If you haven’t updated your website design since before social media or smartphones existed, it’s probably time for a little refresh. And while you might balk at the prospect of having to spend what can (but doesn’t have to) be a fair amount of money on a new website design, realize that there are benefits to doing so.
First, if your website design is outdated, potential customers realize that. Web design changes over time, and people can tell at a glance that your website may not have been updated since Obama’s first term in office. A sleeker, more modern look can help you attract more customers, and today’s web templates have plenty of benefits, from SEO to social sharing capabilities. And the best part? Getting a new look doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. While you probably hired an expensive website designer years ago, there are now DIY website tools that are easy to use to create a professional looking website.
If you’re not sure whether it’s time to invest time and money into a redesign, ask yourself these questions.
1. Is It Easy to Navigate My Site on Mobile Devices?
The biggest tell that your site is outdated is if, when you view it on a mobile device, content is crunched or you have to scroll across the page to read the content. Years ago, mobile wasn’t even a thing, and no one imagined they’d be searching the internet on tiny devices.
Today’s websites and templates are pretty much all responsive, meaning that they adapt to the screen they’re being viewed on. The mobile version of your site might have fewer menu items, but it’s clean and easy to navigate.
2. Is It Slow to Load?
Older websites often feature design tools like Flash that take longer to load a page. Today’s ecommerce sites load in 2 seconds. If yours is taking longer, you’re losing business: by the 10th second of loading, about 40% of your traffic will go somewhere else.
A website redesign can ensure you’re using the most up-to-date design elements and compressed images that keep your pages loading at lightning speed.
3. Does the Design Look Outdated?
Think back to the early days of the internet. Do you remember what websites looked like? Lots of neon colors, different-colored fonts, and flashing boxes. Your site may not be quite that outdated, but even a 10-year-old site shows its age.
Today’s websites use design elements like duotones, hand-drawn illustrations, color gradients, and typography. Visitors come to expect these components, and when they don’t get them, they may think less of your company. On the other hand, having a cutting-edge design communicates that you’re professional and on top of your game.
4. Is the Information on My Site Old?
If you haven’t spent serious time on your website in a while, do so now. Is everything up to date in terms of your staff on your About page, the services you offer, your pricing (if you post it), and your contact information?
This is an easier fix than completely overhauling your website, but it may be a good time to take care of both the design and the information.
5. Do I Have Animations on My Site?
You may have thought the turtle trudging across your webpage was cute years ago, but he’s all but extinct these days. While animations were a la mode in the ‘90s, they’re annoying and even problematic now. If a visitor doesn’t have the required software to see the animation, she may just see a big X where it should be, and the page may not render correctly.
6. Are the Images Less Than Professional?
You know the saying about what a picture is worth; it’s even truer on your website, especially if you sell products. Because people can’t touch and experience your products in person, you’ve got to ensure that the images you take of the products are clear and plentiful. If you took photos with your phone’s camera, you’re limiting your ability to sell.
As part of your website overhaul, hire a professional photographer to shoot your products the right way. Get images of every angle and up close so your customers can feel almost like they’re holding them.
7. Is My Site Optimized for Mobile SEO?
Once again, mobile comes up. Not only does your site need to look good on smaller screens, but it also needs to be optimized for mobile search. That means you may need to update your SEO keywords to include local words and phrases people would speak: a searcher might ask “where can I buy alpaca sweaters in town” rather than “alpaca sweaters Philadelphia.”
Accommodating for the fact that nearly half of people use search engines on their phones (versus a desktop) should be built into your website revamp.
Yes, updating your website design will take time and money. If you’re willing, you can do it yourself with a website builder. If you have the money, hire a professional. Whichever path you choose, you will reap the rewards after as your website appears higher in searches and you see a boost in sales from impressed customers.
by Susan Guillory