Website Styles, Trends and the Importance of Updates

The top trends in website design are always changing. As in the fashion world, what is popular in web design today will be considered passé tomorrow. Likewise, what is passé today may cycle back through and become the latest craze tomorrow.

The thing that comes to mind for me is the navigation bar or in plain English, the section of the web page that lists the links to the other pages in the site. In the early days of the Internet, most websites had a column, of site navigation, that ran down the left-hand side of the page. Everyone knew to look there, so it worked.

As things changed over the years and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) issues cropped up with that type of layout, most sites moved to a navigation bar that runs across the top of the page, somewhere. Today, many of those SEO issues have been resolved and sites are starting to use the left column navigation again, in an effort to stand out from the crowd. Like I said… cycles.

While it is not necessary or even reasonable for most people to change their website design on a frequent basis, the age of your site is something to think about. Let me ask you to take a minute and try to think how long it has been since your website design was last updated. If you can’t remember or you have to look it up, there is a good chance it is time to consider refreshing your design. This does not include content changes on the site like adding new posts or updating the site’s text and images. What I am talking about here is the overall style, appearance and layout of your site.

6 reasons to consider updating your site’s design.

This list is by no means comprehensive, but it does offer some of the most common reasons that you might want to update your site’s design.

1) Outdated Style

While this may not be the most important of the group, it is often the most overlooked. With site design being very trendy, you can sometimes be holding onto a design that looks very dated and this can reflect on the way people view your company. I see this a lot, with more established companies who built a web presence many years ago because someone told them everyone should have a site for business.

The problem comes when they think of it as a “set it and forget it” asset.

Ten years ago, people viewed websites in a different way. Today’s users see the website as an extension of your company and your sales force. If it looks old fashioned, they think of the company as old fashioned. Statistics say that the average lifespan of a website, these days, is 3-5 years. That is going to fluctuate depending on the site, how well it has been maintained and the company or product involved.

Whether your site is new or old, you should regularly review its design to see if it still reflects well on your company, organization, or brand.

2) Out of Date Best Design Practices

There have been so many changes in the best practices for website design in the last several years, that it is hard to count them. Many of these changes not only tend make your site look dated, but some of them are security risks and many of them will affect your site’s ranking in the search engines. Here are just a few of the more common or serious issues we see.

Not Mobile Friendly

These days, a website that is not mobile-friendly (displays well on a mobile phone or tablet) is a serious problem. If your site is not mobile friendly, it is definitely time to update your design.  With so many mobile devices out there and a large percentage of site visitors using them to access your site, it just makes sense to have a site that works well on a mobile phone or tablet.

However, it goes beyond that. Google has made a change to its algorithm that will cause your site to rank lower in search engine results pages (SERP), if it is not mobile friendly. This one is a big reason to update your design. A mobile friendly site will make your visitors and Google happier.

Slow to Load

In the early day of the Internet, everyone connected through a dial-up modem. If you are too young to remember that awful screeching sound made during the connection process, let me just say, it was not pretty. Dial-up connections were slow! What takes me a fraction of a second to download now, took several MINUTES back then.

Then came along high-speed connections and the World was grand. Or was it?

When everything was slow, designers had to make sure their content was as compact as possible, so that it would load easily. With faster connections, many designers got sloppy and did not worry about the size of their files.

Fast forward to today and if your page does not load quickly, people will just give up and leave. Google even states that a site that takes longer than 2 seconds to load, will limit the number of URLs (pages) they will crawl for adding to their index. Slow load = lower ranking.

Still Using Flash

We don’t see this very much anymore, but it was very popular not that long ago. If your site is still using Flash to display its content, you are way behind the time and need to really consider making a change, soon. By the nature of the way it works, Flash has never done well in search engines and the Flash player is being phased out and can be a security risk. Again, if you are using Flash, update now.

3) Better User Experience (UX)

The user experience is just what it sounds like. The way users interact with your site will ultimately make a difference in whether they stay on the site and look around or get frustrated and leave. How quickly the site loads, the way the navigation is set up and ease of finding the right information are some of the main things to consider in the user experience of your website. If your site is slow, clunky and you can’t find information fast, people will move on.

4) Better Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

While I have listed SEO as #4, that does not mean it is less important. In fact, some would argue it is the most important, me included. I did not list it as #1 because, as you probably have already guessed by reading the rest of the article, many of the other points made relate to your sites overall optimization. While there are many other reasons for a poor ranking on the search engine results page (SERP) or SEO score, mobile-friendliness, site load speed, and user experience all play a role in how well your site ranks. Google is constantly updating their search algorithm. Just because it worked last year, last month or even last week, does not mean it will work today.

SEO is huge for your website. Without it, your site may never be found by those users who may be looking for exactly what you have to offer. Better SEO=more traffic on your site.

 5) The Purpose of the Site Has Changed

Sometimes the purpose of your website will change or evolve as your company grows. It may be that your site was built as a simple informational tool to let potential customers know who you are and what you do. Over time, you may want the site to become more of a sales tool or even a store front selling your products online. As your company changes, frequently so does your site’s purpose.

6) Does Not Work Well with Your Other Marketing Efforts

This one is obvious. If your site is not an integrated part of ALL of your marketing efforts, then you really need to take some time to figure out how to best utilize your website for your marketing purposes. In most cases, your website should be the central hub of your online marketing efforts.

So, What’s Next?

If you have read this far, congratulations! You should now have a better understanding of the value and importance of keeping your website design up to date. However, if you are like most people, you don’t know where to start.

We can help you with that next step.

Contact us and let us have a look at your site and give you a free evaluation of the site’s design, content, and SEO. There is no obligation and we will not try to sell you something you don’t need. You will get a simple, honest evaluation and recommendations for ways to improve your site, if needed.

Oh, and by the way, we know that much of the technical jargon involved does not make sense to most people. We will translate it for you, in plain English. While you still may not understand it all, you should walk away with a much better understanding of how your site works and what you can do to keep it working for you.

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