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You’ve Changed. Has Your Website?

website update
Have you really looked at your website lately?

You can refresh your wardrobe. You can refresh your browser window. You can refresh yourself on a hot day with a cold drink.

Is your website in need of a refresh?

Websites are funny things. We hustle and sweat to put them together, we worry over every word of copy, we put a spit polish on every detail, and then we push them out into the world where they just… sit there. Day in, day out. Maybe you occasionally make an edit here and there, or update your events page with new conference details. But that’s it. You kind of forget about them, because they’re always running in the background, silently doing their jobs.

Until they stop performing quite so well.

Maybe things are just starting to look a bit tired and worn. Or you’re noticing that your visitors aren’t staying very long anymore. Or that when they do, they’re not clicking on the pages you want them to see.

A business isn’t static, and your website shouldn’t be, either. It needs to grow along with you. And every so often, it deserves an update.

Where to begin? Start by making an honest evaluation in these three areas:

Content & Marketing

  • Admit you’ve changed. Marketing plans change. Branding changes. Product copy changes. What was important to your business two or three years ago might not be as important today. Ask yourself: what’s outdated? What’s inconsistent?
  • Be critical. Look at your website through the eyes of someone who knows nothing about your business. Is it clear what you do? Is it easy to find what you’re selling?
  • Confess your mistakes. Are there dead links? Broken forms? Missing pictures? Unclear text? Make a note of everything you find wrong or questionable.
  • Identify what’s important. What, ideally, do you want them to do once they arrive at your website? Do you want them to listen to a podcast? Look at your products? Sign up for an email newsletter?
  • Campaign effectively. Be sure your calls to action are clear and direct, and your messaging is the same across every page.
  • Reshuffle and reorganize. A website is only as good as how well the information is presented. Don’t be afraid to combine pages, eliminate pages, or create new ones in the name of clarity.

Branding & Design

  • Bring it back to principles. Your website’s look should meet basic design principles such as balance, repetition, alignment, and contrast.
  • Good graphics. Make sure the images you use are related to your content and align with your branding.
  • Uniformity is king. Logos, taglines, colors, and other imagery should be consistent.
  • Keep it clean. Even though it’s a popular look these days, your site doesn’t have to be spare, white, and modern — a well-organized layout with enough space around each element is what matters.
  • Legibility over all. Bigger, darker text against a light background is the most readable — but not ridiculously big, of course. And don’t feel you have to limit yourself to Verdana and Times New Roman anymore. Beautiful, legible web fonts have made great strides forward in recent years. Check out Google’s Web Fonts collection for examples.

Development

  • Put it above the fold. Don’t make visitors scroll down to find something they want. If it’s important, put it up high on the page.
  • Establish an information hierarchy. Use proper heading, paragraph, and list item tags.
  • Get meta. Use meta tags and descriptions for your pages so that search engines can better index them.
  • Go light. Limit flash and other aggressive, bandwidth-eating media so your site loads quicker.
  • Track and analyze. If you don’t already have analytics installed on your website, get on it. Analytics tools are a surefire way to help you measure your site’s success.

I could go on — these tips just scratch the surface. But they’ll go a long way toward ensuring your website is fit to keep carrying you forward. Remember: your website is an ever-evolving extension of your business. Treat it that way!

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