1. Does updating the content on your website require the involvement of your technical staff or a third-party web vendor? Y N
A good Content Management System [CMS] provides a simple interface that allows any trained staff member to update web content on a regular basis. A CMS allows content creators to submit content for a website without advanced knowledge of web programming or the need to manipulate complex files.
2. Do you manually collect customer information and then re-enter into a separate database? Y N
Up-to-date websites can allow you to collect and store clients’ and prospects’ information securely online, rather than using time and resources to enter the data into a separate database.
3. Is the logo on your site consistent with the rest of your marketing collateral and branded materials? Y N
Consistency is essential to projecting an image of professionalism and competency. Your website should always reflect your current branding.
4. Does your site house “dynamic” content; i.e. - does the information on it change on a regular basis? Y N
Your website is your virtual storefront. As such, it should be designed to give clients/prospects a reason to visit frequently.
5. Are you spending a lot of money for a proprietary Content Management System (CMS) that you don’t know how to use? Y N These systems might be a thing of the past, and there’s no reason why you should be beholden to a long-held technology vendor or an antiquated interface. Your small business may save a lot of money in the long run by implementing a new Content Management System (CMS) based on an open-source platform. Unlike proprietary software platforms, open-source software platforms are free, relatively easy to customize for a specific company’s needs, and supported by an extensive community of software developers.
6. Was your whole website built in Flash? Y N
This approach to website design is largely outdated. Flash sites are slow to load, less likely to be picked up by search engines, and won’t load at all on most smart phones and even on the iPad.
7. Does the majority of the text on your site appear as images instead of HTML? Y N
Image-based text is very time- and technology-intensive to update, meaning anytime you want to update your site you must devote time and financial resources to it. Even worse, images (as opposed to HTML) are a barrier to the all-important Search Engine Optimization.
8. Do clients/prospects often call to ask questions that could be answered by reading your website? Y N
Depending upon your answer, this could be a sign that your site is difficult to navigate and that your customers are unable to find the information that they need.
9. Is it important for your users to be able to access information on their smart phones or iPad, which is not possible with your current site? Y N More and more consumers rely on their phones to access the web. If your site is based in Flash or for other technological reasons, can't resolve on customers' phones or other gadgets, your website may be frustrating your customers. However, some business models don't require smart phone accessibility.
10. Does your site look like it was built in 1996? Y N
Try to be honest with yourself. Better yet, ask a teenager. If you answered "yes" to three or more of these questions, it may be time to consider re-designing your website to better meet the needs of your customers – and take advantage of developments in the marketplace.
Amanda Neville is a founder of Thinkso, a New York City design, strategy and marketing agency specializing in full-service brand identity, collateral, website development, content strategy, and marketing plans. Watch Amanda's partners Elizabeth Amorose and Brett Traylor give first-hand branding advice to OPEN Cardmember, FInish Line Physical Therapy, in our special web series, Project RE:Brand.