The internet has changed the way the marketing game is played. The web has become, in our opinion, the best and most cost-effective way to market your business. For this reason, it is very important that you update your website to keep it relevant, optimized, and safe.
Trends in web design change damn near daily, so it’s almost essential to try and keep up with them. Regular design updates can actually save you money. It’s literally vital to remain congruent with web standards. Consistency while browsing the web is important, especially for those who aren’t savvy with technology; this fosters familiarity and helps establish brand identity.
Additionally, search engines like Google are constantly updating their algorithms to provide the best search results. Updating your website to best address these updates is critical to maintaining your site’s ranking.
1. Visual Appeal
It’s all about the visuals; aesthetic drives appeal. Perception is everything. The appearance of your website is a direct reflection of your business. Wouldn’t you want your brand to be perceived well?
If so, you need to position yourself and your company as an authority in your field. First impressions are imperative to portraying this vision, so it is critical that you refresh and update your website regularly to stay on top of the latest design trends.
Likewise, if your site looks outdated and structured poorly, potential clients may subconsciously think that your business is outdated and structured poorly as well. They may not even think you’re operating and pass over your business. Your website should highlight your products and/or services in a positive light that encourages visitors to find out more about you, which potentially leads them to hire you or purchase your products.
It indeed is a driving and decisive factor in decision making for your prospects.
Your website should also be designed to not only be visibly appealing, but adapt to different viewports and be easy to navigate, on multiple device types. This is called a “Responsive Website”.
Regardless of whether visitors view your website from a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or mobile phone, it should dynamically adjust for each of these devices. You don’t want to alienate, and leave a bad impression on any potential clients, so it’s crucial that you maintain a responsive design that accommodates all modern devices.
If you have ears to hear, we’re sure you’ve heard the horror stories all the time about websites getting hacked. The most publicized ones usually include a digitally defaced homepage that shows some cringe-worthy, terrible message about who hacked your website and why they did it.
These guys are the dregs of the internet. However, there are many other sneaky ways that hackers can infiltrate and compromise your website. They could hack into the backend of your website and use it as a spam server, which can considerably slow your website down to a crawl and that crap eventually gets you blacklisted.
You may ask, what in the wild world of sports is Blacklisting? Well friend, it means that your web address (domain name) is added to naughty lists on servers all over the world that block others from visiting your website and sending email messages to you. As you can imagine, that could be a big problem for your business, effectively rendering your site utterly useless.
To protect you, your website, and your email from being hacked, one of the most important things you can do is to make sure your website’s software stays up-to-date. Whether you are using a Content Management System (CMS) or even if your site is hand-coded, you need to make sure that these programs and software keep up with modern technologies.
Another aspect to take into consideration is your hosting platform — making sure you are hosted with a reputable company that cares about security. Sometimes there are some extra hassles that come along with security, but they are worth it in the long run.
First impressions are often conducive with the overall design of your website, but that is just the beginning. Once you’ve grabbed their attention, you need to further interest them with great content. Your written words should be interesting while also providing important information about the products and/or services you offer.
When updating or redesigning your website, this is a great opportunity to sit down, strategize and fine-tune your content.
Be sure to write copy that is simple, on-target, and effective. Keep in mind, you only have 2 to 4 seconds to engage your visitors and hopefully convert them into customers — this isn’t just about wowing them with slick graphics — you have to use relevant keywords and phrases that capture their interest.
From a marketing standpoint, your website’s effectiveness is critical. You need to keep an eye on your statistics — see what visitors are clicking on, which pages they visit, and how long they stick around. In addition to watching your statistics with a tool such as Google Analytics, there are numerous ways to study the effects of your website.
There are techniques such as heat mapping, conversion tracking and user recordings that can help you better understand how visitors are traversing your website and what causes them to contact and potentially hire you.
One great way to make your website more effective is to make use of calls-to-actions (CTA). To put it simply, a call-to-action (CTA) is a button or link that you place on your website to drive prospective customers to become leads by completing an action on your website.
For example, you may want to drive visitors to a landing page dedicated to a lead generation campaign, or to simply sign up for a monthly newsletter. The key here is to make sure that your CTAs are clearly defined and are interesting enough to your visitors that they actually follow them. In a nutshell, you need to make it easy for your visitors to find the end goal and help them get there.
5. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Now that you have a beautifully designed site and well-written, relevant content, you need to update your SEO settings so people can find you. SEO rules are constantly changing — and we’d be hard pressed to read every article about Google updating their algorithms.
You can feel the ramifications of these updates no matter if you’re paying attention or not. Every time the search engines make their own updates, your website is potentially affected. You need to stay on top of the new iterations; the longer you wait, the further behind you become.
When you update your website’s appearance and content, this is a perfect opportunity to also update the SEO settings. You may need a reassessment of your newly-updated content, but it may also involve updating the underlying code associated with the new design. When you have your website redesigned, it is important to consider these options.
No room for complacency online. Visitor trends change as technology changes. To paint a picture; a common design aspect just a few years ago involved the notion that the most important information on your website needed to be “above the fold”. This meant that when a visitor viewed your website, you wanted to show them the most important features without requiring any scrolling.
Nowadays, the majority of visitors use their mobile phones, which actually encourages the use of your finger to scroll, and forces your site to adapt to the device it’s being viewed on. Now are you seeing the correlation to having a responsive design? Let’s examine further.
Another important usability feature has to do with navigation. Most websites these days use horizontal navigation, which is great on devices with larger screens. But when viewed on smaller devices such as tablets and smartphones, the navigation system needs to adjust accordingly.
Modern websites often use what is called a “hamburger menu”, which is a small icon consisting of three horizontal lines. This symbol is now universally recognized as a button that opens a menu.
In the case of smaller devices, the menu is displayed as a vertical menu, with enough spacing between each menu item to accommodate finger tapping. These are but a few examples of usability features that are key components to a responsive website.
7. Load Times
These days, it is catalytic that you grab the attention of your visitors within seconds of their arrival to your website. The human attention span is less than a goldfish these days. While all four of the points above play a part in this process, none of them will be applicable if your visitors become impatient waiting for your website to load in the first place.
Loading times have become so important that even Google is rewarding sites that load faster with better search results placement.
You heard it — Google will place you higher in search results if your website loads faster than those of your competitors. Speed is king in the universe.
There are many factors that contribute to load times, including image sizes, optimization of your website’s file system, page caching, and even your web hosting account. There are methods available for optimizing all of these factors. If you’re serving many local clients and have a lot of traffic to your website, you should avoid “shared” web hosting like the plague. You should talk to us to find out more about options to speed up your website.
When to Refresh Your Site?
Reality cannot be escaped; and neither can industry best practices. Security, SEO and content updates should be done at least monthly, in most cases. It’s important that your website be a safe place for you and your visitors, and content needs to be accurate and up-to-date.
Usability and functional updates could probably be performed during an annual website audit.
Design and other updates, such as a design refresh, are recommended every 2 to 3 years – and even that can be a long time in terms of technological advances.
The points above are a mere seven of a plethora of ways to keep your website updated, fresh, and appealing to visitors. While there may be other reasons your website needs to be updated, these are some very poignant and compelling reasons to consider doing so.