Your website is often the first contact any potential client has with your business. It’s out there spruiking and selling your services 24/7, and as such, is one of the most powerful marketing tools you have at your disposal.
I often find that SME owners think that once they’ve had a website designed and developed, they can simply move on and let it do its thing. However a website isn’t something you can set and forget. If it’s more than a couple of years old, chances are it’s already outdated, and could be costing rather than generating sales leads.
Here’s a few reasons why you should update your website, and how your business will benefit:
- If it’s been a few years since you had your website built or updated …
A stale, static website full of old content looks unprofessional and will damage potential customers’ assessment of your business. Your website should work to build credibility and trust with the consumer, so if they don’t like what they see, they’ll simply click away and find a competitor whose website showcases a more professional image.
It really doesn’t take too many years until your site looks out of date – when it comes to technology, two years is a long time. Design trends are constantly shifting as websites become increasingly user-friendly and optimised for use on both PCs and mobile devices. This means that on average, a website should be revamped every two to three years in order to meet consumer expectations.
Some of the latest key design trends that can enhance both the aesthetics and useability of your website include:
- Card layout – a modular layout where easily-scanned information is presented in boxes on the page, a good example is Pinterest
- ‘Hero’ images – compelling images can pique curiosity and improve your call-to-action
- Long-scroll navigation – single page sites with long-scroll navigation are becoming increasingly popular. This format simplifies navigation, is mobile-friendly, and promotes user interaction
- Hamburger menu – the three horizontal bars that contain the site menus. (Be careful with this one though, as ease of navigation must still be a primary consideration.)
- If it’s not optimised for mobile devices (responsive design) …
Can people view your website on their phone while they’re out shopping? Or on their tablet while they’re watching television?
‘Responsive design’ is the technology that makes your website automatically adjust to all devices, and it’s something that’s now essential, given that mobile devices now account for a massive 60 per cent of all internet traffic.*
Since April 2015, Google’s search results have favoured mobile-friendly websites. This means that if your website isn’t optimised for viewing on tablets and smartphones as well as desktops, you’re not only missing out on valuable site traffic but your search engine ranking will fall.
- If you find that your bounce rates are high but few people convert
Your bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who come to your website and look at only one page. A high bounce rate can occur when plenty of traffic can find your website, but they then don’t find what they’re looking for, or the website isn’t user-friendly enough.
Since a primary function of your website is to attract leads and funnel them through to conversion (e.g. joining your mailing list, making a purchase, etc) a high bounce rate indicates that it’s time for an update.
To help ensure that more visitors to your site convert into quality leads, improve the user experience with simple design tweaks such as using a larger font, placing copy into easy-to-read bulleted lists, and an uncluttered layout.
You want visitors to find what they’re looking for, so make sure pages load quickly and that site navigation is both simple and intuitive, with good search functionality.
Include a clear call to action (such as filling out a simple contact form, encouraging them to make phone contact, or leading them to your product sales page), and ensure that links as the user progresses through the website are clear.
Content is a consideration here also: relevant, engaging, informative and entertaining copy will help make your site more ‘sticky’ and bring the bounce rate down.
- If your website no longer aligns with your branding or key marketing focus …
If it’s been a few years since you built your website, you might find that your branding or core business focus has altered direction, and your website no longer accurately represents what your business is all about. As your 24/7 shopfront, it’s vital that your website is updated to encapsulates and reinforces your brand image and messaging.
- If your content hasn’t been updated in a while …
Google loves new content. When your website is regularly updated, it is crawled more often, which improves your ranking opportunities. Keep this in mind when re-designing your website, and ensure that it includes back-end functionality that enables you to easily add and update content as necessary.
- If it’s too slow to load or there are other functionality issues …
Good functionality is fundamental to a high-performing website, and this is increasingly connected to speed and ease of navigation. It takes visitors an average of just eight seconds to decide whether your website offers what they’re looking for, and stats have shown that just a one-second delay in load time can cost a 7% loss in conversions.
When updating your website, consider:
- If your existing website uses Flash, it’s probably time for a change, as Apple devices don’t support Flash and it can slow the site down.
A high-performance website – one that works to attract and convert leads – is a dynamic entity; as much a work in progress as your business is. Investing in regularly refreshing its look and updating content is fundamental to marketing success and successful lead generation.