How to Tell if Your Website Is Getting OldBy Rich Rosell
Article Date: 07-01-2010
Copyright(C) 2010 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
Today’s Web viewers have short attention spans and high demands for contemporary design and fast information.
Nothing lasts forever. It may sound corny, but time is indeed the great equalizer, whether it be for clothes, car tires or our own flesh and bones. Time wreaks its own specialized brand of havoc on just about everything, given a long enough span, and all we can do is ready ourselves to roll with the changes. Having the acceptance and understanding of knowing when to ditch that favorite shirt of yours – the one that is falling apart at the seams – is sometimes a tough decision. But you know it’s got to be done.
Websites are not exempt from similar time-related ravages. While I certainly hope your current website is not like that old shirt – ragged and worn – it’s entirely possible that it is and you just may not be able to see it. You might think, “Hey, this site works fine” or “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but the truth is, a website needs regular maintenance in order to avoid being passed over for something shinier.
Here are a few ideas to keep in mind as you look your site over:
Judge a Book by Its Cover
This one is an oldie but a goodie, and I’m sure you’ve done it yourself at some point. Though we all know that it’s what inside that counts, Web users (aka potential customers) have more browsing speed and less patience than they have ever had in the history of the Internet. If your site looks like a relic from the late-1990s, it’s time for a new paint job. Establishing a strong first impression is often overlooked, and the way your site looks could make or break that initial emotional connection with a potential customer before they’ve even read a single word of what you have to say.
If your site hasn’t had an overhaul in a few years then it is overdue for a change. I don’t just mean a handful of text changes, but a visual overhaul, not to mention a complete retooling of the presentation of information and content. It is kind of like painting the rooms in your house and moving the furniture around; your address will still be the same and visitors will still know where to sit, it’s just that the place looks fresh and new.
What Are You Saying?
Once you’ve spent time having the look and feel of the site adjusted, tweaked and modernized, you still have to figure out how to get your point across. This is where the more difficult questions come into play. What am I selling? Who is my audience? Being aware of these two components is essential to creating and developing a successful Web presence, no matter what you’re selling.
What may have passed for good Web copy back in the dark ages doesn’t necessarily cut it anymore. Since Web visitors have shorter attention spans, perhaps that lengthy company history on the home page would be best suited elsewhere within the site (such as a History or About Us page). Focus on the important things: What you’re selling and who you’re selling to, and work the copy so that it leads those visitors to the places on your site where they can find answers they want fast.
Get into the Fix-It-Up Routine
Once you have successfully updated your site with compelling images, easy-to-use navigation and hard-working copy, you might think your job is done. Not so fast. Just like your car (another thing that time slowly erodes without maintenance) your website can’t just sit there without a little TLC once in a while. Don’t fall victim to a case of “it was working fine last month,” because there are myriad little things that can occur to suddenly make a website go wonky.
Whenever updates are made to the site, immediately crosscheck in both popular browsers (Internet Explorer and Firefox) to make sure everything is displaying properly. Verify that all links on the site – whether they go to internal pages or external sites – connect to where they’re supposed to, because few things are more detrimental to your credibility than a broken link. But this can happen over time – especially those external links that connect to an outside page that is no longer there. These steps are a good practice to get into even if changes haven’t been made recently, because it is possible that someone else in the company has dabbled in updates.
Time can be especially hard on technology-related products and services – such as a website – often in a much shorter period of time. Your website can’t heal itself; so while time has done its deed, now it’s time to do yours.
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