For many small companies it’s easy to forget about your company website. You hire a designer, put hours into getting it launched, and then you move on to other projects. It becomes a static electronic brochure, passively hanging your digital shingle.
That’s not terrible in-and-of-itself, but you do need to at least brush off the cobwebs from time to time to ensure search engine spiders know you are still there.
Time for minor renovations or a ground-up rebuild?
The decision regarding whether you can make some tweaks around the edges or need a total overhaul will depend on a number of factors. If you are having trouble being objective about how the outside world views your site, ask a trusted friend (better yet, a millennial or Gen Zer) to visit the site and let you know what they think could be improved. It’s even better if they don’t know much about your industry. They can provide perspective on how easy it is to find useful information on your site.
Does your website project the sophistication of the business that you want to project? Was your site built on a proprietary platform that has become obsolete or is no longer serviced by the original provider? If you aren’t getting regular software and security updates, your site might become “buggy” or start not to function as it should.
Most modern sites are now built as “Responsive Design.” This simply means that the site is smart enough to detect what sort of device (e.g., desktop, tablet, phone) that the visitor is using when they view your site, and it optimizes the display to look best on that device. Users have come to expect this level of ease, so it should be a high priority in your design.
Sometimes the sheer quantity of “small” changes you desire will make it easier to start over. But it’s not always necessary, especially if you’re starting with good bones. The age of your site will dictate some of that, but a site that is even just a couple of years old can often benefit from an annual audit of functionality and content.
The User Experience – are you meeting client expectations?
As mentioned above, many users are now accessing websites from their mobile devices, so you’ll want to make sure the site respects that user’s time and likely interests.
Different visitors have different preferences. Check your site to ensure that navigation is logical and that paths are easy to find, without running into a lot of dead ends. Search engines have trained us to type what we are looking for into a search box and to expect useful results. Be sure you are delivering results that are easy to decipher and quickly take the visitor to their desired destination.
Is your site up to date on the latest best practices around ADA compliance? Especially in California, this has become an important issue – one that could land you in a lawsuit if you choose to ignore it.
Bells and whistles: you don’t need to go crazy with bells and whistles, but a couple of elements that emphasize the right things on your site could go a long way toward differentiating you from the competition. Animations and transitions, videos, interactive elements, hover reveals, custom document assembly, download features, and onsite applications can get distracting if overused, but if used strategically can provide special focus or an element of sophistication to support your overall goals.
When is the last time you added new articles or information to your website? The old saying “Content is King” still applies. Not only does fresh, timely content let your site visitors know that the site continues to be relevant, it also helps it perform well in its Google ranking.
For service areas, team bios and thought leadership (content), are the posts on your site accurately reflecting the type of work you currently do? If you are hoping to grow your business in a particular direction, be sure that you are posting content that emphasizes that work. Content should be frequent, relevant and optimized for specific keywords to support that desired growth area.
While you are at it, take a look at your copywriting for brand consistency. Is the tone of the writing consistent throughout the pages on your site? Do the imagery and language support your overall brand culture? Are articles and news items so old that it makes it seem your site has been abandoned? Posting links to other websites for articles, organizations or resources is great, but if those sites take down the linked page, then the link on your site becomes “broken.” Search engines devalue broken links and users will be frustrated if you waste their time by sending them somewhere that no longer exists on the internet.
Of course, driving all of this, you need to address your overall web strategy. What is it you want your website to do for you? Different firms have different needs. Your business goals will dictate your strategic positioning. Your internal resources will influence many of the technical requirements. Your budget will influence how ambitious a project you can undertake. Whether you intend to employ an aggressive paid search campaign to generate leads, live chat features to connect with site visitors immediately upon arrival, or simply want to provide educational content that reinforces your thought leadership and expertise in targeted areas, you need a site that evolves with your company. If it has been a while since you paid much attention to your website, maybe it’s time to do a little digital sprucing up.