The saddest thing in the world is an outdated website. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration but as a web developer, it definitely rounds out my top ten.
Having an outdated website announces to your visitors that you’ve either abandoned your website and quite possibly your business, or that you just don’t care enough about your customers to invest in a positive user experience.
I know this is not the impression you’d like for your customers to have of you, but the harsh truth is a neglected website will do exactly that.
Fortunately there’s something you can do about it.
Not only can you build credibility and authority with your website, you can do it once and then reap the benefits for a long time to come. Let’s talk about what you should do and what you should never do on your website to protect against premature aging and an unavoidable future.
Create the right content for your audience (current and future)
Your website isn’t just a contact portal where you share your address, phone number, social media handles, and other such details. Your website should be the ultimate source of information for your product or service.
It’s time to start thinking of your website in these terms. But don’t just think, plan.
Let’s start by answering the following questions:
- Do you have a library of resources or a knowledge database on your website?
- Do you have a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page?
- Do you have a blog with at least 10 solid evergreen pages of content?
- Do you have a fully filled out “About” page that includes your brand story?
- Have you created compelling landing pages to accompany your paid ad campaigns?
In addition to finding your email address, availability/hours of operation, your site visitors want to learn more about what you can do for them. Have that information readily available on your website so that you don’t have to keep on asking the same questions via email or over the telephone way into the future.
Plan for the user experience
When planning your website, remember that it’s not just about presenting information to your site visitors. It’s also about how you will present that information.
What type of experience will your site visitor have on your website?
The ultimate goal for any website is to delight users with a simple, intuitive interface that makes it easy to access information. It’s not about cramming in as many bells and whistles as you can.
A website that lasts well into the future is one that can deliver the goods as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
To quote Da Vinci, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
So how do you create a winning user experience?
Think about how a site visitor is most likely to interact with your brand on your website and create a path that gets them there with the least amount of time and effort.
For example, if you are running an ad campaign for your latest product launch, send them to a specially-created landing page that introduces your product and explains their benefits. If you want to help on-the-fence prospects become customers, make it easy for them to see customer testimonials.
You’re going to feel like a GPS after a while, and that’s okay.
Use responsive design
If you’ve spent any time at all on this blog, you know how much I champion responsive design. But it’s not just a personal passion of mine, it’s also an Internet standard.
Your website needs to respond to different screens immediately.
This means I shouldn’t have to pinch-to-zoom while viewing your website on my smartphone. I should have the same flawless experience on mobile devices as I have on my desktop.
I’ve actually gotten on my soapbox more than once to discuss responsive design. Check out these two posts for an in-depth treatment:
Don’t Do This:
Now, let’s take a look at what you shouldn’t do on your website if you’d like it to stand the test of time, or at least until next year’s refresh.
There’s a fine balance between embracing new technologies and being hopelessly trendy.
On one hand, your website should reflect what’s happening now. You don’t want to be lagging behind, still using Flash animation on your site like it’s 2002. On the other hand, you don’t want to switch website themes every three months, constantly chasing the latest design trend and adapting the newest widget.
Instead, think of your target site visitor. Consider what type of experience they’re looking for, and create a website crafted for that person.
Your website should be usable, above all things.
Don’t chase trends. Create a timeless brand design for your website and user experience, and then make small tweaks as necessary.
Remember that while you should update your website regularly, it shouldn’t feel like a major overhaul every time you do it. You don’t want to traumatize your users, especially those who visit your site regularly, with a completely different website the next time that they visit.
Use a cheap .99¢ web host
This is one don’t that trips up a lot of well-meaning businesses.
After looking at the available hosting options for your website, you go with the cheap one, rationalizing that when the time comes to expand your business, you can always easily upgrade to a robust host.
The only problem is: It’s never going to be a smooth transition like you’ve imagined.
Here’s how it’s more than likely to play out: After working hard and paying your dues, finally you get recognized by a big name brand. They love your brand and then share your website address with their followers. Overnight, you immediately skyrocket from a handful of online visitors to 100,000.
Your web host responds by shutting down your site, unable to handle your meteoric rise and the associated demand.
It happens more often than you think.
With eyes on the future of your website and your brand, seriously consider investing in a quality web host that can handle a sudden surge in incoming traffic to your site.
If you’re using WordPress, I recently wrote a post about why you should consider using a managed host. Check it out here: Optimizing Your WordPress Site for Speed.
Do it all yourself
Sure, you could develop your own website, just like you could technically teach yourself how to do anything, but your time is better spent growing your brand. Instead, let’s partner up, and I’ll share more of my ideas on how to future-proof your website. Click here to contact me now.