6 Ways To Upgrade Your Website And Get The Clients You Deserve

Hi, I'm Matt Olpinski

I teach thousands of freelancers how to get more clients, raise their rates, and create a better life for themselves.

Updated: June 14, 2019

Guest Article: This is a guest article by Jodie Manners of UK Web Host Review

If you’re like most freelancers, you’ve probably spent months agonizing over setting up a website. What template should I use? Should I hire a designer? What will my logo look like? What will my blog be about? There are seemingly endless questions.

So, once it goes live, the thought of continually adapting and updating your hard work is enough to make anyone anxious.

But, the reality is that you need to. Let’s take a look at the facts:

  • 75 percent  of your potential customers judge the credibility of a business by the look and feel of their website
  • Over half expect the design to be visually attractive
  • 94 percent don’t trust websites that seem outdated
  • It takes less than a second for someone to form an opinion about the look of a site

Not only does your site have to be attractive, it also needs to keep up with changing trends. This might sound daunting, but there are many quick wins when it comes to website maintenance. In this article, I’ll share my top six.

Optimize for speed

This is the first item on my list because none of your other efforts to improve your website will matter if people leave before your page even loads.

Over half of all web users will abandon a site if it takes too long to render (appear on their screen) and, what people consider ‘too long’ might shock you. Mobile phones users lose patience after just three seconds and desktop and laptop browsers are not much better, sticking around for only 5 seconds before giving up and heading to your competitors.

Considering the average website now takes 10-12 seconds to load on a phone, it’s likely yours is not measuring up.

Source: https://www.machmetrics.com/speed-blog/average-page-load-times-websites-2018/

What can you do about it?

  • Upgrade your web host – you need the fastest you can afford. Upgrade to a better, free web host or move to a paid plan.
  • Compress all images – use kracken.io or similar to reduce the amount of data the images on your site take up.
  • Minify your code (not as scary as it sounds) – minifying is as simple and copy and pasting into an online application (there are many), pressing enter and copy and pasting back. Anyone can do it and it reduces the amount of non-functional code knocking around in your site’s back end (excuse you!), thereby speeding it up.
  • Compress your code using GTMetrix (this one is a bit scary) – similar to images, compressing code reduces its data-burden, but this is a bit more complex to do than minifying so, if you’re not sure, get an experienced freelancer to do it.

Top tip: each page of your website should contain around 1MB of data. If it’s over 2MB, you will struggle to keep it speedy, regardless of all of the above.

Make basic information highly accessible

Users who find your website in organic search results (by entering a query into a search engine, rather than through advertisements) are usually checking it out before deciding to hire you .

86 percent look to a business’s website to uncover information about their products and services.  44 percent of those will abandon their attempts if they can’t find basic information like your contact details.

Not making basic information accessible makes a site look untrustworthy and confusing, two things a person reaching into their wallet wants to avoid.

What can you do about it?

  • Rather than have a single page for ‘Services’ or ‘Products’ with lengthy drop-down menus (which people hate), sort them into a few categories and either create a page for each or work them into your Home page below the fold. That way, people only have to look to your navigation bar or scroll down the landing page to get an idea of the range of services you offer.
  • Make sure your NAP (name, address and phone number) are in your website’s footer and that your Contact page is highly visible. Then, if people have any burning questions, they can see how easy it would be to have them answered.
  • If you field the same questions often, create an FAQ page and offer easy navigation to it from your Home page and other landing pages on your site.

Consider your conversion funnel

Whether you’re gunning for subscribers or luring in clients, you need a well-defined conversion funnel.

While larger companies consider conversion funnels in their design process as a matter of course, it’s rarely the first thing on the mind of a freelancer who is setting up a website. But, it should be!

Your website exists to advertise and sell your services. Yes, it is your online portfolio, but it’s also your money-maker. So, you need to be purposeful in how you funnel window shoppers through to your contact, purchase, or signup page.

Your sales funnel effectively determines how a potential customer moves from your landing page to your purchase or signup page. Each step along the way should be optimized to maximize the chance that person will continue to the next step.

What can you do about it?

  • Map out your existing site structure and write down how people currently move through your pages. You can use a heat map tool to get a very accurate idea, or ask some friends to have a go and report back.
  • Restructure some of your pages, or add visual, links or plugins that encourage users to work towards your purchase or signup page via your ideal route.
  • Work in multiple points of attraction, i.e. not one single popup, but a few different tactics throughout your user journey.

Remove or redesign visuals that don’t express your brand

I work with a lot of web designers and their biggest grievance  is when clients add generic visuals to their custom-designed websites. The problem is that they are, more often than not, completely off-brand. They might be in the wrong color palette, the wrong style of graphics, or just the wrong medium altogether (e.g. cartoon graphics on a website full of high-resolution photos).

Having a strong brand identity that is consistent throughout your website looks far more professional and creates trust between you and your potential client. Consistent style is one of the main features people look for in a business website.

What can you do about it?

  • If you need to use features like social media buttons, find some that match your brand or check out the many custom design options on micro-freelancer sites like peopleperhour.com and fiverr.com.
  • If you can’t find suitable alternatives, remove any graphics or images that are not really necessary (as in, they don’t add to user experience or drive conversions).

Humanize your ‘About’ page

As a freelancer, you are your brand. So, having an About page that’s so dry it could rival a desert is not a good approach.

Businesses hire freelancers because they’re individuals and it’s easier to see what they’re getting and hold us accountable for the results. Yet, I see so many About pages that are nothing more than a CV with a few bells on. You’re selling yourself as a human being, not some list of accomplishments for an HR rep to run through a computer.

What can you do about it?

  • Have a look at some creative About page examples and pick an approach that you feel best represents who you are as a freelancer.
  • Rewrite or redesign it yourself or hire another freelancer to do it for you.

Stop using free stock photos

I get it, you want to keep your business costs low. But there are some things that are worth paying for and images are one of them. The problem with stock photos is not that they’re low quality (because images on Unsplash and Pixabay can be incredible), but that they’re freely available to everyone, meaning your users are likely to have come across them before.

Seeing familiar stock images plastered all over a site you were thinking of purchasing from is off-putting. It looks cheap and unprofessional, which are not characteristics you want to associate with your services.

What can you do about it?

  • Sign up to one or two of the many paid stock photo directories to access images that are less frequently used by others.
  • Commission a photographer to produce custom images. Although this can be expensive, it is usually a one-off cost and ensures your key visuals are brand-consistent, unique and memorable.

The takeaway…

Website maintenance is the elephant in the room no one wants to admit exists. But, in order for a website to keep working hard on your behalf, you need to give it a bit of regular attention. It doesn’t have to cost the earth or much of your precious time either. Simply:

  • take steps to make it speedy
  • put basic information in prime position
  • optimize for conversions
  • keep it brand-consistent
  • add a human touch
  • and sprinkle on some fancy visuals
Jodie Manners

Jodie is a professional writer and editor working with UK Web Host Review. She translates dense topics into accessible information to help everyone from small and niche business owners to budding web masters to reach their goals. She explores design, brand psychology, marketing and tech. You can connect with Jodie through LinkedIn