Other businesses are great references to find out what needs to be improved in yours. Ken leads an exercise that any business of any size can do to evaluate their own website or web design, which is by going back and forth. Open up websites of competitors as well as those you businesses you aspire to be. Discover the things you need to look at and compare, from the homepage, parallax scrolling, and widgets, to mobile responsiveness, and highlight the things you need to improve later on.
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Back And Forth
You have heard a lot of times in the past I talk about modeling our whole Digital Footprint Conference that’s both Inc. and Forbes approved. It is all about the digital footprint of other companies, what they leave behind, what steps you can follow. I love modeling because it takes out the thinking and all you have to do is act and start stepping in a direction. This episode is called Back and Forth. It’s an exercise that any company of any size can do. I do think that a marketing department, as well as some type of management CEO, COO, some upper management eyeballs, but definitely a marketing eyeball needs to do this project at the same time. Here’s how it works.
Open your website in a tab in Safari, Mozilla, Internet Explorer, whatever the browser is out there. Then open ten more tabs. Open five direct competitors and five other companies you admire, even if they’re in a different industry. You’re going to open your website in one tab, then you’re going to have ten more tabs open, five direct competitors, and then five other companies you respect and admire, whether they’re older, younger, bigger, smaller, it doesn’t matter. I want you to go back and forth between staring at the homepage of your website and then quickly go to the first tab, the first competitor. Look at it, then go back to yours, and then right back to that same second tab, and then back to yours, and then back to the same second tab, then go back to your tab.Sometimes where there is smoke, there is fire. Click To Tweet
Jump to the second tab to the right, which technically is the third tab, it’s the second competitor. Look at that and then go back two yours. Go back to the second competitor and give these three to five seconds each time, then go back two yours, then the second competitor, then back to yours. Do this with the third competitor, fourth and fifth. Go back and forth five to ten times. Before I go to the other companies, let’s talk about what we’re looking for.
The internet, especially web design is in dog years. Every year is like seven years in the real world, eighteen months in design online is like an eternity. We have a couple of websites that are only five years old and we’ve completely rebuilt the design three to four times. Some we do design about once a year. Here’s what you’re going to find. If you haven’t overhauled your homepage in the last 24 months, you are going to be starkly surprised at your five competitors. I’m going to wager that three of your five competitor’s websites have either new features, dramatically different looks, or somehow uniquely different feel than your website.
I am not saying your website design is wrong. What I’m saying is sometimes where there’s smoke, there’s fire. I’ll give you one of the common ones. A lot of people that do this for the first time, especially if they haven’t redone their site let’s say in five years, they go back to their site. It’s very product-centric. There’s a lot of small pictures, a lot of tiny thumbnails. It’s usually three columns. sometimes two. Then they do this exercise into their shock, their five competitors, sometimes all five. have very dramatic landscape HD images across the whole homepage, very little text, no small pictures, sometimes with no mention of product at all.
Sometimes these huge landscape backdrops are even videos. I was on Sony’s website. They had nothing but huge videos on their home page. It was cool. Here’s a couple of exercises when you do these five competitors of things to look for. First and foremost is something called Parallax. It is when you scroll down in those competitive websites, you want to see if the text and/or some of the images are floating over other background images, other high HD images. Sometimes they’re floating over words or clouds. It gives it a rich dynamic feel. Are your main competitors using parallax? You might want to consider if they are, maybe they brought in some consultants for that industry and they’ve deemed that the type of readers, that type of demographics hitting those sites finds that more appropriate.
The second thing is I want you to study the large, top half of the homepage. Is it large, huge HD images, and they scroll between three and four images, each image telling a different story, mentioning a different case study or why behind the business? Then when you look at these sites, do they all or majority have apps or widgets in column three? Sometimes certain industries go through fads like the dental industry made a hard push to have widgets or tools that allow people to schedule their own dental appointment. Each industry is a little different, but until you go back and forth, the bottom line is if you do it long enough, by the time you get back to your site, the goal of this is if your site isn’t matching industry standards, you get a queasy feeling when you go back to your site.
I did this with someone. We could tell when we went back to their site, it looked simply like two to four years older compared to the rest of the industry. Here’s another thing I want you to do. Before studying the five sites you liked the best or you respect the most, when you open your website on yours first, I want you to grab the bottom right corner of the whole framework that is supporting all the tabs. Grab and hold with your mouse pointer over your trackpad in the bottom left.
Drag the screen size of all these tabs from a full-size computer. Drag them straight to the left and make a vertical tiny column, and then up a little so it’s the size and shape of one of the newer smartphones. As you drag slowly up into the right, your site should start to continually morph and the content should shrink, pictures should shrink, videos should shrink, but everything. When you’re done making that screen size look like a smartphone, you should be able to scroll straight down and see every piece of content, every picture, every video. There should be three little lines that you can click on to expose your navigation buttons. If all of that functions, you are completely mobile responsive.The Internet, especially web design, is in dog years. Every year feels like seven years in the real world. Click To Tweet
You’re not technically mobile responsive unless you can see the actual ads display that you have on your website if you use Ad Words, but at least your mobile-ready. When you do your five competitors, you want to do the same thing and see if they are also mobile responsive. When you’re doing this test, you want to do the exact same test back and forth between the mobile responsive versions to see if people in your industry are a little bit ahead of you in look and feel.
I want you to jump over to the five companies you respect the most and often these companies are bigger. They’ve been around longer, they have much deeper budgets. I want you to go back and make your image full screen. Make the tabs across the top so you’re taking up a whole computer image. You don’t want to do this test on a smartphone. This has got to be done on a laptop or a desktop computer. I want you to go back to your tab and I want you to bounce back and forth between those five companies you respect the most, going back between yours in each one, three to five, three to ten times.
Some of these are in different industries, you might notice something genuinely different. If you see what’s going on over there and you resonate with it, you might want to be the trailblazer in your industry and bring over many of those new nuggets you’re noticing in some of those companies that have much deeper pockets than you if that’s the case. Often, they have done the homework and they have the time and the money to do split testing so you have a better chance of getting some updated look and feels for the website. We do it usually every January with our corporate sites. Every other year we get that queasy sick to our stomach feel that we’re behind, and then we’d catch up with the other companies that we respect.