Originally published January 10, 2020
The beginning of a new year is when we all take stock in what’s working, and we need to change. Usually that includes things like going on a diet or implementing a budget. In business you might be setting specific sales goals or re-organizing data and processes from the previous year.
Business owners often overlook their website. They treat it like a phone book listing, thinking that as long as they have a website with their business and contact information, they’re good to go.
But a website is like a house. It needs regular inspection and upkeep. An out of date website could be costing you customers and ultimately more money than it would cost to fix it.
Here’s what to look at when evaluating your website.
How fast does your website load?
Use a timer to see how long it takes for your site to load. If it’s longer than three seconds, you’re losing visitors. The issue could be that the images are not optimized, or the underlying code is bloated. Consult with a designer to solve a slow loading site. If your site takes too long to load, not only will visitors leave, but you’ll be penalized in a Google search.
Is it easy to navigate?
It doesn’t matter how cutting edge your website is if your visitors can’t find what they’re looking for. People these days are always in a hurry. They don’t want to have to search for what they need and most likely there are plenty of other businesses in your industry that can help them if you can’t.
Your site should guide your visitors logically to help them learn who you are, what you do and how they can do business with you. Links should be clear and easy to press on a phone.
How does it look on a phone?
If you do nothing else, visit your website on a phone to see what the experience is. More than half of internet usage is done on a phone or mobile device so if you’re site doesn’t look good or perform well on a phone, you’re losing business to your competitors.
Make sure everything resizes and realigns automatically so a visitor can easily scroll down the page to see the content. If they have to resize or move the screen to read the text or click a link, they’ll go elsewhere.
Is the information up to date and does the website look fresh?
There’s the obvious stuff like checking that the phone number and address are correct, but what about the other elements? How old are the images? When did you shoot those videos or write that blog post? Evaluating your website is as much about updating the information you’re providing as it is about having a great design. Even if the information your presenting hasn’t changed, re-working existing content can make it seem fresh and draw people in.
Aesthetics is a subjective thing, but like stainless-steel appliances in the kitchen, there are certain website elements that are attractive to users. Sites these days utilize large headings and short paragraphs that are easy to read, vibrant color schemes, large images, and plenty of white space. A good designer will be able to blend your brand personality with the latest trends to create a site that inspires users to stick around and learn more about you.
Is it using outdated technology?
You may have paid thousands for that fancy site using Flash, but your customers probably aren’t going to see your content now, and definitely not for much longer. That’s because Adobe will stop supporting Flash at the end of 2020 and as a result, the major internet browsers have been phasing the technology out. Flash allowed designers to incorporate animated and interactive elements in site design. With the technology unsupported, any elements in your site built on Flash will not display.
Another website feature that I find doesn’t age so well is the image slideshow. Slideshows built on older code often don’t resize on mobile devices causing an awkward and unpleasant experience for the end user. If you have a business that relies on visual impact – like real estate – it’s imperative to make sure the images on your website are impressive, no matter where they’re viewed.
Many designers are replacing slideshows with a page of inline images. For the end user that means no clicking or waiting for the next image to load, Just simple scrolling.
When evaluating your website, it’s important to remember that what people want most is a smooth browsing experience. They want to find information quickly and easily. The more your site helps them achieve this goal, the more likely they are to become your customer. Moreover, when visitors find what they’re looking for and stay on your site, the better you’ll rank in Google. And that means more visitors and more potential customers.
After all, getting customers is reason we have a website for our business.