Identifying the right time to get a website for your business is easy: Immediately. (As in: If you don’t have a website, contact us immediately).
However, identifying the best time to update, enhance or overhaul an existing website is much more nebulous. As an important part of your brand’s identity, it’s tempting to pretend that it’s chiseled in stone and let it stand the tests of time. On the other hand, it would be fun to do 365 versions and treat them like a digital page-a-day calendar.
The answer is definitely a middle path between these extremes.
At LaunchUX, we recently launched a new version of our website, and we thought it might be beneficial for existing clients, prospective clients and people who just like to read about web design for us to talk candidly about what we have updated and why we chose to update it.
Our old site had served us well for more than three years. It was a good site, and there wasn’t anything wrong with it per se. When we were starting out, we latched onto words like “elegant” (as in “elegant user experiences”), “professional” and “corporate,” and the old site visually presented us as such.
We are, of course, still professional providers of elegant solutions for corporate clients.
But you can hear it and feel it in the italicized portion of that last sentence. There’s a stiffness, a rigidity.
And that’s not us.
Professional and elegant? Sure.
But not stiff.
We deliver those solutions by being fun, approachable geeks that get results, and we wanted an online presence that showed that.
How and when to update your website will vary. A high-level technology company that sells to equally high-level businesses might get more mileage out of their website than, say, a startup’s app that targets younger consumers on phones, tablets and video game consoles. The startup’s very survival could be determined by how well it surfs the bleeding edge of web design including the ability to play videos and navigate by swipe.
Whether your industry moves quickly or slowly, the decision to overhaul an entire website will almost always be based on:
- Changes in design (across the industry)
- Changes in user behavior (across our website)
- Changes in the company (across the years)
You should also keep in mind what you want your site to do. Unless you’re playing an extremely long game with your content marketing strategy, you will want your website to do more than simply inform or create awareness. For most of our clients (and ourselves), the goal is to generate more leads. Visitors are nice, but at the end of the day, we want a percentage of them to transition to customers.
So we looked at the design trends, our user engagement and ourselves, and the answer on all three counts was that we could be doing better. We could tighten things up a bit. We could generate more leads. And we could build a site that more closely matched how it feels to work with us.
So we did.
Here were three things we adjusted on our new website to enhance our visitor’s experience and generate more leads – and we can do it for you, too.
1. Use analytics to capture more leads.
We looked at our overall Google Analytics – our page hits, our bounce rate, and so on – to identify exactly where and when we were losing people. One of the biggest determinations was that we had way too much text about our Products and Services. It’s no secret that online customers want easily-scannable text (usability expert Jakob Nielsen has been consistent on this point for decades), so we distilled the paragraphs into their essential bullet points.
Our SEO page, for example, informs visitors that optimization will generate more traffic, more traffic means more visitors, and more visitors means more leads. Then we include a link to a substantially more in-depth overview of the benefits of SEO, but that information kept out of sight until the visitor chooses to access it. There is a temptation to put everything out at once hoping that something will catch the reader’s eye, but – as we learned with our Franklin County Free Press project – less is more. The user will determine what they want to read and when they want to read it – and they’ll be more engaged because they took it upon themselves.
A streamlined website introduces the service or product, provides an overview of the features/benefits, and some testimonials to increase your authority and trustworthiness. Testing will help identify where to put the call to action, but anything else should be added with careful deliberation – interesting and engaging content can keep them on the line until you can convert them, but they will click away the second they feel bored or confused.
2. Optimize your new website for mobile devices and mobile users.
80% of our traffic is coming from mobile devices. This trend has been continuing for as long as we’ve been doing this, and it’s a safe bet that it will continue continuing for the foreseeable future. As a web design firm, our old website was, of course, built to look great on desktop computers, smartphones and tablets, but now we’re taking it to the next level.
Our new site is a “mobile-first” site. While it will still look great regardless of the device, the entire user experience has been optimized specifically for mobile phone users. Being mobile-friendly is similar to search engine optimization in that you get the best results by focusing on the end user.
Connecting back to point one: Content is still king, but you can have the best content ever written, and if the design and the UX is lacking, it won’t have the desired impact. Content, design and UX are the tripod upon which great websites stand, and on mobile devices – even more so than on desktop computers – customers need easily-scannable, easily-digestible bits of information.
3. Reflect your corporate culture throughout your new website.
We haven’t changed so much as we now have a better understanding of how we partner with clients and how our solutions fit into their plans. Brands evolve and change over time. Three years ago, we knew what we did (provide elegant solutions), but we didn’t really know ourselves. It turns out that we are fun, approachable geeks that get results. Our website gives us a way to artistically express that personality.
Is it time for a new website?
The answer is different for every business, but if you’re seeing fewer leads, negative trends in your analytics or you no longer recognize the company described in your own website, then it might be time to make the change.
Very few businesses (we can’t think of any off-hand) can put up a great website that will be just as effective 10 years later. Today, it makes more sense to start with an awesome website (we can do that) as a solid foundation, but then perform periodic facelifts to reflect the ever-changing marketplace and keep your brand relevant (we can do that, too).
Not only can we build – or rebuild – websites, but we can also help you understand your website’s analytics, so you can make sure that your website continues to meet your goals.
If any of these scenarios sound like you, feel free to engage with our call-to-action right…here.