Have you ever scrolled down to the bottom of a webpage and noticed an outdated copyright logo? Did that make you wonder if the rest of the website was up to date? Small details like these could lead to major trust issues for the visitors of your website. This may give the impression to visitors that you care little about your site, which may result in website visitors thinking your customer service may be lacking as well.
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Just like clothing trends come and go and cars become obsolete, your company website will become a thing of the past if it’s not updated on a regular basis. Here are five signs that let you know it’s time to improve your web design:
I will review each of these signals, and provide a few tips to help get things rolling in the right direction.
High Bounce Rate
Pages that load slowly and provide bad user experiences on mobile devices are among the many reasons visitors decide not to stick around after only a few seconds. Content should only be a few clicks away, so make navigation easy. The use of custom fonts that the visitor must download, oversized images, and even using cheap web hosting services can cause pages on websites to upload slowly.
If you want to keep the visitor engaged on the content you created, don’t scare them away with annoying ads and other distractions. Remember, the reason you want people to visit your site is for them to take action. Non-relevant pop-up ads or other non-related information could prevent visitors from taking that final step to make a purchase, sign up for a subscription, or join an email list.
Outdated Web Design
As mentioned above, outdated copyrights may give users the impression that you do not care enough about minor details, and that other more important features are probably out of date as well. The goal is to have a site that is free of clutter, easy to navigate, and visually appealing. Here are a few things that could be hurting your web design’s visual appeal:
- Use of stock photos
- Too many fonts
I won’t get into a debate on whether sidebars should or should not be included. They do have their place, despite some studies revealing that they are ineffective. What I am suggesting is that a sidebar with too many distractions such as ads or links to other sites, could take attention away from the content and the call to action you want the users to take.
If you are on a budget, stock photos save you time and money compared to hiring a photographer and using your own images. The downside is that you will not likely set yourself apart from the competition with generic images that may be spotted elsewhere. Using illustrations or your own custom photos will give your brand a unique image.
Most websites are built and managed with one of the following platforms:
- Web builder platforms such as Wix or Squarespace (web builders)
- Content management system (CMS) such as Drupal or WordPress
In the early days of web design, an update to a site meant having a developer who was proficient in HTML on staff. Nowadays, web builders offer companies the ability to create and maintain a site with little technical know-how. Web builders are fairly easy to manage. They have templates available, and allow for basic website packages that can be upgraded for more features. Web builders are great for small businesses or small-scale web projects.
Unlike web builders, CMS requires more technical skills. The advantage of CMS over web builder platforms is that the developer using CMS has control over updates and plugins, HTML code, and access to the backend servers for scripting. CMS is more scalable and suitable for large-scale projects. For more website redesign tips, click here!
Low Ranking Search Engine Results
If your site has a blog section, be sure to keep it updated with new material. Search engine bots search for HTML text when crawling through the web. Sites that rely too heavily on images or Flash do not perform well because bots only understand HTML text. For this very reason, always include alt text for images. Search engines also rank according to accessibility. If a visually impaired user that happens to be using a screen reader comes across an image with no alt text, the screen reader will not be able to convey a description of that image to the user.
Avoid search engine optimization (SEO) tricks like “keyword stuffing” that are used to mislead search engines. Keyword stuffing involves injecting a keyword into a site as many times as possible without any regard to the quality of content in order to achieve higher SEO rankings. This may have worked when search engines were in their infancy, but they are much better at filtering this out now and your SEO will suffer.
Lack of Social Media
Another sign that your site is out of date is not having a social media presence. Social media is a great way to increase traffic to your site and boost your SEO rankings. Also, by having a social media presence, you will receive immediate feedback on your services or products from consumers and can see what your competition is up to by monitoring their feeds on social media.
Not Mobile Friendly
A few years ago, mobile traffic surpassed desktop traffic. Search engines are now making mobile a priority over desktop, and you should as well. Here are a few tips for creating a more mobile friendly user experience:
- Use a “mobile first” approach when designing a site
- Minimize navigation menus
- Use mobile specific features such as “click to call” phone numbers
- Be aware of screen size limitations on mobile devices
Using the mobile-first approach means designing a website with mobile devices as a priority and not an afterthought. Fingers are larger than mouse pointers, so it’s important to ensure buttons and other elements are large enough to tap with a finger and clickable links have enough space between them.
One more thing, which is probably the most important of all--always include your contact information on the site. Make sure it is placed in a location that is easy for your visitors to spot.
In summary, there is no need to keep up with all the latest trends in web design. Just be aware of any signs that may indicate the need to update. An aesthetically appealing site that is quick to load, mobile friendly, and simple to use will make for a great user experience.
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