Your website is one of the most important sales tools you have.
Your businesses website is your virtual storefront, and accessible to anyone at anytime. It can also be the initial sales touchpoint you have with a prospect, and the first impression they get of your company. If what they see is unappealing or dated, they won’t only judge your website, but this can negatively influence their overall opinion of your brand. While building brand credibility was once a process, the trust and respect one has for your company can now be influenced within seconds, all based on the impression your website makes. An unattractive design with stale content can portray your company as unprofessional– leading prospects to hit the back button before even taking a second look at what you have to offer. If your site looks and feels dated, how are potential customers supposed to believe you will be able to provide them with the current answers they need or the cutting-edge solutions they are looking for?
With that being said, technology doesn’t stand still and wait for us to catch up. The shelf life of a website is between 2-3 years. That means elements that were considered best practice just a few years ago, may already be past their expiration date in 2018. And you don’t need to be a design aficionado or web expert to recognize dated design or to get frustrated with second rate usability. In order to be competitive in today’s market, your business’s website can no longer be an “online brochure”, it must responsively adapt to various screen sizes, include streamlined, fresh content, and provide an engaging experience for the user. If your website design is lightyears behind your competition, it can be costing your company big – in both leads and credibility.
To help you understand if your website is due for an overhaul, we’ve outlined six signs to look for when determining if a web design is out of date.
1. Inaccurate or Stale Content
75% of people admit they judge a business’s credibility based on their website. (Kinesis Inc.)
Your content matters to the visitor.
It’s no longer okay to have “Welcome!” as the most prominent headline on the homepage (although I am not sure if this was really ever okay). The last thing you want to do in web design today is take up prime real estate with content that provides little or no value to the visitor. The messaging throughout your website should accurately represent your brand, clearly communicate value to the user and quickly convince them you have a solution to their problem. The content should be benefit-oriented, streamlined and concise.
Take a close look at the content on your website. Are any of the below true? If so, it’s time for an update.
- It showcases products and services that are no longer offered or is missing core products and services that you do provide. If you’ve made changes to your offerings, it’s crucial your website reflects this immediately, as product and service pages are some of the most frequently visited pages on a businesses website.
- The last blog or news article posted on your site was from over a year ago. Your website should be continually updated with fresh and relevant content. People are looking for resources online, and if you want to be a knowledge source to your audience, you need to produce current content regularly. Have new technologies come out in your industry? Let your audience know how this will affect them. Do you have experts on your team with helpful insight or informative tips on a particular subject? Share this! Show your customers and prospects that you are the experts. This will enhance their overall trust in your business.
- It contains content that is confusing or irrelevant to your audience. Before adding content to your website, always ask yourself – will this be useful or helpful to my visitors? Will this benefit one or all of my audiences? And lastly, will my audience understand this content? For instance, if your dentist’s website listed out the technical specifications of their x-ray machine, would this be a useful information to you? Probably not, unless of course you are an x-ray enthusiast.
- Your dates are, well, outdated. Companies will often list various date-related information on their website. From years of experience in the industry to a list of their recent awards. If you are not updating your website on a regular basis, this information can become inaccurate or provide the wrong impression.
2. Dated Design and Visuals
94% of a visitor’s first impression of your website is design related. (Kinesis Inc.)
The design elements of a website include all things that meet the eye – from colors, fonts and shapes to the imagery and white space used. A good design uses these elements to draw users in, not distract them. Your site’s aesthetics can help make a visitor feel comfortable, and establish a sense of trust in your brand. Or if unpleasing it can detour visitors away in just one click (and right into the arms of your competition!).
As technology evolves, so does design. Furthermore, our taste for what is appealing and what is not naturally follows suit. Is your website designed for what is considered appealing today?
- Compared to competitor sites, is your design and layout as fresh and modern as theirs? Is it on the same level – or better yet a level above? If not, chances are your prospects are thinking the same thing.
- Is the photography you display on your site a good visual representation of your brand? The imagery used across a website is a crucial component of the overall design. If your photography is low quality, stretched, or dated, this is a sign that you’re probably due for a redesign. Choosing cheesy, obviously-fake or overly used stock photos for your company’s site can lower the credibility in your brand.
- Is the content on your website easy to read? Is there a good contrast between text and the background? Is the font size appropriate? You don’t want to make reading your content a strain on the eyes of your visitors.
- Are you utilizing your design real-estate? When viewing your website on a desktop computer, does the site design flow across the screen width or is your site confined to a boxed area in the middle – or worse yet – to the left of the screen?
- Is your site too busy? Are you using a repeating background image? Repeating backgrounds distract the visitor, making the overall site message difficult to understand. Is there sufficient white space separating the text from the imagery on the page or is it all tightly crammed together?
- Do you have more than three different fonts being used? If matched properly, 2-3 different fonts can enhance your design. Once you begin going past three, the content can become difficult to follow.
3. It’s Not Responsive
On average 8 out of 10 consumers would stop engaging with a site if its content doesn’t display properly on their device. (Adobe)
Your website should be able to adapt to any device without compromising its quality and performance. With the rapid advancements in mobile technology, more people are using their phones for both personal and business initiatives. In fact, nearly 40% of smart phone and tablet owners use their devices to search for B2B products and services (ComScore). Though the experience on mobile will be different, the overall look should be consistent with the desktop version.
The adaptability (or lack thereof) of your website, can also affect your search engine rankings. Since April 2015, Google gives preference to responsive websites in their search results.
Ask yourself the following questions about your website:
- Does your site adjust properly to all standard screen sizes – including tablet and mobile? Or does it simply zoom out, forcing a visitor to zoom in in order to read content from a phone?
- Do all the buttons work, and can the text be easily read when viewing your site on different devices? Is the phone number on your mobile site clickable or is it embedded in an image?
With 2 out of every 3 minutes spent online coming from a mobile device, making your site properly optimized for screen sizes is a must.
4. Has Elements That Are No longer Best Practice
Trends don’t last forever, especially in the digital world.
Some web elements that were once widely used by designers and developers have become no longer acceptable. Not only can the cause issues with the usability of your site, some can also affect your search engine rankings. Research tells the following elements do not belong on a website today:
- Flash Animations: With the advancements in code, having elements of Flash on your website today is considered taboo. It won’t load on all devices (tablet, smartphones)., you must download the player to view (which can be a cause of frustration for visitors), and it hurts your website’s search engine rankings!
- Small page layout: If you view your website on a standard desktop monitor (of today), does the overall layout seem small and contained? If so, it was probably designed to fit smaller desktop screens produced years ago. Website’s that were created within the last 5 years will generally have full screen layouts to fill the screen.
- Image-Based Text: If the majority of the text across your site is embedded within an image, this poses huge concern for search engine visibility.
- Text with Drop Shadows: Drop shadows were a trend a few years ago, but modern design is flat, clean, and simple. If your site is utilizing things like shadows, gradients, or anything attempting to look 3D, it might be time for a change.
- Number of Visitors Ticker: This was a trend 10+ years ago, but now is an obvious sign that a website is out of date. You don’t need a visitor tracker – that’s what Google Analytics is for!
- Sound on load: If a visitor lands on your site and a video/audio file immediately starts to play, the uninvited sound may cause them to navigate away from your site immediately. You should give visitors the opportunity to press play, rather than force it.
- Massive Slideshow: Slideshows aren’t necessarily a sign that your site is out of date, however, they contribute to your site’s speed. Do you have a slideshow with more than 3 slides on it? Is it using busy/complex animations? If so, consider using a hero image instead or simplifying your slideshow so that it uses less resources to load.
- Sidebars: If you’re using a sidebar on your site, and it’s done properly, it can come in handy for guiding visitors to other related areas. However, if you have too much content in the sidebar, it can become distracting. More often than not, sidebars serve no purpose other than to create noise and distract the visitors from the end goal. While many marketers see the sidebar as an opportunity to promote offers, collect email addresses, and highlight other pages, if nobody is looking there in the first place, none of this can be accomplished.
5. Poor User Experience
Customers with an unpleasant experience on your website are 88% less likely to return. (Adobe)
The user experience relates to how a person feels when interacting with your site. In order to supply a good user experience to your visitors the website needs to be both aesthetically pleasing and user friendly. Clear, structured and intuitive. It should guide the visitor, not confuse them. A poor user experience will increase your bounce rates, and diminish consumer confidence.
- Navigation & Scannable Content: Is your site navigation easy to find and straight forward? The goal is to minimize the number of clicks it takes for visitors to find the information and content they need. Is the content easy to digest? Text should be scannable and separated by headlines allowing the user to skim the page, and ultimately giving them the control as to what they interact with.
- Consistency: Are the elements throughout your site consistent? For instance, any button that links somewhere should have the same look as all other button links (i.e. square and blue or orange, etc.). This allows the user to easily identify what is clickable and what is not.
- Functionality: Does your site feature interaction-rich functions that make sense, without the visitor having to think twice? Adding elements that are unfamiliar to your visitor can cause confusion and frustration.
- Load Times: Does your website take “forever to load”? There is a need for instant gratification these days, so making sure your website can grab the visitor’s attention quickly is imperative. If your website takes a long time to load the content, the delay can cause visitors to leave. In fact, 40% of people will abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. (Kissmetrics)
A good user experience can instantly instill confidence in consumers, and increase your online lead generation.
6. It’s Not Generating Leads
85% of B2B Customers Search the Web Before Making a Purchase Decision (TBD)
Your website is a 24-hour sales tool, and should be a lead generator for most businesses. If your website is failing to create leads, one of the following reasons could be why.
- Lack of or Dated On-Page SEO: Is your website found when prospects are searching for your products and services? On-Page Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of optimizing your website in order to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic from search engines. Years ago when SEO was first initiated, many web designers/developers would cram 20-100 keywords onto a page, and that worked…for a while. Now that is considered “keyword stuffing” and you can be penalized by Google for it. In order to add the appropriate on-page SEO to your website the first step is to research what keywords and terms your audience is searching for (when looking for your products/services) and then utilizing these naturally within your page content. Next your designer/developer should add appropriate meta titles and descriptions to each page on your site related to your keywords. By doing this it tells Google exactly what you want to be found for.
- Call-To-Actions: Do you provide users with a next step on every page of your website? This is the key to turning your web visitors into leads. Once you’ve got them to the site, the content must guide the visitor to an action – whether it be “Request a Consultation”, “Contact Us”, “Download our Catalog”, etc. As website visitors, we are always looking for that next step. Approximately 70% of small business websites do not have clear call-to-action for anything on their homepages.
Is it time for a website redesign?
If you think it might be time for a redesign, but aren’t sure – we can help! The Sikich Marketing team and web experts will provide a complimentary assessment of your website. Simply click here to fill out the form.