Can a website get worn out?
That may seem like an odd question, but it's worth asking. Stay with me.
Let's make a comparison. Suppose you could buy just one car and drive it for the rest of your life. No major maintenance or repairs—just fuel it up and drive. Sounds pretty good, right—especially if you're imagining a now-classic car worth a hefty price.
But the reality is that you'd probably be puttering down the road in something like this boxy '57 station wagon, with people passing you and yelling at you for holding up traffic. (Disclaimer: I disavow any knowledge of the origin of this picture, taken right after dad bought this car, or of those weird-looking kids in the back.)
Even if the car didn't wear out, it couldn't keep up—not with today's traffic, not with what today's cars have to offer, and certainly not with today's style.
Your website may not be keeping up.
Cars have changed. Technology has changed even more! Look at just a few of the most important changes—the reasons why your website may need an upgrade. Then we'll look at a few simple ways you can check your website to see whether an upgrade is needed.
Four reasons why your website may need to be updated
- The Internet has changed. It's bigger, faster, and more competitive. Pew Research reports that 79% of Americans make purchases online. If you aren't competitive online, you're losing business.
- Customers have changed. Even consumers who make purchases from physical stores research online first. In fact, 45% of American consumers use smart phones while in a store to check business/product reviews or to compare prices.
- Google has changed. Google controls 65% of the search market, so if you want your website to achieve any kind of search ranking—to show up where customers can find it—it has to meet Google's always-evolving algorithms and standards.
- You have changed. Hopefully, your brand is more clearly defined and more strongly presented to your customers than it was 5 or even 2 or 3 years ago. (If not, this conversation needs to be part of a larger one.) If your website hasn't changed with you, it may be making you look kind of like you are driving that old, outdated car.
Those are a few reasons why your website may need an upgrade. Now let's talk about how to give your site a check-up so you know whether it needs to be updated.
How to know if your website needs an update.
If your website fails any of these tests, it needs help.
Responsive and mobile-optimized
A responsive website is designed to adjust its display and prioritize the most important information on any type or size of device. Nearly 60% of web searches come from mobile devices. Does your site load quickly on mobile devices? Is information easy to find and navigate on mobile devices? Google reports that on mobile, most sites lose half of their visitors while waiting for the website to load. Visitors also leave if the site doesn't display well after it loads. Here's how you can check your website:
- Use Google's mobile speed test to check your website's load time. Google will email you a report listing any problems on your site. If your report lists slow load time or other issues, your website needs an upgrade.
- Visit your own website on multiple types of devices—different brands of smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops. Make sure you use a variety of browsers: Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Opera. If your site does not load quickly (5 seconds or less), does not display well on all devices and browsers, or has broken links or functions that do not work on some browsers, your website needs an upgrade.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a set of strategies to accomplish two goals: First, to help search engines find and index your website; second, to help your website achieve search rank. Search rank refers to where your website appears in the list of results for a user's search. Obviously, websites that appear near the top of the list get better results. SEO strategists have tried many tricks to outwit Google's ranking algorithms, and Google now penalizes websites that use those SEO tricks. In other words, SEO that hasn't been updated for awhile may actually be harming your search rank. Here are a few things you can check:
- Hopefully, you're signed up with Google's free Analytics so you can monitor the traffic on your site. If traffic is low or declining, it's time for an upgrade.
- Pretend you're a customer looking for a product or service your company sells. Use Google and Bing to search for that product or service and see where your business shows up in the search results. Ideally, you should show up on the first page. If your business doesn't show up by the second page, it's definitely time for an upgrade!
The "look" of your website tells customers who you are. Design, color, and images are at least as important as content. If your website isn't visually competitive, you're losing customers. Check out your website by pretending to be a customer.
- Start by taking a good, long look through your competitors' websites. You may even want to jot down some notes about things that impress you! Then take a good long look at your own website. Remember—you're approaching it like a customer who has never seen it before. What impression would you have of your company versus the competitors? How powerful are the images? How appealing is the layout? How engaging are the colors and the design? Are you bored or excited? If your website seems dull or static by comparison to your competitors, it's time for an update!
Isolated or Integrated
Pew Research reports that 65% of Americans use social media. If your business and your website are not integrated with social media, you're losing business! And your website can do so much more for you than just showcase your business online. It can be a channel to grow your customer base and build relationships with your audience and a way for customers to contact you with questions or support needs. It can be the portal for your business administration and data management. It can market your products and services and make sales—even during the hours you're not at work. Do yourself a favor by asking these questions:
- What is my website really doing for me? If the only answer is displaying your business, your website needs an upgrade.
- What could my website be doing for me? If you don't know the answer, it's time to talk about an upgrade and find out! You might be amazed!
Buggy and Busted
Sorry, but there's just no other way to describe this. If parts of your website don't work, it's time for an upgrade.
If your website crashes when you try to update content, it's time for a larger upgrade.
Does your website pass the test?
We think your website should be working for you, generating income and making your job easier. That's the kind of websites we develop. If your website needs to be updated, email us or give us a call at 515-868-6860. We'll listen to what you need. Then we'll create a website you'll love!