First impressions matter: refreshing and maintaining your website

Your website is your digital storefront, business card, resume or all of the above. According to Stanford University, 75% of people judge the trustworthiness of a company based entirely on the design and functionality of the company’s website; broken links, clunky designs, outdated content and a lack of regular updates all signal to visitors that your brand is subpar.

So, how do you know if it’s time to tackle an update? Take an honest look at your current site and develop a plan of action.

Deciding if it’s time for a refresh

Nearly any website benefits from a few tweaks on a regular basis, but deciding if a more substantial refresh is necessary isn’t quite as cut and dry. Ask yourself the following questions:

Is your home page bounce rate super high? If your home page has a bounce rate of over 60%, when it’s designed to lead customers to product pages and various types of content, something is turning visitors off.

Have you updated your branding recently? Your web presence needs to be consistent across all channels and should emulate the branding of your brick-and-mortar store or office.

What kind of feedback have you received about your website? Whether you’ve used a feedback tool from a website builder like Wix, shared your link with colleagues and friends for opinions or customers have submitted bug reports or complaints, the assessments you’ve received should factor in heavily when deciding if it’s time to update your site. And if you haven’t requested honest comments from anyone, consider doing so.

When was the last time you updated your site? If it’s been over two to three years, consider doing a mild facelift at minimum. Even a few front-end tweaks show your long-term customers that you’re still on top of things and committed to quality.

Figuring out where to start

Create a list of priorities based on how you answered the above questions and what you think will appeal to your customers the most. Then, slowly start making the changes. Remember, if you ask 10 different people which of the following three areas you should focus on first, you’ll get 10 different answers. So, base how you prioritize things, and how quickly you do them, on your unique situation.

Functionality

This includes how easy and intuitive it is for people to navigate the site, how quickly pages load and dealing with errors. Other worthwhile updates include cleaning up URLs and making sure your site works perfectly on all devices. Rework individual page URLs so they’re organized and sleek—if there are random letters and numbers in the URL for a blog post, you need to fix it for shareability and SEO purposes. Then, update the site so it’s mobile-friendly, a must in this day and age.

Design

Aesthetic changes make a big impact on how customers view your business and how long they stay on the site. Replace a clunky, disorganized layout with a more streamlined, intuitive navigation design; update your site’s color and font themes to match your branding; and, refresh a site based on an outdated web trend with a more classic design.

Content

Your refresh should include a review of the existing content and a plan to create and add new content so that, moving forward, your site is always getting updated.

During the review phase, look at every piece of copy, blog post, graphic and video on your site and ask yourself two questions:

  • Is this still relevant to my business?
  • Is there a way to update this to better serve my visitors?

After you’ve made the appropriate changes to your current content, decide what new content you want to add. Here are a few ideas to consider:

Add an FAQ page. If you constantly get the same questions from customers, this addition makes your site more helpful.

Create a few articles and/or videos on how to use your products, linking to them on the relevant product page. If you’re seeing a high bounce rate on product pages and a lack of sales conversions, these can help keep visitors on-site and encourage them to make a purchase.

Incorporate a news and special announcements section. This is a great way to add fresh content to your site, which boosts SEO, without a lot of work on your end.

Start a blog. Yes, you really should have a blog.

Choosing when to outsource

If you don’t feel up to task in any area of your website refresh, whether due to a lack of knowledge or lack of time, or you’re simply too close to the project to realize enhancements are needed, don’t be afraid to outsource some or all of the work to a professional. But there are a few areas where most businesses benefit from outsourcing.

Hire a developer to build the website for you. A solidly-constructed website is worth its weight in gold—you should be able to update it easily on your own down the road, and all of the kinks and technical issues will be worked out in advance.

Find a professional editor to review your static content so it’s free of grammatical errors and awkward phrasing. Remember, even seasoned writers need a second set of eyes to catch these types of issues; oftentimes, people are too close to their own words to notice a confusing sentence or typo. And if you aren’t comfortable writing conversion-generating copy, hire a writer experienced in website content.

Reach out to a graphic designer to create a professional logo for your company. You’ll not only end up with a logo that will stand the test of time, but you’ll have all of the file formats you need to use it across the board, from branding coffee mugs to updating your social media header.

With the right changes, and a content marketing plan in place that focuses on getting the most out of every piece of content you create or purchase, your website can make a lasting impression on every single visitor, driving sales and improving your online and real-life reputation.

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