5 Tips to re-design your website
Every couple of years, it’s a good idea to evaluate how much of an impact your website makes, in terms of design, information, ease of use and visibility on the search engines. Most people find that after about 3 years, it’s time to re-design your website and implement some updates that can be beneficial to the success of your website and online marketing efforts. What are some of the things you need to consider before re-designing your website? I have outlined some important factors to consider:
Tip#1: Identify your current website’s weaknesses
Older websites (developer before 2007) usually have a bunch of things that can now be improved upon rather easily and quickly. Try and gather as much feedback from colleagues, clients, friends and family to get a sense of things that may not be obvious to you, cause it never hurts to have a new set of eyes go over something and see things you may have missed. Then ask yourself these questions:
- Does this website look nice and is it easy to find information people are looking for? How does it look on mobile devices and different platforms like Mac and PC?
- How does it compare to my competitors’ websites?
- Does it receive a lot of traffic every month? Do people submit forms requesting more information? How often?
- Where does my website rank for my main key phrases? What would people type into a search engine and hopefully find my business?
- How current is the information on my website?
Tip# 2: Start with a new, modern design
The look and feel of your website is one of the most important factors to consider when re-designing your website. Unfortunately, I know many people who decided it made sense to save some money on website design, and instead go with a pre-designed template which ‘we could tweak’. THIS IS A BIG MISTAKE. I cannot stress this enough (and boy, have I tried…). Cheaping out on re-designing your website UI (user interface) is the biggest mistake you can make. Think of it this way: If you had a ‘brick and mortar’ store (i.e a physical retail store) would you save money on the signage and decor?? I don’t think so! People would walk right by a store that looked tacky or badly maintained.. it’s the same idea with your website. Think of your website as the first opportunity to introduce yourself or your business, to the world. This is why a custom design will always represent your business better online, than a pre-designed template. Every business is unique, and focuses on different strengths; which a talented designer will draw upon. A clean, uncluttered, simple and easy to navigate website design can never go wrong, and can withstand the many new design styles that come out almost every year. And please, PLEASE do not design your website based solely on your preferences! I see this way too often: a person starts to work with a designer, who is experienced in web design, marketing and how to design an attention grabbing website, but the client ‘knows’ better (or so they think) and the website ends up looking like something tacky (like those mass produced art reproductions that people hang in their living rooms). DO NOT DO THIS! Your website is meant to impress your visitors and hopefully bring in more business, so let an experienced website design create something that is competitive and nice; not something that you seem to be only person who likes it.
Tip#3: Start using a Content Management System
Many website are still simple HTML websites,and if your website is one as well then you’re still paying someone to update content, add new pages and basically keep it up to date. Why keep paying for your website when you can make these changes yourself, from any computer (with an internet connection of course), whenever you are and whenever you like? To accomplish this, you need a Content Management System. These sites are database driven, which means the content is generated dynamically (sorry for the technical jargon, I promise I avoid using it as much as possible). To break it down in the most simplistic terms I can possibly think of, a Content Management System gives you the ability to edit ALL your text information, add new pages and even product categories and products if you have an ecommerce website. The main advantage to this is you never have to wait for updates to be implemented and you never have to pay a web developer again to update your website. There are a couple of ‘open source’ (i.e free) Content Management System available, namely WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. Using an open source Content Management System can save you a significant amount of money in development, since all the time consuming parts like coding the logic, is already done, and the developer just needs to implement your custom design theme (refer to point #1 above) and implement plugins to achieve any special functionality you may require. I’m not saying it’s a breeze and shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours and cost $50, but compared to custom programming, you can save a lot. So if you’re old website didn’t have a Content Management System, now is the time to get one and save all that maintenance money you were paying your website designer to maintain your site (and since you were smart and followed my recommendation, buy yourself something nice as well with all that extra money you will now have!).
Tip#4: Increase your visibility on Social Media and Search Engines
Social Media has become extremely popular because of the ‘viral’ effect posts have. To put it simply, if you post something interesting on your wall on Facebook or ‘Tweet’ something interesting, people who follow you will pick up on it, and either ‘like’ it or ‘re-tweet’ it. by doing this, your little post has now been dropped in front of potentially HUNDREDS of new potential customers! As much as it pains me to say it, Twitter can be beneficial to your business for these reasons (I’m ok with Facebook, I just don’t want to know what you’re doing every 5 minutes or where you’re stuffing your face for lunch). So if you haven’t already started using social media platforms, be sure to include links to them on your new website; trust me it will help.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is also extremely important. The way I explain the importance to my clients is like this: What’s the point in building a store with no roads leading to it? The point is your website needs to found in searches on Google, and Search engine optimization accomplishes that (if done correctly). The best way to start your new website off to good rankings is to identify the main keywords and key phrases that people would search for to find your services (for my firm, ecommerce website designers toronto, editable website designers toronto, website designers toronto to name a few) and then hire a competent search engine optimization company to get you started. There is quite a bit of work to achieve good rankings and a lot of research; so it’s best to let experienced professionals do it.
Tip #5: Keep your website updated with all your latest offers and information
Now that you have a Content Management System, you can easily keep your new website up to date with all your latest offers, promotions and information. The worst thing you can do (and now you have no excuses), is to leave your content stagnant. Make sure you remove expired offers, update new offers and promotions, and keep your services (or products) up to date with all the latest information relevant to those services. Start a blog which complements your website, and start posting all the latest things that are happening with your company, or even helpful tips and advice related to your industry (like this article!).