Everyone needs a website redesign from time to time. By this, I don’t mean a cosmetic makeover, but a proper redesign from the ground up, taking advantage of the ever-improving ability to edit and update the content, and any longer-term developments in aspects such as search engine optimisation. I believe that you need to think about building your company a whole new website if any of the following are true about your existing setup:
1. It has no content management system. Is your website just a bunch of loose documents sitting in a directory? Are you wasting hours and hours using an HTML editor like Dreamweaver or – as I actually saw the other day – Microsoft Frontpage (which was discontinued in 2007)? Doing it old-school may have a certain geek-cachet, but seriously, you’re digging yourself into an ever-larger hole, and there are much better things you could be doing with your time.
2. It has a proprietary content management system belonging to your website host. Oh dear. So you probably need to go back to them every time you want anything even slightly out of the ordinary. Have you noticed that as time goes on, their service gets slower, more expensive, or both? Do you feel like an irritant? They probably designed their system with the aim of taking over the world with it, but in reality they’ve got half a dozen clients, and really wish they’d never got into this commitment. Oh, and to make matters worse, you can’t move the site to another web host. They’ve got you over a barrel here.
3. It’s confusing, structurally. The website is more like a corporate brochure, focusing on your company rather than the customer. It’s been built around the idea of listing the company’s products rather than prospects’ requirements, and in no way does its primary job, which is to say to the visitor: “Here’s what you want to do, here’s how we can do it for you, and here’s how to take things further”.
4. It’s got no proper search engine optimisation. The pages have bad (or no) titles, bad (or no) descriptions, and bad (or no) properly tagged headlines. When your pages do turn up in Google, do they have a nice neat heading and a nice neat two-line description underneath, all written by you? Or do both parts of the result look like random snippets of text from the page, probably both ending in dot-dot-dot…?
5. It’s got no blog, no easily-updated news section and doesn’t publish new content to services like email subscription, RSS feeds and Twitter. Automatically pushing your new content out to customers who actually want to hear from you should be a no-brainer, right? Incredibly, in 2011, many businesses add new pages to their websites, sometimes about important new products, and then fail to send this information to their prospects and customers. Do you really think people come round to your website to see if there’s anything new?
So there are a few things which you might recognise, and which say to me: you need a new website. But even for small companies, this should not be undertaken lightly. As I mentioned the other day, your website is your most important salesman, and if you’d spend £250,000 on a salesman over five years, do you really think that the appropriate budget for a website to last for an equivalent period is £2,500? That’s a whole 5 pence an hour, by the way.
Give yourself the time, find the appropriate budget, and make sure you get a website design company which will do the job properly. Tomorrow I’ll give you a selection of questions to ask them (and the answers you should receive).