Having a website isn’t enough, this important piece of your business collateral needs to be regularly updated, and procrastination is the enemy.
Don’t be fooled into being complacent that the content is current, all your products are listed, and your contact information is correct. Your website should be a work in progress, as it is your constant marketing tool. Regular audits and amendments should be undertaken.
Depending on what website or article you are reading there are many different reasons to update your website, but your decision to do so should be based on 3 critical aspects;
- Design - is your website design in line with your brand; does it reflect your business and style? Does it translate to other devices well?
- Marketing - are you able to measure how effective your online presence is?
- Usability - is your website poorly designed and hard to use?
Taking into consideration those aspects we can now delve into the various reasons that you should update your website regularly, starting with NOW!
The website is the online version of the shop front window. Keep it interesting, on brand and current. If the site looks ragged and out of date, potential clients will think your business is also; it’s a reflection of your company. Layout should be consistent, and functional, information should be clear and concise. Ditch the Flash player and any out of date content or products etc. Take some time to look at similar businesses and websites that you like, and look at how your site compares.
Our Smartphones are now extensions of our lives. We socialise, communicate, research and shop on them EVERYDAY. You need to ensure that your website is mobile (and tablet) friendly. If it doesn’t translate (see Responsive Web Design), it’s not worth even updating. If people can’t see your site on their mobile, you’ve lost them, it’s too late, they won’t come back.
You should rebuild your site on a platform that enables responsive design. Platforms like WordPress and SquareSpace, enable you to build your website with tablet and mobile responsiveness built into the design.
Coding, coding and more coding..
If your website was built some time ago, it’s fair to say that it probably has too much HTML coding making it clunky and non-responsive across every device. This will affect the speed at which your site loads into browsers, and also affects your ranking in Google search results.
Consider web standards and the rate at which they change; your website needs to meet the basic standards. Modern coding techniques (such as CSS coding) allow your site to adapt or respond better in mobile devices too. It’s time to review your framework if this is an issue.
Photos & Images
If images and photos are imperative to your website to showcase products etc, then it’s CRITICAL to use original images. Hire a photographer or take them yourself. In fact, images are important to every website; they can positively impact the objectives of any site.
Images can add interest to an otherwise mundane article, enhance what you mean with charts and diagrams, or simply make a post or article more attractive to the reader. Images can engage a reader, offering an immediate connection.
We could write a whole article about images and photos (there is a comprehensive blog by Hubspot that we recommend), but to give you some guidelines, you should consider the following:
- Use the right image, one that’s relevant to your story or product.
- Name the image correctly; the first part of the name should be the subject that the image is enhancing or you are writing about. The name of the image needs to be relevant.
- Use the correct image format. Don’t stick to one - there is no right format; it depends on the type of image you are using and how you are using it.
- Consider the scale of your image; don’t use massive 2500 x 1500 pixel images if you are only displaying them at a smaller size. Loading times affect not only user experience, but SEO too.
- Add Alt text to every image, and ensure that it includes the SEO or keyphrases for that webpage. The more info that an image is surrounded with, the higher importance that image is to search engines.
- Stock imagery has its place (like perhaps in backgrounds etc) but if you can avoid using stock photos for your site then it’s recommended that you do just that.
Your CTAs will either be buttons or links that encourage your prospective customers to take the next step; complete an action to become a lead. You may have to undertake a bit of trial and error to get this right.
Fundamentally your USP and CTAs need to be highlighted clearly on the pages, but ask yourself - are they interesting enough to encourage your visitor to take the next step? Like I said, it could be trial and error, but there are CTA guidelines available to get you started. .
Well you need a modern website - if you don’t have one, you cannot connect to the myriad of online tools available to measure the effectiveness of every corner of your website. So go back to the beginning of this blog.
Your Content, SEO and Website Update
Is it time for a site redesign so you can re-address your content; write simple copy that’s more effective and on target? You only have about 4 seconds to engage new users - they are visiting to look for useful information. So grab their attention fast with headlines. The content should be considered the most important thing; fresh and unique content will keep people coming back.
Just like the content, your SEO can usually benefit from a refresh. The most recent content normally ranks well in search engines, even if it’s on target, if it’s 5 years old, engine crawlers may regard it as irrelevant now. Is it time to rethink your keyword targeting to benefit the overall conversion rate of your site? Changing or updating your website gives you a better ability to measure the effectiveness overall of your site.
Easy, easy, easy….
If you don’t know what UX is - go back to the start of this blog, your site needs updating. User Experience (UX) includes:
- How fast your site is
- How easy it is to use
- How easy users can find information
- How easy users can complete actions without friction.
It’s more than how it looks, it’s about the navigation and making it easy for users to find information and get to where you want them.
What’s Your Bounce Rate?
If it’s high it means that your visitor arrives at a page, then well, bounces. That is they leave before going to a second page. Likely because your site doesn’t offer right off what they are looking for or they don’t like what they are looking at.
If you don’t know what your bounce rate is - it’s time to find out. Hubspot has a great blog on how to find out about and fix your bounce rate, but - and I’m sorry to repeat myself - you may have to update your website before you can get an accurate measure!
Procrastination is the Enemy - It’s Time!
The ever present excuse for everything being put off is TIME. Well it’s time to make time.
Even if someone built your website for you, you should be able to update it yourself. Popular Content Management Systems such as WordPress and SquareSpace helps you to avoid complicated code and makes it easier to administer.
Consider also that having an older site makes it easier for hackers and security flaws. Then there’s system integration. Customers expect access to blogs, forms and shopping functionality at the very least on an easy to use website. Your website should give you the ability to integrate your CRM system, email, and financial systems. For your business this means that all of your information is collated, so it minimises double handling and the likelihood of errors in data entry, while saving you TIME.
The above information should be enough to convince you that it at least needs investigating if your website is doing the best it can do for your business. If your site isn’t doing what you need it to, that is attract, engage and convert clients, then perhaps you need to consider this: do you really have the time to delay the inevitable?
“A website without visitors is like a ship lost in the horizon.”
― Dr. Christopher Dayagdag