Every business needs a website. It’s that simple. Gone are the days where an online presence was optional or a ‘nice to have’, as we live and operate within a society that expects to be able to pull out their laptop, tablet or smartphone and find the information they’re looking for and, if your business isn’t there a competitor will be and that’s what they’ll find.
Your website is a key tool in establishing your business’ credibility and, if set up properly, can open up more opportunities for sales, marketing and partnerships.
As technology and best practice is fast-changing and customer mindsets and behaviours are adapting to these changes almost as quickly as they change, it is important to ensure that your website doesn’t fall behind. The development of a website for your business should never be seen as a one-off project, but rather an ongoing investment that grows, adapts and changes in line with technological developments and customer purchasing behaviours.
But, how do you know when it’s time to give your website a facelift or, in some cases, a complete overhaul? There can be many factors that contribute to the decision to update or redo a business website, but the following tell-tale signs can be clear indicators:
- Not responsive – The time spent on mobile devices now far outweighs the amount of time spent on desktops, meaning that if your website is not responsive to adapt to the varying screens of the various devices that consumers are using, you are more than likely losing a lot of prospective customers. If a prospective customer is unable to access your website on their device of choice of the experience is poor due to the lack of responsiveness, they will likely be turned off and look elsewhere.
- No CMS – A high performing website is one that is constantly updated. Content additions (i.e. blogs or news articles) and adjustments (i.e. change in operating hours or change in address) will not only keep your customers up to date with the latest news and events in your business, but will also improve your website’s performance in online search results. However, having updates implemented by an outside provider can be very costly and can result in a longer wait time before being published. Equipping your website with a Content Management System (CMS) will allow you to make simple changes yourself, saving time and cost.
- Long loading times – Having to wait for a page to load can frustrate users, who are often time poor or just don’t like to have to be waiting between pages when browsing a site. We live in a world where there is always an ‘instant version’ of everything and with this becoming the new norm, waiting times translate as a waste of time.
- Presence and/or recurrence of a glitch – Your website should work to establish the credibility of your business, however broken links, error messages and missing images can give the impression that the website and therefore your business is not properly managed.
- Site cannot be found online – People find businesses online through searching for specific keywords or by seeing and clicking on online advertisements. Failure to show up in organic search results will result in many prospective customers not finding your business and instead, finding a competitors website and going to them with their browsing time and potential patronage.
- Site is old and outdated – If the website still requires the use of Flash (which is not supported by certain smartphones and which can’t be read by Google, Bing and Yahoo), has never (or rarely) been updated, has low traffic volume coming through, and doesn’t show signs of customer engagement, then you know the website is no longer working or fulfilling its purpose.
- High bounce rate – Bounce rate is essentially the rate at which visitors leave the website. If the visitors leave the site after only viewing the homepage, this is an indication that there is something wrong with your website or at the very least, your homepage is not set up in a way that compels users to stay on and explore your site further. Google Analytics can be used to track the performance of your website and if you don’t have it installed on your website yet, this should be the next thing that you do after reading this.
- Revisits down – You can easily determine the number of people returning to your website through the insights provided by Google Analytics. People are drawn to websites that are updated frequently with content that is of value them. People also typically go back to websites that are easy to use and navigate. If the design of your website is not user-friendly and/or is visually outdated, visitors might not find any reason to revisit.
- If you’ve rebranded – If eyes are the window to a person’s soul, the website is the window to understanding a business. Therefore, your website should reflect your business’ brand positioning, messaging and branding elements consistently. Failure to do so may lead to mismanagement of customer expectations.
- New functionality requirements – As mentioned above, technology and mindsets are constantly changing, websites need to adapt to these changes or risk being left behind and missing out on opportunities. New functionality and capabilities are often emerging that help to drive traffic to the site and encourage user engagement.
- User experience and usability issues – Time is money and the easier and faster a user can find what they’re looking for on your website, the better. There are a multitude of studies that have been conducted over the years to assess the behaviour of customers when viewing websites. To ensure a positive experience for your user, it is best to ensure that your website’s user experience is reviewed against best practice and (if needed) updated or adjusted based on this.
For a business to compete in the current environment, a website is a necessity, however a website can be all but useless if it isn’t properly maintained and managed. The most effective websites go through a series of adjustments and updates as time passes, to ensure that all components come together to provided the best possible user experience.
If you suspect that your website may need updating but you’re not sure where to start, speak to a consultant who can help you determine if you do need a complete overhaul, or whether a simple refresh will be sufficient, as well as discuss where to start and what the next steps should be.