The beginning of a new year is always a time of reflection and if you are a business owner or marketing manager, that might mean you’re thinking about whether your website is fit for this new decade we’ve just started.
It would be great if websites were timeless things that could be created and then left to their own devices, bringing in endless leads and sales without us having to do anything else. Unfortunately, that just isn’t the case.
Websites can begin to look dated very quickly and, unless you do something to refresh it, can actually end up damaging your brand image rather than enhancing it. After all, your website is your 24-7 online ambassador and a key touch point for potential customers and clients.
Here are some of the things you should be looking out for.
Your last blog post is dated August 2018
Blogging can be a powerful tool for any business. It can raise brand awareness, establish you as an expert in your field, add value for your audience and encourage loyalty, not to mention boosting SEO.
But if you’re not posting regularly – at least twice a month or more – then you’re going to struggle to get results. And if your last post is months or even years old, you’ll give the impression that your website is no longer active.
The solution? Create a content plan and get consistent or bring in someone to help you write your blog. Alternatively, you can take the dates off your posts. It won’t help them generate results but at least you won’t give the impression you’ve given up on the idea of blogging.
You’re using the same generic stock images as everyone else
There was a time when stock photography was a great way to fill your website with quality, professional images but these days they just don’t cut it. Your visitors want to get an impression of you and your brand, which just won’t come across if you’re buying in images that hundreds of other businesses are likely to be using.
One issue with stock photography is that you usually end up having to use a selection taken by different photographers, all of which will have a different feel. This means your look isn’t consistent, and we know that consistency is one of the most important factors in creating a great brand image that creates trust.
Investing in original photography means you can create the look you want, something that is uniquely you and can be used consistently across not just your website but your social media, print marketing materials and more. Today’s consumer wants authenticity, and imagery plays a big part in that.
Your website doesn’t work on a mobile
The way we interact with the internet has changed. Just think about how you access your favourite sites. Chances are you move between your desktop, laptop, mobile phone and tablet without really thinking about it.
If your website can’t do the same, it will immediately stand out as being old-fashioned. Many website designers actually create mobile first designs these days, and sites like Squarespace give you the option of viewing pages in both mobile and desktop format as you create pages so you can see how the design changes.
Another factor to think about when it comes to laptop vs mobile is load speed. If you’ve got hundreds of high res images on your site then it’s going to use an awful lot of someone’s monthly data and take ages to load on their phone, which means they’ll likely click away before they get to what they’re looking for.
You’re asking people to “click here”
A call to action might not be made up of many words but it’s one of the most important parts of any web page. It’s the bit that shows people what they need to do next, whether that’s read a blog post, sign up to get alerts about upcoming events, fill out a form to book a consultation or pick up the phone and get in touch.
There was a day when we’d write a nice long CTA and include in it the phrase “click here”, which would either link to a contact page or automatically generate an email to pop up out of nowhere with your brand’s email address autofilled in the ‘to’ line.
Today consumers want something a little more inspiring – find out more in our blog post on how not to write a call to action – and the way that we scan web pages means your CTAs need to jump out of the page. That’s why buttons are so popular.
Your pages are too cluttered
Remember when websites were filled with endless text, dozens of images – not to mention autoplaying GIFs – as well as side menu bars that took up about a quarter of the width of your page? Well times have changed and even if you’re going for a ‘retro’ look, you’ll want to avoid having a cluttered website.
Design will play a huge part of this. Have a look at some of your favourite websites. Think about how the pages are structured, how many images are used and in what format, the (limited) range of colours and consistency of fonts. All of these things combine to create that more contemporary, streamlined look we prefer today.
And don’t forget the copy. Writing for the web is about much more than being able to string a sentence together. It’s about understanding the way we read online and making sure you don’t have endless paragraphs of text on each page. It’s about being able to write eye-catching headlines and subheads that draw people in so that they actually get to the body copy. And it’s about knowing that you don’t need many words, just the right ones.
Before the month is over, set aside some time to look over your website – from the home page to the contact page – and be honest about what you see. It may only take a few tweaks to get things looking sharper, or it might be time to invest in an upgrade.
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