Even before the current healthcare crisis accelerated the growth of digital channels, a smooth-running, smart-looking, and full-featured business website was a valuable asset for any brand. Afterwards, it can be the difference between growth and stagnation.
Consequently, many firms are taking a closer look at their highest visibility web properties and giving more attention to optimizing them for seamless user experiences with sleek, modern visual designs and robust backend development that affords the flexibility to scale and change as industry trends, market forces, branding initiatives, and strategic planning dictate.
Refresh or Redevelop?
There is no hard and fast rule for when it’s time to upgrade your website, but standards change fast, as do user preferences and expectations. Fast-moving brands are rolling out a website refresh every 6-12 months. Complete redevelopment is encouraged every 3-4 years.
75% of consumers say they judge a business’s credibility based on their website design
Refreshing implies a focus on surface changes, such as a new color scheme and branding, updated imagery, new copy, and other alterations which can be rolled out quickly and that are unlikely to create downstream problems.
Redevelopment, by contrast, involves pulling out foundational elements of your site, such as the Content Management System (CMS) and long-standing backend code. After the job is complete and your website has gotten more than a facelift, it’s functionally a completely new site.
But how do you know when it’s time for a refresh or total overhaul? Here are five trackable signs your website needs work:
1. Poor UX
The User Experience (UX) on your site — the subjective feelings, either positive or negative, that people report after using it — has become an increasingly important metric. That’s because Google announced a Page Experience update to their search algorithm will be going into effect starting in 2021.
Websites with issues that negatively affect the user experience will start to see their results on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) drop. Issues such as:
- Long Load Times
- Unintuitive Navigation
- Broken Links
- Lack of Responsive Design
- Low User Satisfaction Ratings
Webmasters would be wise to get ahead of this development by rooting out large, uncompressed images that lengthen page loading, running A/B tests on navigation options to optimize for ease of use, crawling their site for broken internal and external links and removing them, and ensuring their site looks and functions equally well on a wide range of devices and screen sizes.
2. Dated Visual Design
Every brand has its own unique character and style, and every channel a brand operates on needs to adhere to overarching brand guidelines that govern look and feel. That said, there is still a need to look modern and thoughtfully designed. Current trends call for:
- Flat Design
- Scalable Vector Graphics
- Clean and Understandable Illustrations
- High Quality Photo Assets
- Minimalist Typography
- Generous White Space
No one wants their website to become a fashion victim, blindly following the most recent trends. At the same time, don’t let its appearance go untended to for too long, lest it start showing its age and potentially turning off visitors.
3. Inefficient Conversion Funnel
Whether you are selling a product or service on your site, or using it for more indirect outreach and engagement with your audience, chances are you are going to be making some asks of your users.
Sometimes all you want is for a visitor to fill out a form or submit some personal information so that you can reach out to them later. In other cases, sites will have multi-page and multi-step processes that they are attempting to guide users through.
In either case, if analytics are showing signs that the buyer’s journey is being short circuited at some point and users are failing to convert at acceptable rates, it’s time to reconsider the process, lower barriers to entry, and remove friction points.
Red flags to watch for include:
- High Bounce Rates
- High Churn
- Abandoned Shopping Carts
- Low Conversion Rates
4. Lack of CRM Integration
Modern web users expect an integrated experience on the websites of the brands they trust. That means everything on a website — from logon pages, blogs, contact forms, ecommerce platforms, billing, video content, and more — should interoperate and effectively track user activity.
That creates the pools of data necessary for optimizing Customer Relationship Management (CRM). There is no shortage of options available from market leaders like Salesforce, MS Dynamics, and Sage, but only websites built on modern Content Management Systems (CMS) will properly, securely, and efficiently integrate with your chosen CRM solution.
5. Mismanaged Backend
It’s not always apparent from just looking at (or even using) a website that redevelopment is required. Some issues won’t be revealed until you dig into the code, plugins, and feature-set.
Potentially, the site looks and functions properly, but because of poor code planning, a hodgepodge of slapped-together fixes, or obsolete technologies underpinning it, you’re left with an online identity that is inflexible, requires constant attention to keep running, and is trapped in time.
Want to switch over to a new template or even just make some simple design changes? On a modern site, that’s a simple operation, but when you are hamstrung by legacy code, it could be impossible or worse, completely break the site. That’s no way for a modern, agile business to run one of its most important digital assets.
The Consequences of a Dated Website
According to research by Stanford, three-quarters of consumers say they judge a business’s credibility based on their website design. And that process happens incredibly fast. A study published in the journal of Behavior and Information Technology reports that it takes less than a second (50 milliseconds, to be exact) for users to form an opinion about your site.
When your business website isn’t looking or performing at a high level, problems reverberate throughout your organization. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) results falter, harming brand awareness and causing your conduit to new leads to dry up. You lose ground to competitors with more to offer on their online homes that are always only a click away.
The analytic tools for measuring your website are widely available. Survey your users, track activity, and use the data to inform a refresh or redevelopment that makes your brand stand out and promote engagement online.
Is it time for a refresh or redevelopment of your online hub? Contact the branding and web design professionals at Hanlon today to discuss how to make your website a powerful digital asset.