How recently have you refreshed your freelance website? Is it generating the new client business you’d like it to?
It’s surprising the number of websites out there that haven’t been touched since they were first put together. If it’s more than a couple of years old, the chances are that it could need a refresh to ensure you have a client-generating machine.
Like tools or equipment, websites wear out too. Features become obsolete, they might look tired or new features are available that you could be taking advantage of.
Here are 7 ways to spruce up your freelance website:
#1. Give it a new look
First of all, prior to making any changes to your website, make sure you know your numbers. Check Google Analytics reports for visitor numbers, time spent on site and bounce rates. If you’re getting traffic but the majority of it is bouncing quickly, you may have a design problem (among many other possibilities). If you’re not getting traffic at all, that’s another conversation with regard to SEO and marketing of your website.
If your website looks old and tired, the chances are you are driving visitors away. Web design evolves rapidly, with user experience being at the center of changes. Basically, you want your web design to be clean and simple.
Flat design is in, lending to better mobile experiences and Google’s Material Design principles are influencing web and app designs everywhere. Minimalist designs are allowing for more artistic typefaces and intentional white spaces add emphasis.
Most importantly, if you want a client-generating website then a clean, intuitive user experience should be your focus. It should be clear where they are to go and what they are to do, without the need for a whole lot of clicking around.
The TiltedSquare website is a great example of clean design
#2. Make sure it’s mobile friendly
If you’re website isn’t mobile friendly, then you’re missing the bus. Mobile use is rapidly growing worldwide with statistics from Smart Insights showing that 80% of Internet users own a smartphone, while other mobile devices, such as tablets are also popular.
This means that your website needs to be able to render well across at least six different screen resolutions. If people come across your site on mobile, any kind of difficulties with not being able to click buttons or having to pinch their screen in or out will probably cause impatience and they may just leave. Again, it’s about creating a simple user experience so that your visitors don’t simply give up.
Additionally, Google made mobile-friendliness a ranking factor back in 2015; if you’re not mobile-friendly already, you could be costing yourself in terms of search rankings.
#3. Be able to make your own updates
How old is your website exactly? Every freelancer should be able to easily update his or her own content as needed. So, if you’re languishing on some old platform where you need to “ask your web person” to make even the simplest update for you, it’s time to upgrade.
We don’t mean you should be able to understand coding either, we mean basic updates like publishing your blog posts or adding a simple page. Platforms, such as WordPress, exist to make that kind of thing easy (basically, if you can use a word processor like as Word, you should be able to cope with WordPress).
As a freelancer, using your own website to publish quality content has multiple benefits:
- Showcase your expertise to prospective clients
- Content provides SEO juice for your website
- Demonstrate value to prospective clients
- Post links to that content on other platforms such as social media
If your website is too difficult to edit yourself as it is, talk to a developer about changing it up.
#4. Have a lead magnet
If you don’t have a good method to gather visitor details and build a prospect list, or if whatever you have in place isn’t working, it’s time to get a lead magnet that entices prospects to sign up for it.
Optin Monster recently wrote about effective lead magnets. One of our favorites from their examples (because it helps to keep you front and center with people), is to develop a weekly tips or resources newsletter.
If you target a certain niche, follow industry news and bookmark interesting developments over the week. Busy professionals will appreciate a quick digest of the important things they should know and you could throw in a few tips relating to your specialty.
#5. Give your copy a refresh
Take a look at your bounce rates – are they quite high? Now take a look at the pages that people are on when they enter your website. Are you immediately clear on what you are about? Is the language enticing people to hang around and explore further?
Get opinions from third parties who fit within your target market. Generally speaking, aim to grab (the right) people as soon as they land on your site. If your copy is “blah” or confusing, they’ll probably bounce away again.
#6. Fix load times
Speed kills. Specifically, slow speeds can kill your business online. Kissmetrics highlights how every second counts when it comes to the load times on your website. 40% of people will abandon a website that takes 3 seconds or longer to load.
Unsure as to whether load speeds are affecting your site? Use a free speed test such as Pingdom to find out how well your site is loading. If you find it is slow, here are some tips to speed it up:
- Get rid of non-essential images.
- Make sure images you have are screen, rather than large-sized print resolution.
- Use a server side-language that resolves as HTML rather than Java or Jquery. HTML is up to 10x faster for loading than Java.
- Try using CDNs (content delivery networks such as Amazon’s AWS) to deliver larger images or other files.
#7. Get rid of Flash
Although reports of its death may have been greatly exaggerated for the last few years, Flash is indeed on the way out and shouldn’t be found on modern websites. (For anyone wondering what we mean, Flash was a program used to create 2D animations).
As Web Designer Depot reports, the nail was already in the coffin when Apple stopped supporting Flash on iOS, now Google Chrome is also pulling it. What does this mean? Well, mobile devices won’t support it and search engines aren’t able to read it and index pages on your website. If you’re still using Flash, your customers won’t be able to find you.
The alternative if you’d still like interactive characteristics and animation is HTML5. This will deliver similar features along with being mobile-friendly and able to be indexed by search engines.
Your freelance website should be a performance machine that draws in new clients for you. If you haven’t tested it, looked at your numbers or given it a refresh in a while, it’s probably time to step up to the task.
Always remember as a freelancer that the appearance and performance of your website will create an impression of you with potential clients. “Up to date” and “clean” are probably terms you’d like to convey about how you do work too, right?