Since getting into web design and marketing I’ve become somewhat of a web/marketing snob. I’m analyzing every site I go to for usability and aesthetics. Heck, I can’t even let my own site remain at peace without a tweak here and there every so often
On the other hand, I’m a business owner and I get it. You don’t get in business to maintain a website. And back in the day maintenance wasn’t really a thing.
But marketing and websites have evolved since then. Your website can actually WORK for you. Like attract and educate potential customers and convert them to leads for you. But to do that your website needs to be up to snuff.
Not sure where your website lands in the dated to sophisticated spectrum? Here are some signs to help you figure out if your website needs a refresh.
In fashion there seems to be cycles that come back around – like bell bottoms and high-waist pants.
In websites, not so much.
So if your website sports fashion faux pas like Comic Sans font or different colored backgrounds on every page then your website needs a refresh…like yesterday.
Clip Art is so 90’s. Emojis are the new clip art – if you really feel the need to sprinkle your text with smiley and winking faces. But stay far, far away from clip art.
Clutter can also date or negatively impact your website. The novelty of a fancy website has worn off with the advent of mobile. There is no need to jam everything on the homepage in a kaleidoscope of high-tech digital fanfare.
The fancy schmancy custom website with all the Flash bells and whistles is out. The practical website that makes good use of white space and still answers my question is in.
Another red flag in web design shows up in usability.
One usability faux pas is the use of frames. Frames used to be the way we organized content on a web page. It’s even worse if the frame has visible clunky borders.
Frames were replaced by CSS years ago. It not only says that your website is old, but that your it is not mobile friendly, which brings us to our next indicators.
Having a responsive or mobile-friendly site is super critical today. According to Statista, 52.5% of web traffic happens on a mobile device. And the trend doesn’t look like it’s slowing down.
You have a double-edged sword here. Not only are people getting exasperated with your site because it’s cumbersome to navigate, but the Google gods are also penalizing your site in the search results for it.
Another usability feature people overlook is navigation. Making people jump through hoops to find or see information on your website is a no-no.
I’m not talking about having gated content. That, in certain instances, is perfectly fine. I’m talking about confusing navigation so someone is jumping all over your site looking for the answer to their question.
A good test is to run your website pass a few people to see how they navigate your pages. Ask them to find certain information. If they struggle, you can guarantee the masses will as well.
If you have pop-ups or advertising that is covering content be sure that is not occurring on your mobile site. You will get penalized in search for that as well.
Sore Thumbs List
Lastly, there are items so bad that they stick out like a sore thumb. Everyone knows they’ve been around since MySpace was hot. These offenders will make any web designer – and probably your savvy customer – cringe in anguish.
Hit counters: You know these – the little tracker on your website that announces how many visitors your site has had. And consequently how unpopular it is.
If your website says, “Powered by _______” (fill in the blank with any of the numerous free website builders) at the bottom it doesn’t really lend itself to the legitimate business category.
Lastly, if your site says “Best if viewed in Internet Explorer” you need to stop reading this article and call a priest to have your website exorcised.
Websites are an integral part of your business that you should pay attention to on a regular basis. Some features that signal your site is in need of an update are:
- Design Clues
- Old fonts, clip art and programming like Flash
- Frames or non-responsive
- Poor or confusing navigation
- Annoying pop-ups or advertising
- Dated Features
- Hit counters
- Free website builder branding
- Limited browser usage
Your website should be part of your marketing strategy, and therefore updated frequently. If it contains any of the above, it is time for a website refresh.