A website is typically the first experience a customer has with your business. But if that website is outdated, isn’t intuitive, can’t easily be navigated or buries useful information, it is more of a liability than a best foot forward.
A business needs a modern website that visitors can easily navigate and find the information they are seeking.
How can you tell if your website is outdated? Here are six telltale signs, along with tips on how to go about refreshing it.
1. A Lack of New Content Means Your Site is Flat and Dated
Websites need to be updated regularly with new and relevant content to ensure they are not becoming stale. If there is a lack of new content, visitors will question your expertise as a company that is on top of trends and the latest developments in the industry. Not only that, they will lose interest and move on to competitors that share up-to-date information more frequently.
While websites can maintain a fresh look by adding new graphics, videos, blogs and more, knowing how to strategically organize that content is critical. A good way to do this is by using a content mapping strategy, which involves creating an overview of all the pages on the website and listing what type of content should go on each one. This will not only help organize a website, but also expose content gaps and opportunities to showcase your company’s expertise.
When it comes to refreshing your website, some companies prefer to update every year, but a good rule of thumb to keeping content fresh and useful is to critically examine it every three years or directly following restructurings or the introduction of new products and services.
2. It Isn’t Mobile First
Think about how your customers access information – chances are that it’s through a smartphone or tablet. In fact, mobile devices account for 63% of all organic search engine visits in the U.S., according to Statista.
Mobile-first design is growing in popularity, and with mobile devices increasing market share over desktop computing, it shows no signs of abating. The idea behind mobile-first design is to create a website with the mobile user’s needs in mind, specifically their need for a content-rich experience on their smartphone or tablet. This means that the site should be designed so it’s easy to navigate with one hand and without zooming in or out on the screen. It should also provide an easily accessible menu, prioritize content, include right-sized images, enlarged touch targets and along with many other elements.
If you need time to fully transition to a mobile-first site, a mobile-friendly website is a must for every business. This means the website should be responsive and provide a great user experience for all types of devices including mobile phones and tablets. In fact, Google penalizes websites that are not mobile-friendly by pushing them down in searches.
3. The User Experience Is Ineffective
The user experience of the website is a key factor for its success, and it has a significant impact on whether a visitor will return or not.
An effective website is easy to use, intuitive and responsive. It should guide visitors through informed decision-making processes. In essence, each user should be able to easily find what they are looking for on the website, understand how to use it and feel comfortable using it.
The user interface of the website plays a critical role in information consumption as it incorporates everything from the navigation menu to the buttons and links, along with any other interactive components on the site. The interface should be simple enough for visitors to understand where they are on your site at any given time, and provide clear direction to get them where they want to go.
Good UX and UI design can make even an average-looking website feel professional and high-quality.
4. There are Ineffective Calls to Action and Contact Forms
What are you asking your visitors to do? If your website doesn’t have a clear call to action (CTA) that motivates people to take an action, then it’s not working as hard as it can to build your business and meet visitors’ needs.
Websites often have ineffective calls to action that either don’t work or are simply not visible enough. Some other common problems with CTAs are:
- CTAs that lack clarity and are not focused on what the website wants visitors to do.
- Too many CTAs on one page that distract from each other.
- Getting too creative with the design of a CTA, which can make it difficult for users to understand what they need to do.
- Not designing a CTA that matches the target audience’s expectations.
In the world of website design, CTAs are one of the most important things to get right. They are what will convert visitors into customers. Although a CTA could be a button or a link, these elements should be placed in strategic places on the page so they’re easy to find.
Website contact forms are also a key component of the user experience. They help visitors communicate with the website owner and also provide valuable feedback. Similar to buttons and links, they should be easy to find and use and not hidden on a side menu or at the bottom of the page. As well, it should have clear and concise information about why the information is being requested and what type of response they will receive from you.
5. It Contains 404 Error Pages
Having links to webpages that don’t exist is a major indicator that a website is out of date. More commonly known as 404 error pages, these webpages can happen for many reasons:
- The user mistyped the URL or followed a broken link.
- The user is looking for content that has been moved, but the links haven’t been updated.
- The content has been completely removed from the server.
These unexpected error pages are a nuisance for website visitors often resulting in frustration and hasty departure from your website. At a time when visitors decide in 10 to 20 seconds whether they stay or leave your website, it’s vitally important to have a well-designed 404 error page to reduce bounce rate and keep the user experience positive.
These pages can also be flagged by Google, which will note a 404 error and circulate it through its index. If after 6-12 months the page continues to show as a 404 error, it will be deindexed and render the information nonexistent in its searches.
Error pages typically include an error message, such as “404 – Page Not Found” or “Page cannot be found.” Instead of leaving a visitor looking at a closed door, provide another point of engagement. An optimized website will seize the opportunity to improve the user experience – even if they encounter a 404 error – by including links to related content on the site, such as search results or an index of all the pages on the website.
Providing positive user experiences can be difficult when visitors continually reach the wrong page or are met with errors. If you see an increase in 404 errors on your website, it’s important that you fix these errors as soon as possible to both reduce your website’s bounce rate, improve your website’s user experience and also bypass
6. It’s Not Secure
Corporate cyber attacks are up 50% from last year according to Cyber Security Intelligence, and they are expected to continue on that trajectory, doubling by 2025.
It’s no surprise that an unsecure website can be a major risk for any business. Poor security leaves the website open to hacking and data theft, endangering not only a company’s resources or hijacking its domain, but also making your customers vulnerable to identity theft and credit card fraud.
Basic website security can be achieved by installing an SSL certificate on the server, which encrypts the data that is transferred from the server to the browser. Additionally, Google now penalizes websites that are not secured under an SSL certificate. Not only does securing your website protect your users and improve the user experience, it gives an added benefit for SEO.
Beyond the most basic security tasks, companies can improve the security of your website by:
- Using strong passwords.
- Changing default settings such as the “admin” username in common web editing software such as WordPress as this immediately deters hackers who retreat when met with resistance.
- Keeping software, plugins and themes updated to close vulnerabilities.
- Deleting any files, databases or applications from your website that are no longer in use to reduce exposure.
- Backing up your website regularly, so if the worst happens, you can recover your content.
Since it’s most likely the public’s first exposure to your company, your website needs to be viewed as a living organism that changes and evolves as quickly as both your company’s expertise and your audience’s needs.
If it’s been a while since you’ve updated your website and you’re not sure where to start, Aker Ink’s creative experts can provide expert insights, determine opportunities, reveal compromises and work to update or even redesign your website from the ground up in a way that ensures the design and user experience are top priorities. Along with our integrated PR and inbound marketing services, we can give your online presence a boost and make sure your website puts your best cyber foot forward.