Is it time for a completely new small business website?
Fashions move on, best practice changes, websites that were cutting edge ten years ago now look clunky and outdated. Part of running an online business is keeping track of these developments and using this knowledge to improve your site over time. But what happens if you haven’t been following web design trends, or you reach a point where your site can no longer be improved incrementally?
If you’ve been watching, you’ll have noticed 23 Reg has recently launched a rebranded and redesigned site, but this really is an issue businesses of all sizes should be thinking about. An outdated site can cost you sales, and that can put a real dent in your profits.
In this post we’ll look at how you can tell if your site needs a complete makeover and the options that are available when you need to make that change.
Monitor leading sites in your niche
Keeping an eye on what your competitors are doing should be a key part of your marketing strategy already. If it’s not, you can get started with competitor analysis here. But you should also keep an eye on the design of the leading sites in your niche. That way, you’ll be able to notice emerging trends. This needs to be more than a superficial glance though. Interact with the site in the way a customer would. By doing this, you’ll notice important changes to things like the checkout process. Keep a note of how rival sites change and compare them to your own. If you feel like you’re starting to lag behind, then you’ll have to think about how you can catch up. You may be able to make incremental changes to get you to where you want to be. However, it’s equally possible that your current site may need a complete overhaul to bring it up to scratch.
Monitor wider design trends
Keeping up with your competitors is one thing, but you also need to have one eye on the future. Don’t limit your design research to just sites in your niche. Take things further by looking at cutting edge sites. Although you might not be able to implement the features of these sites directly on your site, you may be able to develop ideas of your own. If you can think creatively, then you may be able to launch a new site with features that your competitors will be scrambling to copy. You can keep track of design trends at sites like Pattern Tap and Creative Bloq.
Test your site on different platforms
Mobile and tablet devices are the future of the web. You may be tired of hearing this, but it’s true. Mobile searches on Google have overtaken desktop and it increasingly seems that a website that isn’t optimised for smaller screens is a website that’s stuck in the past. You can read more about your options when it comes to getting a mobile site in this guide. It’s something that you need to seriously consider.
Ask for feedback
Monitoring the usability of your site is something that you should be doing as standard. If you’re not, then you can learn how to get started with user testing in this webinar. But if you’re worried your site is outdated then you’ll need to ask for specific feedback on this topic. Don’t feel offended if people don’t say the kindest of things about your site – use their feedback to build something better and more profitable.
Your options for a new site
Completely re-launching your site can seem a daunting prospect and it certainly can involve a lot of work. However, there are plenty of ways to get a good site without spending too much time and money. Here’s a brief overview of the options available to you.
Use a web designer
If you’ve used a web designer in the past, you may want to go back to the same person in order to get your new site. Alternatively, you may want to use a web designer but feel the time is right to move on to someone new. If you’re uncertain about what you should be looking for in a web designer, then this video telling you the questions you should be asking them is a good place to start. If you’re on a budget, our team of online experts can build you a custom website quickly and at an affordable price. Find out more out the Make me a Website service from 123-reg.
Switch to WordPress
Although it’s commonly thought of as a blogging platform, WordPress is actually one of the most popular and versatile content management systems around. You can use it to build almost any kind of site imaginable and there is a selection of templates, both free and paid for, that exist to help you do exactly this. There are also professional WordPress developers who can help you get what you need from the platform. If you’re already using WordPress, then upgrading your site could be a lot simpler than you imagine.
Switch to Website Builder
If you’re using a website builder platform such as the one offered by 123-reg, then it may simply be a case of upgrading to the latest version of your current product. New releases of a website builder usually bring new features so you may be able to get the functionality you need by levelling up your package. If you’re not currently using a website builder and you’re looking to upgrade your website, it’s worth taking the time to see if there’s a product that meets your needs. You can learn more about the 123-reg Website Builder here. 123-reg also offers a Make Me a Website package, which takes even more of the hassle out of getting a new site online.
Don’t leave things too long
Finally, it’s worth noting that an outdated site will eventually have a negative impact on your business. At first competitors will overtake you and in time customers will abandon you because they’re getting a better experience elsewhere. That can lead to a real crisis for any company. So don’t wait until disaster hits before you make the change. Moving to a new site should be a smooth process that’s fully under your control, not a hurried, panicked move taken because your business is suffering. Be honest about the state of your site and make the change when you want to, not when you desperately have to. Good luck.