Websites are a necessity for businesses of all sizes today
Websites are a necessity for businesses of all sizes though, surprisingly almost half of small business don’t have a website! One reason may be that there are so many design options to choose from that it can be tough to know how to stand out.
Apart from layout and colour scheme, there are a lot of features that are critical to successful small-business websites. Some are obvious -- such as an easy-to-remember domain name, a logo and contact information -- and others are more subtle, like an online chat button or specific pattern for the content on the site’s inner pages.
When it comes to updating your business website in an effective way, the one rule is this: There are no rules.
Deciding whether to update, redesign or completely reengineer your site should depend entirely on your business goals, objectives and economic considerations, rather than on some time frame pulled out of thin air. So to help you consider your options we have come up with a few questions you might want to ask yourself?
Q: Is it better to redesign the look and feel of my website rather than completely rebuild it?
A: A variety of factors can make a redesign worth considering, but here are several that almost always require an update. You’ve got new branding and a different colour pallet, and you need to make sure your new look extends to your website. Your bounce rates are extremely high, meaning people visit but few convert; a well-thought-out redesign can turn this around. Or your business has grown, and you now offer new products and services; your site’s design may need to reflect these changes. Alternatively your customers complain about your site, claiming that it looks out-dated or doesn’t work well.
Q: Do I need to completely reengineer my website from scratch?
A: The most important one is if your current site doesn’t adapt to mobile device screens. Fixing this is an absolute must in today’s mobile-driven world. Another would be if your site was originally built using Flash: Apple’s iPads and iPhones don’t support Flash. That’s reason enough to rebuild, but there’s another reason: Flash can slow your site down.
Anyone in your company should be able to learn and use your content management system (CMS) to update your site. You shouldn’t have to hire a programmer to make simple changes and fixes. Along those same lines of keeping things simple: If your site takes forever to load, you need to reengineer the backend. Nobody puts up with long waits anymore.
Q: Should I ask my customers for feedback before I start the redesign process?
A: Yes! Customer opinion and feedback gives you the kind of insights that converts visitors into customers. Start by asking what they think of your proposed design and if it appeals to them. Then ask about the problem they’re looking to solve and if the information they need access to is easy to find in the new design. After you relaunch the site, ask them again if they like it. If they say no, address their concerns through incremental design changes, which your new site should allow you to do without starting over.
In short, you want to follow the lead of sites like Apple.com and Amazon.com, which rarely undergo complete facelifts. Instead, their sites evolve over time using an iterative process that results in near invisible refinements that have the bonus of maintaining the user experience that customers know and like.
Simple when you know how!