When I first started designing websites, a site called Geocities was very popular. I was young and poor and you could sign up for a free personal website which was awesome. I spent countless hours late at night coding away and trying to find new and cool items to put on my website. This included blinking text and animated GIFs. If I were to put this into my portfolio today, I would be laughed out of the web designer community, banned from ever doing another website again and possibly might even have a hit out on me by the web design mafia*. This was also during the time cell phones were the size of your head and AOL charged by the hour to use the internet. The internet has evolved greatly since then and so have websites.
*The web design mafia does not really exist. But it should.
So this begs to ask the question “Is your website hurting your business”?
We have talked previously about Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Marketing. The goal of these is to not only increase your customer base, but to also drive traffic to your website. But once these potential customers are on your site, is your website design reflecting your company? Or does it look out-of-date and no longer representational of the current look and direction of your company?
Here are some helpful tips when pondering your design:
Don’t look at your design
Have someone else look at it, preferably a person in the design field that can give you some constructive criticism. If you have been looking at your website for a long time it becomes difficult to be objective.
Check for broken links within and outside your website
If you have been updating your site, sometimes pages or images get renamed or deleted. Be sure to check your main navigation and any content links you have. Signing up for Google Webmaster Tools will help as it checks the links for you. WordPress also has free plugins that will email you if it finds a broken link. If you link to outside websites, make sure to check through them as well.
Broken links are very frustrating for potential and current clients and they are very likely to leave your website if they keep running into a ‘Page Not Found’ error.
Check competitor’s websites
Find competitors in other cities that offer the same services as yours and compare theirs to your website. If yours looks boring or out of date, it is time for a redesign.
Be realistic about website expiration dates. Websites are not meant to be static. They are meant to grow with your business. If your website has metaphoric paint peeling and stained carpets, potential customers are going to get the impression that you put the same care into your website as your business.