We're in the midst of a pandemic that's unlike anything we've experienced in the modern future. For businesses, it's an uncertain time that could come with economic turmoil as well as a complete shift in how to operate. The first thought on your mind in these times might not be web design. But perhaps it should be.
As it turns out, web design work is beginning to take on an outsized role in businesses around the globe. As has been the case with almost every other developed country around the world, Australia has seen a significant surge in web traffic from people working from home, digitally schooling their kids, or simply browsing the web during times they would have usually spent socializing.
That brings us back to web design. The obvious takeaway: your website will likely see an increase in traffic over the next few weeks and months. Are you prepared to handle that surge in traffic and turn it into a business opportunity? With these tips, you will be.
6 Important Web Design Tips in the Age of COVID-19
- Update All Relevant Content
- Be Honest and Compassionate
- Offer Outlets for Customer Questions and Concerns
- Maximise Your Online Store Opportunities
- Leverage Social Proof
- Improve Your Search Engine Optimisation
1. Update All Relevant Content
The first and most immediate step should be taking a comprehensive look at all of your content, starting with your homepage. Graphics and written words should be closely examined to determine what still makes sense, and what might need some adjustments.
For instance, you might be talking about and showcasing in-person consultations with clients in a time where those consultations are taking place via videoconferencing. The same might be true for a physical storefront that used to be your pride and joy but now takes a backseat to your online store. Other changes might be more subtle. You might be talking about healthcare as an exciting field where right now, that's not the mood around this profession.
There is no simple solution to these problems. You simply need to take a close look at each of your individual web pages, closely auditing it to review the content for current appropriateness. Make adjustments where needed, but save older versions of the pages so you can easily revert back to them once life goes back to normal.
Do You Need Special Content?
Within this audit, ask yourself: how directly is your business affected by any changes in social life during this time? How important is it for you to let your audience know how you're changing your business to accommodate these changes? If there are some obvious adjustments, communicate them clearly. A bright box at the top of your homepage and relevant pages can do wonders to draw the eyes of your audience.
2. Be Honest and Compassionate
The nuances of language and visuals become more important than ever before in an age where much of your audience is in distress. The mental health impact that a pandemic like this has on your audience cannot be discounted.
That's absolutely crucial as you review and update your web design in light of coronavirus. When you can, try to stay away from typical 'sales' messages that boast about your expertise or your product's greatness. Instead, take a more compassionate tone that acknowledges your audience and at least implicitly reassures them you're on the same side. Taking this tone will make your business seem more honest and credible.
If you need to change your business because of COVID-19, be honest about it. Your customer service reps may not be as responsive because they have to work from home taking care of kids. Let your audience know on your website that's the case, and they will understand. After all, they're going through the same thing. Your web design can do wonders in communicating this honesty and authenticity.
3. Offer Outlets for Customer Questions and Concerns
Speaking of customer service: now more than ever, your audience will have uncertainties. Their questions can range widely:
- Now that your storefront is closed, can I still get your products?
- When do you expect to open again?
- If I already scheduled an appointment and need to cancel, will I get my money back?
- What are your hours?
We could keep going. Depending on your industry, the only limit to question topics is your audience's imagination. Your website needs to accommodate these desires by offering your audience an outlet to easily ask those questions and get the right answer.
That might be as simple as a COVID-specific contact form. But you could also build an entire FAQ page or section that addresses some of the most common questions you get. You will need to be prepared for the increase in volume on your customer's side. Addressing these questions openly builds audience trust, especially if you can answer them in a timely manner.
4. Maximise Your Online Store Opportunities
Yes, we have to talk about eCommerce. Early reports show that online sales across industries are through the roof. As online shopping begins to replace storefronts almost entirely, businesses who are prepared to offer their products online or expand their existing offerings have a huge opportunity to grow and expand their audience base.
Maximising your online store opportunities can take a variety of directions depending on the situation you were in and the capabilities of your website at this point in time:
- If you haven't offered your products online at all, consider a very basic online store where you can at least sell customer favourites. Of course, the backend infrastructure will need to be in place.
- If you've had a basic online store in place, now might be the time to expand it. Consider adding products, customisations, or special deals specifically designed to draw in new and existing customers.
- If you have an extensive store in place already, expand your promotional strategy. Your audience will be more receptive than ever to shop on your website.
Some of these steps take time, but you can at least begin to implement them now. Every day gained is another opportunity to get in front of your audience and continue growing your business online.
5. Leverage Social Proof
Social proof, and especially online reviews, are a great way to build trust and credibility with your audience. In a time when you might have more people visiting your website for the first time than ever before, they only gain in importance.
Small businesses tend to struggle with recognition against larger competitors. Social proof is the great equaliser, helping you gain your audience's trust because of how many of their peers seem to like your brand. It also builds connectedness in an age of social distancing and isolation.
You can improve your web design through social proof in a few different ways:
- Showcase average review scores both for your business as a whole and for individual products you sell online.
- Add customer testimonials you've already collected (or you're collecting as we speak) to key pages that your audience will come across.
- Add expert reviews (as available) to your website, both on your home page and on individual product and content pages.
6. Improve Your Search Engine Optimisation
Finally, but perhaps more importantly, it's time to talk about search engine optimisation. With internet traffic surging, you have to make sure you get your audience's eyeballs. SEO is the perfect way to help you accomplish that.
Make sure you know what keywords your audience searches for--and how those keywords relate to both your industry and your business. Then, optimise your entire website for those keywords. That includes:
- publishing high-value content focused around your target keywords and phrases.
- optimising the backend of your site (including your web code) for the same keywords as your content
- actively pursuing link opportunities that build credibility in the eyes of your audience.
SEO will not show immediate results, but putting in the work now can pay off significantly a month or two from now. In a time when almost everything we do is online and Google's search traffic is seemingly multiplying by the day, a central presence on search engine results is an important part of getting the word out about your business.
Working With a Reliable Partner to Adjust Your Website to Coronavirus
All of the above tips can help you improve your online presence as you prepare to meet both the demand and expectations of your target audience during the coronavirus pandemic. That said, they might not be easy to implement.
For many of them, especially more complex pieces that require more than just content updates, you might need a web developer or designer. If that is the case, you need a partner who is both reliable and agile, helping you make updates quickly even as you work towards a more comprehensive strategy adjustment.
We can be that partner for you. Pixel Fish has a long history of successful web design across a variety of industries both within and outside of eCommerce. We'd love to leverage that expertise in a partnership with us.
These are times like we've never experienced. Let's work together to get through them in a way that both helps your business and satisfies your target customers. Contact us to start the conversation.