Your web presence provides an introduction of your organization to the world. But we have moved far beyond the days in which a website was a mere brochure. Today, your website is more of a conversation with your audience.
At TOPS, we've recently released a brand new website design for our topssoft.com domain. In this article, I wanted to share with you some of the lessons that we learned along the way in the hope that they can help you with some ideas on how to improve your own web presence and in the process, improve upon that conversation.
Why redesign topssoft.com?
Like any redesign, We had a roundup of the usual suspects of reasons for choosing to redesign the website - we wanted to bring the look and feel of the site into modern times, make it friendly to mobile devices and update the content to match the offerings of our company. But the number one reason for the redesign was you - the community managers, accountants, back office staff and association management professionals that visit the site.
Lesson #1: Identify Your Audience
The first step was for us to take a good, hard look at our website, and evaluate who the site was really targetting. We realized that we were trying to be all things to all people on topssoft.com - we had product information for people that were interested in purchasing TOPS, support content for existing customers and industry educational information all on the same site! That's a lot of things to say to a lot of different kinds of people! So we decided that it was time to rethink our site's structure. We began by identifying the three different types of audience TOPS serves:
Information Seekers are people learning about the community association management industry. They may not be in the market for Community Management software right now, they may not even use TOPS. They are simply seeking knowledge to make them a better property manager, start a community management company, or simply to connect with their peers. To meet the unique needs of this audience, we started the TOPS CAM Blog. This blog is dedicated to discussing the needs of the knowledge seekers without shoving our product down their throats. The CAM Blog was the first step of the redesign that we completed, rolling it out in August of 2012.
Our Existing Customers are the second audience we were reaching on our old site. We wanted to create a community in which our customers felt as if they had their own space in which they could get information on TOPS products and services that was focused on them. The TOPS Customer Care Center was already available, but it was limited to one login per customer, and not easily accessible to all of our clients. We built a new version of the Customer Care Center that is open to all customers, and added the kinds of resources that would be helpful to clients, such as searchable help wikis and a support blog. (And we're not done yet! Look for new changes in the coming months!)
The third and final audience we identified are our Software Shoppers. While this is the most obvious audience for a company whose ultimate goal is to sell a product, we wanted to be sure to provide the best level of service to this audience. That's why we gathered feedback from customers, prospects and statistical data to determine how we could better serve the needs of this audience. From this feedback we added product comparisons, a price quote page, product screenshots and feature breakdowns to the new website.
Lesson #2: Go Where the audience is
Comedian Sam Kinison's famous stand up routine offered simple advice to those suffering from world hunger to "Go where the food is!". While meant in (tasteless) humor (but I still love it), that advice can fit for many issues one may be facing.
In our case, we realized that we were cutting out a large segment of our visitors by not offering specialized interfaces for mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets. To address this failing, we built the new topssoft.com as a responsive website - resize the page and the entire structure of the site will rearrange itself to work in that browser size. (Try it here!) With this change, we not only can accommodate existing devices, we can also insure that the site will work in whatever sized devices come out in the future.
Lesson #3: Speak to your audience's individual needs
While TOPS Professional can do many things for community association management, not every organization needs all of the things that we can do. We needed to tailor our new website design to speak to the individual needs of each individual visitor. For example, self-managed condo associations have different needs from a medium sized community management company. That's why we built individualized pages that speak to the specific needs of our various audience members, and added a section front and center on our home page to help each person find information that is specifically targeted to their pain points.
Lesson #4: Always follow through
In our analysis of our old site design, we realized that on a lot of our pages the user was not compelled to interact with the content, either by going to a new page, or downloading some content, or requesting a demo. The last thing we wanted to do was have our website visitors feel as though they were abandoned on a page with nowhere to go from there! You'll see on the new site design that every page provides the visitor with an opportunity to do something to keep that conversation going.
Lesson #5: It ain't over till it's over
Thank you so much for taking the time to read about TOPS new redesign. We sincerely hope that you love the new site! But we also know that in a highly competitive industry, the instant you rest on your laurels you've already begun to lose the race. We'll continue to work to improve the content of the new website to provide a stellar experience for all of our visitors.
PS. We would appreciate your help to improve the new site to make it even more helpful to our audience! If you have a suggestion or critique, please leave a comment below, or send me an email at [email protected] to let us know how we can make it even better!