How to tell if it’s time to update your website.
by Adam Smith
For most companies, a website has become a critical selling tool. Almost every reputable business has one. But because redesigning a website can be complex and time-consuming, many people put off updating it. Here are a few red flags that can help you determine whether it’s time to tackle an update of your site.
You’re still using Flash.
Since flash won’t work on an Apple mobile device, there’s a good chance that a good portion of your audience can’t view all of your content. An updated site can take advantage of newer coding languages, like HTML 5.
It’s not mobile-friendly.
Recent studies indicate that as much as 60% of web views come from a mobile device, either a smartphone or tablet. If your site isn’t designed to be viewed on a mobile device or if you don’t have a mobile version, you are putting unnecessary barriers between you and potential customers.
It looks like 2006.
Let’s face it. Design trends come and go. This is even more true for the digital world. If you have a site with a lot of complex animation, sound, beveled buttons, or a host of other elements popular five or 10 years ago, your site is going to feel dated, even if the content is up-to-date.
It has a blog that was last updated two years ago.
Blogs can be an extremely effective way to generate traffic to your site. But many companies fail to keep fresh news or features there. If your last blog post is more than a year old, you might be sending the wrong message to your customers. The same thing goes for empty calendars.
Speaking of content, sometimes the biggest drawback to older sites is the lack of content strategy. There’s simply too much information. Sites that contain anything and everything about your company and its products might be working against you. Viewers may have trouble finding what they want, and key selling features will get lost in a sea of information.
Brand? What brand?
Visitors to your site should have a clear understanding of what sets your company apart from the competition right from the home page, with a distinctive logo and descriptive language that connects with viewers. But too many sites rely on simply “telling,” without critical elements that “sell” what truly sets them apart.
Navigating your site requires a GPS.
Well-designed sites should allow users to find content intuitively with a minimum number of clicks. Sometimes too-clever navigation titles, obtuse labels, poor structure or missing visual cues like breadcrumbs mean that critical information is effectively hidden from potential customers.
Social media? What social media?
Linking social media to your website is a great way to increase traffic to and from Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and other social media. An up-to-date site will make it easy to find and connect, and may even pull in content from social media to populate your site.
Google has no idea who you are.
Having a great site is one thing. Having traffic to your great site is another. An updated site should be designed to maximize its impact in search engines, like Google and Bing, to drive visitors who are looking for your product or service. Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (sem) are two tools that can help your redesigned site reach more viewers.
Visitors have no idea who you are.
Anyone can put up a website. Yet some companies purposely hide their physical address, thinking that it will turn off out-of-town viewers. But research indicates the opposite is true: posting a physical address increases sales by proving to viewers that you are a legitimate company. Another common mistake is to bury a phone number on a contact form. Unless you are unable to handle phone traffic, a phone number should appear prominently on your site starting with the home page.
Your site is a one-way conversation.
An effective site should move viewers through a process of consideration, but many sites fail to give viewers a clear call to action, leaving them to browse and then abandon the site when they are bored. Adding forms, buttons or surveys can help move viewers through the customer buying process by allowing them to ask a question, get a quote, schedule an appointment, sign up for a newsletter or chat with a representative.
Your site functions like a print brochure.
A well-designed site should take advantage of the digital medium, responding to viewers as they interact. The web opens all sorts of possibilities for interacting in ways that print cannot (think interactive maps or video, for example). Yet older sites tend not to take advantage of digital capabilities.
You have to know code to update your site.
Older sites are often built on platforms that require a web developer to update. But newer sites can economically employ content management systems like WordPress that will allow non-technical staff to add pages, update photos, or post blog content. A good content management system (CMS) is key to keeping your site fresh.
What about your site?
Is your site ready for an update? If you answered “yes” to three or more of these red flags, perhaps it’s time to take action. An experienced marketing firm can help you plan and execute a site that will position your company for the future.