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In today’s digital age, a website that is outdated or difficult to navigate can send potential customers looking elsewhere.  The internet provides consumers and businesses with so many choices that are only a single click away.  More than 75% of people judge the credibility of a company based on the design of its website alone (Stanford University study).

If it’s been more than 2-3 years since you last updated your website – it is likely time to consider a design refresh.  The pace of change with design standards, optimization, and CMS technology is incredibly fast. Keeping your website up to date should be your business’s top priority. It is generally easy to identify outdated websites… here are some key factors to consider if it’s time to refresh your website:

 

Inconsistent Branding

When examining your website, the first thing to consider is whether your website is still aligned with your brand.  Consistency in branding creates loyalty, trust, and familiarity.  A website that effectively represents your brand can give you the competitive edge to grow and differentiate your business. If your business has changed, your website needs to change with it.

 

Confusing Navigation

Nothing turns off visitors faster than a confusing website structure that makes it difficult to find the information they need.  Potential customers arrive with a purpose and they expect to move around your site with ease.  It is critical that navigation stays aligned with the current needs of your target audience (not yesterday’s needs). Website architecture and user experience are steps that can be easily overlooked when designing a website, which is too often a critical mistake.

 

Poor Image Quality

Overuse of stock photography can be bad for business.  Recent studies show that users engage more with original and candid images that capture ‘real-life’ moments — rather than polished or posed images.  You don’t want your business to become internet famous because you chose a stock image with Harold, or any other infamous stock photo meme. Images that are both high in quality and relatable to your visitors will simply help you attract and retain more customers.

 

High Bounce Rates

Poor bounce rates can make or break your website’s search engine performance.  But what is bounce rate?  It is the percentage of visitors that that leave before spending an amount of time deemed significant by the search engine.  High bounce rates signal a need to improve how well you are connecting with your target audience.  You will need to assess your design, usability, messaging to determine what’s turning off your users and how to fix the issues to optimize your page performance.

 

Ineffective Call-To-Actions (CTAs)

Call-to-actions are just that, instructions that are designed to trigger an immediate response or action (e.g., ‘access your membership privileges now’, ‘visit our new store’, etc.).  They can be any number of forms, links, buttons, or simply a statement. Updating and refining your call to actions will provide direction to your users which is critical to improving conversion rates.  Ideally you want customers to sense that they should do what you ask them to. After all, everyone loves clear instructions and for someone else to make decisions for them. So instead of generic ‘continue reading’ buttons or ‘click here’ links, your site may get better results with something more enticing and better aligned with your business’ priorities and audience.

 

Too Much Copy / Wall of Text

Conventional wisdom says we are too busy to read website copy these days.  Research increasingly shows that user satisfaction increases when copy is concise, easy to scan, and does not include marketing hype.  As more website visitors are accessing sites on their mobile devices – expect this trend to continue.  Most sites can benefit from keeping online copy brief and to the point, but well also optimized for search engines.

 

Site is Slow to Load

A fast website remains a must have for your online business.  Fast loading sites lead to more page views, lower bounce rates, and better user experiences.  Search engines may also reward you with higher SEO rankings as site speed and server response times are part of search engine algorithms.  There are many causes to sites that under perform, even those built using popular CMS platforms like WordPress – choosing overly dense themes, excessive use of plug-ins, not optimizing images formats, and ignoring updates all can lend to sluggish load times.

 

Conclusions

Let’s face it – first impressions count.  As our online and mobile marketplace matures, your website remains one of the first times a customer will form an opinion of your business.  Having a professionally designed website with a thoughtful user experience that leverages the latest technologies is critical to your success overall not just online. It is important to think of your website as a main component of your business and not just what people see online. Let BlueTreeDigital help you create an updated website that will help grow your business!