Website standards, from both a design and technology standpoint, have evolved significantly in the past few years. Outdated websites can cost you potential clients. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to revamp at least the look of your website every 3 years, and the functionality every 5 years. Considerations include:
Visual design has a significant impact on a visitor’s emotional response to your business – sites older than 3-5 years look outdated and unprofessional. An attractive, up to date design is a critical ingredient of your message.
Current design trends include a minimalistic approach and spacious, clean page layouts with lots of white space. Outdated design features include photo carousels, stock photography, clutter (unnecessary, irrelevant elements crowding the page), massive hero images which push down key content, animated gifs, flash intros and more.
In this day of mobile technology, it is astonishing how many companies and organizations have sites that are not responsive. The most important technological reason to update your website is to make it responsive, i.e. mobile friendly. If your site doesn’t adapt to its environment, it’s time for a redesign. Read more about responsive design and why it matters
In addition to responsive design, other important trends include ease of updates and maintenance using a Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress, social media integration and use of video.
Effective web content is simple, on target and easy to find. Content must not only be relevant and up to date, it must be written specifically for the web. Content strategy includes research, writing and editing for your human visitors first and foremost and, as an added bonus, valuable, web-friendly, fresh content gets noticed by the search engines.
Great content is not enough, however – it must be presented in an engaging, visually compelling manner on each and every page. Use of font, color, contrast, white space, headings, short paragraphs, bulleted lists, page layouts and more are critical elements in content strategy.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
If your site is not coming up in the search engines, the cause is more than likely an outdated approach. A redesign will correct these flaws. In particular, the creation of a responsive design is a major component in determining SEO rankings – google’s most recent algorithm rewards responsive websites, while those that are not drop precipitously in search results.
SEO is not trickery – don’t buy the snake oil! Instead, the consistent use of sound and effective techniques over time will be rewarded – it’s about well presented, valuable content. If you are using WordPress, the use of a plugin such as All In One SEO or Yoast will aid in boosting your search engine rankings. Another very important component of SEO is social media integration – your social media accounts should be set up to work synergistically with your website to help you get noticed.
A Compelling, Engaging and Logical User Friendly Experience
If your site is too confusing and visitors can’t find what they are looking for, you will lose them. If your site is not compelling, you will also lose them. The goals of a redesign must include intuitive navigation, streamlined browsing and well-organized content presented in an engaging manner. Considerations include:
- “Flows” – the desired paths we want our visitors to travel in our sites leading to specific actions, whether making a phone call, acquiring knowledge or making a purchase.
- Storytelling – create compelling user experiences by telling stories- be personal, specific, unique, idiosyncratic, yourself.
- Website visitors don’t read, they scan. Create scannable content by using headings, white space, contrast and other assets strategically.
- Initiate a dialogue with visitors, involve them in discussions and gain their trust by addressing their needs and speaking with them honestly and directly.