5 ways to make your web (re)design easier

The numbers don’t lie, and if they’re saying your website has failed to connect with clients, it probably has, writes Maggie Crowley

5 ways to make your web (re)design easier
Brokers often talk about being unhappy with their existing websites. While it’s not realistic to redesign your brokerage’s website annually, the gaining pace in the tech world makes every website a constant work in progress. Taking on a new website project may not sound like a walk in the park, but a site redesign can have a lasting positive impact on any brokerage.

How do you know when it’s time for a complete overhaul of your site? Here are three tell-tale signs:

Low traffic and conversions
Numbers don’t lie. The biggest rea-son to give your website a refresh is when no one is using it. Best practice is to track and measure numbers on a monthly basis using Google Analytics. If you notice a drop in traffic or stagnant numbers over the course of at least one quarter, it’s time to try something new.

It’s not a proper (or realistic or positive) representation of your brokerage
Prospects who have never met you can make an impression of the brokerage based on its website – in less than three seconds. Your web-site is the only member of your team working 24/7 to promote and advocate your brokerage … does it send a positive message to your tar-get audience? If you don’t even like the way it looks, chances are neither do consumers.

It’s not relevant in 2015
While I’m not suggesting a complete website redesign is necessary every year, consider some of the major changes in technology in the past five years: More people access the Internet from a mobile device than a desktop computer, Flash animations are no longer a ‘thing,’ and Google is the new Yellow Pages.

If it’s time for a website redesign, the best way to get ready is to do a little prep work. Many brokers find web design quite daunting and complicated, and with good reason. It can be challenging to assemble the necessities to get started, but with the right people on the job, it’s not nearly as difficult a challenge as it may seem.

The biggest obstacle brokers run into when tackling a website redesign is a general lack of focus and direction. As a result, they usually aren’t prepared to make decisions about the site, and generally that leads to a delay in the process.

Start by taking a step back and looking at the big picture. What are you trying to achieve? A strong plan now will make for a smooth process along the way. If you’re considering a new website in the near future, begin by planning now. Consider these ideas in order to streamline your upcoming web design project.

1. Do some research
Take a critical look at websites you love (and loathe) to help you figure out what you want your website to be like. Are there certain colours you find appealing online? Start by doing a Google search of other insurance web-sites to analyze the landscape. Having a good idea of what you want the site to look like will help your web design team produce a site that matches your expectations.

Find several different layouts you’re comfortable with. What types of navigation do you like best? These are all questions that the team building your website will ask. Make the design process easier by answering these questions on your own first.

2. Hire a photographer
High-quality photos of real people (as opposed to stock images) are one of the best touches you can add to your website. Web visitors are more inclined to trust companies that provide a personal touch by showing who is operating behind the company.

Highlighting pictures of your team (people love working with teams) throughout the site is a powerful way to engage an audience of potential prospects. Doing this in advance ensures that the images will be ready to go when your web design process begins.

3. Write content
Ready-to-go content is often the number- one element that delays the website cre-ation process. Whether you’re writing your site’s content in-house or working with a copy writer or marketing, definitely start in advance. Have some content prepared before you commence the process. This will ensure that the design team will be able to deliver your website quickly and efficiently.

What are the essentials? An up-to-date biography (this should be updated every three to five years) and information about your company, team members and your services are all useful to have readily available.

4. Determine functionality
What should your website achieve? Ideally, who will be visiting your web-site? What should they do when they get there? It is worth brainstorming and setting goals so you have a clear direction for your site.

If you want your website to act as an online business card to validate your brokerage and provide contact information, that requires different kinds of information than a website

5. Be prepared to spend a little time on it
There’s no way around it: Your web design project will require time. In order to get a website that is reflective of your broker-age, assign someone from your team to lead the project, but expect everyone to get involved at some point. The goal of any great web design team is to make the production process as seamless and easy for you as possible. However, in the end, it is your website, and it needs your input.

A website redesign can be a daunting task, but partnering with a good web design firm can make the process a lot easier (and even fun!). Remember, a well-designed website is one of the most effective marketing tools you’ve got – make the most of it by keeping it fresh, up-to-date and easy to use.

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