A website, like every business, needs to evolve. Competition in the digital world, moves and adapts faster than in any other marketing channel. New functions and applications are being invented and tested daily. Your website can’t remain static! Now this is not to say that every business needs the most cutting–edge programming, or the most extensive interactive experience. Instead, the point of this article is to say, “you don’t have to do everything, you just need to do something.”
Updating the Design
Updating the design can be as simple as applying a new color scheme with a trendier palette or as complicated as redesigning the entire visual interface including the navigation, color scheme, fonts, and layout. Just as consumer goods manufacturers change their packaging periodically to appear “fresh” and “new”, so to should websites. Designing a site that has a “current” look and feel not only will be visually pleasing, but will lend your company more credibility. If a user comes to a site that looks amateurish and out-dated, they are going to make that association with your company’s brand, and ultimately incorporate that into their purchase decision.
Website developers are constantly coming up with new website functions and applications. Adding a couple of carefully selected functions can definitely and interest and interactivity to your site; engaging visitors and keeping them glued to your site. Items including hyperlinks to driving directions, printer-friendly versions of content, search boxes, and newsletter signup boxes (if you have a newsletter) are reasonably easy ways to add considerably more value to your visitors’ site experience.
Clean-up Your Content
Over time website content can become stale or out-dated. In order to continue your site’s evolution, this must be addressed. The first step is organizing your content. Step back and think about your current visitors:
After answering these questions, sketch out a new content structure or sitemap. This may ultimately be exactly the same as the current structure, but it may differ greatly. Either way the important activity here is to make sure that you are taking some time to really think about how your visitors are going use your site and then grouping your content in a way that makes sense.
Once you have gone through your new sitemap you may find that you don’t have all of the content that you need to fully address your visitors’ needs, and this needs to be remedied. You want to continually position your company’s site as accurate and thorough, so having holes in the content you present will be a big negative in the user’s mind.
Don’t Do It Just Because It’s Cool
When companies decide to evolve or redesign their sites, they often come up with fairly elaborate plans and want to use all of the latest technology. STOP! Before you go off and build a fully-dynamic, database-driven, immersive Flash experience, think about what you really need to stay competitive and what you can afford. New technologies may be cool, but they can come with potential downsides including:
Flash sites are perfect examples of this dichotomy. No one will argue with the amazing interactive environments that can be created with Flash. However, on the other hand, Flash has some limitations in the way that it interacts with other web technologies that can result in higher production costs.< Since a Flash site is essentially one movie file placed on a page, search engine spiders can’t crawl the movie to pick-out keywords and relevant content. There are ways to mitigate this effect, but it involves additional production cost. This is why we usually recommend using Flash only to spice up a page, but not to serve as the underlying page code.
Your website should be alive and ever evolving, just like the marketplace and your company by extension. These steps should help give you an idea of how the evolutionary process can work and what will be involved as you venture forward. Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, so be patient, be excited, and good luck!
Check out the evolution of our website: