Having a website which really works for your business isn’t a ‘set and forget’ matter. If you want your website to remain fresh and professional looking, and therefore keep your business looking good to customers old and possibly new, it will need to be ‘refreshed’ on occasion. But how can you tell if it’s time to invest a little money in a redesign of your site? Here are some key guiding principles for you.
The 12 month rule
No, that doesn’t mean you have to refresh your site every 12 months. What it means is that you should give your site design consideration every 12 months to keep check on whether it remains contemporary or if it’s starting to look dated. A good way to do this is to have a quick browse around the sites for competitors in your type of business (if you’re an Indian restaurant for example, have a look at what the other local Indian websites are doing at the moment).
Your competitors may be doing things badly of course, and you want to remain at the top of the game, so also make sure to have a look at somebody you know is at the top of the game in your sector even if they’re not a direct competitor. To continue the Indian Restaurant theme you might look at the site for ‘Tamarind’, a multi-award winning Indian restaurant.
Give your site thought too, does it impress you when you look at it? Are you proud to direct potential customers to it? If you’re not proud of it, maybe even a little embarrassed by it, it’s definitely time to update!
Get input from people you trust
It’s sometimes difficult to be objective about your business and its website of course, it’s something you’re very close to and sometimes it’s hard to see the wood for the trees. So ask the opinion of somebody who you trust to give you an honest, fair answer. Not somebody that you know agrees with everything you ever say, but who will be frank and honest with you. Ideally it should be somebody you know uses the internet a lot so sees a lot of different, and modern, websites regularly. What do they have to say about whether the site looks old or unprofessional? They can give you very useful, objective input which costs you nothing whatsoever.
Consider the technology your site uses
Maybe your site still looks ‘passable’ and you’re not too concerned with looking great. You still need to consider the technology the site is built on though. If your site is using technologies from 4 or 5 years ago it could well be making your site slow (which costs customers), or worse still it could have become insecure and be at risk from people defacing the site or spreading viruses. Maybe your site was first built using ‘Flash’. it looked flashy at the time, but now it looks dated and it can’t be viewed on many modern devices like iPhones & iPads.
Personally we specialise in using WordPress as a structure for the technology of our websites because a site built using the WordPress content management system provides you with a great level of future-proofing, because it’s so straightforward to do simple, regular security updates.
Ask what your clients think of your site
Your clients or customers are a fantastic source of feedback on your website and you really must consider listening to them. So if you’re looking for an idea about whether to redesign and update your website ask them! A short survey of your clients is easily done – at its simplest just a very short questionnaire on invoices or in an email to your mailing list could get the job done for you. If your customers find your website average or worse then it’s about time you gave your website the look your business deserves with a redesign.
Check on your web traffic statistics
Do you keep track of your website traffic? If not ask your website host to provide them for you, which almost all hosts these days will be able to do from their logs. Has the number of visitors you receive been noticeably decreasing? If it has then you’re going to need to refocus your marketing in general. A key part of your plan to turn things around could be to redesign your site because a tired, old website does nothing to keep people interested in your website. A fresh new look can give it a kick in the right direction and help you keep the customers coming.
Whichever route you take, do not neglect your website!
However you decide to assess your need for a website redesign just make sure you do assess it (ideally every 12 months), because a neglected website can seriously damage the success of your business. Customers value and trust a business which represents itself in a professional, stylish way. Make sure your website keeps its competitive edge because if a potential customer doesn’t like your website just like a bad high-street shop front they’ll move on and take their custom elsewhere.