The year was 1999. The dot-com boom was still in full swing and the Y2K bug was a scary campfire story for IT professionals. We all knew that the Internet was here to stay, and if your business didn’t have a website, you might as well be selling buggy whips. You created a website for your company…and there it sat, taking up virtual real estate for the past decade. Now you’ve got an idea that this isn’t good enough anymore. A company logo splashed across the top of the page with a “Contact Us” email link might not cut it in an age when people expect to be able to order everything online and start their cars from their iPhones. So what do you need to do to bring your website up to speed with today’s technology?
Cross your t’s and Dot your i’s: The first thing you can do to make your website better may not even require a call to your IT department. First, make sure all of your content is accurate and up-to-date. Make sure phone numbers and email addresses are current. Check for dead links. Do you have an “About Me/Us” section on your website? Update it to reflect what’s going on today at your company. If you have a blog or news release section either update it or just go ahead and take it down. Staying stagnant with old news or a blog that doesn’t get updated regularly makes your site look dated and sends a bad message to your customers.
Track Your Users: Now is the time to start using analytics! Google Analytics is a great tool, and it’s 100% free. One of the simplest things you can do to learn what your visitors are doing on your website is to install Google Analytics. Take the guesswork out of user tracking without spamming your customers with polls or surveys. Google Analytics lets you track which pages on your site are the most popular, where your visitors are coming from, how many visits convert to sales, and more. Before you consider undertaking any drastic site redesign, learn what your site visitors actually want.
A Fresh Coat of Paint: Give your site a makeover! Just like a new coat of paint can reinvigorate a room in your house, a new look for your website can lead to a boost in traffic. First, consider general modernization. If your site was built with frames or relies on Flash there’s a good chance that your customers are not seeing your website the way that you intend them to. Many browsers do not display frames properly and anyone viewing your site with an iPhone or iPad is unable to use Flash. In addition, you should also learn something about how web search engines work and then review your site’s Meta Tags. You could have the greatest website in your industry and no one will ever see it if Google doesn’t know that it’s there.
Next, ask yourself: How does my website look? Over time websites can become cluttered and unwieldy. New content gets added and the page layout is slightly different. Graphics that were new and fresh years ago now just look outdated or even silly (Flying toasters anyone?) Consider a new look and a new layout. Better yet, use all that analytics data you’ve just collected to put the information that your visitors want, where they can most easily find it.
And while you’re reworking your site’s look …Go mobile!: Even if you’re happy with the content and layout of your website, you need to know what your site looks like on a mobile device. According to a Pew Research Study, 85% of US adults own a cell phone and more than half (55%) use theirs to browse the internet. This means that nearly 1 in 5 US adults use their phone for the majority of their online activities. These numbers are only growing. If your site is unusable or looks bad on a mobile device, your customers are likely to take their business elsewhere! Going mobile does not have to mean starting over from scratch, and it doesn’t have to mean building an app. A well designed mobile website works just as well on any smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer.