow – This is a Google generated report which gives you details on the most popular path site users take to visit your website. Knowing where your visitors come from will improve productivity and help fine tune your online marketing campaign.

7. Visitors Can’t Find What They Need

Navigability should always be an important consideration in website design because it is a big part of User Experience. If a site user can’t find what he or she is looking for within a few seconds, frustration could mount.

When you receive emails or comments from users narrating their difficulty navigating through your website, take it seriously and act upon it right away.

A professional web designer could help come up with a cleaner and more efficient navigation plan that will keep users happy.

8. Initial Design Does Not Capture Current Changes

It could be that the previous year represented a time of sweeping change for your business.

If you have an online consultancy business, perhaps some services are no longer available. Did you replace some products with new offerings? Were there changes in management?

All of these changes should be reflected in your website. In business, communication is very important. If you distribute marketing collateral its content must correspond to what is presented in your website.

Conclusion

If you have a website, accept the fact that a redesign is inevitable. Digital technology will always be in a progressive state. Programs are expected to run faster and process more data. Users will crave a better experience and if you want to compete, you will have to keep your website updated, current and compatible.

The programs and plugins running your website now could be rendered obsolete within a few months. Without a redesign, it may not be responsive to the needs and demands of your market.

Keep in mind that your website is an investment that will yield potentially high returns for your business. With the help of an experienced web designer, you will get more out of every resource that you put back into your website.

Did we get you to re-think the design of your current website? Give us a call or drop us an email to clear your mind. We can simplify the process for you and help you get your business back on track.

Putting up a website isn’t as simple as setting up a coffee shop, opening the doors and expecting customers to file right in. Almost everyone in the world drinks coffee but just because you’ve set up shop, doesn’t mean you will be guaranteed business. It definitely is a step in the right direction, but you have to put in time, work and resources to gain business. It’s the same with driving traffic to your website. The good news is generating traffic to your website is not as difficult or costly as you might think.

If your business was located inside a mall, you can scope out your competition and approximate foot traffic by assigning staff at the entrances to conduct a click count. From there, you can come up with marketing strategies, design collaterals and draw up promos to attract interest from the mall’s daily visitors.

But things are different in the World Wide Web. If a mall has 200 tenants, the Internet has over 1 Billion websites. If a mall attracts 10,000 visitors daily, the Internet draws over 3.6 Billion users every single day. Once your website is launched, your challenge is to get Internet users to click on your URL as often as possible.

When flyers are distributed randomly inside a mall, many end up in trash bins. You cannot apply the same tactics in a place as vast as the Internet. The marketing approach must be more strategic, well thought-out and focused.

It’s not a matter of casting a larger net into an ocean filled with fish. What ends up in your net might be inedible or unusable. Instead you should figure out the right kind of bait that draws fish to your line. But different bait attracts different fish. Before you know it, you have a multitude of lines with a variety of bait that consistently fills up your boat with tons of fish!

If you want to drive traffic to your website, you must utilize strategies that will attract or compel potential end users to view your products and services. This approach is popularly referred to as Inbound Marketing; the process of using online marketing techniques, tools and tactics for the purpose of generating inbound traffic to a website.

7 Effective Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Website

1. Optimize Your Website

SEO or Search Engine Optimization helps to get your content found online. It gives your website a fighting chance to stand out and get noticed even if there are billions of websites proliferating on the Internet. Remember this key stat: 91% of all Internet users prefer to use organic search to find information.

Keyword research is a big component of an effective SEO strategy. All of your inbound marketing efforts should be focused on landing the top 3 positions of the search rankings for your keywords. The SEO expert should provide you a keywords report which categorizes keywords according to volume and level of competition.

The keywords report will be used to optimize your web pages, particularly the title, meta and descriptive tags. It will also be used to optimize text, image and video content.

2. Consistently Create Great Content

Content is the cornerstone of a successful inbound marketing campaign. People go online to find usable and relevant information. You should give your audience content that addresses their interests or concerns.

If you are able to produce consistently great content, you will enhance your reputation as a valuable resource and attract more followers to your website.

Here are a few tips on how to come up with great content:

  • Write in a conversational manner; don’t attempt to impress your readers by using technical terms.
  • Make sure your data is accurate and sourced from reputable sources.
  • Write with the audience in mind; they should find your content usable, relevant and informative.
  • Always come up with original content; do not plagiarize someone else’s work.
  • Do not abuse keywords; it is important to have the main keyword in the title, the opening paragraph, throughout the body and in the concluding section. But use keywords judiciously. It should never affect the quality of the content.

If you are not sure what to write about, review your website analytics. Find out which blogs or articles generated the highest levels of engagement and had the lowest bounce rates. You could also do surveys or engage your followers in social media to find out what topics interest them.

3. Utilize Social Media

Social media is great for sharing content which could help drive traffic to your website. But there are other ways you can use social media to create inbound avenues to your website.

  • Search.twitter.com – This is one of the lesser known features of Twitter but it is an effective tool for engaging your market. For example, we could type in “mobile responsive design” and see how people in the community are interacting with this topic. We could then engage them by providing a link to an article we published some time ago, “Why Your Business Needs Responsive Design”.
  • Set up Company Pages – Identify 3 social media networks that are appropriate for your business then set up company pages in each of them. Try to stay active by posting regularly and engaging with your followers whenever possible.
  • Remarketing – Facebook and Twitter can provide you with tracking pixels which you can use to continue marketing to Internet users who have visited your site. Facebook will grant you a tracking pixel once you have achieved 100 visitors. Twitter’s minimum requirement is much higher at 500 visitors.
  • Twitter Cards – This is another special feature of Twitter which allows you to send out tweets that are large enough to include an image and a functional button to support a call- to- action. Twitter Cards have been shown to generate 18% more clicks than plain text tweets.
  • Community and Focus Groups – You can also join community and focus groups that are involved in the same industry as you are. Members in these communities often engage one another in discussion threads. Join some of these threads and openly share your expertise and experience. Write blogs and distribute them to your various communities.

These are just the tip of the mountaintop when it comes to all the possibilities with social media. A digital marketing company can help you conceptualize a social media strategy that is customized for your business.

4. Build Links

Link building is such an effective technique for driving traffic to your website that it is often abused by unethical marketers. Google penalizes websites that implement overly aggressive link building strategies. These practices include using irrelevant links for the sake of increasing site exposure.

Done properly, link building is a great way of finding a new audience for your website. Get in touch with the webmaster of a reputable website in your industry and ask if they could include a link to your website. Offer reciprocity so that everyone benefits from the arrangement.

Another way of building links is to engage in industry and business forums. These sites give you the platform to showcase your expertise, knowledge and build up your reputation as a credible resource. Wait for the right moment to provide the link to your website. It should be relevant to the discussion and the content must have information that has value to the community.  

5. Contribute to Other Websites

A big part of driving traffic to your website involves enhancing your online presence as an expert in the industry. The more platforms you have to share your knowledge, the better your reach in finding a new audience for your content. One of the best ways to achieve this is to become a contributor to other websites such as content aggregators.

Content aggregators are websites that gather content from various online sources for reuse or resale. Anyone who visits your page from an aggregator and likes what they read will send a link to your site from their feed. Among the most popular content aggregators are the following:

Becoming a contributor isn’t as simple as sending content and having it published right away. These content aggregators have standards and guidelines for writing. If you are not confident about your writing skills, do not hesitate to hire a professional content writer.

6. Host a Podcast

A podcast is a great way to deliver content because it creates a more personalized, informal and intimate connection with your market. It is also a convenient medium for your audience to digest your content. All they have to do is subscribe and they can listen to your podcast anytime. A podcast puts you in a forum where you can actively engage with other experts in your field.

During the period of 2015 to 2016, the audience for podcasts in the United States grew by 23%. To put this in context, in the same period, Spotify and Twitter grew by 13% and 21% respectively. Hosting podcasts has also been shown to increase website traffic significantly.

7. Use Web Analytics

Web Analytics allows you to have data- driven basis to assess the performance of your website and your inbound marketing strategies. One of the most effective tools you can use is Google Analytics, but it is easy to get lost in the sheer volume of data available for your review.

We have simplified the 4 key reports you should look into when using Google Analytics:

  • Acquisition Keywords- Find out which keywords are driving more visitors to your website.
  • Acquisition Referring Sites – By discovering which websites are delivering more traffic to your website, you can focus more resources to them and less toward those that are underperforming.
  • Visitors Overview – Determine the proportion of new visitors to old visitors so you can customize your content to a specific audience.
  • Content Overview Top Pages – Find out which published content is responsible for driving the most traffic to your website and focus more time and resources on the topic.  

Conclusions

Inbound marketing will not generate significant traffic overnight. It is a process; and as such needs time to produce quantifiable results. Because the Internet and social media have made information accessible, market forces can shift or change without warning.

Thus if you want to drive more traffic to your website, the first step is to hire a professional digital marketing services company. You have to regularly track the progress of your campaign and implement the necessary revisions to strategy. As a business owner, your time is best dedicated to running your enterprise.

You should also apply these inbound marketing techniques with strategy, thought and purpose. A digital marketing company has the experience and knowledge to design a campaign strategy customized for your business and implement it according to schedule.

What you need to keep in mind is that an inbound marketing campaign is not an expense. It is an investment because you expect a return within a period of time. The great thing about investing in an inbound marketing campaign is that the strategies are more focused, sustainable and reusable.

You’re not distributing flyers to random people inside a mall. With inbound marketing, you identify your target market and focus your strategies to influence his or her preference toward your products and services instead of your competitor.

You are not pushing content to your audience. You are creating content that will pull your audience or compel them to follow you.  

The content you create will not end up in the trash bin. You can re-cycle it; edit its content and ideas to fit changes in your market’s behavioral profile. You can also reuse it by publishing it in other websites so you can attract a new audience.

When it comes to driving traffic to your website, the keyword is patience. It will take time to develop the avenues that will consistently bring users to your website.

Building a website is one thing. Committing to develop it is another. But as long as you put in the time, effort and resources, your investment should eventually yield dividends.

If you’re interested in learning more about inbound marketing and how to put together a campaign to drive more traffic to your website, drop us an e-mail or give us a call.

The Internet opens up an ocean of opportunities for business. Every day more than 3.5 Billion people are online; searching for information, looking for best value products and services or building their network. A website becomes a 24/7 store window to a global community of consumers. Unfortunately, the vast expanse of the Internet has also opened up opportunities for unsavory characters. The ones who unscrupulously break into your store window and steal your data. You can never have enough security in the Internet and that is why you need SSL.

What is SSL?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. This is a method of encrypting communication between computer networks as data travels through the Internet. SSL will assure the recipient that the data came from a verified sender.

When you want to buy products from an e-commerce site, you will be asked to provide information to the retailer. The information you send to the retailer may go through a number of servers and networks before finally reaching its destination.

It is during this process of transfer that your information is at risk of being intercepted by the bad guys unless it is encrypted.

E-commerce sites such as Amazon and a payment processor like PayPal have SSL certification. When you interact with companies that have SSL certificates, you are guaranteed of dealing with legitimate businesses.

How Does SSL Protect Your Site’s Users?

The year 2016 was a banner year for data hackers. In that year alone, more than 2 Billion records were stolen. Blogging site Tumblr reported that 65 Million accounts were hacked. MySpace became relevant for the wrong reason as it reported 427 Million accounts were stolen. Search engine Yahoo confirmed that more than 500 million accounts were compromised.

The threat of hacking has made people more wary of patronizing Internet- based businesses. Personal information such as Social Security Number (SSN), bank account and credit card numbers once illegally obtained can place the consumer at serious risk. Credit card fraud is estimated to hit $14 Billion in 2020.  

SSL facilitates communication between the user’s browser and the website it is trying to access. When a website has an SSL Certificate from a trusted source, the browser will recognize it. If the user has to send sensitive information, the SSL will encrypt it before it is sent. SSL will also be used to decrypt the information once it has been received.

If your online business requires site users to provide valuable or confidential information, it is highly advised that you get SSL certification.

SSL certificates protect your site users in the following ways:

  1. Enables encryption of sensitive data when an online transaction is performed. Thus, the information remains protected during the transfer.
  2. An SSL certificate is a unique credential; it authenticates and verifies the sender of information.
  3. Your site users would feel more secure because the identity of the certificate holder is verified before the certificate is released.

Think of an SSL certificate as having a seal of trust on your website. Getting an SSL certificate will give you a definite edge over a competitor that does not have it.

What Types of Information Must Be Protected?

Generally you should protect all types of information that could result in monetary loss or legal entanglements for your site users once there is a serious breach in data security.

Here is a short list of types of information that you must absolutely protect:

  1. User Authentication; this includes usernames and passwords to access an account. According to reports, hackers attempt to break into Facebook accounts 600,000 times every day.
  2. Financial Information; among the most sought after figures are credit card numbers, bank accounts and online order numbers.
  3. Sensitive Personal Information; some websites, especially those engaged in consumer services such as telecommunications require users to provide SSN, passport and driver’s license numbers and birth dates. These bits of information once stolen will open the user to risk of identity theft.
  4. Medical Information and Reports on Health Condition; these types of information should be tightly guarded as the consequences on the patient can be severe.
  5. Proprietary Information; highly important if you work with clients or people that require security and protection for legal documents, technology transfers, classified software and customer databases.

If you want extended coverage, you may also wish to include Customer Account areas and signup forms that require site users to provide personal information.

How Will a User Know Your Website Has SSL Certificates?

A user will know that your website has SSL Certificate in 4 ways:

  • A padlock appears on the website’s browser screen.
  • The website’s address in their browser reads https://. Please take note of the extra “s” that appears after http.
  • The address bar’s background will have a green color which indicates the level of security it has in place.
  • You might find an SSL image at the bottom of the web page.

A website that has SSL certificates assures the user of the protection and integrity of any confidential information that has to be submitted.

5 Benefits of SSL

The online business is fast becoming the preferred model of budding entrepreneurs and startups. It’s set up costs are lower than traditional brick- and- mortar establishments, comparatively easier to manage and it presents more benefits to the consumer.

The trend toward patronizing Internet- based businesses can be seen with the number of retail stores shutting down the previous years. As competition increases in the online business industry, you have to constantly find ways to win customers over to your website.

SSL Certificates can give your website the following benefits:

  1. Professionalize Your Business –  Part of the process of getting SSL Certificates is having your website checked by the issuing authority. Having SSL Certificates tells users your website has passed quality assurance and safety tests.
  2. Enhance Customer Loyalty – If users know it is safe to use your site, they will come back and continue to patronize your services. They could even generate referrals for your business.
  3. Bring in More Shoppers – With concerns on identity theft increasing, consumers will choose websites that offer more protection and security. If asked to pick between 2 e-commerce stores; “A” which has SSL and “B” which does not, consumers will almost always choose “A”.
  4. Generate More Paying Customers – Many e-commerce websites are confounded by site users abandoning the purchase at the checkout counter. The reason is consumers get “cold feet” when they are asked to provide their credit card number. SSL Certificates can help push the shopper to complete the sale. A reputable checkout system will offer SSL to your user but having your own SSL will further encourage the user to become a customer.
  5. Protect Information – With SSL, protection goes both ways. It will also protect the information you send out to customers and site visitors. For example, as part of your marketing campaign, you might decide to send out discount coupons or promo vouchers to your customers. With SSL Certificates in place, these marketing materials will be protected with encryption when you send them out to the recipients.

Conclusion

The reality is there is no such thing as a 100% completely infallible security system. If you send confidential information to a website that does not require a password, having SSL Certificates will not be enough to prevent unauthorized viewing.

You should also know that the process of encrypting and decrypting data takes time, uses up computer resources and works the server harder. It will slow down the loading time of your website. If your application does not require the transfer of sensitive information, then SSL certification may not be necessary.

However for those who run e-commerce websites and online businesses that ask users to provide confidential data, there is no doubt you should get SSL Certificates. It will assure users their transaction will be safe and enhance the reputation of your website as a business they can trust.

If you want to get SSL for your website, this can be done for you by your website developer or web host service provider.

You will need to purchase an SSL certificate from an authorized vendor. Your web designer or web host should be able to make recommendations. The vendor will verify your identity before issuing the certificates. Be aware that an annual fee may be charged by the vendor.

Once you have the certificate, it has to be installed on your server so you can activate the “https://” connection.

The web developer will then move to configure your website to make sure all the security connections are properly in place and functioning. If you have an e-commerce business, the web developer has to ensure the certificates can do its job when a user logs in or is about to complete a transaction in the shopping cart.

If our article has encouraged you to pursue an online business that needs SSL certificates, please feel free to give us a call or an e-mail. We have successfully installed SSL certificates on a good number of websites that we have created.

Let us know if you’re interested to learn more about SSL Certificates. We’ll be more than happy to answer questions you may have on whether your online business needs it or not.

How Website Speed Can Affect Your Business Bottom Line

In business, the difference between success and failure can be measured in seconds. Opportunities can come around knocking; or clicking on your website URL, every day. If your website speed isn’t fast enough to open the door, opportunity will turn around and find someone else. Speed is an overlooked quality in website design. Not many entrepreneurs are aware that a one second delay in loading time can lead to thousands of dollars in foregone income.

Built for Speed: The Case for Fast and Responsive Website Design

Unless it’s for dry aged, prime rib Angus beef, nothing is worth the wait. In the Internet, people are less forgiving. Studies have shown there is a direct correlation between page loading time and page abandonment. The longer time it takes for a page to load the greater the probability of the user leaving the page.

Although the study revealed more people expect web pages to load a bit slower on a mobile device than a PC, a 30% reported they would still abandon the search if it took longer than 6 to 10 seconds.

For e-commerce websites, the expectations for speed are even higher. A 2009 study commissioned by Forrester Consulting showed that 40% of shoppers would abandon a retail site if it took longer than 3 seconds to load.

As mobile devices continue to dominate online traffic, expect speed to become a more important factor in determining the search ranking of your website. This is because search engine giant Google has begun transitioning to its “Mobile First” advocacy where website speed is a ranking factor.

This should not come as a surprise because Google has made it clear it favors fast loading websites. Google has always been about enhancing UX or User Experience and speed has been one of its determining factors.

A website with favorable UX will most certainly enjoy higher conversion rates than one that doesn’t. As far back as 2011, Google has been pushing websites to focus on improving its loading speed.

It’s not enough to have a mobile responsive website. You must make sure it loads fast enough to keep your visitors interested.

How Will the Lack of Speed Affect Your Bottom Line?

Because site speed is a ranking factor in Google’s algorithm, the faster your website, the higher its search ranking. The higher your ranking, the greater the opportunities for generating more traffic.  

It all comes back to UX. If a visitor likes his experience in your website, he will be encouraged to explore its content further. If the experience is not pleasant, he will click out of your page and this will increase your site’s bounce rate. Google uses bounce rate to determine UX. A high bounce rate will get you penalized in the search rankings.

A 2010 study revealed that a website that took more than 6 seconds to load experienced a 40% decrease in conversion rate. Fast forward to 2014, and the same loading time resulted in a 50% decrease in conversion rates. Please take note that in 2010, the desktop PC still accounted for the majority of online traffic.

In terms of earning potential, a study on website speed has shown how it can lead to thousands of dollars of foregone income. Basically, a one- second delay in website speed can result in 11% fewer page views, 16% decrease in customer satisfaction and 7% loss in conversions.

In monetary terms, if your business makes $5,000 a month, a one- second delay in website speed can lead to a foregone income of $350 per month or $4,200 annually. Can your business afford to take a $350 hit every month?

Now can you imagine what a one- second delay would mean to companies that make $100,000 or $1,000,000 per month?

How Fast Should Your Website Be?

As mentioned, a majority of people expect websites to load a bit more slowly on mobile devices than its PC counterpart.

But what exactly is “a bit more slowly” mean in terms of seconds?

The average page loading time of the top ranking sites in Google has been measured to be between 9.82 seconds and 13.84 seconds. An updated study on mobile web sites showed that its average loading time is 19 seconds over 3G connections.

Mobile users appear to have very high expectations of website speed with 53% of respondents stating that they would abandon the page if it took longer than 3 seconds to load.

Comparing websites that loaded in 5 seconds versus those that loaded in 19 seconds, the faster websites enjoyed 25% higher ad viewability, 70% longer sessions and 35% improvement in bounce rates.

There lies the challenge for the professional web designer. It must be mobile responsive with the ability to load in 3 to 5 seconds.

Factors That Affect Website Speed

If your website is not loading fast enough, the first area where you should look is your web host provider.

One of the problems of sharing a server is unpredictable quality of service. Some days you’re fast. Some days you’re just furious. If you’re using WordPress, you will get better performance by signing up with WordPress premium managed hosting services.

Other factors that affect website speed include:

  • Unoptimized Images- Your site may have both JPG and PNG images which contain extra data to accommodate comments. As a rule, JPG images are better for photos while PNG works best for logos.
  • Widget/ Plugin Overload – It could also be your social media sharing buttons. The Facebook “Like” button downloads 83 KB of data in 1.34 seconds.
  • Incompatible Browser, Plugins and Apps – For sure, many of you have had problems with Flash and the Chrome browser. Flash isn’t even compatible with many mobile devices.
  • Too Many Ads – Once your website gains traction, placing ads is a great way to earn passive income. However, slow loading ads can turn off site visitors.
  • Sign Up Forms – The back end code of a submission form typical of AWeber or Google Feedburner can slow down your site speed.
  • Analytics Code – On-site analytics tools are valuable for measuring performance but it doesn’t take much to weigh down your website’s loading speed. Before introducing new analytics tools, test your site speed first.
  • Design Theme – The most effective website is the one that can balance aesthetics and functionality. Adding that colorful image may make your website more beautiful. But if it severely impacts your website speed, you’d be better off without it.
  • Embedded Media such as Videos and Slide Presentation – Have you ever gone to a website with embedded videos? It can get frustrating when it takes time for the video to load. And the problem is usually from the website from where it is hosted. It would be advisable to host content on your own server.

How to Test Your Website’s Speed

If you’re curious to see how fast your website loads, there are a number of tools you can use to measure its speed.

  • WebPage Test – This Google- supported speed checker will give you detailed charts, measure Page Speed optimization and will provide suggestions after analyzing your score.
  • PageSpeed Insights – An easy to use tool that will measure performance of both desktop and mobile versions of your website. Recommendations will be categorized according to priority.
  • MonsterInsights – Perfect pairing with WordPress; it can be used to determine SEO and measure load time with different browsers.
  • YSlow – Created by Yahoo!; provides grades from a pre-defined user set of rules, summary of improvement and performance analyses.
  • Pingdom Website Speed Test – It can measure speed in browsers like Chrome and can compare your performance with other tools such as MonsterInsights and YSlow.
  • GTMetrix – You will receive 2 grades; one from GTMetrix and the second from YSlow. You will also get a history of your speed loading times.
  • WebPage Analyzer – Gives you data on page size, download time and composition plus valuable advice on how to improve website speed.
  • LoadImpact – Website analysis assumes a scenario whereby your site is packed with users. This way, you will know what to do given the situation and load speed has been compromised.
  • PageSpeedTool – Gives you in-depth analysis on page load time plus tests at different connection speeds.

Should You Speed Up Your Website?

There are those who say website speed isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. They point out the speed is only one of 200 ranking signals that Google uses to evaluate websites.

Some will argue that less than one percent of search queries are affected by site speed.

But the numbers on the performance of businesses with slow loading websites do not lie. A slow- loading website will definitely affect your chances of converting those leads you’ve worked so hard to generate into paying customers.

If you want to build up your business’ bottom line, you should speed up your website.

You should also keep in mind the irrefutable fact that Google loves speed. And if you don’t want to catch a virus when Google sneezes, you better do what you can to get your website running like Usain Bolt on the last 40 meters of a race.

Finally, just place yourself in the same padded chair of an Internet user. You would feel less likely to push through with the search if the site takes too long to load. It’s not an opinion; it’s basic human nature to detest waiting.

Do you have ideas, thoughts and opinions that were not covered? Please feel free to e- mail us or comment below and share your experiences with websites.

If you want to know how we can bring your website up to speed, give us a call or drop an e-mail. We’ll get back to you within a click of the mouse!

Why Maintenance is Critical to a Successful Website

Like any computer, websites require updates and maintenance in order to work properly. Similar to a vehicle, websites have a lot of moving pieces that can break and cause your site to go down if you are not careful. Websites need regular updates and attention, just like vehicles need regular oil changes. You don’t want your website to be down when that potential customer comes looking, do you?

Trust us, we have seen many websites that have been neglected. Often times you may find that your website has been hacked, there are links to spam or viruses on the website, and the site has been black listed by Google and other major search engines. It is best to avoid going down this road and having a website that is down for maintenance. Your website should always be live, ready for customers and presenting your business at its finest.

Websites Are Not a “Set It and Forget It”

Without website maintenance carried out monthly, you might actually be losing money. If a visitor goes to your website and find things wrong with it, they often exit the site immediately. Most website owners don’t check their website to see how it’s functioning and performing regularly. A missed website issue or any downtime can cause you to lose customers.

Maintenance Benefits

Let’s talk about the benefits of regular site maintenance:

It is important to understand that website load time, performance, uptime, and error free pages are all dependent on the WordPress software and any plugin that is also on the website.

However, new and exciting content, analytics reporting, design changes, and growth are all dependent on someone making all these changes. In addition, this person must check for errors and make sure the content looks great on the site.

Our Maintenance Workflow

At Mountaintop Web Design we work hard so you don’t have to. Our process ensures your website and company is protected at all times. Each time we work on your website, we make sure that we backup your website. We then make the needed updates, then verify that the website is performing without any issues. We even keep a record of the plugins that we update, which will help us troubleshoot any errors on the website. This ensures a speedy update and minimizes downtime. Additionally, our monthly processes include scanning your website for potential security or performance issues. At the end of the month, we send you a monthly report that shows the items updated, results from the performance and security scans, and much more!

Why Not Just Do It Yourself?

While it appears to be cheaper from the outset, maintaining your website by yourself could actually be more expensive than you may think. While it is easy to update from the backend of your website, you will not have a record of what updates were done. If an update to a plugin causes an issue a couple of weeks down the road, it would be very tough to figure out which plugin caused the the problems. Without knowing this, you would have to restore an old backup of your website, which means you could lose recent content, sales orders, contact entries, and more.

It Costs More to Fix Than to Maintain

Similar to a vehicle, websites can be inexpensive to maintain on a regular basis. Where people get into trouble is when a website breaks causing problems with the look and functionality of the site. This can happen if a website is neglected or if regular maintenance was performed incorrectly. When a website does break (like a vehicle), it can be expensive to hire an expert to fix it (especially when the website has been hacked). Regular site maintenance by an expert will help keep your site running properly.

Call an Expert

Why not deal with what you know best and let us deal with what we know best? Would you try to do surgery without a doctor?

Why try to maintain your website if you are not a web professional? If you secure an expert web professional to update and maintain your website, you will have the peace of mind that your website will be up when potential customers come looking.

If you’re interested in our Extreme WordPress Care Plans for your website, contact us to learn about our different support options.

Extreme WordPress care - what types of plans we offer