Written by Skadi Gidionsen - Opus Design
Written by Skadi Gidionsen - Opus Design
Your website looks decent, you have gotten used to all its little imperfections, limitations and can work around things that are not perfect. There are no real reasons to upgrade your website, to invest considerable time and budget. It’s good enough – but is it?
For most companies and institutions, the website is the first impression their audience has of them. Sometimes, it is in fact the only chance you have to interest someone in your product. If you provide information, and it is difficult to find it or outdated, your visitors will likely leave and go to a competitor. So “setting and forgetting” is not a practice beneficial to your business.
A website refresh or redesign does not need to take the better part of a year. Depending on the size of your site, a full redesign can be done in a few months, if you approach it methodically and with the right support. Sometimes just focusing on a smaller refresh of your site hierarchy and formatting your pages consistently is all you need. You can make small, progressive changes that don’t take much time but make the experience better for your user.
Having said this, here are the top signs it’s time to upgrade your website:
1. You can't remember the last time you updated your homepage:
The content on your homepage is outdated, imagery is still showing fashion from 2010, you are using the login from the person who had the job before you did…. site visitors will notice these things. In a world where first impressions are often everything, the homepage in particular needs to be current and updated regularly.
2. Your navigation looks like spaghetti:
If you’ve ever thought “I will just make a new page for this information and put it under /about”, your navigation may be in need of an upgrade. Are your users finding what they are looking for? Is it intuitive? Is it representative of your brand, of what you do? It is important to consistently keep these questions in mind, especially when looking at your site navigation.
3. Your pages all have different size images and fonts:
Consistent structure and formatting of pages make it easy for the user to read and scan content. That way, the user can focus on what they are trying to accomplish on your site and have a more joyful experience. This immediately translates into their overall attitude about your company or institution. “Easy on the eyes” is an expression for a reason. Users that enjoy your site are more likely to convert.
4. Your site is not responsive:
Having a responsive website means that your site is optimized for desktop as well as tablet and mobile. On average, around 40% of web traffic in the US comes from mobile devices. You want to make sure users can access all your content, no matter how they get to it. Definitely a reason to upgrade your website.
5. To update any text or images, you need to ask a developer:
It is important to keep your content current. This means making regular updates. If your site does not use a CMS that allows you to easily make changes, you may want to consider a change. There are many easy to use options, such as Squarespace or WordPress, and more complex but powerful ones like Drupal or Sitecore. The goal of all of them is to make it easy to continuously update your content and stay current for your users.
6. Your last developer has moved to Hawaii:
If you have a CMS and have not been maintaining it, not running the necessary security and plugin updates, you may be exposed to hacking. Functionality on your site may have stopped working. Or you keep thinking that there must be an easier way to do this mundane maintenance thing. Technology evolves as much as your business evolves, and there are always ways to make site maintenance easier.
7. Only the 2 most senior people were present for the last update:
When nobody really remembers who, how, what was changed during the last update, it is definitely a reason to upgrade your website. Technology and design styles change rapidly. User behavior changes with all the different devices, and your website needs to change with them, grow with them. If your site does not grow with these changes, your business can not grow. The more you stay on top of changes and continuously improve, the happier your users will be.
8. SEO? What is SEO:
Search Engine Optimization. The way the majority of your users will find you, using search engines such as Google, Bing or Yahoo (if in the US). The search engines crawl your site and index each page and page content, so when a user types in search terms, they know what pages and websites provide content relevant to the search. The more relevant the content, and the more visited the site, the higher up the site or page will show in the search results. Yes, you should be paying close attention to this. CMS plugins such as Yoast (for WordPress) and Real-time SEO (for Drupal) can make this easier by monitoring and evaluating content and giving recommendations for changes.
9. Your site still lives at http:
If you have not updated your site yet from http to https, you should think about making this upgrade. Aside from wanting the additional security, Google now looks at sites at http less favorably and will rank them lower in their search results. After working so hard to improve your content for SEO, be careful not to hurt your rankings yourself.
10. Last time you looked at analytics, IE9 was still a thing:
Know your user. Enough said – or read our Top Analytics Metrics article for more details.
11. You have never thought about your audience profile:
To have a successful business, you have to know your audience. The majority of your audience will look at your website at some point or another. So you need to make sure they can accomplish their task quickly and easily, whether it is finding information or completing a task.
To summarize, if you can’t (or don’t) update your site regularly, content is not accessible on mobile, you can only vaguely remember the last redesign, nobody can find what they are looking for – it is time to upgrade your website.