Is It Time To Upgrade Your Website?
Your Website is a Reflection of Your Company
Your website represents your company 24/7. It is often a customer’s first encounter with your business. If your website is attractive, easy to navigate, and contains useful information about your company and your industry, visitors will view you as knowledgeable and professional. If your website is poorly designed, contains outdated information, and is difficult to navigate, it reflects badly on your business.
If your website is more than five years old, you may be losing customers who are using smart phones and tablets. Additionally, you are probably not taking advantage of the advances in web design that have made it much easier to create and maintain attractive and functional pages.
How Does Your Website Look on a Smart Phone or Tablet?
Are you reading this on a mobile device? According to Statcounter, a research firm that tracks Internet usage, more than half of you probably are. As of November, 2016, 51.3% of websites were loaded on mobile devices. (Three years ago, it was 25 %.)
This is the #1 reason to upgrade your old website. As computing rapidly shifts to mobile devices, your website must look good and be easy to use on mobile devices in order for your company to be competitive.
When building new websites, it is now common practice to make sure they are responsive. A responsive website adapts to the device it’s being viewed on by rearranging menus, text, and pictures on the screen. If your website is not responsive, visitors with smartphones will have to enlarge the screen by manually dragging the viewing area in order to obtain information. In many cases, visitors become frustrated and leave the site to find one that’s easier to use.
In addition to turning away visitors from your outdated site, you are also turning away the search engines. In April of 2015, Google implemented the mobile-friendly update, which automatically boosted the rankings of mobile-friendly websites in mobile search results. Pages designed only for large screens will see a decrease, perhaps a significant decrease, in mobile search rankings.
The bottom line: If your site is not mobile-friendly, it’s unlikely to appear at all when someone searches on a smartphone.
TIP: If you’re not sure if your website is mobile-friendly, you can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to test for mobile-friendliness.
Why Upgrade Now?
Many older websites were created as “online brochures.” They contained basic information about the business and were composed of a few static pages with simple text and graphics—just enough for a company to say they had a “web presence.”
Today, visitors to your site expect more. The good news is that today’s web software lets you add functionality to your website easily. Here are some examples:
- Front Page Slider – High resolution, full-width graphics that change automatically. (Sliders can also be added to inner pages and can be any width. They simply rotate images, using a variety of effects.)
- Photo Gallery – Collections of photos that rotate automatically and enlarge when clicked.
- Chat module – Button or link that lets visitors initiate an online chat session.
- Google Map – Embedded Google Map of your location, with a link for directions.
- Google Calendar – Embedded calendar to display a schedule of events.
- Links to Social Media – Automatic links or link bar to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Linked In that can be displayed on multiple pages.
- Integration with other apps – Easy integration with popular third-party apps such as Mail Chimp, Google Analytics, and Woo Commerce.
- Call-to-Action – Content on your website (a button, a link, a graphic) that asks the visitor to perform an action, such as Buy Now or Sign-up for Free Account. This can be configured on newer sites to appear on multiple pages.
- Broken Links Checker – Software that checks the links in your site periodically and alerts you to broken links with an email message.
- Simple Forms – Modules that let you create forms easily and manage the data after forms are submitted.
- Security Updates – Automatic security updates to ensure that you are protected against hackers and viruses.
Many older sites also contain unnecessary HTML code that may be slowing down the time it takes to load your pages. Newer sites are able to consolidate code more effectively and load pages more quickly, providing a better “user experience” for your visitors.
TIP: Your page should load in 4 seconds or less. You can use this Google tool to test your load time: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
Some older websites were originally built using Flash, now considered an outmoded technology. Not only can Flash slow down your site, but iPads and iPhones do not support Flash. If your current site depends heavily on Flash elements, think about rebuilding the site soon.
Newer websites can also incorporate security features much more easily than older sites. While any website is susceptible to skilled intruders, older sites that rely on outdated technology are much more vulnerable to hacking attempts.
Updating a Website is Easier Today!
If your website was created more than five years ago, it’s probably difficult for you to update it yourself. Newer websites are much easier to update, so there is no longer any reason to pay a programmer every time you need to make a change. If you can use Microsoft Word, you will be able to update text and graphics, create new pages, add or change menus, update themes and plugins, and accomplish a variety of other tasks related to website maintenance.
Updating your website regularly is important! It’s one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your site. Google and other search engines are continuously crawling the web and indexing new and changed pages. Each time your pages are indexed, your site ranking is recalculated. Search engines regard sites with recent information as more relevant to visitors and reward them with higher rankings.
In addition to search engine rankings, updated content drives traffic to your site in other ways. Recent information is more likely to be shared on social media, creating more links to your site and attracting more visitors.
Upgrading Your Site May Save You Money!
Some companies saw the importance of being mobile-friendly early on, and paid developers to create a second website that functioned on smart phones. At the time, having two sites was the only solution to the problem of mobile-friendliness. However, maintaining and updating two websites can be time-consuming and, therefore, expensive for a business owner.
If your company is currently maintaining two sites, you can eliminate the need for the second site by upgrading to a responsive design that will serve both purposes.
At the risk of being repetitive, your website represents your company 24/7. Does it promote your work effectively? Does it inform customers about your products and/or services? Does it provide your visitors with a satisfying “user experience”? If the answer to any of these questions is “No,” it might be time to think about a new design.
If you need help evaluating your current site and are not currently working with a web developer, Pioneer Training (www.ptraining.com) is a training and web development company in Northampton, MA, that can evaluate your current site, educate you about upgrade options, and help you execute an attractive and functional redesign that you can maintain and update yourself.