Web design is hard. There are many factors that go into the process from deciding what the point is (who you are targeting and what you want to say to them?) to the interface design (what do I put on the front page?) to overall design (What is it going to look like?)
It can be expensive, and is always time-consuming, but in the end, you get a product you are proud of, that represents your business, speaks to your clientele, and is working for you.
Why on earth would you ever go through that process again?
The reality of it is... things change. People change. Web technology changes, and more often than not your BUSINESS changes. And yet I hear good companies complain to me that their website just isn't doing anything for them.
It's true. It isn't; but how do you know IF your website needs an update or a full blown redesign?
But What Are The Signs That It May Be Time For A Website Redesign?
Here Are 10 Questions To Ask Yourself:
Has your site changed in the last 10 months?
Is your site mobile friendly?
Is your site software (or is the VERSION of that software) still supported?
Are the problems on your existing site cost effective to fix?
Does your site look modern and up to date?
Can you add functionality to your site?
Is it easy to work on?
Is it optimized for the search engines?
Are you monitoring web traffic?
Are you turning web visitors into sales?
If you've answered no to one or more of these questions, that's a good indication that you need to look at what your website is doing for you, or if there's a point to having one at all.
1) Your site hasn't changed at all in the last 10 months
Today, the search engines are looking to promote a dynamic web. This means they want sites that are continually updated in order to provide a rich content experience for users. If your site's content hasn't changed in the past 10 months, it's probably time to re-think exactly what your website is doing for you. Content blogging is the best way to A) promote your services in a dynamic way, and B) provide more 'traction' for the search engines to grab onto (the search engines read your site and catalog it based on the content it finds).
Consider posting a blog with photos at least once a month to help increase site content, search engine visibility, increase traffic, and traffic retention. Give your viewers a reason to visit your site, and a reason to stay a while.
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2) Your current site is not Mobile Friendly
Today, over 80% of web traffic is done on a handheld, mobile device (That statistic is growing every day, and by the time you read this, it's probably higher). Because the screens on these devices are much smaller than a computer monitor, there is less screen 'real estate' to deliver your content on. All modern websites today should be built to be 'responsive' to mobile devices. The layout of the site changes depending on the size of the screen viewing the site (or 'viewport'). You can check the mobile friendliness of your site by looking at it in a normal web browser, and shrinking the browser window size to be narrower and narrower. If the site content shrinks to fit the screen regardless of the width, then your site is responsive. If not, it was built as a 'fixed width' site and needs to be updated.
It's important to note the difference between a mobile website, and a responsive website. In the old days, a mobile device would send a code to the server that said: "I'm a mobile phone". The server would respond by sending you to a mobile website, often with a different sub-domain like: "mobile.yourdomain.com" or "m.yourdomain.com". This is a wholly different site, which meant, in order to make updates, you had to update your own site and your mobile site. These days, a responsive layout simply detects the width of your screen and modifies itself to fit that screen. You only have to change data in one place! Very nice!
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3) The Software platform your site is built on is no longer supported.
Technology changes, fast. Sometimes it's hard to keep up with it, but it is important to do so. As web standards, and security concerns change, the platform your site is built on (like HTML, or a content management system like Drupal, Joomla or Wordpress) should change to follow suit. HTML techniques (like old HTML standards) need to be modified, or software versions need to be upgraded. If your site is built on a content-management-system like Drupal or Wordpress, the site may need to be updated (version 7.2 to 7.3) or upgraded to a new version completely (version 7.3 to 8.0). The latter usually represents a much more complex change, as major versions are more-often-than-not completely re-written to make sites more efficient. All of the components that go into managing content (web code, back-end database, and admin panels) become obsolete and incompatible with older versions. They either have to be converted to the new software, or completely re-written to follow the new rules. It's work, but in the end, keeping a website new and fresh looks better to your potential clients and the search engines that promote you. Check with your web developer to see if your site needs an upgrade.
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4) Your current site has problems that are not cost effective to fix.
As sites age, and web standards change, sometimes even simple updates require structural changes that might not be cost effective to fix. Site updates over time might render existing functionality obsolete, requiring time-consuming upgrades. Once your site reaches a point where fixing all the little problems inherent in the current version, becomes cost ineffective, it might be time to examine whether you're ready for a complete overhaul. Rebuilding your site from scratch gives you the opportunity to re-visit your website goals, restructure content for usability, re-prioritize your users 'journey', and modernize the look and feel of your site.
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5) Your website looks dated.
Styles change... in every area of life; clothing, vehicles, building architecture, and (of course) website styles. Years ago, designers could create 'fixed width' sites, where they had more control over the look of the site. Before mobile devices came on the scene in a huge way, sites could be more visually intricate and detailed. It didn't matter if they were efficient, streamlined because people were looking at them on their computers. Today, sites must be more flexible in the way they change or "respond" to fit the screen. The way people use the web has also changed. People want to find the information they're interested in quickly. Designs are more concise, and the content you want your users to see first appears on the home page of your site. A site redesign will allow your site to look more modern, and funnel users to your goal page (like a buy page, or contact page).
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6) Functionality can't be added to your existing website.
Modern content management systems allow scalability of your site. If you want to add functionality to your site (a complex web form, order page, etc...) it's much easier (and cost effective) to do when the site is built on a scalable platform, rather than building it from scratch on an HTML site.
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7) The site is difficult to work on.
This is a bit of a caveat today. In the old days of 'fixed width' sites built on a content management platform, it was enough to be able to add content in a "WYSIWYG" (What you See is What You Get) content editor. Adding an image, and flowing text around it was simple, as the site page width remained fixed. So what you saw on the page, would remain consistent user to user. Today, content must be optimized for mobile scalability (which often requires special coding). If you want to code the content yourself, it will be important to either familiarize yourself with basic responsive coding techniques or request a mobile-friendly content editing system on your new site. Think about what you WANT to be able to update on your site (like a blog post, or a product listing), vs. what you should let a website company do (or pages they may or may not change on a regular basis). Then tailor the 'back end' of your website to make editing those commonly edited areas easy.
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8) Your current site is not optimized for Search Engines.
"If you Built It... They will Come" does not apply to websites. These days, SEO or "Search Engine Optimization" is important for attracting people to your website. If they know you're there, they will shop with you, but gaining traction with the search engines is not easy. Google and the other major search engines are promoting 'a better web'. They will give priority listings to websites that promote new content, written in organic, human way. In order to achieve this, identify who your customer is, and what they are searching for... then write pages specifically for them, with keywords that support their needs, wants, and what they're looking for. every page on your site should solve a problem, or provide a needed service to your clientele. If these pages are focused enough and written with the keywords that people are looking for, they will be found.
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9) Your site is not being monitored for traffic.
Remember the old days of the "Click Counter" on your page. OOOoooohhh...! This page has been seen 57 times! That was pretty cool back in the day. Kind of a 'popularity gauge. Today, metrics like are almost completely useless. While It IS cool to know how many people have been to your site, it's much more valuable to know: what pages they're reading. How long they're staying on a particular page. Where they're coming from, and where they're going to. These kinds of metrics help you determine what kinds of people are interested in your product, and which pages are working (or not working). It's important to know. Check your web traffic once a month (it takes time to build up statistics), and then use that data to make your site better.
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10) Your website does NOT turn visitors into sales.
It's true that your website is as important as (if not more important than) your sales office/showroom. People are looking on the web for products and services to buy before they go to a brick and mortar location. Many times, they want to spend money ONLINE without even interacting with a pushy sales person. If your website is not supporting your brand well enough (or at all), potential customers are just going to move on to another store.
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Many small/medium businesses today don't realize the sales potential of an optimized website. Many people are 'too busy' to write blog articles or work their social media properly. Many companies or business owners just don't have the time, but as a marketing tool... It's important!
How many people drive by your store, compared to the amount of people that actually walk in and talk to you? Now think about how many people on the web just surf right by your website (especially those who are looking specifically for a product or service that you sell!).
Are they stopping by?