The One Thing You Are Overlooking To Improve Your Website

The One Thing You Are Overlooking To Improve Your Website

You’ve tried everything to improve your website performance and nothing seems to be working. You're still not #generatingleads. Well, it could be this one thing you may be overlooking and we’re going to dig into this with Natalie Jark from Natalie Jark Consulting.

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The One Thing You Are Overlooking To Improve Your Website



Tim Fitzpatrick
You have tried everything to improve your website performance, and it still isn't working, you're not generating leads, it's not working for your business. Well, you may be overlooking this one thing, and that's what we're going to jump into today with our special guest. Hi, I'm Tim Fitzpatrick with Rialto Marketing, where we believe marketing shouldn't be difficult. All you need is the right plan. Thank you so much for taking the time to tune in. I'm really excited to have with me Natalie Jark from Natalie Jark Consulting. Welcome, Natalie. Thanks for taking the time.

Natalie Jark
Hello. Hello. Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to chat with you about all things design and marketing today.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yes. Yes, absolutely. We're going to get into what some people refer to as UX or user experience. It's overlooked all the time, especially by a lot of small businesses. So I'm excited to get into it. We are in December. It's hard to believe that it is already December and we're almost at Christmas. So let's just start. What's your favorite Christmas tradition?

Natalie Jark
All right. Well, do you like mushrooms?

Tim Fitzpatrick
It depends on what kind of mushroom.

Natalie Jark
Here is a weird one for you. So my family comes from a Slovak background and we make mushroom soup. And let me tell you, it's a combination of mushrooms, sauerkraut, and a lot of garlic and onions. It's definitely an acquired taste, but it's something that goes back years and years with my family. And we always get together and do our traditional Sturr of the big giant cauldron of mushroom soup. And then we all get together on Christmas Eve and eat it together. It goes over a big bed of mashed potatoes. You can't go wrong there, right?

Tim Fitzpatrick
Oh, wow. No, no, you can't. Yeah, there's plenty of good stuff in there.

Natalie Jark
Yeah. So unique Slovak tradition. But it's one of my favorite things about the holidays is getting together with my family and continuing that tradition.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yes. I love it. So mine is kind of a funny one. But every year my mom always Christmas morning before we open gifts. Cinnamon rolls and they're just goldsberry Pillsbury cinnamon rolls. I mean, there's nothing special about these things, but. I just got so used to having those every year that we just keep continuing that tradition and I remember one year we were in Lake Tahoe, which we spent a lot of Christmases in Tahoe, and they ran out and we're like, oh, my, this is the end of the world.

Tim Fitzpatrick
But we did make it work. They still have the orange icing. Yeah, they were good. It wasn't what we were used to, but we had to adjust and adapt to the change which yeah. Adapting to change. Obviously, this year has been a really important thing.

Natalie Jark
No joke. Well I hope they had both regular and orange for you as options this year.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yes. Yes, that's right. Yeah. We bought ahead so we don't run out.

Natalie Jark
Good.

Tim Fitzpatrick
So tell us a little bit about what more about you and what you're doing to help small business owners.

Natalie Jark
Absolutely. So I am a user experience web designer, coach, and consultant that loves to work with small businesses to help them create those engaging user experiences and websites that are accessible to all. So my purpose in both life and business is to just do good in the world, Tim.

Natalie Jark
And through my business, all I do this by working with entrepreneurs that actually want to make a difference in the world and give back to causes that they're passionate about. So with that, I strategize with those clients to help them create beautifully engaging experiences on their website that are optimized for SEO using UX practices and doing a very variety of research methods to help them get ahead.

Natalie Jark
My ideal goal for them is to help them build those trustworthy relationships with their ideal client online that's really built on that foundation of empathy and understanding. So we implement various different accessibility and SEO practices to help them not only get ahead but also gain some traction on Google while also connecting deeper with their audiences. So it's kind of who I am.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I love it. And when you refer to accessibility, because a lot of people may not know that, what tell me a little bit more about accessibility so that everybody understands that.

Natalie Jark
Yeah. So they are more probably familiar with the term ADA compliance and ADA compliance on the Web is going to look at things like how people are using screen readers and how visually impaired people are digesting colors and contrast on a site. So doing all of these things and prepping yourself from the back end of the website is going to be so important for setting their experience up as well so you can create those inclusive spaces online.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Got it. Cool. Thank you for that.

Natalie Jark
Of course.

Tim Fitzpatrick
So let's talk about user experience. What is it? Why should we care about it?

Natalie Jark
So it's a hot topic in the design and marketing world these days. I'm sure you've heard of it, but a lot of people are talking about it, but don't really know what you said, what it is. I gained a lot of popularity with the startup rise in technology and SaaS platforms that are literally popping up everywhere. But essentially user experience design is a practice for web and product design that helps small businesses always put their customers first.

Natalie Jark
It helps them focus on creating experiences that actually solve their customers' problems and focus on that experience from A to B to help them stand out from the crowd. Really. So research that's associated with that helps give the business owners the data and analytics and insights that they need to be able to make those qualified decisions for their website or their platform to continue solving those needs.

Natalie Jark
So they kind of play hand to hand. We're creating an experience, but then we're also getting the data that we need to make those decisions on design iterations that we need to be changing.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Got it. So what are the benefits? You know, I've just I've overlooked this. I'm not even thinking about user experience. If I start to focus more on user experience, what potential benefits can I expect to see?

Natalie Jark
You're going to get more trustworthy and loyal clients across the board. You're going to get people that come to your website and actually stay on it longer, which is going to help your SEO immensely. The longer that you can get people to stay on your site and keeping them engaged and clicking on things, clicking on different links that will take them to different places on the site is going to immensely help your rankings on Google and how that works and with with the Google algorithm changes that are coming up, which we'll talk about that a little bit later. I think it's really important to just kind of start taking these things into account.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. The dwell time staying on the site longer is the first thing that I always think about as a benefit with user experience. So and the longer we can get people to stay on our websites, the better off we're going to be and the likelihood that they're going to convert.

Natalie Jark
Higher likelihood that they're going to convert. Absolutely. I love that you say that because it's all about the journey, right. Journey and getting them from the landing page to that successful cart page and keeping them engaged on the site so that they want to stick around and want to learn more about you.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, we talk about the website journey a lot when we're looking at and reviewing websites. Do you have those essential elements that are going to lead people to one first, love the message that they see initially, but then get them to continue to explore your website? And if you don't have that, people aren't going to stay very long at all.

Natalie Jark
They're not going to stick around and we need them to stick around to help us get more noticed and to create that trust know, like and trust factor. That's what builds loyalty. That's what builds relationships, is when we can gain their trust and know that we're a reliable source online.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, I love how you talk about no like trust because I am the way marketing is that it's getting someone who is in need or a problem you can solve to know, like and trust you. That's the job of our marketing, is to warm people up so that they get to that place of trust and they're ready to take that next step.

Natalie Jark
Yes. And how do you do that online? It's by creating a good quality experience that they're not getting frustrated with you about.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yes. Yes. It's the experience and it's having messaging that is clear and engaging to your target market.

Natalie Jark
Yes. Speaking to the choir here.

Tim Fitzpatrick
So. I want people to stay on my site longer. I'm convinced I need to do some UX stuff on my site. How do I get started? What are some tips you have for me to implement these kinds of things on my website?

Natalie Jark
So I have three go-to tips. And the first one I'm going to start out with is really developing an empathetic mindset. Having this empathy-driven mindset is going to help us make quality decisions for our site across the board that actually resonate with our customers. So, again, we do this by creating that customer journey that we were just talking about.

Natalie Jark
I want people to start getting specific about who they're serving and what they're offering to these people and then figure out their journey from A to B. So, for example, if you're an e-commerce business, I want you to look at what actually brought them to my site. What was their main goal or purpose for coming to my site? Did they access it from a social media perspective or blog or something like that? So looking at that very initial point that they're coming in and then what happens when they're actually there?

Natalie Jark
Are they searching for things or are they looking for a very specific item? What's going to get them to the cart and what happens along the way? What are their pain points along the way? Start looking at those emotional triggers. That's where the empathy comes in. We want to take a step in their shoes so that we can actually uncover those needs.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I love this. I want to pull something out of this because it's really important. You initially started talking about the you know, you have to understand your target market. Right. And when we one of the things that we focus on from a marketing standpoint is the fundamentals first. And one of the first fundamentals was your target market. You have to understand who your target market is and you really have to be able to enter the conversation that they're having in their mind to create messaging that is going to resonate with them.

Tim Fitzpatrick
And from an experience standpoint, one of the things you talked about was the customer journey. We talk about that as an hourglass. And if you understand what their needs, their expectations are at each phase of the journey, you can start to put things in place that are going to help them move through that journey.

Natalie Jark
Exactly. You're guiding their experience. You're putting in imagery that catches their attention, but then also draws their eye to a piece of content that gives them the information that they're needing, and then happens that there's a call to action button under there for them to learn more or continue the process. That's what it means to guide their experience.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, I love it. You're speaking my language.

Natalie Jark
Good. Good. All right.

Tim Fitzpatrick
What's the second tip?

Natalie Jark
Second tip is, again, going back to accessability and that ADA compliant that we talked about. So I want to deep dive into that just a little bit more so because it's usually an afterthought when we're creating our website or any platform. Right. But we really need to keep it at the forefront of our brains when we're developing things on the backend and the front end. So from a back end perspective, I want people to start applying ALT descriptions to their imagery. A lot of people do not put ALT descriptions and they're missing out on an opportunity for SEO benefits as well, because the little crawlers are going to come in and find those descriptions as well.

Natalie Jark
But more importantly, screen readers are going to read those all descriptions to the visually impaired community so that they know that it's there and that it's important for them to recognize that simple change on your website is going to make a huge impact for both SEO and for that inclusive community we're trying to create.

Natalie Jark
I also want people to start looking at colors. Right now it's a big fad to have really thin fonts on, like a not so high contrast background. We have to understand that the colorblind community probably aren't able to see this very well. So we want to bring out those high contrast colors on text and buttons so that no matter who's visiting your site, we're creating an inclusive space for them and they can access it.

Tim Fitzpatrick
OK. Do you have any tools that you really like, because I know there are tools out there, especially if you're building on WordPress. There are a lot of accessibility type tools or plugins that will magically make your website accessible.

Natalie Jark
There's one in particular that I use pretty frequently. It's called the Wave plugin and it's W-A-V-E literally. And it plugin that no matter what you are on your site or what site you're on, it will identify areas that are not ADA compliant and it will pull out things like high contrast, certain structures and flows that need to be fixed, etc. And then those are things that you can take back to your web designer or developer and ask them to help you kind of adjust. So that's my go-to tool, but I can definitely give you an additional list of resources that you can put into the page as well.

Tim Fitzpatrick
So the Wave plugin basically helps you audit or review your site for where you have issues.

Natalie Jark
Correct. Yes.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Is that a paid plugin?

Natalie Jark
No, all free. Yeah, it's wonderful. And it's just a Chrome extension. I am a Chrome user. So but I believe that it has other plugin extensions as well.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, cool. OK, so the Wave plugin if you want to check it out. So if that's a Chrome extension then it'll work on any site. It doesn't matter what platform you've built around.

Natalie Jark
Yeah, correct. At any site. I've looked at things from Wix, WordPress, Squarespace, it's across the board. It just it gives an overall perspective of the entire page and it doesn't matter what you built it on.

Tim Fitzpatrick
So does it evaluate the whole site or does it evaluate the specific page that you're on?

Natalie Jark
Page by page.

Tim Fitzpatrick
You got to do it page by page.

Natalie Jark
Exactly. But what's nice is it has a little pop-up that comes out from the side and then it has little icons on the actual page to actually identify. This is where your color contrast issue is. This is where you have a structure issue. So you can kind of digest it a little bit easier.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. So it's really I mean, it's easy to use.

Natalie Jark
Absolutely. Super intuitive to use you click it, it runs and then you just it's just interpreting the insights and knowing what to do with them. And that's why I always say just find somebody who's familiar with the ADA compliance methodologies and protocols and allow them to help you make the changes that you need on the back end.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, cool. I love it. What's number three? We've talked about developing that empathetic mindset, understanding the customer journey and what types of needs they're going to have as they work through that. Two is accessibility. What's number three?

Natalie Jark
Three is all about content. What you're going to be able to chime in with me? Yeah, we need to be creating digestible content on our website that people can really skim, skim and digest easily. Absorb the information, get what they need, and move forward with their lives.

Natalie Jark
No longer are our customers spending hours reading about our bios online. They're not reading the paragraphs. We need to be breaking up our content strategically into things like bullet points, lists, short and concise paragraphs that really pull out the main points so that people can skim this content. And even more so, majority of our users likely are coming in on a mobile device. And I don't know about you, Tim, but I sit there scrolling forever on my device to get through a paragraph that I don't really want to read.

Natalie Jark
So creating those digestible pieces of content that are broken up by images and blocks of text and bullet points, etc., that will really, really help with the overall experience and helping people get the information that they need right away.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, yeah. There's a website class that I teach and one of the things I always talk about is people don't read websites anymore. They scan them like you said. And it's the SEO folks out there are cringing as we talk about this, because from an SEO standpoint, you need to have a certain amount of content on the page. But I really do believe that you have to find that balance because we come across sites all the time and you can tell that they have worked with somebody that is doing SEO because of how the page is set up, all the content on it.

Tim Fitzpatrick
And I look at 90 percent of these pages and just say to myself, nobody is ever going to read this. They may be driving traffic to that site, but it is got to impact their conversions have are not good. Yeah. So you've got to find that balance.

Natalie Jark
Yeah. It is all about finding that balance and being super strategic about it. Google gives us insights on the amount of words that they're looking for, so let's not exceed those, but let's find a nice balance between having enough, but then also structuring in a way that people can digest it. Throw in those lists, throw in those bullet points.

Natalie Jark
You can still meet your word counts in that way that Google will still have enough information to send its crawlers out and find the keywords to know about you and then want to drive traffic. But like you said, it has got to be a strategic balance between the two.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, and I think heading super important because as you scroll down the page, they're you can see that. And then if they want to dig into that content, they can having white space or grey space, whatever space it is. Yeah. Is helpful too, because I don't know about you, but if I land on a website, unless it's a blog post that I where I know there's going to be a lot of content, but if I land on that page and I see too much content, I'm just like, forget it.

Natalie Jark
That's the first impression, right? Yeah, yeah. The pages that oh, there's too much to digest. I don't have time for this. And that's what's big about. The empathy driven mindset too, is we are respecting our customers time and saying I respect the fact that you've got a lot going on and I'm going to make this easy for you.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, awesome. I love it. So just to recap, developing an empathetic mindset, accessibility, and your content is key. So let's dig into this. There's a Google algorithm coming out. I think we talk about coming out in May of 2021.

Natalie Jark
You got it.

Tim Fitzpatrick
OK, so let's talk a little bit about what things are coming up in there. Specifically, we'll touch on-page experience first, and then let's dig into some of the other things that are in there to give people kind of a heads up of what's coming down the pipe.

Natalie Jark
Absolutely. So Google is really setting us up to succeed here. They're telling us exactly what they're going to be focusing on with this new page experience metric, as well as the other things that we need to do to prepare ourselves and our websites for optimal SEO and searchability to show up in their ranking.

Natalie Jark
So the first thing is the page experience. Page experience is essentially how the user perceives the page while they interact with the website. So this is what they're going to be calling their core web vitals. And the core web vitals are going to be looking at things like the loading performance, the interactivity delays, and visual stability of other elements on your website. So those get a little bit more technical.

Natalie Jark
Yeah, with loading performance, we want to make your site running faster on both desktop and mobile. Let's take the lag out, right. That was pretty straightforward. Interactivity delays. We want to make sure that the button that you click actually takes you like that to the page that it's intending. We don't want any lines in between there. So they've got milliseconds rankings. But that's the technical side that we don't need to really get into. But the final aspect of that is the visual stability.

Natalie Jark
So let's say that you have a pop-up that comes up when you get on your landing page and it is so instantaneous that, you know, maybe you accidentally clicked the register now button or the buy now button. And it was a complete mistake, but it doesn't allow you to take it back.

Natalie Jark
So they're looking for those visual stability elements and making sure that the image or the pop-up or something has an actual stableness to it as far as time goes, so that people aren't making those frustrating mistakes along the way of actually clicking a button that they didn't need to click. So those are the core web vitals that will be encompassing the page experience from a high perspective.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, OK, got it. So, I mean, really, one of the most important things out of there is your site. You want your site to be as fast as possible.

Natalie Jark
Hundred percent. Yes. Like, let's take out the unneeded JavaScript. Let's start looking at how we are optimizing our imagery on there to make sure that it's a high-resolution image. Yes. But not one that's going to cause lag to the site or especially to the mobile device.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, you know, it's funny you mentioned images because images is one of the biggest things that slows down most websites, because people, you know, they throw in whatever it is, five thousand by twenty five hundred image is way bigger than they're ever going to need. They're not compressing it. And it's just this huge file that the site has to load every single time.

Natalie Jark
Yeah. And it really puts a lot of lag on your sites. And those are simple things that we can do to adjust the experience and increase our metrics. And there's a lot of resources online that will help you start testing these page speeds. So just start referencing your backend files and compressing those images, getting rid of unneeded things and making it more user friendly.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, yeah. One, I mean, look, if you want to find out how fast your website is, just go to Google Page Speed Insights you can go to GTmetrix is another one as well and I believe that's gtmetrix.com. So what, what else is in this algorithm update?

Natalie Jark
So the other two vital aspects that we need to be paying attention to. One of them is very easy and a lot of us are already doing it, making sure your site is mobile friendly. It's like a no brainer right now. But you'd be surprised that maybe a site that's launched 10 years ago or so hasn't touched their website in that long. And they don't have a mobile-friendly or maybe the platform that they built it on is trying to help them guess what the mobile friendly experience is going to be. And then everything's jumbled.

Natalie Jark
So we want to go back and take a look at that mobile-friendly experience and make sure that it is on point and that it's a quality experience for any device, from a small little iPhone 5 that people are still using to the brand new 12 or any other like Google pixels, etc. Even tablets, tablets are a little bit less important. But we want to make sure that we have that mobile device that's in our hands 24/7 prepped and ready to go.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, you know, it's interesting because depending on the business, it's not uncommon to see 50 percent or more of the monthly traffic to come from mobile. So if you think about that, if your website has a poor mobile experience, you could be losing half or more of your visitors.

Natalie Jark
Easily. Easily. Yeah. So there's that. And then I also want to touch on the fact that people need to be running their website on HTTPS. This again seems like a no brainer, but there are websites out there that aren't running on an HTTPS framework. And it's our foundation. It's super, super important for security, privacy protocols across the Web. And Google is going to be paying attention to this. Google is going to say, I'm not going to rank you higher because you're not up to date with your privacy and protocols that are necessary on the Web now.

Natalie Jark
So, again, talk to your developer to make sure that you're running on HTTPS, which should be pretty simple if you have an SSL certificate and most people are already there, but it's important to pay attention to.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. So for those that aren't familiar with this, if you go to a website, you're on Google Chrome, you see the little lock next to the URL. That's HTTPS. Five years ago, getting an SSL certificate was a hell of a lot more difficult than it is now. Most platforms, most hosting platforms all have what they call shared SSL certificates. So they're really easy to get if you're not sure how to get one, if your site's built on Wix or Squarespace, or whatever it may be.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Reach out to their tech support to tell you exactly how to do it, if you're on WordPress, go to your hosting company and ask them about setting up a shared SSL certificate on your site. I would tell you if they don't offer a shared SSL certificate at this point, you need to switch hosts.

Natalie Jark
Hundred percent. Full technical. Thank you for helping clarify some of those things. They do get really complicated sometimes and daunting.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, they do. But it's not it's like I said, it's not nearly as difficult as it used to be.

Natalie Jark
No, definitely not.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Any last parting words of guidance that you might have?

Natalie Jark
You know, it's just user experience design is just so important to creating a successful business outlook on it, especially if you're doing business online. I always tell my people I want to help you do good online. I want to help you show up and have a secure platform that actually is running very effectively for your business, but also it's doing good for the outside community, so that's when we need to start looking at the accessibility and creating those inclusive spaces online. Let's do good online together by creating these spaces that will actually create good experiences for our people.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Awesome. I love it. Natalie, you've imparted some serious wisdom here, and I know people are going to get value from it. Where can people learn more about you if they want to?

Natalie Jark
Absolutely. You can find me on Instagram @nataliejark. Facebook, as always. And then I also have a Doing Good Online Facebook group where I'm getting together a bunch of small business owners who are truly going out and doing good in the world, both in real life and online. And then we're talking about a lot of these things about how to do good online with accessibility, user experiences, etc. So that's the Doing Good Online Facebook community. But then you can also find me on my website and we can have a chit chat and talk all things user experience, design, and marketing.

Tim Fitzpatrick
That's awesome. So guys that's N-A-T-A-L-I-E J-A-R-K.com. So thank you so much for those that are watching or listening live. Thank you for being here again. I am Tim Fitzpatrick with Rialto Marketing. If you want to gain clarity on where to focus your marketing efforts right now to get the best return hop on over to our website at rialtomarketing.com. That's R-I-A-L-T-O marketing.com. Click on the get a free consult button. You will get a ton of value from it and you will walk away knowing exactly where your next steps should be. So thank you again. Remember, marketing shouldn't be difficult. All you need is the right plan. Till next time, take care.


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About the Author Tim Fitzpatrick

Tim Fitzpatrick is the President of Rialto Marketing. At Rialto Marketing, we help service businesses simplify marketing so they can grow with less stress. We do this by creating and implementing a plan to communicate the right message to the right people. Marketing shouldn't be difficult. All you need is the RIGHT plan.

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