A website is like your home base. It’s essentially the foundation to which your other marketing pieces are built. Without a strong foundation, your collective efforts will likely crumble.

Maintaining a website that provides value to your target audience is an ongoing battle. It’s not like a Ronco Rotisserie where you can Set it and forget it!

Your website requires constant attention and updating. Now, that’s if we lived in a perfect world.

Business owners small and large know firsthand just how daunting the day-to-day management of their company can be. And, keeping tabs on their website on a regular basis can easily be left on the back burner.

But, if you’re reading this, you’re here for a reason. You understand the importance of a website and you want to know some tell-tale signs that it might be time for a facelift.

Let’s get to it.

Five Signs You Should Redesign Your Website

It’s not mobile responsive

In this day and age, your website has to be mobile friendly. Why? Because according to Statistica, 52 percent of all website traffic comes from mobile users. So, if your website is not mobile-friendly, that percentage of people who land on your site via their mobile device will be greeted by a less-than-favorable experience. Not to mention, Google is now focused on basing their rankings on mobile rather than the desktop version of a website. If you’re not quite sure if your website is mobile responsive, check out Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to get your answer.

High bounce rates

One of the biggest indicators that you’re more than likely due for a website redesign is a high bounce rate. This piece of data shows the rate at which users are leaving your website. The higher the number, the quicker your users are jumping off your website and on to the next one. Some factors that can increase your website’s bounce rater are, but not limited to:

  • Slow load times –  You’ve probably landed on a website only to be met by a webpage that loads just about as slow as a turtle crossing the road. In those instances, you probably rolled your eyes and then navigated back to the search results to start over. Not only can slow loading pages inhibit your website’s overall performance, but Google holds sites with faster loading times in higher esteem which can help your site’s rank.
  • Errors – If by chance you notice a spike in your website’s bounce rate, you might want to take a look at your site to make sure that you’re not experiencing any 404 errors. A 404 error occurs when the server can’t retrieve the page that was requested. This can be caused by the following:
    • The file that was requested has been renamed.
    • The requested file was moved to another location and/or deleted.
    • The requested file doesn’t exist.

Simple updates are difficult to make

Making minor tweaks and changes to your website are a common occurrence. However, when simple changes like adding a blog post or even changing a product description are difficult to make, you might want to consider building a new website with a content management system (CMS) that everyone on your team can use. So, if your website is difficult to work with or a third-party holds the keys to making updates on your site, no matter how big or small, a website redesign can be your solution.

It’s hard to navigate

User experience can make or break your website’s performance. A great website is created FOR the user meaning it provides valuable content that’s relevant to the users’ needs and it’s easy to navigate. If your site is, for lack of a better term, clunky in that it makes your audience do nothing short of jump through hoops of fire to get the information that they want,  then it’s time to go back to the drawing board and draft out a new design and user path to better their experience while on your website.

It looks old

Last but certainly not least, perhaps the most obvious sign that you need to redesign your website is if it looks old and outdated. We’re living in a time where facelifts are as common as grabbing a cup of coffee in the morning and that same mindset should be applied to your website as well. If you’re rolling with the “What’s wrong with it? This website worked for us 20 years ago,” you DEFINITELY need a website redesign. Because even people with absolutely no web design background can spot an outdated website. And, let’s not forget that every page on your website acts as a first impression.  Aesthetically-pleasing and easy-to-use websites help make a good first impression and build and gain the trust of your consumers.

If you feel like you’re in the market for a website redesign or aren’t sure if your site needs an update, contact us today and we’ll work with you to get you the site you want and your audience deserves.

Being in the world of marketing, you’ve probably heard the phrase persona thrown around in a strategy meeting. You likely have an understanding of what a persona is and how we in the industry use them to help craft messaging that resonates with the target audience. But perhaps you’ve taken them for face value and never really dug deeper to figure out the real (romanticized) reason behind personas.

Until today, that is. In this Flying Cork blog, we’re going to break down the reason you should incorporate personas into your process.  But first, where do you begin?

The starting point is in the discovery phase.

The process for website projects at Flying Cork consists of various phases. For larger and more complex projects, we start off with our discovery phase, otherwise also known as “Ideation.”

As with any design project, it is extremely important to know exactly what you’re creating, for whom, and why.

For the creative types among us (myself included), it’s difficult to fight the urge to dive right into the more tangible elements of a project like the features, technology, and visuals. However, this road is pitted with huge risks and hurdles, the biggest one being that the end product won’t address the wants and needs of the end user. While it may have all of the bells and whistles, it might not resonate with the people who matter most – your target audience.

This creative nightmare can be avoided by implementing a discovery phase into your project.

This leads me to the crux of this blog post: personas.

When all of the tools and exercises are complete, personas are at the very center of our discovery process. So what exactly are personas and how do we use them?

Personas are fictional characters – not real people. They incorporate traits and properties extracted from real-user research data, insofar as they are relevant to the users’ interactions with the website.

Although personas are fictional, good personas are very precise in their description/definition.

What are personas based on?

Market research, user behavior patterns, and any other target audience data you have available form the basis for personas. What you’re after is the information – most often around needs and wants – that outlines how different users approach and use the website. This data helps inform decisions about which personas should be created and how many.

They’re not user profiles

Although there are definitely dotted lines between personas and user profiles, they do differ in definition and usage. Whereas user profiles describe groups of actual people and their characteristics, personas are fictional entities that are artificially created to serve as a tool during the design process.

Elements of personas

Personas usually consist of attitudes, behavior patterns, goals (needs/wants), skills, and anything else relevant to the project, such as the context in which they will interact with the website. To add more realism, we also establish the following:

  • Name and portrait photo
  • Characterizing slogan (Ex: “Nit-picky Patty puts quality first”)
  • Marital status
  • Family background
  • Profession
  • Company information
  • Character traits
  • Emotional stances relevant to the interaction with the website

Different kinds of personas

Personas representing the website’s main target audiences should be treated with more detail and priority than personas representing audiences of lesser importance. A common categorization is the following, in order of importance:

  1. Focal – Primary users who are the main website’s target.
  2. Secondary – Also use the website. We satisfy their needs when we can.
  3. Unimportant – Low-priority users.
  4. Affected – Don’t use the website but are affected by it.
  5. Exclusionary – We’re not designing for them. Period.
  6. Stakeholders – usually clients who will benefit from the end product.

So, how many do you need? The number of personas is dictated by various factors like the scope and complexity of the website, the variety of needs of the target audience (more variety requires additional personas to represent the audiences), budgets, and time constraints. For example, medium-sized websites with limited functionality serving only two distinctly different audiences will need an average of four to eight.

I think I’ve covered enough for one week; check back for parts two and three where I’ll discuss how to use them, why to use them, and when.

I’d just written an SEO report for a client who had been using an H1 tag in multiple places per page on their site—something I see fairly often—and as usual, I made sure to call this out in my report.

You should only ever have one H1 tag per page, I wrote. My normal elaboration goes like this: Think of your header tags like a topic hierarchy. The primary header, or H1, should encompass the main concept or topic of the page. H2s are subheads that support that topic. H3s are subheads that support topics under H2s, etc. Because there’s only supposed to be one topic per page, each page should only have one H1.

“But what about long-form webpages?” Aart, the creative director, asked. It wasn’t really a question. More of a challenge, really. But it got me thinking. (Mission accomplished, Aart.)

Web developments and designs are always changing. Attention spans are shortening. Pages are getting longer and fancier, with a bigger emphasis on user experience and eye-catching design. We’re trying to make it easier for the user to find what they need in fewer clicks. All those different pages that were crucial for SEO value don’t always work with contemporary designs.

Anyone who works in search engine optimization knows that it’s already pretty hard to find the right balance between SEO and UX, but how can you do it when your design dictates more than one topic on a page? How do you make solid SEO-related decisions that work with new user experiences?

Well…the truth is, you actually can use more than one H1 per page—but only if you’re “up to code,” so to speak.

First: Make sure you’re using HTML 5.

Unlike previous versions, HTML5 is equipped with the capability to code multiple sections into a webpage. Search crawlers can process these tags and understand that the content inside is unique to that section, and not necessarily pertaining to the overall topic of the page (more on that below). Older versions of HTML don’t give the same clues in a way that makes sense to a crawler in terms of optimization.

Second: You’ve gotta get your tags right.

In terms of SEO, there are two different types of HTML5 tags that can help crawlers dissect your page: <section> tags and <article> tags. When used correctly, these tags help crawlers understand that different topics exist on a single page. A <section> tag indicates that the content inside that tag relates to a single theme, and an <article> tag indicates a piece of content that could stand on its own, like a blog post or a news story.

For sections, think of it like this: you have a page about SEO Fundamentals that’s divided into three separate, robust sections about Content, Site Architecture and Link Building. You don’t want to have three separate pages about these items, so you put them all on the same page. Each is related to the main topic – SEO Fundamentals – and each topic could be considered just as important as the others. They all carry the same weight.

For articles, on the other hand, think about a blog that scrolls infinitely. In other words, when you get to the bottom of the page, more articles are loaded so you can keep on scrolling and reading. It can feature a variety of topics, from digital marketing to restaurant reviews (clearly our theoretical blog writer has a lot of diverse interests). Each one of these articles can stand on its own, away from the context of the page.

Third: Make sure you’re only using one H1 tag per section.

If you think about it, the same header tag hierarchy that you’d use for a single page also applies to a single section or article. So you’d use one H1 to capture the topic of the section; H2s to designate a subtopic of the H1; H3s to designate subtopics of H2s, etc. Just because you’re using more than one H1 per page doesn’t mean you get to escape the hierarchical logic after all!

The Final Verdict

So can you use more than one H1 tag on a page?

Yes if you can properly code out sections or articles on your page, and you’re following W3C best practices.

No if you’re using a version of HTML that predates HTML5, or if you’re using header tags to style different parts of your site rather than make a logical page structure. (Yup, it happens.)

Not sure if your site structure is up to snuff? Contact the experts at Flying Cork!

Millions of marketing dollars are spent every year on digital paid advertisements. Wouldn’t it be great if you could make those dollars work harder for you?

Imagine if you could increase lead volume by 20-50% while keeping spend levels unchanged. With an effective landing page strategy, it’s certainly achievable—and may be easier that you’d think. Whether you’re dabbling in paid advertising efforts or you’re a long-time veteran, remember to pay special attention to your landing page content and design—it can make or break your campaign.

Ready to pump up your paid advertising efforts? Try out these easy tricks to increase landing page conversions.

Minimize any opportunities for a user to click away without converting.

That means taking out the top navigation or any links that could direct users away from the landing page. If you’re paying to send traffic to your landing pages, you really don’t want them to leave before you capture the lead. The ROI for that tactic is roughly equal to flushing your money down the toilet.

Put a form at the top right of the landing page, above the fold.

At Flying Cork, we’ve built a lot of landing pages. The ones with the best conversion rates almost exclusively have the form in this position. Why does this work so well? When a user sees the form first thing above the fold, they immediately understand that there is a value proposition: Is it worth it to trade their information for the offer? They don’t get stuck reading a page only to find out that they have to fill out a form in order to get what they really want.

Furthermore, a typical Internet user looks at a page like a book, reading from left to right. If there’s a form on the right side, then where does the headline, text and imagery go? In the empty space to the left, of course, becoming the first thing the user sees. With the right copy and feel-good imagery, you can prepare users for the information request.

Include a clear call to action on the form.

And by clear, I mean something that helps the user understand exactly what they’re getting in return for filling out your landing page form. Good button text includes language such as “Download,” “Get More Information,” or “Schedule Appointment.” Avoid vague text such as “Click Here” or “Go!”

Think about the mobile experience.

Mobile visitors usually have a different intent than someone on a desktop or tablet, and they tend to have a more urgent need for information. They want to act quickly rather than draw out the research process and wait for a reply after filling out a form. To help them get what they need as fast as possible, consider using a trackable click-to-call phone number.

Use clear headlines and scannable content.

No one is going to stick around to read paragraphs upon paragraphs of text on your landing page. Well, some might, but for the majority who won’t, make sure your headlines and design are conducive to scanning. Do your best to enable users to understand your offerings and unique benefits at a glance.

Up the trust factor.

You can make your landing page more trustworthy by including relevant partnerships, certifications or customer testimonials. Partnerships with or endorsements from recognizable associations can make users feel more comfortable with giving away their information. Including testimonials shows users that other people have used the product or service before them with good results. This should go without saying, but always make sure to include REAL testimonials—never fabricate them. You want people to trust you, after all!

Always have a thank you page.

Remember in tip #1, where we said to minimize any opportunity for users to click off the landing page? Well, if you have a thank you page, you can encourage users to click around your properties all you want. I wouldn’t suggest adding a top navigation here, because it will most likely lead to an inconsistent design experience. However, you can include links back to your website so users can learn more, or try directing them to your blog and social pages. Help them get engaged with your online properties—open up those gateways for them and make it easy for them to discover more. Of course, make sure you’ve got plenty of fresh content there to keep their attention!

Intrigued? Check out this blog post for more tips on thank you pages, or read how a former unbeliever saw the value of paid search.

The Case for Needs Analysis

You may have seen it posted many times on LinkedIn; in fact, I just saw it today:

Which (marketing automation, email distribution system, etc.) system do you recommend?

People post single-word responses proclaiming solidarity with their favorites, and that’s the end of the conversation. The original poster may then take the most popular response or two, look at the price/features breakdown, discuss with some internal organization partners and make a decision.

Fast forward a few months. The system has been implemented, but it might not be exactly what that LinkedIn poster was hoping. Perhaps it doesn’t work as hoped with internal systems, or maybe there’s data that’s still not being used effectively.

It is possible to avoid buyer’s remorse, but it’s going to take some work in the form of a needs analysis.

The Why Factor

It’s obvious that there’s a hole in your organization – people are spending hours doing work that could easily be automated, thereby making them more efficient; you’re missing an opportunity to grow business with a prospect-turned-customer because you’re not tracking their journey after the sale. Whatever it is, the first key is identifying that missing piece of the puzzle.

Once you’ve figured out this part of the riddle, it’s time to start asking of your organization:

  • Why do we have this role?
  • Why do we feel that now is the time to make a change?
  • Why do we think x type of system with solve it?

Answers that Create More Questions

So great, now you have the answers to those questions, and probably have an idea of the type of system you want to implement. Now it’s time to dive into your collective final goals – what efficiencies will the newly implemented system realize, how will it enhance the customers’ experience with your company and, last but certainly not least, how will this new system increase your overall bottom line?

Then, in order to achieve these goals, it’s finally time for the needs analysis. During this step you’ll identify what feature(s) of the ideal system you’ll need to help you achieve these goals. For example, if you’re interested in marketing automation, you’ll need to describe the prospect’s entire journey to becoming a customer, and identify what touch points you need at each stage to make the transition successful. Once that sale is made, you’ll map the customer’s journey (and, again, associated touch points) to re-engagement. How will this new system touch both internal and external users, and how will those touch points trigger customer interaction back with your company?

Finally, you’re ready to begin looking at the myriad systems likely available for what you need. Sometimes you’ll know the right fit from the get go. Sometimes there’s an ideal fit but a less than ideal price, so you have to be willing to compromise. Before you reach that point, alleviate disappointment and the creation of unrealistic expectations by identifying the minimum viable requirements: What are the absolute must-haves to consider this a success, and what are the nice-to-haves that aren’t completely necessary at this stage?

Time Will Be On Your Side

It’s important to be thorough; the more information you have, the better you’ll be able to trust that you’re making the right decision. Needless to say, this is not something that can be done quickly. It takes time to conduct the various levels of analysis needed to make an informed decision. But as a wise man once told me, “You can have it fast, cheap or well done. Three choices, you get two. Choose wisely.”

You do have one more possible ace in the hole: Flying Cork. If you’re looking for a new digital marketing system, our team will become your organization’s partner, helping you identify and implement the right system for your needs.