Websites are our virtual storefronts, and like the real thing, they need upkeep. I was struck by just how critical website updates are when I read about the early days of a fast-growing e-commerce company called Golightly Cashmere. It was founded 15 years ago by a new mom who liked to knit. Since then, it’s become known for its colorful cashmere hats, scarves and gloves.
Like many e-commerce ventures, Golightly Cashmere faced challenges. A biggie was ensuring that its website could keep pace with the fast-growing business.
Here’s what the founder recently wrote about their website in her blog:
“Those early years of owning a web business just at the time online shopping was brand new, was crazy. We literally had to make a new website every year for the first 6 years just to keep up with improved technology.”
Unlike Golightly Cashmere, most companies don’t redo their websites every year, but from what we see as we work with clients, most would benefit from upgrading more often than they do. There are no hard and fast rules, but most experts recommend some sort of revamp every 18 to 30 months.
A website’s role often guides how extensive an upgrade should be. Websites that function as online stores, like Golightly Cashmere, need and merit more frequent upgrades than a basic website that tells customers the who, what, when, where and why of a company.
Investing in website improvements does have a payoff. For every $1 a company spends to improve user experience on its website, it gets $100 back. Traffic improves, the website ranks higher in search and sales aren’t lost because of issues like bad navigation or slow page loads.
Users are impatient; they expect web pages to load in 2 seconds, or less, and 40 percent will drop your site if it hasn’t loaded in 3 seconds. A bad experience can also steer a potential customers away for good. Almost 80 percent of online shoppers say they won’t come back to a website that didn’t perform well.
Are shopping carts being abandoned on your ecommerce site? Has traffic to your website decreased or bounce rates increased? Both are signs that your website is not doing its job. For ecommerce sites, this means it may be time to upgrade the online shopping system and review the website for issues like poor navigation, broken links and outdated contact information. These problems are like peeling paint on a storefront and make your business seem out of step and unprofessional. Nearly 50 percent of users consider a website’s design the most telling factor in of the business’s credibility. Almost 75 percent make judgments about a business’s credibility based on website design.
If you don’t frequently update your website, it won’t perform well in Google searches. Fresh content is a factor that Google considers for SEO. When you frequently add new information–blogs, news releases, new product information–your site should perform better in searches. If you haven’t updated information since the website was designed, SEO will suffer.
A website designed pre-2010 is the equivalent to wearing a dress with 1980s shoulder pads. Too many colors, old-fashioned fonts, outdated photos of staff, stock photos that everyone else has used a million times are all signs that your website is out of fashion. Elements that flash, blink or look 3-D are also outmoded. Other signs? Sidebars, RSS feeds, mobile sites that are simply scaled down versions of websites, no PayPal option.
No one expects your mobile site to be a mini-Me of your desktop version. But it should have the same information and features as your desktop site. Your mobile site needs updating if it is hard to read, if its text and images are out of line on smartphones and if it lacks all the information offered on your desktop website. Mobile optimization is key to a thriving website in this day and age.
Maybe when you started your company, there was no budget for branding. Now though, you have invested in an identity package that gives your company a distinctive look and communicates strong messages. Your website should always incorporate your brand identity.
Ask your staff and some of your customers to review your existing website. Find out what they like or dislike and what they wish it offered that it doesn’t now. Make notes of what they say. This is valuable feedback for website developers.
Look at what your competitors are doing with their websites Study these. Ask what makes their website effective? Attractive? What are some features they offer that you’d like to include in your website?
After you’ve studied your current website and made a list of changes you’d like to make to improve its function and appearance, give us a call and we can help you make your website upgrades.
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