You Need to Be the Biggest Critic of Your Utility Website
Think of website maintenance like maintenance on your car. You’re told to change your oil, regularly, right? And by doing this you keep your car running well. If you don’t perform regular checkups, your car’s performance begins to suffer. If you keep up on regular maintenance, you can save time, money, and extend the life of your vehicle.
This same philosophy applies to content on your utility’s website. Regular maintenance will extend the life of your website and save you time and money.
Keep Website Content Fresh
Consider the websites you visit most. Does the content change or does it remain the same every time you visit? Chances are, the information is the same or similar, but the presentation of that information changes. Sometimes the content is similar but is updated with the latest information. But how do you know when and how often to make updates?
If you don’t have a content calendar, get one! It can be as simple as adding reminders to your existing calendar platform (such as Microsoft Outlook), using an actual paper calendar, or downloading a free online template.
Once you have chosen how to track this information, sit down and plan out your content. Start with planning out at least 6 months. We recommend planning out an entire year. Trying to remember to update your website content on top of everything else just doesn’t work. Having a calendar and a plan helps you save time and stay consistent. You are more likely to succeed if you have a plan.
Delegate certain updates to team members within your utility organization who are most familiar with that content. It doesn’t have to be, and frankly shouldn’t be, a solo task. Make it a team effort! This can also help you gain stakeholder buy-in.
Not sure what updates to make? That’s where analytics come into play. It is important to have a pulse on why your utility members or customers are coming to your site. What are they looking for? What pages are they visiting most? Analytics such as keyword usage, page view history, heat mapping, personas, and audits are extremely helpful tools for knowing what to update.
Knowing what keywords or key phrases your site visitors are searching for can give you an indicator that something may be hard to find or might be missing from your site entirely.
Home page real estate is valuable but that doesn’t mean everything has to be there. It takes a little bit of strategy to arrange the navigation and homepage hierarchy. Maybe you need to simply update the verbiage on a page. Maybe you can repurpose a lesser-used graphic button. How about adding a new blog or news post pertaining to that frequently searched keyword? Small changes can make a big difference.
Page View History
Viewing your website’s page view history shows your most popular and unpopular pages. However, having a high number of page views doesn’t necessarily mean that content is popular. A single metric won’t tell you the whole picture. Make sure you’re evaluating all your analytics together to understand the story they’re telling.
Heat maps are incredible tools! They use color to show the most popular and unpopular areas of your website. They show what visitors click or touch on, scroll through, or ignore. This shows if your visitors see important content or if they miss it.
You may think you have an idea of what your utility members come to your site for, but heat maps can be very eye-opening. They use data-driven evidence that can help you identify problem areas.
Know Your Personas
Look at your website from the utility member’s perspective.
- Who is visiting the website?
- Why are they visiting?
- What are they looking for?
Personas are fictional characters that you create that represent the different visitor types that might be customers of your electric cooperative or utility organization. In the case of a broadband provider, your site visitor may be looking to establish new service, wants to see what rate plans or bundled options are available and sign up for service.
An electric cooperative member, on the other hand may be a retiree having a hard time reading their bill. It could be a first-time homeowner that knows very little about utility service. Maybe it’s a mother making a payment between after-school pickup and soccer practice drop-off. Make sure you know who is coming to your site so you can ensure the content fits their needs. Creating personas helps to understand site visitor’s needs, experiences, behaviors, and goals.
While we’re in the persona’s perspective, let’s go a step further:
- Did the website answer all my questions?
- Does it give me the resources I need?
- Do I know what to do next?
This is where an audit can be very helpful. A content audit is an evaluation of your website by someone outside of your team. It’s an unbiased review that can include recommendations for:
- Accessibility improvements
- Navigation reorganization
- Updated graphic buttons
- Copy editing for reading level improvement and clarity
- Refreshed content
Audits can also check visual elements of the design. They can ensure colors and imagery don’t contradict each other and that your colors and branding pass contrast testing. Because over half of your website visitors are coming from a phone or a tablet, audits can also evaluate how the website renders on mobile devices to ensure your mobile visitors have a fantastic experience.
The Powerful team can perform an audit for you. Let our trusted experts evaluate your website and collaborate with your team to develop usable content that reflects your unique cooperative or utility brand. We’re here to help.
Knowing how to update your content and where to start can feel overwhelming, but let these points guide you in the right direction. Keep your website site tuned-up with fresh content and you will be the trusted utility your members can rely on time and time again.