We all know that the Internet changes at an alarming rate and that means, techniques and technologies we used 3 years ago are well and truly obsolete today. You need to be proactive with web design and ensure your company website is keeping up with these changes constantly. Luckily, there are some very clear warning signs that tell you that your site needs an update, whether just the design is outdated or more importantly your website severely lacks in the functionality to interact with your visitors and prospective clients.
Here are the tell-tale signs that will let you know if it’s time you need to act if you want to stay ahead of your competition.
Scenario: you hired a designer to create the original website, and then when you needed some functionality added or overhaul, you hired another to fix it. And then another to fix it. Now, you’ve got ten years of bad code piled on top of bad code and your site’s design is suffering. A browser loads whatever code is on each page and if it is not super clean it can end up going around in circles whilst it works out how to display it. Several years ago, tables were the main design used for websites. Nowadays, it’s totally a thing of the past. Tables are hard to read, and they’re just about impossible for search engines to find. In fact, they’re technically made with invalid HTML code. So, they’ve got to go!
A better idea is to make a fresh start or at the very least get it checked out thoroughly.
Flash was so cool about ten years ago. Now, it’s “so ten years ago.” I guarantee you that nobody’s impressed anymore when you’ve got a flash intro welcoming them to your site. People have no time for this clutter; your visitors want to access the information that they are looking for as fast as possible. In fact, a flash intro may even keep them from viewing your site. On an older browser, it takes forever for the intro to load. While they’re waiting, they’re going to be clicking the “back” button or heading somewhere else.
If you want to show your flash presentation, let the visitor have a choice whether or not to view it, by placing a link to it on your homepage.
While a same-as approach is never the best one, we do need to keep up with the Jones’ in terms of offerings. If your competition provides helpful features such as side-by-side comparisons, external online resources, they are socially interacting etc, they are stealing your online business from right under your nose. Your customer is turning to them as a trusted source for what they are looking for.
It’s time to take your stand.
Old websites are usually static HTML pages which make it hard to add new content easily. These days, more and more companies are using a CMS, or content management system. This is an interface that allows anyone in your staff to make changes when needed. Obviously, someone needs to be able to administer the content, but most reputable companies offer training or maintenance packages to complete the work on your behalf.
Things happen quickly in the world of the internet, so you’ve got to be able to make these necessary changes without having to hire a web designer again.
The entire internet is now going mobile and if your site’s not set up for it, you’ll lose customers who browse by iPhone and other smartphones. If your site isn’t mobile-compatible, it will take forever to load on their mobile devices and it will look very unprofessional. Technology experts predict that mobile is the thing of the future, and the number of sales of smartphones is supporting this prediction.
Get a mobile version of your site going, so you don’t get left behind.
We now live in the world of Web 2.0, and it’s all about communicating and networking. Your site isn’t a billboard or print advertisement; it should be an active part of a community. This means that you need to get out into the world of social networking sites and create some community. The more you let your users get involved in your site using their preferred platform of choice, the more they’ll stick around and connect with you. Get blogging, installing a blog to your site or even creating a separate blog allows you to add all the functionality to engage with your visitors on their level. You can install Facebook widgets, ‘Tweet This’ buttons, and even user profile functions for your customers. You should at least have a comments section and be running a fan page on Facebook. These social networking sites are some of the most popular places on the web, so you should be there mixing it up with the best.
Get blogging, installing a blog to your site or even creating a separate blog allows you to add all the functionality to engage with your visitors on their level. You can install Facebook widgets, ‘Tweet This’ buttons, and even user profile functions for your customers. You should at least have a comments section and be running a fan page on Facebook. These social networking sites are some of the most popular places on the web, so you should be there mixing it up with the best.
Your site needs to have a simple, clear and effective call to action to get your visitors moving and interacting. I prefer to have one on every page, so when the visitor has scanned your content they are visually drawn to a button. It doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to do, have them read another section of your site or get them to sign up for a newsletter, download a white paper or hit the ‘Buy Now’ button to purchase a product or service. Entice them to act.
Everything needs a strong call to action to get a response.
Your website reflects – you, your company. If the focus of your business has changed at all since the launch of your current website, you will want to consider a redesign to plan and strategise for your current business goals.
A strategy is the key to all successful websites – the art is making the blend work for your business sector or niche.