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Guardian Mobility’s website used to be confusing and wordy. Visitors had a hard time finding information on products and were getting lost as they navigated through the site.

But a smart redesign launched in August 2010 has already paid off more than imagined for the quickly growing Ottawa-based maker of tracking, communication and data management solutions for aviation operators around the world.

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Web traffic ballooned by 40%—far more than the forecast 20%.

The site redesign was critical for Guardian Mobility because so many of its prospective customers are outside Canada and get their first impressions about the company online.

“Our website is our storefront,” Guardian Mobility President Howard Pearl says. “We thought it was important to have an image that is polished and fresh.”

Today, a website is a vital tool for many small and medium-sized businesses, especially in finding and serving customers. But a surprisingly large number of companies still don’t have a site, and many of those that are online suffer from poorly designed sites.

To get on the right track, the first step is to create an online strategy that supports your business goals. “Ask yourself what your site’s purpose is,” says BDC Senior Consulting Manager André Goyette. “Are you trying to sell to customers? Are you there to service them? Are you trying to generate new sales leads? All of the above?”

“The answer will lead you down different paths, depending on what kind of business you have and what your goal is.”

In Guardian Mobility’s case, online sales aren’t a priority because its products have a long sales cycle. Instead, the company needs a website that gives information on its products, generates leads for the sales force and provides customer service.

Here’s how Guardian Mobility hit website gold:

  1. Clean, scroll-free navigation. Guardian’s old site was text-heavy and required a lot of scrolling to find information. The updated version is clean, easy to navigate and has virtually no pages that require scrolling. It was designed so visitors never need to click more than three times to find the information they want. “The idea is to get the maximum amount of information without having to scroll,” Pearl says. “The old site had no overall plan for the layout and no clear linking structure. The feedback we get about the new site is that it’s simple to use. It’s laid out so people can move through the solutions in an organized manner.”
  2. On-target with business strategy. Guardian Mobility also wanted its site to reflect a major change in its business strategy last year. It had decided to focus exclusively on aviation customers as opposed to a broad range of transport industries. Its online strategy needed to support this new orientation. The solution was to prominently feature exciting images of soaring planes and helicopters in contrast to the old site’s photos of communication and tracking gear—with no sense of which industry it was for.
  3. Call to action. In line with the goal of generating sales leads, each page on the new site has what Pearl calls a “call to action”—a large box inviting visitors to email the company. As well, the company’s contact information is clearly indicated on the bottom of each page. “Not everyone is on Twitter, but everybody uses a phone,” Pearl says.
  4. Ready to grow. In order to support the company’s growth plans, the site is also structured to make it easy to add new products. No need to redo the entire site yet again.

Content in this section is provided in partnership with the Business Development Bank of Canada. BDC provides entrepreneurs with financing, venture capital and consulting services. To find out more go to BDC.ca.

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