By a show of hands, how many of you out there currently have an outdated website design for your business? And please, spare us the “you’re sticking to the retro look” excuse; thanks.
Now, how many of you have actually attempted to update your website in a meaningful way during the last 6 months? Please note that this does not include social media profile updates; we are talking about your company’s actual website.
The recent 2015 edition of the Sensis e-Business Report showed that 33% of SMEs have gotten website monitoring and updating, optimisation and overhauls during the last couple of years.
And while this can be expected from older SMBs, one would think that with all the technological innovations and news about the newer businesses embracing the digital era that the rates would be higher.
According to the mountains of available market data and research reports such as this one by Emarketer, professional business websites are THE single most effective marketing tool for SMB’s over any other kind of marketing channel.
Despite this well-documented fact, however, most Australian SMBs are still letting their outdated website design prevent them from taking advantage of the full potential of the web, whether they know it or not.
Why business don’t update their websites
So why are small business owners neglecting to fix and refresh their outdated website design when it’s such an important part of their business? The quick answer is because it does take up a lot of time, and doing it right means you really need to know what you are doing and have the resources to do so.
Well, we get it. You’re running at max speed trying to grow your business, pitch to clients and trying to keep the lights on. Time is a luxury you don’t have and even if you did, you probably don’t have the technical skills and tools needed to get the job done the right way.
So for the sake of not breaking anything, you prefer to leave it alone and get to it when you get to it (IF you get to it). Hence your website is probably filled with broken links and outdated content. Simply put, it’s not doing much to help grow your business.
Even more surprising is a finding highlighted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics which shows that less than half of all Australian SMBs don’t even have a web presence! For business owners that fall under this category, please answer your phones because the 1980s are calling and they want their marketing campaign strategies back.
Needless to say, a lot of businesses lack the technical skills and resources to keep their websites running up to date, functioning well and promoting their company brand.
The decline of set-and-forget websites
Long gone are the days when companies could get away with just creating a website and leaving it as a sort of online brochure of your company that visitors could browse and call you if they needed anything.
Today’s modern, professionally designed websites have become flexible, provide dynamic and evergreen content and offer a much more interactive experience features that keeps visitors engaged and keep coming back for more.
These features were once considered fancy features but now have undoubtedly become requirements to making websites more competitive and relevant in today’s business environment.
4 obvious signs you have an outdated website design
Before we get into why you need to keep your website updated on a regular basis, here are some common signs that your outdated website design may already be affecting your business’s full growth potential.
In addition, you also risk turning away your website visitors with your outdated look, stale content and poor user experience.
Here are some of the most common tell-tale signs that your website is long overdue for an update.
Your website content is old and no longer relevant
There was a time when content meant stuffing a bunch of keywords within your website copy. In today’s world, the focus is on providing original and high-quality content. In other words, no more unnatural sounding sentences that are little more than place holders for keywords.
In fact, Google will now penalise you for posting low-quality and duplicated posts. Not updating your content at all over time can be just as bad as visitors will have no reason to come back to your site.
Providing evergreen content has gained popularity as of late for those businesses that do not feel the need, or have the time, to maintain a weekly or monthly blog, for example.
Basically, evergreen content is high quality content that can stay relevant and add value to consumers over a longer time period than your plain vanilla blog article.
This way, your website can benefit greatly from having great content that search engines will love, and will maintain a high level of interest from visitors and keep them coming back over months, if not years.
Your website is not mobile-friendly/responsive
If you have trouble browsing the pages of your own website through any mobile device, you are likely already losing customers and missing out on huge potential sales opportunities.
At this point it’s become fairly common knowledge that today more people use their smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices to access the internet than with any other device, such as a desktop.
Due to large increase in search traffic originating from mobile devices, search giant Google announced earlier this year that they will begin rewarding mobile-friendly websites with better search ranking results while downgrading those that are not mobile-optimised.
As you can probably imagine, this change will have a major impact on the majority of Australian SMBs. A recent report by Sensis, one of Australia major marketing services companies, revealed that of the few Australian business that have a website, only 26% of those have responsive design.
Mobile users have notoriously short attention spans, so making sure your website provides a great browsing experience is no longer a feature, it’s a standard requirement.
Your slow page loads are quickly turning people away from your site
It seems that in this age of instant gratification, mobile users are not the only ones guilty of having short attention spans. Indeed, it seems that the short attention span epidemic has spread out to just about everyone else who shops online frequently.
If your website pages take a while to load, you can be sure that the only thing you will find increasing is your bounce rate. A good way to see if your web pages are taking too long to load is by using the 3 second benchmark.
If it takes longer than 3 seconds to load, then you’re behind your competition and should get your site checked out by a professional web design agency.
Professional web designers can execute current techniques and tricks and have the tools that will help optimise your things on your website such as images to significantly enhance your site’s performance.
You’re not on social media
A common mistake that small business owners make is that they assume that if they get a free Facebook business page, then they no longer need an actual website. Of course, this assumption is flawed in many ways least of which is poor search engine optimisation, and that “your” free Facebook business page is not really yours.
That being said, social media is one of the most powerful advertising channels that SMBs can use to reach people locally and across the globe. Without a doubt, integrating social media as part of your website design can bring significant benefits to your overall online marketing campaign.
Social media buttons like Facebook and Pinterest, for example, will enable your content to be shared and posted on the various social media platforms out there.
The use of social media has grown tremendously and now businesses even have dedicated social media management departments to keep pace with their online communities.
Social media can be a complex campaign to manage which is why your best bet would be to hire a professional internet marketing company to oversee the day to management of your social media accounts.
These are the issues that can be more obvious to the business owners and can give you a good sense of how your website may be doing. Other issues, however, are not so obvious and unless you are an experienced web professional.
Some of the following issues may require the assistance of a professional web design agency to take a peek under the hood to update some of the more technical issues. Remember, just because you can’t see them happening, it doesn’t mean they aren’t happening.
Not-so-obvious website issues that need regular maintenance
How secure is your website?
Whether you are a small business owner or a large corporation, security is one of the most pressing issues of our time. All the fancy SEO implementation and all the bells and whistles that money can buy won’t matter at all if your online security has been breached and compromised.
Whether you us a popular content management system like WordPress or work with a web design agency, it is crucial to get your website updated to the latest available versions.
These updates are generally seen as enhancements to their previous versions and can include bug fixes that have recently been exploited among a host of other potential issues.
Every now and then, these updates can cause some incompatibility issues with your older applications and can even render them unusable which is another reason why people may be reluctant to switch on their automatic updates.
Again, however, the risk of continuing to work with older versions can bring more problems than it’s worth so working with an experienced technician would likely be the safest option.
Updates help ensure browser compatibility
Web development is an ever-changing and exciting field because it is always improving and growing and becoming more integral to the success of a business. Browsers such as Chrome and Firefox are always changing to meet the demands of the latest web development trends.
If you’re not careful, what you thought looked ok on one browser may be virtually unreadable on the next popular browser. That’s ensuring that your website is using the newest technologies will be most likely to display correctly on other browsers.
Improve search engine rankings
While we have touched on the topic of how providing evergreen content is key to improving your search ranking results, regular content updates also play an important role in how ell your site will rank.
The higher the frequency of the updates, the more search engines will consider the information to be new, consistent and relevant.
The importance of website backups
Backing up your website is an often overlooked aspect of keeping your website safe and updated. Not only does it serve as a type of insurance in the event your web design is ruined, it also helps protect important company information such as client files and accounting records.
Most professional IT technicians recommend that businesses do a backup of their files at least once a month.
Not updating your business on a regular basis can hurt all aspects of your online growth, presence and ultimately your bottom line. It shows your customers that you have respect for them and that you care about your business.
So far as the maintenance issues are concerned, these issues tend to worsen over time. In fact, let it go long enough and your website could potentially deteriorate to an irreparable state forcing you to invest more money and time in a brand new website.
The adoption of web technologies and keeping them current, safe and secure is one of the most essential ways to ensure your business remains competitive in today’s world.
Don’t let out-of-date content and software versions hamper the potential of one of, if not the most, valuable marketing and business growing tools for your SMB. Investing in the regular maintenance and updating of your website is one of the best ROIs you can secure for your business.
outdated design photo from Shutterstock