A company’s website plays a pivotal role in its success, so making it memorable and above all, functional, is pretty damn important. B&T recently sat down with Siteimprove’s managing director for ANZ, Jay Mahoney, to discuss digital best practices, backed by data insights from thousands of websites, crawled by its performance technology.
B&T: It can be problematic when the first person to realise your website doesn’t work is a customer, can’t it?
Jay Mahoney: Your website is often your brand’s first impression and as customers increasingly prefer to transact online, we need to take a customer-centric approach to design and content. It makes commercial sense too – what brand wouldn’t want to know why 50 of its customers abandoned their $100 shopping carts at the point of sale? Or why content they’ve invested in creating isn’t being downloaded.
But there are ways to stay ahead of the game. Danish “software as a service” firm Siteimprove – relatively newcomers to the region, with just over two years on Australian shores, offers users a subscription management platform that crawls a website to provide immediate and user-centric reports on anything from SEO, accessibility issues, broken links, what’s being read, what’s not, why users are leaving and even spelling mistakes.
B&T: What are some of the biggest challenges you see locally?
JM: We’re all so time poor, so if you’ve got all this stuff on your website, how do you know where it all is, how you do you know what’s going on with it? And that’s what Siteimprove does, it makes sure it’s ticking all the boxes.
Having us sitting in the background and reporting on your website just gives you that peace of mind that it’s working and if it’s not we’ll find the issue and tell you.
Too many Australian websites are mediocre when compared to their US or European contemporaries; however, the digital efforts made by many government agencies, finance firms and the higher education sector result in better performances as the stakes are often much higher in terms of public expectation.
The biggest problem is often a site’s accessibility. It’s the ‘sleeping giant’ of the digital world. If your website isn’t accessible then you’re pretty much discarding 20 per cent of your potential clientele. And it doesn’t stop with making content discoverable by improving content quality and SEO. With over four million (one in five) people in Australia having some form of disability, organisations have a corporate and legal responsibility to provide a website accessible to all. Organisations are often discouraged by the laborious task of searching through large websites with hundreds or sometimes thousands of pages.
B&T: How does the technology affect conversion rates?
JM: It’s the pre-buyers’ remorse. That hesitation… ‘I haven’t seen it, I haven’t touched it, I haven’t felt it, I haven’t tasted it’. And immediately after it’s like, ‘Crap, why did I buy that?’
What Siteimprove can do is tell you why and when people dropped off your website. Obviously, if we see a lot of people dropping off at a particular point then there’s clearly something wrong there. That’s what we do, we pre-empt the angry customer from becoming an angry customer.
If there’s one thing you don’t want your website to do, it’s frustrate people with a bad user experience because they’ll quickly go somewhere else. You lose a customer and they’re gone. People are just too fickle these days.
B&T: Who uses Siteimprove?
JM: Really anyone that has a website who wants to provide the best possible customer experience, be more discoverable and optimise performance.
When carrying out a redesign, the tool is especially handy. You see it all the time, website redesigns that want to be catchy, that want to be cool. That’s great, but is it accessible? Does it work? Does it function? Too often brands redesign or relaunch a website thinking they’re staying ahead of the competition but forget one important detail – the end user.
When you do a redesign on a website, whose opinion is driving it? It’s subjective. So many websites are based on gut feelings. Why even bother with a redesign if you’ve got no idea what’s working on your current website?
Never do a website redesign on the basis of ‘hey, they did it!’ It’s simple – this is what people like about the site, this is what people don’t like, and this is where we are losing people. And that’s essentially what Siteimprove can do.
For agencies, particularly those that manage a number of clients’ websites, Siteimprove provides digital certainty, not just for the end user, but the agency themselves.
Having the software that can show you what’s wrong with a site immediately, rather than someone have to go through it and find it, is going to save a whole heap of time. And that, in turn, means agencies can give that engagement back to their clients.
B&T: Is Siteimprove just for web managers?
JM: Because the tool reports across so many areas of the website, the benefits are not just limited to web managers. Digital marketers, content creators and developers are just some of the users of the platform. We’ve designed the platform for easy functionality for this purpose.