Time for a Web Re-Design?

Time for a Web Re-design?

Your website is one of your most valuable marketing tools. Because of its relative low cost, it has the potential to be your most vital activity in almost every facet of your marketing plan: branding, lead generation, penetration, ROI, direct sales, cross-sales, word-of-mouth. But like all promotional activities, it can begin to look a little tired if you haven't kept it up-to-date and fresh-faced.

But a redesign is not to be undertaken lightly. It can take a good deal of time, and sometimes money, and requires a good amount of forethought.

On the up side, the benefits can be enormous. Functional modifications can help you do business faster and more efficiently,  driving better results and keeping in better contact with your customers. Remember, too, that a re-design doesn't have to entail throwing everything out and starting afresh. Many of your existing pages, images and articles will be good to re-use, just presented in a different way.

Is it time for re-design? Here a 10 good reasons to consider.

10 good reasons to consider a website re-design

  • First impressions count.

    Increasingly, your website contributes a major part to potential customers' first impressions and return customers' continuing impressions. The facts:

    • It takes just 50 milliseconds — that's 0.05 of a second — for users to form an opinion of your website. That's less than a blink of the eye.
    • 94% of first impressions are design-related. Quality content matters, of course, but it's rendered powerless if the page design doesn't initially trigger interest.
    • 85% of B2B customers search the web before making a purchase decision. And 75% of web users admit to making judgements about a company's integrity based primarily on their website design.
    • Positive first impressions can have a priming effect on how customers perceive future interactions with your business.
    • Conversely, negative first impressions can place a permanent drag on customer satisfaction, meaning you have to work harder in the future for less result. Sounds like a drag, right?
    • A little bit left field here, but it's an interesting stat nonetheless: Research found that fans' impressions of players in the NBA (US National Basketball Association) were determined by their position in their initial draft, despite any future on-court performance.

    The numbers tell the story: you don't get a second chance at a good first impression.

  • Keep in touch with your customers.

    It costs seven times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing customer.

    It makes sense then — revenue, profit, ROI: that sort of sense — to keep your existing customers interested in your products and services.

    Your website can form the cornerstone of a customer relations program that encourages loyalty among your existing customers and discourages shopping around. If your current website doesn't offer tools to easily publish new content (such as a blog), that doesn't integrate with social media (such as Facebook and Twitter), and that doesn't enable you to easily keep in touch with customers regularly (such as a newsletter and mail list), you should consider a site upgrade.

    Keeping in touch with your existing customers is one your most important marketing activities: your website should make it easy.

  • Get responsive.

    Yeah, yeah, it's the buzz at the moment, but with good reason: 57% of all web traffic comes via mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets (in Australia, this figure is even higher); that's up more than 14% in less than a year. More than half of all local Google searches are via a mobile device. Time spent accessing mobile web content has grown 20% year-on-year for the past four years. Millennials (people born between 1981 and 1996) make a whopping 87% of their purchase decisions after consulting their mobile.

    Are the pennies dropping?

    A sizeable proportion of your prospective customers are coming your way via their phones and tablets.

    If you're not adequately prepared, you may lose them forever: 61% of mobile users are unlikely to return to a site that they had trouble viewing on their smartphone.

    That your site is navigable and readable on mobile devices is no longer a web-developer's money squeeze: it's an essential part of your web marketing plan and deployment.

    Your website has to be mobile friendly; if it isn't, you are missing a sizeable chunk of your prospective customers.

  • Flick Flash.

    Hopefully, this is old news, but we still come across the odd Flash-driven site, so it deserves a mention here ...

    Flash is the application and technology responsible for some of the hipper and more interactive — or immersive — websites over the past couple of decades. It made building bespoke websites, especially those requiring movement, animation and special effects, particularly appealing to web designers as the developer had total control over how things looked and functioned, which is not necessarily the case with standard web-building tools.

    It really was the hip young thing for a while there; we used to get briefs that specifically said "please add some Flash", even if the client had no idea what Flash was or did.

    And then came the iPhone and iPad, and Apple and Adobe (the makers of Flash) picked up their digital handbags and started swinging at 10 paces. Then-CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs, cited Flash as the number one reason Macs crashed and urged Adobe to stop living in the past. Adobe countered with claims that Apple's proprietary iOS for iPhones and iPads was a closed system and against the spirit of open source software that is common in technology today. And so it went.

    The denouement? Adobe has admitted Apple won. Adobe has stopped development of Flash for mobile devices.

    So what does this mean to you, the humble business owner? Well, taken with some of the numbers cited above, it means that more than a quarter of your prospective customers simply cannot see your website, or cannot see it as intended. That's too big a proportion to ignore. We did some nice Flash-only sites years ago: they were fun, groovy, arresting, immersive. But truth be told, from a marketing perspective, there were few marketing messages that couldn't be said without using Flash. I'm willing to bet that your Flash site is the same.

    Flick Flash: focus on the fundamentals.

  • Ask not what you can do for your website: Ask what your website can do for you.

    Your website can be much more than just the public face of your business: it can help you do business. In my opinion, this is one of the most under-utilised applications of your website.

    Want to know more about your customers? Your website can do that. Question, track, analyse, segment, and graph who's using your website, display hotspots of activity and interest, where they've come from and where they go when they leave.

    Need to better account for staff movements and job times? Your website can do that. Online job and time sheets for employees in the field, accessible from smartphones or tablets, that can track what they're doing and how long a given task is taking. Feed it back to your job costings and get a better idea of what you should be charging and if resulting margins are in line with profit expectations.

    Conduct your own A/B or multivariate market testing with varying landing pages to get a better idea of what your customers and prospects respond best to and alter your marketing plan and budget accordingly.

    And I'm just warming up. Turn your website into your administration hub: chances are that your webhost has far better backup and redundancy policies in place than you do, and far better than you can afford. Use it as a document library, for online OH&S guidelines and policies, non-disclosure agreements, company profiles and marketing documents. Track expensive equipment such as, say, theodolites or company vehicles, in case it gets misplaced or stolen — or just to make sure the boys are working, not surfing.

    Make your website work for you.

  • Get with the times.

    Unfortunately, people do judge a book by its cover. If your website looks tired, if its content is outdated, if it uses animated gifs more than, say, once, if its latest News item is datestamped 2010, then there's a good chance it's doing your business image more harm than good.

    You did the right thing by getting a website five years ago. But what seemed cutting edge then, in terms of functionality and design, is now outdated, and, well, just a little naff. Worse, many websites more than five years old were designed with browsers in mind that are now obsolete.

    And, while trying to keep your content and presentation fresh and original (boy, you were ahead of the Bell curve on content-driven SEO), you installed all manner of add-ons and flashy features that, ultimately, makes your website look piecemeal, dated, and confusing.

    Sometimes, it's just time for a change.

  • Is your Page Ranking tanking?

    Times have changed in the world of SEO and SERP. What was once acceptable and sound business practice is now frowned upon and, in some instances, actively discouraged by search engines such as Google. If your website is languishing in SERP obscurity, there may be a few simple tweaks that can help to raise its profile.

    Fact is, search engines love fresh content and properly implemented coding practices. If your website is targeting users of Internet Explorer 6, Google will interpret this as an old website and assign it the SERP equivalent of one foot in the grave. If your latest update to your site, whether content or functionality, was a year ago, again, your site will be viewed as out-of-date and unloved.

    Add some fresh content and a nice new design and your site could restart its climb up search engines' page ranks. And that means more business for you.

    Keep it fresh and up-to-date to keep your page rank healthy.

  • Competitive advantage.

    What are your competitors doing? When you first launched your website (you trend-setting, go-getter, you), chances are none of your competitors had a website so, especially within your local area, you had the web sphere all to yourself. It's unlikely that you still enjoy that exclusivity. Whether it's a website or a social page such as a blog, a Facebook page or an eBay store, you've got more competition than ever. You'll enjoy a slight advantage for a while, simply by benefit of longevity and being first, but that won't last long if your competitors' sites are simply superior.

    Have your competitors recently upgraded their website? Obviously you don't want to (or need to) overhaul your website every time a competitor does. But if your site analytics (you've got site analyics, right?) are telling you your page rank is dropping, your clickthroughs are dropping, your conversion rates are dropping, then it's time to find out why and take remedial action. Competitive pressure and poor on-page SEO and design can contribute to decreased web activity.

    You need to keep up.

  • Bag the nag screen.

    Marketing devices on the web come and go. Initially they're interesting, and then they become irritating. One case in point is the nag screen, also known as pop ups, pop unders, exit screens, entry screens and a host of other names. Once upon a time, these were a good idea and gave good results. Then everyone started using nag screens, sometimes for absolutely pointless reasons, and now they're one of the most maligned technowhizzes on the internet.

    Users don't go to your website to get nagged. Nag 'em, and they will leave. 78% of internet users found nag screens "extremely annoying"; a further 12% found them "moderately to very annoying". That's 90% of your website's users finding one of your tactics designed to keep customers to be at least moderately annoying. To my way of thinking, that's not a good marketing plan. Get rid of 'em.

    (Oh, and as a side note, don't believe the figures cited by many of the companies creating and selling software for nag screens. Many of the click through rates are generated by tricks and graphic devices designed to deceive the user. For instance, some pop up ads are designed with the familiar "X" in the top right corner, which for most people signals a way for the user to close that popup window. That click is counted as a click through. That's right: the user's intention to close your ad is counted as a successful click. That's just dumb.)

    Focus on quality content that makes your prospects want to dig deeper.

  • Revolution, not evolution.

    You've changed. You've expanded, your business has changed direction, your products or services offered have changed, you've got a different business and marketing strategy, you've re-branded.

    Sometimes even the most subtle changes to your business cannot easily be incorporated into your existing website: what's needed is an overhaul. That may sound drastic, but ultimately it's a small price to pay if the alternative is having your customers and prospects mistake what you do or what you offer.

    The good news is that many new technologies can be incorporated into your new website than can attract more customers and make your business with them more mutually rewarding.

    Kick out the bad, welcome the new.

In brief

Engage your customers

If you think your website could do with a redesign, or even if you’d just like to chat about some of the technical possibilities that could make your website’s (and thus your business’s) engagement with prospects and customers more meaningful and rewarding, give us a call or drop us an email.

We pride ourselves on designing more than just ‘pretty’ websites. Part of our design process is identifying what your website can do for you, and incorporating these technical elements into an elegant and functional website. Call us today on (02) 6658 7666.

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