One of the biggest questions you may have about your website is the age-old should I update or not? There are a few really easy and quick things you can check to determine if you need to update your website. Updating your website is important and the need to update should be evaluated at least every two or three years, trends and technology change quick and your user's expectations will change with them.
The Importance of Updating
You may not think that updating your website is important, but it is. Think of your web browsing habits, do you Google new business before you visit them? Do you check out their website? If you do how long will you wait for the site to load? What if the site looks old and dated? These are things we all do, essentially the new window shopping. Most people will plan out their purchases or check out a companies website prior to visiting. Where does that leave us?
No website is bad, a bad website is worse.
Having no website means you are missing out on potential business from people searching Google for a service, restaurant, shop etc. If you don't have a website right now, you need to stop reading and get a good website built. Even if you think your business is all word of mouth, you're wrong, potential customers will scope you out on the internet and judge your business based on your website. That being said, having a bad or old website is worse than having no website. This will literally make your business look bad, out of touch, or damage your business's credibility. A bad website can quickly do a lot of damage.
One of the biggest mistakes a small business can make is not having a professional looking and well-designed website. Your website should look like you have your own team of designers and developers constantly maintaining your site, but you don't need your own team. A well-designed website will help your business and remain functional for some time. Lastly, a Facebook page does not count as a website. Some businesses think that a Facebook page is a suitable replacement for a website, but it's not. Customers generally don't trust a Facebook page alone, anyone can make one for anything for free. Customers will generally look for a website to validate your Facebook page and get a feeling for the business and it's credibility, so again if you are just using a Facebook page you need to stop reading and have a website built.
How do I know if I should update?
I'm going to suggest you look at a few key things in deciding if you should update, but first let's talk about what exactly we mean by updating your website.
Updating your website could be as simple as updating the information, ensuring you have the correct information or adding social media links. More commonly, updating a website would include bringing the design up to date with current trends and user expectations. In the most extreme cases, an entire design and code update would be required.
Deciding if you should update.
Ok, so let's get into some of the big reasons that you should really update your website now.
- Your website is not mobile ready
- Your contact information is out of date
- Your website does not include any social media or review website links
- Your website is slow to load and use
- Your website is built with Flash
- Your website is not consistent with your branding
- Your website's design is old
A few of these are pretty easy to remedy on your own and others may require a professional.
If your website is not mobile ready, go hire a developer now. You need your site rebuilt ASAP. What do we mean by mobile ready? Mobile ready means that your site will adapt and respond to changes in screen size. Have you ever had to zoom into some tiny font on a website or scroll horizontally to view content? These sites are not mobile ready. Well built mobile-ready websites should adapt and maintain usability and user experience as the screen size changes, this is called responsive design. At Black Label Web Design we use responsive design with server-side enhancements. This basically means we load certain layouts and content depending on the screen size and then adapt it accordingly. So we can control what sections are loaded on what device. One more thing, Google prefers responsive design.
If your website uses a mobile redirect, mobile.yoursite.com or m.yoursite.com, your website will get pushed down in search results. Google really doesn't like mobile redirects anymore.
If either of these cases applies to you then you need to have your whole site rebuilt and redesigned.
Your contact information is out of date
Chances are your website was built with some kind of Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla etc. If this is the case you can easily update your business hours, location, email etc if it is no longer current. If your website does not use a CMS you may need to get the help of a web developer to update these items or you may be diving into PHP, HTML, or template files to try and update the contact information.
Social Media and Reviews
Like your contact information your website should contain links to social media accounts if you are actually active and interacting with your followers, and links to relevant review services like Yelp. Adding links to reviews can really add a sense of credibility to your business if a user can easily see the experiences other customers have had it helps them decide which business to give their business to.
Your website is slow to load and use
This may be a sign of a poorly constructed page that needs a serious overhaul. This is also extremely important, again, extremely important. The way we browse the web is changing, globally Mobile is surpassing Desktops as the device of choice for browsing the internet. Along with this is the "instant gratification" mindset that we have all become used to with mobile phones. If your website is taking more than 3-5 seconds to load on a mobile phone using mobile data, not Wi-Fi, you have a serious problem. Users will typically wait 3-5 seconds before deciding to stay on a page or leave. This means your site needs to be loaded and grab their attention within 3-5 seconds to keep that potential customer on your website.
If your page is loading slow it could be a number of things including poorly written code, unoptimized images, bulky codebase etc. Whatever the problem is you should hire a web developer to take a look at your website and help you decide how to update. In some cases, your site may need to be completely rebuilt.
If your website is built with Flash you need to update the entire page. Flash websites are becoming a distant memory, so much so that Apples iPads and iPhones do not support Flash. If that is not a good enough reason this should be, Flash will slow your website down. If you still have a Flash-based website you need to place rebuilding your page at the top of your to-do list, like now.
Your branding isn't consistent
If the branding of your website is outdated and not consistent with your companies current branding you will want to update the design of your website. Your website should be an extension of your business, a digital storefront so to speak. You want your branding to remain consistent across social media, your website, and your business.
Your website's design is outdated
If your website looks like it's old and out of touch you should look into getting it redesigned. A lot has changed in the design world in the last few years and users expect certain things from a modern website. Specific icons, menus, interactions etc have all started to become expected standards. Your website should be brought up to meet web and industry standards to help users easily navigate and interact with your website.
The design is also a matter of being visually appealing. If your site looks old and out of touch, that's how your business looks to those users and they are less likely to remain on your site. If your site is visually appealing and familiar users are more likely to stick around. I think we are all guilty of this in one way or another if a site looks 5, 10, 15+ years old we tend to leave quickly and trust the site's information less. At some point, it becomes a question of does this company still exist?
The bottom line
If your website fits into any of these cases above it is time to update or redesign your website. A professional website will help your business, bring in new customers, and add credibility to your business. Sometimes it can seem overwhelming or not important, but a well-built website is worth the time.
The really bottom bottom line
If your website is not mobile ready, rebuild it. Out of all the cases above, mobile ready is the most important. I can't count how many times my wife and I have turned to a website to find menus, services, locations etc on our mobile phones, or the number of times we did not go to a business because their website was too frustrating to use on a mobile phone to find that information.