As a web development and Internet marketing company, we get approached by a lot by people seeking our help because their marketing efforts are not working and their businesses are flatlining – or worse. More often than not, the very heart of their problem is an outdated website. No matter how much time and money you put into social media and pay-per-click advertising, if your website is either not functioning correctly and/or frustrating for the user, all that marketing effort can be for nought.
A major mistake a lot of businesses make is in waiting until either the design of their website looks dated, or some change in their business causes them to face their neglected corner of the web. A brick and mortar retailer sees the condition of their physical storefront every time he or she shows up for work, but it’s unfortunately common for a small business website to go months without having the cobwebs dusted away.
So, when you do finally take a closer look at your website, how do you know if it needs some maintenance or an overhaul? Well, to make things easy for you, we’ve made a list of five tell-tale signs that your website is in dire need of a revamp:
1. Is your website mobile-friendly?
Without a doubt, the easiest way to determine that a site is outdated is to assess whether it is mobile-friendly or not. By this we mean evaluating how well the website displays on small smartphone screens and tablets. Currently, websites that are mobile-friendly typically see about 50 to 70% of traffic coming from mobile devices, so if your website does not utilize mobile responsive design, it could be not only costing you a lot of potential web traffic, but also be a point of frustration for your existing customer base.
Finding out just how mobile-friendly your website is has become easy thanks to an online test provided by Google. Simply follow this link and put the URL of your website in the field.
2. Is your website in need of maintenance?
Administering a website is by no means a “set it and forget it” endeavor. Like a physical storefront, general maintenance needs to be performed often to keep everything functioning well and provide for a pleasing experience to customers. In terms of a website, poor maintenance generally results in a site that loads slowly or, in extreme cases, not at all. Sometimes these issues are the result of plugins that have not been updated, bad hard-coding from some custom features or functionality, or even overly-large sized images in a blog, but often they end up being from server-related issues with the web hosting service.
Unfortunately, the best way to assess if your website and hosting is functioning properly and up-to-date is to seek the help of a capable web developer. And we should be clear here that there is a big difference between a web designer and a web developer. A web designer can build a website, but won’t necessarily have the knowledge or coding skills it takes to diagnose and fix more complex website issues. Hiring the right person for the job can end up saving a lot of money in the long run.
3. Is your website secure?
Assessing a website’s security, like the overall site performance, is unfortunately another area of expertise left up to a capable web developer. Because most websites today utilize open source platforms like WordPress and Drupal, hackers have complete access to the source files of these complex web-based programs and it is very easy to develop malicious software to exploit weaknesses found in the base platform and plugins added on by a web designer. The open source communities who create these platforms and plugins counter these attacks by releasing updates that patch security holes. The hackers then examine the updates to find new weaknesses and the cycle continues.
If you are the administer of website running on a platform like WordPress, you’ve undoubtedly seen the update prompts for plugins and the platform itself. You may even have dutifully hit the update buttons thinking all is well. But security issues can quickly become complex if there was some bad custom coding on the site that causes the website to break with an update, or if a malicious program has drilled down deep into the server files where it takes someone with both the access and expertise to fix the problem.
So, if your website is running slow, or if you’ve been getting complaints of people getting security warnings (or getting hacked) after visiting your website, or your website breaks after performing a security update, you want to enlist the help of a qualified developer to assess the issue and offer a possible solution to get your website back on track.
Even if your website is running well, it is a good idea to get a security check up several times a year to ascertain not only whether your website secure and up-to-date, but also that the server is secure and your site is being backed up on a regular basis. When it comes to websites, an ounce of prevention can be worth many pounds of a cure.
4. Is your website working for you?
It may seem like a silly question to ask, but many times we find that the owner of a website will be in state of denial about whether one of their most important business assets is effectively serving his or her business needs and goals. And the answer is almost always a complex one since there is a big unknown of “potential”. For this it takes the evaluation of an internet marketing expert who has a good handle on SEO.
Unfortunately, in these days of intense focus on social media likes and engagement, web marketing strategies often fall flat when it comes to website conversion, primarily because this is a more technical endeavor than most specialized social media experts can handle. A solid web-based marketing strategy is a delicate dance of web development, engaging content, social media expertise, and meaningful analytics reporting. Evaluating all of this means looking at not only your website, but the entirety of your marketing efforts and your overall web footprint.
Finding a web team that has experts in all these fields is your best bet. At Blink;Tech, we use our Build-Promote-Evaluate strategy to not only make sure all the bases are covered, but that the website and associated marketing strategies continue to be effective.
5. Does your website look stylistically dated?
It may surprise you, but this the very last concern on our list of things we look for in evaluating a website. There are two reasons for this:
To begin with, generally if your website is indeed a bit dated and you started this list with number one, you would not have made it to number five before realizing you were in need of either some crucial maintenance or a complete web overhaul. Design always follows function in the world of the Internet. For example, if you had a site that was not mobile-friendly but you were not aware of the importance of this, and you paid for a revamp of the design of the site without addressing the mobile concerns, you would be throwing a lot of good money after bad. It would be like painting a car that had dire transmission issues. Make sure the car runs well before investing money in its appearance.
Secondly, because of the new focus on mobile technologies, website design must be oriented to smaller screens where elaborate design elements do not translate well. Good design these days comes down to clarity, simplicity, and navigability, and most web design comes via purchased themes or skins. Beyond the company logo and color selection, there often isn’t much work on a modern website that would entail the work of a graphic designer. There is, however, a tremendous amount of work for a web developer in assessing the security, functionality, and long-term reliability of a given theme. As stated above, design follows function.
So, if you feel that your website looks a bit dated, ask yourself these five questions first. You may realize that what is holding your business back from success on the web has a lot more to do with what your website does than what it looks like.
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The Blink;Tech Team