It can be very confusing to try to determine when a website needs a refresh. The tools, terms, capabilities, and market needs are always evolving which means that a website can be in a state of change forever. Just like when is it time to get a new car, there are signs when a make-over is totally appropriate. Keep in mind that a website make-over does not have to be expensive. In fact, a website makeover is one of the least expensive ways to freshen up your overall company portrayal to your market. Your trade show booth or your assorted brochures can run far more. Your website is visited by new people every day. And most importantly the majority of decision-makers you are looking to engage TODAY are looking at your site TODAY as you’ll see in #6. Use the following human guidelines to help you determine when it is time for your Company.
1. You went to your website on your phone and it looks like a miniature version of the website as seen on your computer (or someone else did this and told you). The “mobile-friendly” website approach, at one time a Best Practice, is now the least easy way to view your website on a mobile device. The text is ridiculously small and navigation from dropdowns is almost impossible to use. At one time, it was state of the art. Now, it’s obsolete. In fact, visitors leave right away.
With data showing as much as 60% of business to business traffic coming from mobile devices (and far more for B2C), unless you are willing to marginalize that volume of visitors to your site, start talking about a Mobile Responsive site with your designer/developer. This approach creates a re-sorting of the contents on the page to fit on the smaller screen. Your site will look more like an appropriately sized app and nothing like a miniature version of your “old school” site. One sure way to say you don’t care about your visitor is to show something they will need to struggle to read or navigate.
2. Your lead generation has declined. Lead generation is not your website traffic. It is the outcome of your website and people pursuing your call to action. Is your site doing what it is necessary to do, which is to get qualified people wanting to speak to you? If your website used to provide 5 leads a week and now it is only 3, irrespective of your website traffic, that’s a leading indicator that your website is a turn-off. It won’t get better by itself. Don’t study tons of Analytics to try to figure it out. Find 4 or 5 metrics that actually measure meaningful outcomes and look at the results over the last 24 or 36 months or more. It’s easy to not be able to ascertain which types of analytics data actually matter, and which ones do not. If you’re not sure what you’re looking at, get help. Keep in mind what your website should do is provide leads not traffic.
3. You can’t remember the last time someone gave you a compliment (or even a comment) about your website. A seemingly ridiculous measure, but, think about this for a moment from a broader perspective; every new restaurant, every app on your phone, all of the new convenience businesses online that you or someone in your family are using for deliveries have published brand spanking new websites using all the latest bells and whistles since you last published yours. You’re still riding a horse while everyone else is driving a car!! Your visitors go to those sites, too and therefore have a wide variety of websites, totally unrelated to what you are selling, that set their standard for the definition of “modern and fresh”.
Let that sink in. Your site is compared to other sites not related what so ever to what you do. Not your competitors – the UNIVERSE. Like it or not, your entire business is measured against those standards when someone comes to your website. The longer you wait, the more visitors you turn away every day. (The longer you’ll keep riding a horse.)
4. The content is out of date. When you last created your website, you likely used best practices based on the norms of that time. Maybe your website is a reference tool (like Wikipedia). Maybe you haven’t produced a blog in 9 months. Maybe your site has page after page and link after link to ensure that your entire company is fully visible to visitors at your website.
Unless you are a government service, the amount of visual space you are committing to one percent of your visitors is just visual clutter to the other 99%. Your visitor is only giving you 8-10 seconds to “get to the point”. Otherwise, they’re out. Visual clutter consumes a portion of that time. Clean, clear and easy messages are the current standard. Ouch.
5. Navigation happens in dropdowns. Visitors to websites expect images and blocks to have hyperlinks and hovers to clarify. They expect not to need to go hunting for your specific terminology in order to get to pages they need to see. Treating all information as though it is all the same, like a library, is not what visitors want to see. The library is meeting the needs of the entire reading community. Your site only needs to meet the needs of your particular Prospects and Customers. Figure out what is important for them and prioritize their view so they find things fast. You know what’s most popular from data, so make it far easier to get there than anywhere else.
6. You are under the impression that your website is not that important. The latest information is that decision making is researched and influenced by website visits in 68% of B2B and 90% of B2C PRIOR to a decision. That makes your digital presence vital in your active efforts today to attract new business. Even with the very best salespeople your company will be researched for reviews, credibility, and image prior to any decision. What impression do you want to make for two thirds or more of your prospects? And in reference to #1 above, that moment may be on a mobile device, not a computer.
Much of the content you already have likely requires only editing, not starting over. It’s likely way too many words because you wanted to “say everything”. That’s not what the visitor wants. They want to “get to the point”. Just as in a home, an outdated kitchen actually becomes difficult to use. The house is fine, but, the kitchen needs work. House value goes down relative to the houses with new kitchens. And it’s not about just new paint and countertops, but, a reconsideration of what is possible based on the reality of today, appliances, counter space and technology, not even foreseeable when the kitchen was built.
It’s normal to revise kitchens in homes because the kitchen has a specific purpose. It’s used for work and there is a marketplace that continues to create new appliances for cooking. The kitchen is now a centerpiece of a home, a town square if you will. To us, so is your website. It’s never too soon to start lining up the next website revision.