A Shropshire web expert is dishing out top tips to local businesses looking to redesign their websites. The advice from Helen Culshaw, director of Shifnal-based Ascendancy Internet Marketing, comes after high street retailer Marks & Spencer this month blamed a decline in its online clothes sales on its website redesign.
The company relaunched its website in February this year after a £150 million makeover but some customers have had difficulty registering on the site leading to a slump in online sales.
At the time of the launch a glitch with the website meant customers were unable to actually buy anything on the website. Ms Culshaw said all businesses should learn lessons from the mistakes made by M&S and think very carefully when redesigning their own websites.
She said: “All businesses should be aware of the risks associated with making substantial changes to their websites and the problems that can arise when newly designed websites are not tested properly.
“Redesigning a business-critical website is something which has to be done very carefully so that it does not have a detrimental effect on sales or leads.
“Ideally, businesses should gradually introduce changes to their site one by one, rather than changing too many elements at once – if you change the look of a site, its functionality and its content all at once, you won’t get a clear understanding of which elements made a difference to the performance of the site.
“Substantial changes to a website can also have a negative impact on search engine traffic to a site – careful planning can mitigate this risk, but it is something that is often forgotten.
“If not managed properly both of these can have a detrimental impact on online sales.”
Ms Culshaw, who works with a wide range of businesses across Shropshire and beyond, also advised businesses who were looking to make changes to their website to test the usability of the site thoroughly before going live, and to design websites based on their appeal to the target market rather than their own personal taste.
“It is usually better to distance your personal feelings from the design of a website.
“Above all else websites need to be functional, easy to use and appealing to the target audience in order to achieve online sales.”
Businesses looking to redesign their own website successfully should follow these top tips:
- Choose a website platform that will grow with your business – for example, WordPress.
- Design your website with the customer in mind. Do not get hung up on your own likes and dislikes. A website should be functional and easy to use.
- Try not to change the design, content and functionality of the website all at the same time. Make gradual changes so you can test what works and what doesn’t.
- Make sure the website has been thoroughly tested before launch.
- Monitor the newly launched site closely so that any glitches can be resolved quickly. Don’t start marketing it heavily until you’re sure it’s working properly!
For more information on services and advice provided by Ascendancy Internet Marketing email [email protected] or contact 01952 462845.