In the last few weeks we have witnessed one of the biggest worldwide disruptions of our lifetimes. The lockdowns and social restrictions due to the covid-19 outbreak have had a huge impact on almost all areas of life. For businesses, this has created the need to adapt, not only to remote working but to the changing needs of customers.
At Liquid Light we support a range of very different businesses and organisations with their websites, from NGO’s to recruitment to finanical services – who have all been affected. In many ways, an organisation’s website has perhaps never been more important, as it may now be the only channel through which they can serve the needs of their users.
While this disruption will present different challenges for different organisations, there are some key things you may want to consider for your website that could help you, whoever you are.
Below we highlight 4 key things we think you should consider at this time:
- Understanding how your website users’ needs are changing
- Optimising your site
- Expanding your types of content
- Engaging more with your website users
Understanding how your website users’ needs are changing
You may have a good understanding of the needs of your site users in normal times, but do you really understand their needs now in this time of crisis? Maybe what they need most from your site now is quite different and they struggle to find what they are looking for. Looking at Google Analytics data can really help you better understand how your users’ needs have changed over this period. Where is most traffic now going compared to normal times? What do they seem to be looking for most? Likewise, is there a key piece of content that you know would be of use but isn’t being discovered and needs better placement? Google Analytics is a great starting guide to any changes you might want to make to your website.
To understand how people’s needs are changing more generally in the world for your area of interest, Google Trends can be very useful to help you better understand what your potential site users really need, so that you can adapt your site accordingly to better serve them. It is simple and free to use, just enter keywords and topics you think may be of interest and see whether they are being searched for; you can also filter by location and compare one term to another.
Optimising your site
Once you have a clearer picture of your site users' needs, here are a few of the key ways you can update your site to better serve them:
Updating site navigation
This might be as simple as highlighting popular links and content on your home page, adding an alert banner linking to a top piece of content, or a more involved reorganization of your website menu structure. Consider when the crisis eventually ends and how you'll return to serving your users needs in more normal times. Small and more thoughtful changes, over big and radical ones, may be a better strategy in these uncertain times.
As well as providing fresh content to serve the changing needs of your site users, help search engines ensure this content comes up in relevant searches by following basic SEO best-practices – ensure text is well-structured with clear headings, write enticing title tags and meta descriptions and take time to add image Alt Text, to help ensure your new content ranks well.
Optimise page speed
Are your key pages loading quickly, or taking too long to load? Ensuring your pages load quickly will ensure you don’t lose site users. Consider content such as large images and whether they really need to be as big, or as many. Consider the trade off between providing only what your users most need and faster pages vs providing too much content and slower pages.
Expand your content types
Now that people aren’t able to meet each other in the real world as easily, what are people missing out on, that you might be able to provide on your website?
Use of video has now become more important and can provide information in a more ‘personal’ format. Consider how using more video content on your website can help give your site users a more nuanced interaction that is left lacking with just text and images. This could range from news bulletins, to training material, report summaries, and more. Held an informative virtual meeting for colleagues? Record it and publish it on your site for everyone to use.
Audio & Podcast Content
For many people working from home, the lines have perhaps blurred a little more between work time and personal time, and changed how they work. Podcasts were already a growing and popular form of content, that allow people to digest this content while perhaps doing other things at the same time. Consider how creating podcasts for some of your website content can give more of the human touch we are missing now from our daily lives, in a way that is more engaging and more accessible for your site users' attention.
Engaging more with your website users
Now you understand more about your users changing needs, have adapted your site content to match and have considerd expanding your content beyond text and images, is there anyting else you can offer?
Here are a few suggestions:
These can be a great way to engage with your site users in a more proactive way, sending relevant and helpful content to their inbox, rather than waiting for them to visit your site. Subscribe forms are easy to add to a site. Newsletters can be a great compliment to your website.
Polls can be a great way to better understand what your users needs are, beyond Google Analytics, in more detail. Consider open-ended questions, allow your site users to speak in their own words, and gain a qualitative understanding of their changing needs, as well as a quantitative one.
While this may require extra human resource, if this is available then a website chat system could provide quick answers to queries your site users have that can’t be easily addressed by site content. This speedy and personalised interaction will ensure your service goes above and beyond.
Let us know if you found these tips useful
We hope this post helps you meet your audience's changing needs. They say that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ and, while this period is very disruptive, there may also be opportunites for your organisation to thrive on the web.
Also do check out our Covid-19 data tracker which we did for our clients WHO, the African Development Bank and Africa50 who asked us to help visualise the spread of COVID-19 across Africa.
Please do talk to us if there’s anything we can do to support you, we’re always happy to talk you through your challenges
Pranath is our Senior Back-end developer who knows the deepest, darkest secrets of our CMS of choice - Typo3. In his free time he is a keen student of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, and likes to balance the mind and body doing plenty of hot yoga, freediving, and SUP. Find him on LinkedIn.