You probably view your company website several times a week, but have you taken a really good look at it lately? Like the empty cubicle that's become a dumping ground for outdated electronics, your eye may be skipping over an outdated Web presence.
Jeff Lineberry, owner of Lineberry Marketing Consultants, not only advises his clients to keep current, but he recently finished a redesign of his own website. And while fashion and design are subjective, Lineberry makes the case for a clean and open look with more images and less text.
"It used to be that you wanted to offer all this stuff on your website, and then it started moving to simplify because people wanted an easier user experience," Lineberry says. "Your home page should act as an overview to your company with easy click-throughs to the main buckets of products or services you offer."
For his own site's redesign, Lineberry chose to use bold images that go completely across the screen. "Instead of having a bunch of stuff describing what we do on the home page," Lineberry explains, "we really tried to make it easy with the navigation and click-throughs."
One of the most critical factors to take into account these days is what type of devices people are using to access your site. "One thing business owners really need to think about is something called responsive design," Lineberry says. "Responsive design means your website responds to whatever application it's being pulled up on, such as a tablet, mobile phone or PC."
These days, you can no longer assume that if your website looks good on the screen of the computer that sits on the desk at your office, then it looks good to everyone who views it. "People are using mobile phones and tablets more and more," Lineberry says, "and it's important to check [your] site to make sure it's pulling up properly on multiple devices."
A site that's optimized for mobile is one that's easy to use on the go. Lineberry says one important design feature small-business owners should make sure to have is a simple way for customers to get in touch with the company from the home page.
"Is the phone number at the top of the site an image or is it clickable?" Lineberry asks. "If it's done right, you click the phone number, it pulls that number into your phone, you hit the send button, and it dials. If that phone number is part of an image and it's not clickable, then the person has to try to remember what the phone number is, then pull up the phone and type it in."
For many potential customers, that may be a few steps too many to have to make to give you a call.
You also can't assume all your customers view digital content through the same browser you do. "You need to look at your site in multiple browsers to make sure it's rendering properly across all the different ones," Lineberry advises. "When we build a site, we pull it up on our mobile phones, our iPads, our computers—Macs and PCs—and make sure everything looks the same."
Keep It Up to Date
Stephen Antisdel, founder and partner at Precept Partners, a website design and marketing services firm, says an update is definitely in order if a company's business strategy or objectives change, if the target market has changed, or if the look of the website just isn't right anymore.
"When the overall design looks outdated—and websites definitely age and most not gracefully—it's time for an update," Antisdel says.
He advises customers to make sure their website is in line with the look of other marketing tools for their business. "When the graphic elements or color scheme changes in other marketing materials or distribution channels," Antisdel suggests, "change the website, too."
Lineberry agrees and recommends that you always try to view your site with a fresh and critical eye. "From an information sense, you need to be looking at your site quite often and make sure you offer the most relevant and up-to-date information to the client from your home page that they're able to click through," Lineberry says. "If you add services, it's time to update your site."
Is your website projecting the image you want the world to see? "Does the design still represent your brand?" Lineberry ask. "Is it still saying what you do?" If not, then an update is in order.
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