Updating your museum website can feel like a huge task, so we spoke to Harry O’Connor, CEO of AIM Associate Suppliers, Heritage Creative, for some easy website improvement tips for our members.
Below, Harry has listed 10 easy things that you can do today to improve your existing site quickly, easily – and in most cases – for free. A few of the items on this list may need the help of your existing web development team and in those instances, Harry has pointed this out.
As a special offer to all AIM members, the team at Heritage Creative are also offering free advice on any of the issues listed below. You can get in touch with the team here.
Have a clear call to action
What is the main point of your website? Is it to encourage membership, drive visits to your museum or perhaps simply to offer directions so that people can more easily find you? Once you have decided the main point of your site, it is important to have a very clear call to action – a prominent button or link that will steer your website visitors to the page in question – be it the contact page, membership subscription area or donate section of your website. In most cases doing this is a simple affair requiring only an update with your existing Content Management System (CMS).
Keep your blog or news section updated
It cannot be stressed how important this is, and although it takes time, adding a new blog or news post just once a month will start to pay back many times over. Writing about something topical, preferably containing industry specific niche keywords, will not only keep your visitors interested, it will drive traffic to your site through Google and other search engines.
Write for people, not Google
Long gone are the days of stuffing keywords into a sentence in the hope of baiting website traffic – Google is way too smart for that! Write for people, however do be mindful of the keywords they are likely to type into a search engine and ensure these main keywords do appear in your text somewhere – just don’t try to game the system.
CloudFlare is a CDN – Content Delivery Network. What this means is it is a tool that securely copies versions of your site onto servers all around the world. This has numerous advantages, namely it speeds up the delivery of content meaning people access your web pages quicker and search engines give you a rankings boost as they love fast sites. Secondly, even if your website goes offline, CloudFlare are able to continue to serve your visitors meaning you have less downtime. Lastly, using a CDN can reduce your bandwidth and save you money on your annual or monthly hosting bill.
HotJar is a fantastic tool that, in a similar way to Google Analytics, tracks your website visitors. However, unlike Google Analytics it also offers heatmaps and real time recordings of your website visitors allowing you to see how people interact on your website. It is a great way of spotting issues other people are having on your site. To see an example, click here.
Install an SSL certificate
Not only is this part of the recent GDPR recommendations, an SSL certificate will make your website more secure, make it more trustworthy to your visitors and it will also give you a search engine rank boost as Google penalises those sites that do not have one installed.
Upgrade your hosting
A faster server is going to mean your web pages load more quickly for your visitors and search engines are going to give you a boost too. Some things to avoid are overseas hosting companies as well as the very large hosting companies – it seems that the bigger the company the slower the speeds and the less responsive they are to any problems you may have.
Make sure you have T&C’s and a privacy statement
Ensure your site works on mobile
This goes without saying, but if your site is not working on a mobile device you will be missing out. Not only do up to half of your website visitors use a mobile device, search engines such as Google actively penalise those sites that are not responsive to all devices. A quick way to test your site is to view it on a computer and then make the browser window smaller – it should adjust and offer a mobile menu as you do so. If it looks broken on the page you will need to speak to a web developer about getting some help with that.
Ask for feedback
If you really want to improve your site, speak to your audience. You can use tools like HotJar (mentioned above) which can add a feedback button on your site, but the easiest thing to do is simply speak to people face to face. Look out for and welcome criticism. Do people find it hard to navigate? Is the text legible? Could the content be better? Often a few very small changes can make a massive difference to a website.
About Heritage Creative
Heritage Creative is a specialist web design company focused solely on the heritage sector. We are deeply passionate about preserving our heritage through the power of the internet. We pride ourselves on designing outstanding, high return, strategy-led websites that look beautiful whilst being highly accessible and easy to use. As well as the many wonderful organisations, charities and private companies we have worked with, we also have a wealth of experience working with funding organisations which are the mainstay of much of our heritage work. We have a track record of successfully delivering English Heritage, Lottery Funded and Arts Council supported projects as well as those led by local county councils. We offer a totally free, no obligation discussion about your website – you can come to our design studio or we are just as happy to come to you!