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The current guidelines on social distancing, closed offices and other public places, and the abrupt shift to working from home have had a daunting affect on all of us. Every aspect of American society and culture has been affected. Still, there’s a silver lining if you’re a business owner or IT manager with a web site to maintain and operate.
The fact is, now is the perfect time to tackle all those web dev tasks you can never find time to accomplish. This is your golden opportunity to optimize and modernize your web site. Seize this moment, and you can literally take your business to the next level. Here are the Top 5 ways you can do it while working from home.
Sometimes the hardest part is just getting the time and space to think clearly about your business website. Working from home can provide you extra time previously eaten up by commuting. You also may find you’re better able to minimize interruptions working from home.
Use that time and space to review why you created your web site in the first place. Honestly evaluate whether you achieved your original design goals. Identify any changes to your business needs, to your customers’ needs, or new technologies that were developed since you launched your site. The digital universe evolves rapidly, and something somewhere almost certainly has changed in your business, in your customer base, or in available technology since you launched, even if it was as recently as six months ago.
Following is a common development pathway your business might follow as it evolves.
Use your time working from home to review where you are in your web site’s evolution. Honestly evaluate whether you’re meeting your current business and customer needs and have the necessary technology to do so. And take the time while you have it to anticipate the moves you need to make today to meet your business and customer needs tomorrow. Following are several specific tasks to consider.
The current public health crisis, office closings and social distancing are extreme examples of why you need to be prepared to “meet” coworkers, colleagues and customers on your website.
At a time when the public is officially advised to practice self-isolation, video conferencing is the only way for you and your staff to lay eyes on one another and establish a human connection.
But beyond office communication, videoconferencing is a powerful tool you can use to assure existing customers you’re still doing business as usual, keep conversations moving forward with prospective clients, perform customer service, serve product demonstrations, host or attend marketing or financial presentations, collaborate on IT projects and much more.
For IT workers in particular, telecommuting has become the preferred work arrangement. A recent report by Flexjobs shows that 4.7 million people now work from home, a 91% growth in remote work over the past decade. Allowing staffers to work from home is no longer just a nice perk you can dangle to attract a new hire. These days, it’s expected.
As for your marketing and sales funnel, think of an appointment app and videoconferencing as the last mile of a prospective client’s customer journey. They discovered your website via search, they find your content useful, they’ve crawled your blog, downloaded a white paper, perhaps watched a few videos and listened to a podcast or two. They’ve pursued your product or service this far, why not make it easy for them to walk right into your business and book a face-to-face meeting?
And finally, when every mobile and laptop device on the market comes pre-configured with it’s own scheduling and videoconferencing apps, can your business and website afford not to operate in the same space as your customers and competitors?
According to business analytics website Statista, in 2019, U.S. online retail sales of physical goods amounted to 365.2 billion US dollars and are projected to reach close to 600 billion US dollars in 2024. Nearly 60% of shoppers worldwide purchase from overseas sellers. If you’re not selling something on your website, you’re clearly missing out on both revenue and potential market expansion.
Even if your business is service oriented and you don’t market a line of consumable products, you can still sell white papers, research reports, case studies, market data pertinent to your industry, technical or regulatory guidance, or any other type of information resource your customers need to support their businesses. Your team is likely already collecting or generating valuable data in the normal course of running your business. Start seeing it as more than content for internal use only. If it’s valuable to you, it will be valuable to potential customers and clients, too.
For a service business, such “products” are an excellent interim step in your customers’ sales journey, after prospective clients have gotten to know you and engaged with your free content, but before they’re ready to close a deal. With proper branding, these data products and resource guides can even help establish your brand as a thought leader and influencer in your industry.
Whether you market a traditional line of products or you’re in a service industry, you’re always in the business of selling something to somebody. Use your WFH time to get familiar with the top off-the-shelf e-commerce solutions for any web platform, or for WordPress in particular.
We have seen websites of all shapes and sizes, from brilliant to completely dysfunctional. Your site may live solidly in the middle of the bell curve in this regard, however that doesn’t mean your site couldn’t stand to benefit from some amount of modernization. Just like all other technology, the technology of websites is constantly evolving and changing. Often times, elements of a site which were highly effective when a site was built lose their effectiveness over time; and depending on the nature of your business, you may not even realize how significantly even a small issue can affect your business.
While it may be difficult to fully comprehend and validate the decision to move forward and modernize, it is important to keep in mind that time flies as it relates to technology and user expectations fly right along with it. Your website is a 24-hour, 7-day a week representation of your organization online. It needs to properly showcase your brand, your message and your mission. It should drive results, rather than hinder your efforts.