Your website is the face of your company, but if it’s been a few years since your last redesign, many of your competitors will have a significant advantage over you.
Their advantages comes in several forms, including increased organic search traffic, as well as visitors perceiving their products and/or services to be higher-quality/value and their company to be more trustworthy.
Do any of these sound like advantages that, in the eyes of customers, your competitors seem to have over you? I’ll explain how to shift these advantages to your favor in detail later in this post.
What makes effective web design?
Despite what many people think, great web design is not subjective. Well, to be more clear, effective web design is not subjective.
There are numerous scientifically proven design fundamentals that play a huge role in converting visitors into customers, and if your website gets them wrong, it doesn’t matter how much you like it. The only thing that matters is how well it converts visitors into customers because that means revenue that keeps your company alive and growing.
Design trends move fast, so what looked advanced and professional just a few years ago looks like amateur hour today. And many design tactics used to convert visitors into buyers quickly lose effectiveness as competitors adopt them, so these need to be adjusted even more often. (Based on testing and data, of course, not just some designer’s whim.)
A client of mine who is a very talented and knowledgeable architect was recently given a powerful lesson on this. I feel the need to point out here that he specifically encouraged me to share this story, and he has even shared it himself on several occasions at the local networking events we attend together with other Tampa businesses.
Now back to the story…
His business had struggled financially for the last couple of years, but he was sure his website wasn’t the issue because he liked it and had never received any complaints about it. He found out how incorrect his assumption was shortly after we had published his new website. He met with a potential client who ended up signing a contract that day for a $26,000 project, and specifically told him they chose to work with his firm because his website made them feel like he was the most qualified and trustworthy architect for the job. He closed several more new clients that week under the same circumstances.
It goes far beyond appearance though, because technology is continually advancing at a rapid pace.
For example, in the not so distant past, web designers only had to ensure that our websites would fit within a certain screen size, but today we need to accommodate a virtually infinite range of screen sizes because mobile traffic has now surpassed desktop traffic in all industries. There are many similar examples of changes in technology dramatically altering how we do business online.
This means that if you aren’t redesigning your website every few years, you’re going to be pushed out by competitors who are.
That’s why I’m going to share with the three biggest reasons you need to redesign your website this year. If you’ve already recognized these problems in your website and want to fix them to stop losing business to competitors, get in touch with us for an initial consultation.
Here we go…
Page speed (AKA PageSpeed)
A majority of web traffic today comes from mobile devices, which means that most of your visitors are viewing your website from a slower internet connection, on a device with less processing power than a typical desktop or laptop. This makes it more important than ever for your web pages to load as quickly as possible.
But page speed doesn’t only matter to visitors—it matters equally, or maybe even more, to search engines. (Which drive visitors to your website.)
Google has recently placed a huge emphasis on how quickly a webpage loads, and while they claim it’s not yet a direct ranking factor, page speed does have a significant impact on user experience, which they have confirmed is a direct ranking factor.
In other words, websites that load more quickly will tend to rank higher than comparable websites that load more slowly.
Page speed is also a significant factor in how frequently and thoroughly search engine spiders will crawl your website. They tend to crawl fast-loading websites more frequently and more thoroughly compared to slower websites, which usually means they will identify changes and/or new content in your website more quickly the faster your web pages load.
Right now you’re probably thinking one of the two following things. Either:
I’m sure my website loads super fast!
I wonder how fast my website loads?
I can tell you from first hand experience that unless you use a tool to accurately measure the speed of your website, then you’re only guessing and you’ll probably be very disappointed by the actual results.
Google’s PageSpeed Insights is a good place to start, but don’t stop there. While it’s a great starting point, it only provides limited data, so I recommend GTmetrix to collect more granular and actionable data. This will enable you to identify, prioritize, and fix every factor impacting your page speed, which has an adverse and significant impact on ranking .
While there are a lot of tactics you can use to improve page speed, an easy one that will provide a significant impact is upgrading your web hosting. Most small business owners look at web hosting as a commodity and purchase based solely on price, which limits them to shared hosting. A few clever web hosts have recently started calling this “cloud hosting” but that’s just a bullshit name for the exact same thing. The end result is that your website gets crammed onto a server with hundreds or even thousands of other websites, and predictably, speed suffers dramatically.
So which web host is right for you?
Well, I’ve worked with dozens of different hosting companies over the years, and after a recommendation from a trusted friend, I researched WP Engine, and then switched our own website over to them shortly after that. For now, I’ll just say that they specialize in providing lightning fast WordPress hosting and I highly recommend them, but I do plan to write a detailed article soon explaining exactly why they rock!
Since most web traffic today comes from mobile devices, responsive design is no longer a luxury, or even optional—today it’s mandatory.
While the primary reason for responsive design is to create a positive user experience no matter what device or screen size a visitor is using, it’s not the only reason. Just a few years ago, Google started telling us to design our websites to be mobile friendly, and shortly after that, they made it a ranking factor for searches from mobile devices. More recently, they began to display their mobile index for all searches, and now call it their mobile first index.
This means websites that are mobile friendly will usually outrank websites that aren’t. That’s a pretty important reason to ensure your website is responsive.
So what exactly is responsive design?
It’s important to point out that this doesn’t mean simply redirecting visitors on mobile devices to a separate, stripped down version of your existing website. That approach is antiquated, unreliable, and Google specifically recommends against it for a variety of reasons.
A truly responsive website must be built from the ground up in order to present your content effectively to all devices and screen sizes, and to load as quickly as possible.
Outdated web design
Your website is often the first significant impression customers will have of your company, so it’s critical that it makes a good impression.
Web design trends change quickly, and many business owners feel like they’re too busy running their business to keep up, so they simply stop trying.
Does that sound familiar?
Here’s the problem—customers will usually compare several companies before making a buying decision. If your website looks outdated, they’ll get the wrong impression of your company, often leading them to choose one of your competitors who made a better impression instead.
It may sound silly at first, but think about it like this—if you were interviewing several candidates for an open position at your company, which of the two candidates would you not even consider? Be honest!
It’s human nature. Appearance matters—especially when it comes to a first impression. And often, that may be the only chance you get.
Visitors don’t necessarily expect you to be on the cutting edge of web design, but they do expect your website to look current by today’s standards. In most industries, that means a complete redesign every few years, or more frequently in high tech industries.
Before redesigning you website, it’s essential to determine your objectives, develop a strategy, and account for new and/or deprecated technology.
So now what?
If you’re website doesn’t meet today’s standards, you know you’re losing business to competitors. I think it’s pretty safe to assume you want to change that, so you need to have your website redesigned to emphasize a up to date appearance, responsive design, and pages that load quickly.
If you’re already working with a web design agency, and you’re happy with them, get in touch with them and make sure your website meets today’s standards. If you aren’t currently working with a web design agency, or if you are, but you aren’t happy with them, feel free to reach out to Spartan Media for a consultation.