Time for a Website Refresh? 9 Smart Questions to Ask.

Website technology and trends change constantly, and consumer expectations are rising at an even faster pace. So, it’s a common question – how often should we refresh our company’s website? Some in the industry will say anywhere between two to five years.

Rather than answer the question with an arbitrary date, you should evaluate whether your website is performing well, delivering on your business objectives and meeting the needs of its users (including your sales and marketing teams). If it isn’t, there’s no time like the present for a refresh.

The answers to these 9 questions can help you decide if now is the right time to redesign your website.

  1. Are you making the best first impression?

You only get one chance to make a first impression, and in today’s digital world, that’s often your website. Outdated and unappealing designs or difficult, clunky navigation will leave customers confused or turned off – and some will never come back.

One common mistake is to jam-pack everything on to the home page. Today’s digital trends lean toward a minimalistic style with a simple, clean design and short copy blocks with limited text. Consider the home page as the cover of a book. It should be visually appealing and say just enough to motivate someone to open the book and read more. Even better, they should want to buy it.

  1. Is your site responsive and optimized for desktop, mobile and tablet?

In 2015, Google determined that for the first time, more searches in the U.S. were being done on mobile devices than on desktops.[1] And that trend hasn’t slowed down. Smartphones and tablets have changed when and where people consume information. A responsive website design will allow visitors to experience your website intuitively and easily, no matter what device they are using, with layout, content, imagery and other design assets appearing and functioning in ways that make sense for each device.

Many designers design for mobile first. Designing for a small screen format will force you to focus on what’s most important and the easiest ways for users to access it (think like a minimalist!). Once you’ve prioritized these key elements, the desktop design will come naturally.

  1. Is your site’s design and messaging consistent with your brand?

If you’ve recently gone through a rebrand, you’ll want to make sure you’ve scrubbed your website thoroughly to ensure it reflects your new brand. Likewise, your business strategies may have shifted since the last update. Have these updates been incorporated throughout your website?

Make sure your online presence fully represents who you are as a company and what you want to be known for – including your business strategies, product offerings and key messaging. Not only will it help you convert more visitors into customers, it also will ensure that you’re attracting the right customers and setting the right expectations about what they can expect from your business and your products or services.

  1. Is your website generating revenue, converting sales or attracting leads?

Conversions are the actions you want your website visitors to take, whether that’s making a purchase, filling out a contact form, or anything in between. If you haven’t looked at your website’s analytics lately (or if you haven’t set up analytics yet), do this now. If people are finding your site but quickly leaving (high bounce rate and low average time-on-site) or not visiting many of your pages (low pages-per-visit), your visitors either aren’t finding your website useful or are unable to locate what they want or need. 

  1. Does your site rank high on search engine results?

Gone are the days where simply loading your site with keywords would improve your search ratings. Google algorithms are constantly changing and they reward websites that keep up. If you haven’t touched your site in a few years, you may not be showing up high enough in search results, which can keep people from finding you online.

Keep an eye on the most up-to-date SEO best practices to optimize your site structure while delivering fresh, quality content that’s easy to find. And, if it gets too technical or you need some additional help developing or implementing a more sophisticated digital strategy, enlist the help of a partner with SEO optimization expertise. They’ll know the latest trends and will have experience with what works and what’s a waste of time.

  1. Is your site loading quickly?

And by quickly, we mean about 3 seconds. If your site is slow, visitors won’t wait, and your first impression will be blown. Some quick troubleshooting can pinpoint where the problems are – and whether they warrant an immediate redesign or can be managed with some quick fixes until you’re ready.

  1. Does your website stand apart from your competitors?

How often are you perusing your competitors’ sites? Once a year? Less? Things move quickly in the digital world, and those who stay “on-trend” will stay ahead in the market.

Does your website design stand out from competitors or does it look outdated or cluttered? How do competitor’s sites appear on mobile devices? Where are they showing up in search results? Understanding your competitors’ digital presence and where you stack up against them should be major drivers of your own site design.

You can easily set up ongoing alerts to help keep track of the changes your competitors are making to their websites with a service like VisualPing. Set up some dedicated time on an ongoing basis to review what your competitors are up to. And (hint) do it more than once a year.

And, don’t be shy to look outside your industry. Think about what sites you absolutely love – and consider how you could incorporate their style, structure or functionality into your company’s website. You may not be an online retailer, but there is something to learn from businesses who live or die by their website.

  1. Are you using rich media like video and audio?

Let’s face it, our attention spans are shrinking. We want to consume as much content as we can, as quickly as we can. Not only are videos eye-catching, if done right, they can convey your messages in a more powerful and compelling way than standard text.

Think about what type of content you can provide in a non-text format. If your site doesn’t support rich media yet, a site redesign is probably in order and you’ll want to build it on a content management system (CMS) that you can easily manage. Speaking of which…

  1. Is your site easy to update and maintain?

If you need a developer or specialized coding expertise to make simple content changes to your website, stop. What you really need is a web design built on a user-friendly and robust CMS. The easier and user-friendly the CMS, the more likely you will be able to keep content fresh, remain consistent with your brand and support your content marketing strategy – all of which are good for SEO and good for business.

The Right Time

There’s no tried and true date for a website refresh. If you answered no to any of the questions above, you may want to consider a redesign or at least some incremental changes to tide you over until a complete overhaul is needed. If you answered no to more than four, we strongly recommend taking action sooner rather than later.

Redesigning a website is no small feat and it requires commitment and resources on your part whether you’re leading the charge or enlisting experts to help with strategy, design, content and execution. But if your website isn’t meeting the needs of your users, you’re not attracting the right customers, not achieving your business goals, or your competitors are leaving you behind in the dust, there’s no better time than now to get started.

[1] https://adwords.googleblog.com/2015/05/building-for-next-moment.html

 


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