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How can I tell if I need a new website?

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It can be difficult to face the fact that you need to invest in a new website for your business. It’s really tempting to just stick with your existing website with the view of cost-saving or “well, it’s worked ok so far.” However, this view could be counterproductive and you might be putting off potential customers without even realising.

A potential customer will make a snap decision about your website, and therefore your business, in just seven seconds, therefore you have those seven seconds to impress them or just to ensure you don’t scare them away. Here are the alarm bells you should be looking out for – if more than a few of these sounds familiar you may just need to start looking at a website re-design.

First, there are the technical clues…

Your website is difficult to navigate

This is a huge problem. Just because you know where everything is doesn’t mean everyone else does.

A tale-tale sign is frequent questions from customers about where to find things on your website. If in doubt ask someone who is unfamiliar with your website to browse your website (don’t help them) and find bits of information. Watch them do it – you might be surprised at how differently people view your website to your perception.

Most people are likely to give up and try a different company if they are not able to easily find what they are looking for. Quick wins are having a menu visible on every page and checking all your links work.

Your website is too slow

A slow website is very frustrating for customers, this is even more noticeable on mobile devices than on desktop. In general, if each page takes longer than five seconds to load then you need to make some improvements. It might just be that you need to make some updates or compress some files but in some cases a complete re-design is needed.

Your website isn’t mobile responsive

Smartphone and tablets are so widely used now that having a website which doesn’t display nicely on these devices is the equivalent of just throwing money away.

As well as it being difficult for customers to navigate from a mobile device, a website which is not responsive will simply not appear in a mobile search engines results page. You won’t even be in the running for business from a mobile device.

You need new functionality for your website

You may need to make a major change like adding eCommerce functionality (the ability to process transactions) or something simple like a map. Whatever the change you should check your options before just adding the extra element to your existing website. The options available with your current template and design may not be the best ones and a re-design might actually work out both easier and sometimes cheaper.

If your website is quite dated you also may not have the newest range of components which are optimised for search engines. This would once again put you out of the running for those search engine results.

And then there are the visual clues…

Your website looks different from your other company merchandise & stationary

If the design of your website doesn’t match the way your brand is represented elsewhere it’s really important to change that. Whether you’ve changed your logo, colour scheme or font, it’s essential that this change is reflected across every way in which you interact with customers, including your website.

Your target customer has changed

As your business grows, your target customer may potentially change too. If you are targeting a different type of person you may need to think about the tone you are using in the text on your website as well as the colour scheme which might appeal to them.

Your website looks shabby next to your competitors or it’s more than five years old

Whilst you shouldn’t just copy everything your competitors do if they have a wonderful new website and yours has a lot of problems you may lose out on some customers to their gain.

The frequency of website refresh required does vary from industry to industry (customer-facing businesses should put a higher importance on this element). However ultimately what looked good five years ago is unlikely to do so now. You don’t want your website to say “out-dated and difficult to use”

And finally, there is evidence that you shouldn’t ignore…

Your website traffic is static or declining

If you are getting fewer visitors to your website or seeing lots of visitors bounce (leave your website quickly) it’s time to look at why. Your first step is to check through the technical and visual alarm bells we’ve already talked about.

When your website is the first interaction a potential customer has with your business, as it often is, a good first impression is imperative. Ultimately a good first impression is frequently the difference between a sale for you and a sale for your competitor.