Your new site is launched. Now you can move onto other things for a couple of years, right? For some, that might be true. For most, not true. Every site needs to be retooled eventually and even great websites get outdated quickly. Trends change. Customers change. What works and is relevant to your users also changes. The challenge is spotting the tell-tale signs and being able to back up why your site needs an update.
Some quick thoughtbites to help you find out:
First stop: Ask yourself, “Is my website doing its intended job well?”
When you built your site, what was the number one job it was supposed to do for your business? Is it performing now, or does it need a development plan?
Whether it was to drive a certain number of email registrants, sell $X of product directly to consumers per month, or another purpose, if your site is not accomplishing its fundamental strategy, you need to investigate further. Is it your content, your site structure, your online marketing strategy, your overall marketing strategy, a simple technical issue etc.?
What do your site analytics tell you?
Website analytics are your best friend when determining how visitors are using your site, how the site is performing and why you might need a site redesign. Comparing your actual results against the “success” metrics and goals you created before launch can reveal gaps and illuminate potential design issues.
Looking at the pages viewed, time on page, click paths, and exit pages, you may decide to surface high traffic pages that were buried to easier-to-find locations or reduce the number of clicks to get to pages customers are looking for the most, for example.
If you have an eCommerce site and notice significant cart abandonment at the same point over and over again, look deeper. There may be critical information customers wanted earlier that is influencing their purchasing behavior. Would you be better off providing a link to shipping costs on your homepage or an estimate on your product information page, for example? Or, there might be a technical issue that needs to be fixed by your developers at that point.
Adding a simple survey or feedback tool is another easy way to establish dialogue while gaining customer insights that will back your hypotheses and your case.
Are you attracting the right visitors to your website?
The issue is not always “how many” but “who” when it comes to the site traffic. How would you describe your visitors to others? Who are they? Are they who you intended to attract? If you determine that you are attracting the wrong audience, examine the audience you attracted and the people you want to attract, and then try to think of what you need to change about your site, if anything, to close the gap. In the end, when you have built a site that is for your visitors, and designed with your customer in mind from concept to site architecture to imagery, you have a better shot at branding yourself correctly from the beginning.
Is your site conveying your brand and key messages clearly?
Your website should accurately convey who you are and resonate with the emotional or “gut” side of your customers. How you express your brand through the look and ‘feel’ of your site, your content, and all site elements are part of your brand voice. Ensuring that all of the elements come together cohesively to tell a consistent story to your visitors is critical to driving successful marketing.
Maybe you have grown. Maybe you know more now. Maybe you have rebranded.
Still, even when you might get your branding right, your brand may evolve over time as your company grows and priorities change, especially for new ventures who are constantly learning more about customers and how to go-to-market with their products and services the right way. Sometimes you can get away with replacing your logo, but rebranding often implies a redesign.
Is your site telling the same story as your offline materials?
Ideally, your site should tie in seamlessly with your offline marketing materials. Projecting a consistent brand and message to your customers helps build trust and confidence in your company. It also makes your message hit harder when you are talking to your customers and executing a 360 degrees marketing campaign. Your site is often the first place prospects look for information about your company. If you have updated offline materials, your logo etc., your website should reflect those changes.
Is your layout outdated?
Spotting an outdated website is not very difficult. You can often tell in the first few seconds. Maybe it’s a narrow site built for old computer monitors and not the current wide screens used today. Colors and images may be dry, or not contemporary with a dated look. Maybe your layout looks “tired.” Or maybe your site looks like it is taking a bold step into the 1980’s. Bottom line: layout matters.
Is your content right?
Is it right for your customer, and is it right for the times? Knowing how your customers want to be spoken to and in what tone can not be assumed. It is based on a real understanding of your customer. If your copywriter is not briefed or aware, there are cases where copy can be too colloquial or too formal and academic in other cases. Phrases also get outdated. “Bling” and other trendy words plagued the internet recently but are out. When you use content that is too trendy, or not relevant to your target audience, you are more likely to have to rewrite often.
Is your functionality overwhelming or frustrating to your visitors?
There are some who jump on the trend train, incorporating the trendiest apps and functionality onto their sites to stay on the cutting edge. This can work in a site’s favor, or against depending on the customer. If your site looks like it was designed by an overzealous developer in 2040 looking to demonstrate his/her technical prowess, you may want to reevaluate if this is what your customers want. If your customer is looking to quickly navigate through your site, get information and leave, ask yourself if long-loading splash intro pages, complex site navigation and a text-loaded site will potentially frustrate and distract them. Or, just call on some customers and ask!
In sum, every web site needs a redesign eventually. Knowing the tell-tale signs and being able to back up your case with the data from analytics are important first steps.
When you redesign: Be up to date with your own business model. Make sure your website is doing its intended job. Be relevant. Be contemporary. Be on brand. Be consistent with your overall marketing program. Be conscientious about how layout, content and function can impact your results. Most importantly, know your customer and track their footprints!
If you have any questions, or need help determining if your site needs a redesign, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Long Island Marketing Consultant Upside Business Consultants at 516-610-0922.