The When & Why you should rebuild your website?

As an online agency 318 Online spends a lot of time discussing this issue with customers.

Generally I would say that a complete rethink and redesign should be done at least every 2 to 3 years. Some sites should be done much more frequently than that - perhaps once a year.

On top of that, there should be continuous content editing and addition in between makeovers.

Your website is probably the most visible face of your business to your market. In the same way your market does not stay static for 2-3 years neither should your website.

There are many specific reasons why you should redo a website, but all of them ultimately come down to marketing strategy.

Here is an explanation of the main reasons:

Changes in the Market

Every business is in continual change. Products, promotions, advertising, brochures and overall marketing strategy are constantly changing.

Your website should be front and centre of the change not last in the queue. There is one clear unambiguous reason for this - SEARCH. Online search is the single most important way people find your business. Your website is the welcome mat at the front door to your business. So it may be easy for you not to notice your website is out of date because you come in the staff only entrance, but your customers will notice.

If you are in a competitive market (and who isn't) then you will also be compared to what the opposition is doing. This is just as important in B2B markets as it is in B2C markets.

Changes in your Marketing

Most companies will change the look and feel of their marketing material every few years.

If you are contemplating doing this, you should be including the website in the makeover. In years past, the web design followed along with the rest of the corporate design. For many companies today the website is the place the redesign starts and the other redesign follows the web designer. The whole emphasis on printed material has already shifted dramatically. Print will not go away entirely but I would not be investing big time in a printing business.

Whether you decide that the print design will follow the web or the other way around, it is a fundamental that you do both together.

Changes in Technology

There has been a huge change in the underlying technology behind websites in the last few years and it is not slowing down. Much of this change is due to the phenomenal growth in mobile device internet use.

Video is probably the most graphic example. 3 years ago we were using Flash for all video and animation content. Today Flash is not supported on essentally 100% of smart phones and tablets. So if your site has video and its more than 3 years old, it is no longer viewable for users with mobile devices which could 30% to 50% of visitors!

There have been a lot of other changes which make the way websites can be built much more interesting and exciting.

Changes in Style

Style off course, like beauty, "is in the eye of the beholder". Well sort of.

There are a lot of style issues which are linked to technological issues rather than to the designers whim. Most important of these in recent years has been the spread of HD widescreen format computer screens - even on tablets. Only a few years back we were building websites that fitted onto the standard 1024 pixel wide screen.

What looked ok on that size screen now looks absurd on my HD wide screen.

Search

As I said earlier online search is really important to your business. Too many companies have a set and forget attitude to Search Engine Optimisation(SEO).

Google in particular changes its SEO criteria and weighting frequently. If you are not actively engaged in SEO maintenance between builds it may be simpler to do a rebuild more frequently and update the SEO with the rebuild. Otherwise your hard earned rankings will gradually slip away.

Product Based Businesses

Since the web first came to life 20 years ago, most websites have been built from the top down. By that I mean that a design was done for the home page look and that gradually trickled down through the site. Product pages were levels below the main content and given little thought. If your business is based around products, there is a definite advantage to build the site from the products upward with the final page being the home page.

The main reason for this is it makes internal search within the site much simpler. If you are trying to show off a large product range and your customers can't find them in your website because it was designed badly, it is definitely time to rebuild.

If you intend to use products like Piapplications Online Price List or Technical Brochure Generator a product based structure is a huge advantage.

Conclusion

The world of online marketing is very fast moving. If you are serious about your web presence you should aim for a major rethink of your website at 2 year intervals

Just so you don't think we don't practice what we preach, this site which is just 2 1/2 years old, is in the middle of a complete update.

In the last 3 months we have completely upgraded the content management system and have started a rebuild from the inside out. This newsletter is part of that process.




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