Many, if not most, small businesses look at a web site as a one-time expense; once they have invested in one, they look at that as something checked off of their list forever.
The reality is that the web evolves so rapidly that you really should look at a web site as an ongoing expense that should be re-evaluated every 18 months – 2 years. It may be that you just need some small tweaks to bring your site up to speed, but if your site is more than 3-4 years old – it is probably time to seriously consider if the web site that worked for you then is still the best site for your business now.
Investing in a new site that takes advantage of the way the Internet works today can more than pay for itself in new business and easier upkeep for you. Some things to consider:
1. Does Your Site Look Current?
A site that looked modern and cutting edge a few years ago may look completely outdated now. The result is that potential customers/clients may not take your business as seriously as your competitor who has been keeping their web site fresh.
2. Does Your Site Still Work?
Web sites optimized for browsers 5 years ago may not work optimally today with modern browsers, larger computer monitors, and mobile devices. Links on your site may go to pages that no longer exist. Your site may use technology that is now obsolete. The web changes at a fast pace, and your web site may have gotten left behind.
3. Do You Have a Frankensite?
You may have added new services to your business, new features, new content, but added them into a site that was designed for your content from years ago. This can lead to a Frankensite – one where content is slapped in haphazardly, is hard to find, and has led to a cluttered and disorganized site. Starting over and rethinking how the whole site is organized and designed can lead to a much more seamless and friendly experience for your site’s visitors, making them more likely to stay on your site and ultimately give you their business.
4. Is Your Site in Flash?
Creating web sites in Flash was all the rage some years ago, allowing sites to have lots of animation, music, and movement. As many people quickly learned, they were also slow to load, terrible for search engines (like Google), difficult to navigate, expensive to maintain, and even somewhat annoying. But the real death knell for Flash was the speedy rise in use of iPhones and iPads, on which Flash is not supported at all. If your site is in Flash, or uses Flash for a major component of the site (especially its navigation!) give it a quick look on an iPhone or iPad — you may find that your site is completely invisible or non-functional.
5. Has Your Business Changed?
Presumably you had your web site designed to meet the very specific goals of your business and the demographic of your ideal customers/clients. However, most small businesses slightly, or even drastically, change their goals as their business evolves, and their web site should reflect the changes in their business. Does your web site still focus on the things that you consider most important? Does it appeal to your best customers today?
6. Does Google Still Love You?
In an effort to provide the best search results possible, Google constantly changes and tweaks its algorithms to serve up results. Five years ago people focused on things like keyword tags on their sites – today Google ignores keyword tags. Things that worked to help your ranking even a few years ago no longer work today. A web site should be optimized for the Google of today, not the Google of 3-5 years ago.
7. Can You Maintain Your Site?
It wasn’t too may years ago when I would actually recommend against clients using a content management system (CMS), which would allow them to edit their site themselves. This was because the available options at that time were difficult to use, severely limited the design options, and could cause more potential problems than they would solve.
We have come a LONG way since then! CMS’s like WordPress (my personal favorite) are now easy to use, are constantly updated to meet new security needs and offer more features, are optimized for search engines, and no longer create limitations to design. Being able to make quick updates yourself can save you ongoing maintenance costs.
8. Is Your Site Social?
Over the past few years, social networking has become a crucial part of any small business’s marketing plan, but older sites were simply not built to take advantage of them – because they didn’t exist! Do you have a Facebook page? Twitter account? Pinterest? Newsletter signup? Blog? Can your site visitor’s easily share your content on their social networks?
Evaluate Your Site Today!
If you go through the list above and find that your site just isn’t keeping up with the times, it is probably time to re-invest in your online presence.
I have built my web site from the ground up 4 times in 7 years. Sure, you might think that’s easy for me, I can do it myself so it’s free! Actually, it is a huge investment of time every time I do it. Time is money! But I have seen a large return on this investment every single time, as my site changes to better reflect the online landscape of the day.
Need help evaluating your current needs? Contact me today!