The start of a new year is a good time to reassess the state of your business and your website. Take a really good, hard, critical look at it. Is it refined like “My Fair Lady” or more like the original Eliza Doolittle – a bit rough around the edges? View your website from the perspective of a new potential client. What would they find? What impression would they get? Does it just need an update or a complete website redesign?
- Does your About page read like an ancient history lesson?
- If your latest information is dated more than 12 months ago, it almost shouts “move on, there’s nothing to see here, folks”.
- Who cares if you won awards in 2008 and 2009? What happened in the past 3 years? Perhaps it’s all gone downhill since then…
- Your last blog was posted in September 2011. Maybe you’ve been too busy, but maybe you no longer care about the business?
- Your pages are full of text which looks too time-consuming to process in today’s fast world.
First impressions are critical. Your website is the place that people come to assess whether they want to do business with you [read more in “Is your website central to your marketing?”]. So if you find any of the above issues, get them fixed asap.
- Firstly, bring your information up to date. Make sure you include updated keywords for SEO [see my post about DIY SEO for hints and tips].
- Add new images.
- Have someone proofread it for spelling and grammatical errors.
- Fix or delete broken links.
- Update or even delete some of the pages that no longer have much relevance.
- Clean up text-heavy pages – edit and pare back what’s there and make use of headers and bullet points so it’s easier to scan.
- Perhaps it’s time to recommence blogging. You could start by doing a recap/update of blogs you’ve published in the past.
- Don’t forget to add social sharing links and include links to your own social media outlets (if you use them). [Find out how in Connecting your Website and Social Media]
Website Update vs Website Redesign
Your website might be in need of more than a little spit and polish. Here are 4 occasions when you should definitely consider a website redesign or major revamp:
- If your site hasn’t changed since 2006. Or it was done “on the cheap”… and looks it;
- If you’re rebranding or want to move your business online with e-commerce;
- If your competitors all have far better websites than yours;
- If your site was built on Flash, or doesn’t work on mobile devices.
1 & 2. Start again from scratch
If your site looks old, cluttered or cheap, and no longer matches your business model, it’s probably time for a complete redesign. Firstly, consider your goals for the new site. Are you trying to:
- solve problems that exist with the old site?
- increase traffic to your new site?
- enhance the experience for your website visitors?
Plan to not only meet these aims but also pave the way for future expansion.
- Don’t try to cram new product lines and features into an existing site structure. It could end up cluttered or too hard to navigate. Plan the menu layout carefully.
- If you’re adding an online store it’s generally much simpler to build a new site on an ecommerce platform than to try and shoehorn an ecommerce solution into your existing site.
- If the focus of your business is changing, your website needs to reflect the new you. It may need to appeal to a new or expanded audience, so reassess your target market’s profile. Aim for consistency of colours and layout to reflect your branding.
3. Assess your Competition
Have you taken a look recently at your competitors’ websites? See what they are they doing well, and think how you could do similar – or better. Look at their marketing messages, how they differentiate themselves, and what value they add for their website visitors. Perhaps your competitors are offering some great free content or free product trials. If they’re not, then beat them to it!
Compare your website against your competition via http://marketing.grader.com.
Maybe you think your website stacks up ok, but you haven’t added social media channels, while the others are busy building an online community of fans.
4. Time to get Mobile
According to Google Australia, over 50% of internet access will soon be via mobile devices. With so many people using smart phones and tablets, your website needs to be accessible to them. Did you know that websites built on Flash can’t even be displayed on many common devices?
A standard brochure website might display ok on a phone screen (with a little scrolling), but if more interaction is required it would be a good idea to get your site optimised for mobile screens, or built on a “Responsive Web Design” platform. This means that the same site will display/function differently when viewed on different device types.
Mobile device users (especially on phones) don’t want fancy animation and large downloads; they want speed and easy access to the most useful information. Make sure you discuss these needs up front when planning a website redesign.
Things to remember during a Redesign:
- Analyse your existing website to see which pages attract the most visits and leads, and make sure you maintain these under the new design.
- Keep your page urls the same, or add redirects from the old to the new. You don’t want people clicking on an search engine listing and receiving a “page not found” error. It also means you retain your hard-earned SEO ranking.
- Stay “on-brand” once you determine how things should look. Maintain consistency of fonts and colours not only across your website, but also your social media pages. You might even consider new business cards and brochures to match the new look. [See my other post about using colour wisely…]
Get a Website Healthcheck before you start
If you really aren’t sure what needs to change, or how to go about it, contact Right Hand Design for a comprehensive Website Healthcheck.
Approach your website redesign thoughtfully and also commit to keeping it fresh and up-to-date in the future. A well-designed, well targeted website design could see your business transformed like Eliza Doolittle. Oh, wouldn’t it be luvverly?