Nov 12, 2013

Checklist: Should You Redesign Your Website?

More and more, a company’s website is the first, valuable interaction with a new customer. Is your website stuck in the Stone Age (and by Stone Age, I mean the 90’s and 00’s)?  What impression are you giving the 58% of American adults who according to Pew Research Center research the products and services they are interested in online before purchasing or engaging a company?

Website RedesignWeb technologies and standards change rapidly.  What people expected from a website even 3 years ago is very different from today.  If you’ve invested in a website, you want to make sure that you’re getting the most out of that investment. Even more importantly, you want to make sure you’re not losing potential or existing customers because of your website. Additionally, there’s always the possibility that your website could use improvements that have nothing to do with new technologies and web standards, and more to do with content and relevance.

Here are a few things you should check today:

  1. Does your website still work in all modern browsers?
    If your website was launched just a year or two ago, some of the browsers that people are using in order to view your website might not have even been around.  Test your site on all the most popular of the latest browsers.  As of this writing, those should be Internet Explorer 8, Internet Explorer 9, Internet Explorer 10, Firefox 25, Chrome 31, and Safari 6 (on Mac).
  2. Does your website exclude mobile visitors?
    Your whole website may not need to be mobile-friendly, but you should probably have at least a single landing page for smart phones, iPhones, and iPads. Our own customers have seen anywhere from 10% to 50% of their visitors coming from mobile devices. Do you really want to exclude a large chunk of your potential visitors?  Check your website statistics to see how many people are trying to access your website via mobile devices.  Then check your website on those devices? If your site includes some older technology and coding practices, you are likely to have usability and display issues.
  3. Are you using social media to connect with your customers and potential customers?
    If not, you should be. If you are, have you integrated your social presence into your website? At the very least, be sure you are providing links to your social channels. However you can also integrate feeds and special social tools to make the content on your website more dynamic and easily shared.
  4. Is your content out of date?
    If your product and service information is out of date, inaccurate, or misleading, you need to get that updated ASAP.  If people can tell immediately that the last time you updated your website was years ago (for instance, you have a link to Download the 2009 Product Catalog), then they’ll lose confidence in you and may just go to your competitor’s website where the content is clearly brand new and up-to-date.

SEO Bonus

Look again at the four items above.  They focus on providing your customers with a better user experience. Luckily, addressing each of these issues for your customers (and potential customers) also improves your search engine optimization!

Google in particular has made updates to its search algorithm to reward websites that have addressed the following:

  1. Coding that conforms to the latest web standards
  2. Responsive mobile and mobile accessibility
  3. Active social presence
  4. Regularly updated content

We can (and will) write an entirely new article about the SEO and search ranking implications of the four items above. However, it can’t be emphasized enough how much weight has been shifted to the above items (and a few other key elements) and away from strict keyword optimization. Even if you are unready to redesign your website entirely, an SEO assessment and update is essential for maintaining and hopefully growing your search engine presence.

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