As time goes by, we all learn the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. In order to perform optimally, our bodies require a balanced diet, plenty of rest, and regular exercise. If any of these disciplines are neglected, our bodies tend to behave poorly.
Much like our bodies, websites are made with unique parts that require constant nourishment to function properly. More specifically, websites are often built with plugins and themes that are quickly outdated as modern technologies rapidly mature.
In the business world, you are likely to hear one of the following phrases: “Squeaky wheel gets the grease!” or “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” and “When push comes to shove…” These phrases may help prioritize the most important tasks but often lead to preventable issues that may arise in the future.
All software is inherently full of human error. Not all errors are noticeable, but just a few “bugs” can quickly turn into a fatal software disaster. These larger issues can manifest into broken pages, or images not loading. In some cases, you could unknowingly be sharing your user’s private information (names, emails, passwords, addresses) with criminals. Cyber villains are opportunists that methodically scan the web for anybody willing to let their guard down.
If your website provides any free or paid services to your users, you may want to consider prioritizing a regular maintenance routine. Let’s perform a simple test to determine how often you should update your website:
- Is your website built with a CMS (WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, etc.)
- Does your website have plugins?
- Does your website have users?
- Has your website ever stopped working?
- Has your website ever been hacked?
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If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you might want to consider introducing a recurring maintenance plan. Think of it as a quick doctor’s appointment or a visit to the dentist. Thankfully, most plugins and features are automatically updated, so all you need to do is install the new software changes.
We recommend updating your website as often as possible, especially if you provide multiple services to your clients or users. If daily updates are not an option, then try updating your website at least once a week. If weekly is too much work, start with a monthly maintenance plan. Whatever you come up with, do your best to treat your website like a living organism, and nourish it with the care it deserves.
After your website core software have been updated, it is now time to look at the front-end components. They say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, but when it comes to websites, the “cover” means everything. If your website performs like a new German muscle car but looks like a Dodge Caravan from the ‘90s, you may want to consider a refreshed design.
There are two common solutions for refreshing website visuals: Full and partial redesigns. Depending on your website software’s age and limitations, you may need to contemplate a full redesign. For example, if your website fails to load properly on a mobile device, the cost of manually updating the software could outweigh the cost of building it from scratch.
Assuming your website is relatively new, you will likely only need to perform a partial redesign. To avoid updating your website aimlessly, let’s consider a few questions:
- Does your website match your current brand standards? (logo, colors, typography/font, etc.)
- Does your landing page visually reflect the products or services you provide?
- Are you regularly providing exciting content? (blog posts, images, videos, etc.)
- Is your website driving traffic to the right place?
- Would your website make your competitors jealous?
Your brand identity is one of the most powerful tools for your business. A strong brand design can create a visual sense of trust between you and your client, while a weak identity can quickly dissuade new customers. If you have invested the time and money to develop a strong identity, be sure to share it throughout your website.
Whether you sell 1 or 1000 different types of products, it is vital that you show it to the customer as soon as possible. Even if your product is an intangible consulting service, users should visually experience their problems being solved with your solution. This can be accomplished with a short video or animation. The more time the user invests in your product story, the more likely they are to buy it.
In the marketing industry, they say “content is king”, yet it is equally important to have a steady flow of fresh and compelling content. For example, if your blog has hundreds of articles about a single topic but fails to explore similarities across other industries, your website may look no different than a supermarket that exclusively sells pickles. If you have a difficult time creating fresh and interesting content, you may want to find a team that is capable of collecting information and creating stories tailored to your audience.
Be sure to measure everything before and after you update your website. Companies such as Google and Facebook offer a wide range of tools that can help you track user behavior. For example, Google can tell how long a user is visiting your landing page and will also provide information on the buttons they click to navigate around the website. If you are experiencing a higher bounce rate (aka the number of users that leave your website), you may want to consider updating the user experience (UX) and design for that specific page. For instance, your call-to-action (CTA) might need to be moved to the top of your page if users are failing to scroll to the bottom.
Maintaining a healthy website may appear complicated at first, but the reward always outweighs the cost in the final analysis. Our recommendation is to start slow but keep moving toward making your website as dynamic as your business with fresh content, engaging experiences and strong technical fundamentals. In our current world, your website is, in many ways, the alter ego of your business.
For help making your website work harder and better in support of your business, contact us at Six Degrees for a diagnosis and plan for greater health and success.