Make no mistake, 2016 has been a tough old year. Yet while many of us are *this close* to having survived it and are ready with open arms for 2017, can the same be said of your business’ website?

Websites need love too

It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but company websites are an often overlooked part of the marketing plan. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. It’s fun to design and create when you’re a start-up, setting out your stall for the future. But as soon as the work comes in and you get busy, it’s ridiculously easy to let things slide.

Pretty soon you haven’t blogged in weeks. Your homepage has news from months ago. And you’ve not updated your services in 2 years.

Dust off those cobwebs and put it to work for you

You might think just having a website is the most important thing. However, it’s a mistake to simply consider it the public face of your company, when it could be working so much harder for you to bring in the customers—and money.

Inbound marketing is an approach built around creating content (such as blog posts and ebooks) to attract people to your business, convert them into leads, and then nurture them into customers. This is all done with your website at the centre of the process, which means it needs to be in tip-top working order to ensure you get the best results possible.

Website essentials for 2017

As well as making sure you’ve covered the essentials for content and design there are three key areas your website needs to address for the coming year.

Mobile usability: It should really go without saying now, but we keep discovering terrible sites while browsing our smartphones, so we’ll say it again and again until the message takes hold—your website needs to have solid mobile capability AND look good doing it. With Google setting out to prioritise mobile search over desktop for the first time in 2017, it’s never been more important to have a responsive and user-friendly site that ensures your customers can both find you and interact with you on their phones. As this will likely be their first point of contact, you need to make it a good one.

SSL Certification: For those established businesses with older SHA-1 certificates for their SSL encryption, the time is upon you to update. A warning shot was fired by Google in 2014 as it began ‘sunsetting’ the now outdated and weak encryption certificate, with a deadline for updating by January 2017. Beyond this, any site where SHA-1 still applies will appear to browsers on Chrome and Mozilla as not being fully trustworthy—and won’t even load on Microsoft IE and Edge. Which means you risk sending potential customers to competitor sites if you don’t upgrade soon.

Speed: User experience is everything. Whether your customers are using your website on a desktop or a mobile phone, the design, content, and technical specs need to be optimised to provide the best possible experience for visitors and customers. But with special focus to be given to mobile usage in 2017, as we saw above, this means that speed is a key concern for your website as it strives to engage people across a wide range of different mobile devices in potentially spotty reception areas. A general rule is that approximately 25% of users will leave a website if it takes more than 4 seconds to load—so it’s time to be as efficient as possible with image size and plugins, as well as trimming any unnecessary fat from your homepage to pull users into the journey faster.

Whether you’re a start-up looking to build your first kick-ass website, or you’re an established business in need of a fresh new digital home for 2017, we can help.