Do I Need A New Website?
Many marketers and business owners struggle with this question. There are some reasons to make the investment, other times you can be successful with less drastic changes.
I get a lot of inquiries from people asking whether or not they should "re-do" their website. This article will review some of the reasons why (or why not to) do a makeover on your website.
My site is slow
If your site feels slow and that is verified with a page speed tool, then this is a big reason to look into making changes to your website. The good news is that you may not need a full redesign if you like the general way your site looks.
There are tools that exist, including this one from Google, that will tell you how your site is faring for speed on both desktop and mobile, and give you insights on how to make changes. Many times there are things you can do within the site to positively influence your page speed. This includes everything from optimizing your image sizes and formats to making changes with whomever is hosting your server.
Other times there are so many speed issues, including some issues that are inherent to the template of your site (like very inefficient coding), that it makes more sense from a cost and time standpoint to redesign the entire site.
Many of the issues you will find with speed are ones that will need to be handled by a web developer. I won't go into all of them, but these are some of the issues you might find:
- Unused code
- This is common with WordPress sites that have been around for a while. You might have old plugins that are installed on your website but not active. If these plugins are still installed, then it is likely that the browser is still reading all of this unnecessary code when loading the pages, which slows down your load times. This is a pretty easy fix. Other times some developers are not as efficient with their coding, so you may have more code than is necessary to produce your website's look and feel.
- Images aren't in the best format
- Many Content Management Systems (CMS) can automatically save your images in the most size efficient formats
- Images are too large
- Again, plugins can help you here, but you can also manually re-save your images in a lower resolution to save load time. Images for web do not need to be the same resolution that you would need for print.
- Server Response Time
- This could be everything from issues with your server to issues with how your site loads on that server
There are others, but the above are the most common I find in the audits I do.
I don't like the way it looks
This is probably the number one reason for re-designing a website. Just like many tangible items, websites can look dated. Your website is probably going to look a bit dated if it was designed more than 5 years ago. That isn't a hard and fast rule, but tends to ring true. Many established businesses are using website designs that are far older than that.
One question you need to ask yourself: Does my website represent my business the way I want it to? As a business owner you wouldn't want your customer facing physical space to look messy or outdated so why should your website look that way?
If the structure of your site and the content on that site is good, then you may be able to get away with having a new template designed for you. This is most of what is involved in creating a new website, but at least the general structure will already be done, which should save on some costs.
Many times people don't like the way their site looks because of clutter and organization, so this leads me to the next point....
My website looks cluttered and things are hard to find
This is really two similar topics. Visual layout is key, and the easiest way to fix that is to create a template (meaning re-do your website) that better organizes how your information is presented. However, if you aren't ready to make that investment, there are some things you can do to fix how cluttered certain pages feel.
The biggest issues with clutter tend to be on the home page. Home Pages are tough because they tend to serve multiple constituencies. You may be trying to serve customers, prospects, vendors, and employees on one landing page. Take a look at your main navigation and see if there is a way to push people to jump to the areas that are applicable to them via your navigation rather than cluttering up your home page with specific lengthy information.
Think of your home page as a jumping off point, not a place to sell people on multiple ideas. Let your internal pages do the selling for specific topics. Just visually and textually (is that a word?) provide enough info to entice someone to take the next step and go to the next page.
But haven't you told me that more content is good for Google? Yes, I admit, I have said that. But you'll probably have no problem getting to 1,000+ words on your home page, and it would be better to use the home page to tease content and allow people to logically jump to where they want to go, rather than tell multiple stories on one page.
De-cluttering will probably make things easier to find. If you have a large website, another tactic is to install a good site-search plugin.
My site is not mobile friendly
If your site design isn't mobile friendly - redesign your website and start working on it now. Google has become "mobile first", meaning it is considering signals from your website from a mobile perspective and taking that into account when ranking you for keywords. In other words - having a website that isn't mobile friendly is going to hurt you a lot from an SEO perspective. Here's an easy to use tool from Google to see if your site is mobile friendly.
The good news is that having a mobile friendly site has been important for a while so most businesses are in good shape.
To use some industry lingo: the best thing is to have a website design that is responsive. A responsive website is one that conforms to any screen size that tries to load your website. Separate mobile designs are becoming a thing of the past.
I'm not getting a lot of traffic to my site
This is a loaded topic because there could be countless reasons why you aren't getting a lot of customer and prospect traffic to your site. All of the above issues can present negative signals to Google that will impact your organic search traffic.
If more site traffic is what you desire, and your site is generally "good", then consider adding content. Most businesses that I see with low traffic tend to have a low amount of content and aren't making a good effort to consistently add it to their website. For more on this, check out a previous blog about the relationship between content and SEO. In short, if you aren't writing content that answers the questions people are asking to Google, then people don't have a reason to visit your site.
The Bottom Line
If you have had the same website design for a long time, it is worth considering whether or not this is an area you want to invest. You might find that in addition to an improvement in aesthetics, you will improve some other SEO signals like page speed and the structure of your content. However, if you don't have the money to invest, there are ways to improve the flow while also improving your sites ability to attract visitors. As always, contact us to discuss this or any other topic! We love to nerd out on this stuff.