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Apr 12, 2017

Business Website Success #1: Determining if You Need a Redesign

While the age of a website is a good indicator of whether it is time for it to be redesigned, in truth there are more indicators to consider.  Like us humans, some websites age better than others.  You can be 100 years old and still run a marathon (it’s very rare, but it’s been done) or 20 years old and an out of shape couch potato (probably not as rare, unfortunately).  A well designed site from a reputable development company can have a much longer and more productive lifespan than a poorly designed website.  That said, you should do a health report on your website each year to make sure it is still performing at it’s best for you.

So, let’s look at what to consider to determine if you need a website redesign:

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Is Your Website Mobile-Responsive?

Let’s start with this, as it’s important and always a top discussion point in most of my new client communications.  In April of 2015 Google officially began penalizing websites that were not mobile-responsive. This was done in a way to force mobile compliance on website owners.  Why?  Because over half of Google’s search visitors are preforming a search on their mobile device.  Mobile users now drive the industry.  If Google’s mobile users keep getting directed to sites that are hard to use on their mobile device, they will have more incentive to explore other search options.  Google wants to stay the dominant force in search (as well as have more great content they can feed to their Android users), so forcing mobile compliance is a win for Google.  If your site has been mobile-responsive already, then Google’s forced mobile compliance has also been a win for you as it gives you a leg up on your non-mobile-responsive competition.  As more and more businesses “mobilize” their sites (as we like to call it), a non-mobile-responsive site will continue to lose it’s competitiveness in the Google search results.

There’s no way around it – if your site is not mobile responsive, you need a website redesign.  You may be able to make your existing design mobile responsive, but typically, if a site is not mobile responsive now, it is an older design.  If it’s an older design and/or using a code base that gives web designers fits (just mention the word “tables” and see what happens…) you may as well get a new design as part of the process and get a better overall return on your investment.

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Does Your Website Have an Outdated Design?

This probably goes without saying, but if your site looks dated, it’s time for a redesign.  If you are still using Flash animations (or your whole site is in Flash!), framed content, “splash” intro pages, and other expired technology or techniques, then you need to call a web designer fast.  Additionally, if it’s an outdated design, it probably already failed the mobile smell test above.  Always keep your design fresh to maintain your credibility.

“Credibility?”

Absolutely!  Credibility sells products and services – your business offering is judged on how your site looks.  Even if you don’t think design means a hill of beans to your particular B-to-B business model, I guarantee I can show you multiple examples of your competitors who are knocking site design out of the park – and using that established credibility by taking business from you.

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Is Your Website Hard to Manage?

If managing your website is a laborious process involving web editors and FTP accounts or a poorly-designed content management system (CMS), then likely the content on your site is out-of-date as nobody in your company has the time or inclination to deal with the update process.  Likewise, if every update to the website involves using a paid website developer, your site may be too costly to manage.  In this case a website redesign on an easy-to-use content management system could be an excellent solution.  If your site becomes easy to manage in-house, you’re more likely to keep it fresh with content and then get noticed by the search engines (they like sites that are updated frequently!), thus driving more traffic to it.

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Are There Security Concerns With Your Existing Website?

Your website should always be an asset and never a liability.  Websites with security concerns that are not easily fixable are sites that should be rebuilt with the proper security in place.  These security concerns can be both due to potential hacker exploits as well as being unfamiliar with proper online operational methods.  For example, a primary purpose of your website could be to sell products online, but you have a custom shopping cart that collects and stores credit card orders in a Microsoft Access database on your hosting server and then emails the order information (including credit card info) to your email inbox – this would be a major liability waiting to burn you.  If your business depends on those online orders, you would need to shut down the existing site immediately and replace it with a new site with a proper and secure shopping cart.  If you’re not sure if your website has security concerns, having a reputable website developer assess your site would be recommended, especially if you collect any financial or personal information from your site visitors.

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Has Your Company Recently Re-branded Itself?

If you have your shiny new logo on your vehicle wrap, billboard, magazine advertising, etc., but your website still has your old logo and branding, then it’s time for a redesign.  And just swapping out your logo on a site usually doesn’t qualify as a re-brand – you need to address all elements of the branding including color, content, and overall messaging (not just design aesthetics).

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Has Your Website’s Customer Base Evolved or Changed?

If you are still pitching your business in the same manner as you did 5 years ago, but in the last 2 years your customer base has evolved or changed, then you need to consider a redesign.  Maybe your products or services have changed.  For example, maybe you used to build residential homes and now you focus primarily on commercial construction.  Or maybe your computer repair store now mostly focuses on tablet repair.  Have your most loyal customers gone from young, twenty-somethings to married home-makers? Whatever the case may be, make sure your site is tracking with you on the new directions your company is going and appeals to your customers.

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Is Your Website Not Performing?

While this is not necessarily solved by a redesign, sometimes a low performing site can only be fully corrected with a full redesign.  Surprisingly, many website owners don’t know the true performance of their site.  So, what exactly am I referring to when mentioning the “performance” of the site?  Primarily, I’m inquiring as to whether the site is converting visitors into customers.  If you can track a lot of income directly to business your site generates, then you have a high performing website. If you can’t track any income, or very little, as generated from your website, then you *may* have a low performing website.

“May” you ask…?  Wouldn’t it seem that if you can’t track any income from your site, then it is most definitely a low performing website?

More than likely yes, but it could be that you simply don’t have a system in place to track your performance online.  However, assuming you have a method in place for this, a skilled website developer can review your site to determine what is needed to improve your conversions.

Conclusion:

I hope these indicators are helpful for you in determining if you are in need of a website redesign.  If your site shows any health concerns when examined by these indicators, my next blog post in this series will explore the planning and goal setting for your new website.

 


This article is the first part of an ongoing series! Be sure to visit us often to catch the rest of our Business Website Success articles.

 

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