Keeping Your Website Fresh
Posted on June 27, 2019
Updating your websites has become essential to any business’s success. It shows that you care about your business. Note that websites should never look cluttered; the layout should be simple and easily navigable. You can’t just focus on how your site looks on the computer; you also have to make your site mobile friendly. Over half of Americans use their mobile phones to access media. Once you’ve freshened up your website, it’s time to measure the engagement. Google Analytics is a great tool to measure website traffic. You can also use SurveyMonkey to survey your customers on what they think of your website. In the webinar and text below, we are going to dive into the best practices to use when updating your website.
Hello, I’m Melanie Helgerson, one of the digital designers here at Top Floor.
I’m John Behn, one of Top Floor’s WordPress Developers, and we’re excited to discuss what you can do to keep your website up to date and viable in today’s Digital marketplace. Today, Melanie and I are going to discuss the significance of updating your website, as well as tools to use that will help you update it successfully.
Benefits of Updating Your Website
You know as well as we do that a website that doesn’t get updated loses its value and functionality over time. A website is a great selling tool; it takes the pressure off of yourself from having to constantly sell your company. Some other benefits of updating your website include recurring visitors, increase in value, and makes search engines happy.
How to Evaluate Website Performance
- Content Management System (CMS): Does your site exist within a CMS or Content Management System? Or is it a collection of static HTML files? Do you have a user dashboard or place where you can easily make content edits and updates or are you having to reach out to a developer or agency? Updating to a CMS will allow you to easily update your content on the fly, without having to reach out and pay for a developer to make minor site updates. (This experience is heavily dependent on who build your site, at Top Floor making this backend user experience as simple as possible is our primary focus)
- Host Evaluation: Is your site running as fast as it can or is it being held back by your hosting provider. Does your current web host provide your site with the proper PHP version and memory allocation for your site to run properly? This is something that becomes important to consider when updating from old to new.
- Security: Does your site get hacked often? Are you constantly receiving spam mail? Keeping the various code that runs your site up to date is an important part of this process and is something that should always be maintained. If you are not intending on redesigning or rebuilding your website, making sure your code is up to date and not vulnerable to attack is a good place to start.
- Forms & Leads: What kind of information are you gathering and how are you storing it. Are you able to view all form entries in a user-friendly backend within your site? Can it be easily exported?
- Load Time and Page Speed: Great ways to test these components of a website is Google Page Speed and GT Metrix
When’s the last time you looked at your site from a visual perspective? I mean REALLY looked at your site? When was the last time you updated your homepage? Swapped out some of the images throughout? Wrote a new blog post? It’s time to put your “new user glasses on”. It’s good to view your site from the perspective of a new audience every once in a while. And when you look, be honest. I bet there’s a bunch of low hanging fruit you could take care of right now before you finish reading!
Then comes the heavier task of looking at your competitors, and asking the question, “Are we still in-line with them, or are they on a whole other playing field now, and we are at the back of the line?” For the competitors that seem up-to-date, whatever changes they have implemented are indicators that there are new and better ways to achieve goals that are similar to yours. Take note of everything they are doing, from functionality, to ease of use, to visual style, to help steer the changes you want to make to your site, to keep up.
How to Develop a Great HomePage
55% of users leave after having spent just 15 seconds on a website. At a glance, there are some obvious signs that a website hasn’t been updated in a while that can be noticed within those first few seconds. It’s been common practice for years now that the logo in the top left corner of the site takes you back to the home page. So, having “home” in your main navigation is redundant, and getting rid of it will free up space to give more weight to your more important pages.
Another thing we want to touch on regarding homepages is gradients. Gradients can actually look cool and enhance the look of your site, BUT only when they’re used the right way and sparingly. If the rest of your site is modernized, you can get away with using some interesting textures and backgrounds. For a while, the thought was that buttons needed to have a gradient, to look dimensional, and clickable, but now that is no longer the case. With the “flat design” movement, we’ve become accustomed to recognizing what is and isn’t a clickable button, and it’s no longer necessary to overemphasize buttons.
Another important component of the website is images. If the images on your site feature people with outdated clothing or hairstyles, people talking on rotary dial phones, bottle cap glasses, and mullets, it’s time to give them a refresh! There are tons of royalty-free websites out there to find beautiful, modern imagery, such as iStock, Shutterstock, or Stocksy. There are several free sites too, such as Pexels, and Pixabay. The same goes for your videos… if you have any on your site. It might be time to finally update them, or even re-shoot them completely. Maybe the machines your company uses have been updated since then, and no longer look or function like they do in the videos anymore. Maybe the logo on your videos, have been updated since then, or that plant location where the video was shot, has since closed. Whatever the case, it might be the right time to update them.
Is Your Site Mobile-Friendly?
The biggest indicator that your site is outdated is its mobile responsiveness. Having a responsive site allows your content to be accessed on any type of device, from the desktop, to tablet, to the phone, broadening your reach, and thus expanding your client base, while serving a better experience to your users. In the U.S. alone, 51% of people use their mobile phones to access media, versus 42% on desktop computers. Furthermore, Google actually penalizes websites that aren’t mobile-friendly, as of April 2015, affecting your ranking results. In addition, “Mobilegeddon” which started this year in April, where Google now only looks at mobile versions of websites to decide how they rank on both desktop and mobile.
Now there are 2 types of mobile experiences, one where the site is adaptive, and one where it is responsive. The adaptive mobile experience is when you create a separate site that is specifically for mobile use. Responsive sites are ones that display correctly across all devices. Converting a site that is not mobile responsive to be mobile responsive is no small undertaking. Depending on how large your site is and how many different page types exist, the more financially viable option here would be to redesign and rebuild your site. The number of additional benefits you would gain in addition to a responsive site will easily outweigh the cost of a responsive conversion by itself.
Now that we’ve addressed the heavy lifting items, let’s move onto something a bit lighter. Something your team can definitely handle in-house. And that is … updating Your Content! We touched on it a little earlier, but to bring it back around again, fresh content is key! Constantly fresh, and quality content helps position your website in search engines, attracting more inbound links, which are helpful in spreading the voice about your business across multiple platforms. Some key areas of a website, that would benefit from fresh, new content are:
How to Measure Site Engagement
So now that you’ve freshened up your website, in more ways than one, it’s time to measure the impact it’s made on your site. To analyze current site performance, check your analytics and figure out what people are doing on your site. What keywords are bringing in organic search traffic, social traffic and other sources of traffic? What pages are visitors hanging around on a while and which pages are they bouncing from? Use this data to inform your priorities and next steps.
Google Analytics is probably the most popular tool for measuring website traffic. Survey Monkey is another great tool; it allows you to poll select people; friends, family, or your current customers, for feedback on your site. Lastly, another tool Top Floor uses is to measure website performance is UserTesting.com. Other than Google Analytics and SurveyMonkey, UserTesting.com is a paid tool that allows random people, who don’t know your company, give you unbiased feedback. Once you understand how to utilize these tools, then you can make improvements to your website.
To conclude, remember that a fresh website is crucial to the growth of your company. It also gives you a competitive advantage, attracts and retains clients, and ranks your site high on search engines. Therefore, update your website; it’s obviously worth it. If you’re thinking about it but are not quite sure, we would be happy to provide you with a comprehensive digital marketing audit to help advise your decision process.