The internet has completely revolutionized the way we search for information and buy products and services. We have undergone a massive shift in consumer buying behavior. Consumers used to contact companies directly to ask questions and clarify any concerns. Now, consumers conduct extensive research on your website and compare the alternatives before making a move. This means your website design better be in tip-top shape because consumers will spend time browsing your site in search of answers to their questions.
Along with the shift in buying behavior, website design is dynamic and continuously evolving. New website design trends come and go. What was once popular and eye-catching can become mundane and tasteless within a few months. Design will always play a critical role in a consumer’s first impression.
First impressions matter
Keeping your website up to date is one of the most important things you can do to make sure you have a great first impression. Think about the last time you stumbled across a website that was still living in the stone age. From my experience, I feel uncomfortable using a website that hasn’t made an effort to appeal to its users. It feels spammy and insecure. I’m talking about the sites with tons of navigation links on the left hand side, very little to no imagery, and overwhelming amounts of text.
If your site is aesthetically pleasing, people might rave about your site and actually enjoy coming back to it. Consumers will also spend much more time on a website that is user-friendly and interactive. If your website hooks your visitors right away, the experience becomes much more memorable and they will immediately think positively about your brand. Overall, staying up to date with design trends creates a much better user experience.
Reasons why it’s time to update your website
Is your website stuck in the past? Are you still using Comic Sans, scrolling marquees, hit counters, and animated GIF’s? What about your images/icons…are you using gradients, drop shadows, and bevel and emboss on everything? These design trends are a thing of the past. Your website visitors can tell that your site is old and that’s a signal that you’re struggling to keep up.
Your site is a reflection of your organization. If you think your website is starting to look a little out of date, then your users are certainly thinking the same. A poor website design is a sure way to lose valuable prospects.
Does your website use the same stock photos that everyone else has access too? Personalize your website and add your own style by taking your own images. Custom imagery also helps visitors get a sense of your personality, culture, and brand identity. Don’t be overly reliant on stock photos.
RESPONSIVE AND MOBILE FRIENDLY
With an increased number of internet-enabled devices, consumers are searching for products and services from their desktop, tablets, and mobile devices. Your website should be designed and developed with a uniform experience across all platforms. A great website looks and feels the same regardless of which device its presented on.
Having a mobile version of your website has become of paramount importance in today’s marketplace. Especially if you want to rank well in search engines. Google recently announced the shift to mobile first indexing. Mobile-first indexing means that Google will use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help our – primarily mobile – users find what they’re looking for.
The majority of online searches are done on mobile devices. In fact, a recent report from Hitwise (registration required) argues that in the US mobile search is roughly 58 percent of overall search query volume. If you haven’t updated your website in a while, you’re probably driving mobile users and potential customers away.
In marketing, a call to action (CTA) is an instruction to the audience designed to provoke an immediate response, usually using an imperative verb such as “call now”, “find out more” or “visit a store today”.
Clear calls to action across your website tell users where to go next. Don’t make it difficult for visitors to navigate your site. The calls to action should be subtle and intuitive. Including too many will overwhelm users and they could leave your site and never come back. Calls to action should be placed strategically throughout your site guiding visitors to your most recognizable and noteworthy work or content
SOURCE CODE & COMPATIBILITY
Just like design trends, web standards evolve over time. Every year web standards change and techniques to build a website become more advanced. Your site may have a lot of unnecessary code that is impacting the website’s load speed and overall experience. Slow load times also affects your search rankings. Don’t let cluttered code get in the way of your ability to convert website visitors.
Although the impact of unnecessary code should not be overlooked, there are various factors that play a larger role in reducing your website’s load speed (discussed below). You can tackle those first and then focus on cleaning up your source code.
If your source code is more than 2 years old, your website may be at a disadvantage. Although your website will still function, the updated code will perform better by taking advantage of new features. If you haven’t updated your website in over a year, you should heavily consider giving it a face lift.
If your site looks professional and is loaded with quality content your visitors will see you as an authority and thought leader. If the last blog you shared is over 6 months old, it’s time to start brainstorming some blog topic ideas. Don’t let your content go stale. Sharing new and helpful content is a great way to engage users and add value to your site.
People who visit your website are in search of information. Usually, they want answers to their questions. Make sure your content is effective, unique, and encourages people to revisit your site.
Content plays a large role in your search engine rankings. Make sure to keep your website updated with new and relevant information. Google regularly crawls your website to check for updates, but if Google doesn’t detect any new content, the crawlers won’t come around as often. Continuous publishing and optimization of content will help increase your Domain Authority.
The average attention span is roughly 8 seconds. This means that your site better load quickly. If a visitor becomes impatient because your website is not loading, they will leave and never come back. Google will even rank your website higher if you have fast load times.
If you’re unsure how fast your website is loading, there are great tools to help you out. I’ll just name a few: Pingdom, GTmetrix, and Google PageSpeed Insights. These tools are easy to use and offer suggestions to improve your website’s load speed. Some common issues that lead to slow load times include: large image files, page caching, underpowered web hosting, and a poorly optimized file system.
Page abandonment increases as page load time increases. Here are some startling numbers about the influence of loading time on consumers actions.
- 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.
- 79% of shoppers who are dissatisfied with website performance are less likely to buy from the same site again
- A 1 second delay (or 3 seconds of waiting) decreases customer satisfaction by about 16%
- A 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions
Your users should be able to navigate your website seamlessly. A great user experience is intuitive and simple. If your website navigation feels cluttered, it’s time for a website update. Information should be easy to find and visitors should be able to access it quickly. Rethink your site architecture and identify your most visited pages.
None of your pages should be more than 3 clicks away from the home page. Content that deep into your site architecture is representative of the value it holds. If something is not easily accessible, it may mean that it’s of little importance. Consider removing these pages from your site.
To use the latest apps, plugins, and integrations your site needs to be up to date. If all your app needs to do is retrieve information from somewhere else, you may not require a website update. However, if you want other apps or websites to be able to make use of your data, you’ll have to fine tune your backend. Using API’s can dramatically increase your user experience. But don’t expect the latest and greatest API’s to seamlessly integrate with your old infrastructure.
Integrating your site can also have a great impact on your internal processes. Think about connecting your back-office order fulfillment, billing, and CRM systems. You can reduce the likelihood of mistakes and confusion. Eliminate the need for multiple cumbersome software that doesn’t work well together by updating your website and introducing new integrations.
SECURITY. SECURITY. SECURITY
Website security has become extremely important. There is an increased number of threats and hacks that leave your information and visitors vulnerable. New or old, a website can be hacked. But an old website relies on older technology, so your chances of a security breach are higher. Adopt the newest security best practices to keep your website protected.
Migrating your website to https is a MUST. If you’re reading this and you’re a little confused, this article does a good job of explaining the benefits of https. The ‘S’ at the end of HTTPS stands for ‘Secure’. It means all communications between your browser and the website are encrypted. HTTPS is often used to protect highly confidential online transactions like online banking and online shopping order forms.
Are you still hosting your own CoLo (colocation) to run your website? You’re at a greater risk of breaches than if you moved to the cloud. Over the years, cloud providers have drastically improved the security experience. Plus, you don’t need to deal with the on-going support and maintenance of your servers.
You must reassure your site visitors that their information is safe with you. One small hiccup can have a much larger negative impact on your reputation.
Website Design and Development Updates
Everything we just discussed are the most important and most common signs of a website that needs some serious updating. This is not an exhaustive list, there are certainly more signals that it’s time for an update, but this should serve as a great starting point.
Seamgen is a San Diego web design agency dedicated to designing and developing world class digital applications. We can help make your website shine! If you’re thinking about a website redesign, we’d love to chat and help you make the decision (no commitments). We’re here to help you drive more value for your business and your users.