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The three things a business website needs to do to succeed beyond 2018 (Part two)

The second instalment of our series on evolving website best practice, and what businesses need to do online moving into 2019. This time we're focusing on back end usability for your web team.

updating your website cms
Blue Pixel Top Left
Greg
Posted by Greg
12 November 2018
    

Part two: Front and back-end usability

How long does it take you to update your website?

Is your company website a static object, like a brochure that's been sent to print? It's come back from the web developers, and that's it – you can't change it?

Or maybe you can change it, but it's such a hassle to get anything done that it's just not really worth it. Sound familiar?

Whether you have to log in and grapple with the back end of your site yourself for an hour or so, or need to rely on an unresponsive agency or IT team to make changes (they say they'll get right on it, but it always takes a week…), a website that can't be updated quickly and easily is going to struggle.

For websites to get seen by Google, they need new, unique, useful content for the search engine to serve to its users.

And those users need as much information as possible, carefully tailored to them, to help them make a decision.

Outdated content isn't helpful. Successful websites are continuously updated, adapting to the challenges of digital marketing. These updates could include:

  • Adding a new blog post, whether it's for SEO activity, or just announcing some company news.
  • Changing your team page to reflect new hires, new specialisms, new qualifications, new haircuts.
  • Adding new products or services – and, perhaps more importantly, removing redundant old ones.
  • Adding new customer reviews, testimonials and case studies.
  • Listing new events, sharing photos, and updating a calendar.
  • Tweaking on-page copy to target new keywords.
  • Adding new landing pages for targeted PPC activity.

Obviously, your day-to-day website needs will depend on your business. But irregular updates that are a chore to make happen are a barrier to your site doing what it needs to do.

 

The solution? WordPress content management systems

WordPress is, by far, the most popular website platform in the world – around a third of all sites on the internet use the open-source content management system.

You might be most familiar with WordPress as a blogging platform, but it goes way beyond this – hugely complex websites with a near-limitless range of features can be built in WordPress. It can be customised with stunning layouts, and integrated with ecommerce platforms, ticketing systems, and marketing automation software.

And best of all, it gives you all of this in a simple, straightforward content management system that anyone familiar with using a blog platform or social network should be able to wrap their head around pretty easily.

It gives users complete control over the content that goes on their own sites – once everything's built, there's no web development expertise required to run their sites day-to-day.

However, the WordPress CMS can be pretty basic without some major additions. So, if your site is more on the ambitious side, you'll either be stuck in a fairly limited framework of templates, or will be back to relying on your agency or IT team to make any major changes. But you don't necessarily have to be.

Want to read more?

We've talked about the back end, but how about the front?

Our ebook, How to create a user experience that generates leads, runs through the front-end features you'll need to start converting customers through your website.

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Customisable, easy-to-use content management systems

There are so many different ways to build sites in WordPress, and this is a big part of why it's so popular –it provides a great jumping-off point.

Our own approach at Splitpixel has developed over a number of years, primarily in response to client needs, as well as changing design standards.

When we first started building in WordPress, your standard business website was a lot less interactive and a lot more standardised. Our clients were generally smaller, too, with relatively simple businesses offerings that could be covered by a few key templates.

But now, as we discussed in the previous part of this blog, web design has become more bespoke and complex – a user journey needs to be carefully tailored, with more interactivity and direct signposting than a standardised layout will often allow. Images, video and animations need to play a bigger role in a page's structure, rather than having one photo on each page with some text wrapped around it.

We've also worked with larger and larger clients over the years, whose offerings are increasingly diverse. Every product or service has a different range of features, which need different design features to highlight them. For example, you might have:

  • A product with a demonstration video.
  • A product with five different variations, which need a side-by-side comparison table.
  • A service with 20 optional features, all of which need displaying in a creative way.
  • Four different product categories, each with two, three, five, or 12 products underneath it.
  • A product with a downloadable technical specification PDF.

And endless other combinations. Displaying all of these elements in one page template is a challenge – particularly if you want a visually engaging page, rich with branded imagery, that is easy to navigate, rather than a long wall of text with some pictures and links dotted here and there.

Working on projects where we increasingly had requests for a page "just like this one, but with this feature instead of that" or "with this one feature repeated three more times" meant that we had to move beyond simple templates.

We now develop modular pagebuilders – a range of different page content blocks are designed and built, and can be selected by the user when creating a website page. They are designed to be repeated as much as required, to work next to each other in a variety of different ways, and to be dragged and dropped around the page to create the exact layout you need. To get an idea of how it works, just watch the video below:

 We go to great efforts during the design and development stage to cover everything, and work with you through testing and training periods to make sure you can create every combination of content you're likely to need – it's as future-proof as a website build can really be.

If you do find you need to add an extra page element, then this is the only thing our clients have to rely on us for. However, adding a new block to the list is much more straightforward than adding a new template. Changing an existing page's template will also usually just delete much of the content that's already in there as it replaces one layout with another, whereas adding an extra content block just adds to the existing layout.

The key aim is giving you the control you need to create and maintain a website that plays an active role in your lead generation and sales activity. But this activity is hard to build with just content updates alone – there's so much that goes into a website's lead generation strategy.

We go into this in much more detail in part three of this blog, which is all about using your website to convert customers, and will be live in a couple of weeks. Sign up to our newsletter below to be in the loop when it's here.

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