Is your website doing everything it could be doing to empower your business?
For most businesses, the answer is no. The bad news is that applies to you. The good news is, that it also applies to almost all of your competitors. Making a commitment to get every drop of value out of your website can transform your business, no matter what industry you may be in.
When a business gets its first website, top-level leaders aren’t usually involved. Even when they are, they may not know the right questions to ask. This leads to many companies ending up with a good-looking website that doesn’t move the needle on their actual marketing goals.
Let’s start with the most obvious question: What should a website do?
Websites come in all different styles, but they aren’t meant to be fancy digital brochures. Instead, think of your website as the centerpiece of your online brand. It ties together all of your other marketing and establishes trust with the kind of customers you want.
A well-designed website supported by ongoing digital marketing doesn’t just sit there. Expanding your visibility in online searches relevant to your business continuously attracts more of the highly targeted traffic that can convert into leads and customers.
Websites that aren’t equipped to do this are nothing but overhead. In fact, a poorly performing website opens the door to problems like hacking – potential multimillion dollar liabilities you wouldn’t be subject to if you had no website at all. And most business websites are just one step above “nothing at all.”
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
No matter how your website is doing today, you can revitalize it. Website design can always be changed. And by using modern principles of website design in your refresh, you can make sure the true marketing power of your online presence is finally unleashed.
Typically, that means starting over with a brand new website.
Yes, a new website takes time to plan, craft, and approve. But it is worth it. First of all, an East Coast marketing agency can design and deploy that website with all the features your current website is lacking. You have nothing to lose since the investment you make will continue to help you for many years to come. On the other hand, there is usually no hope that an existing website will “come to life” in the future without major changes. In fact, your current website may be hurting you in ways you’re not aware of.
After hundreds of engagements in dozens of industries, we’ve seen particular patterns play out again and again. It’s possible that not all of these apply to you. It’s also very possible that all of them do, to one degree or another. Seven major problems come down to website design failure.
Those website design mistakes, in turn, all trace back to the same core issue: A website that was not built from the ground up with marketing in mind. Marketing can be integrated into a website design, using the right technologies in the right ways, but it takes a deep understanding of your business.
That’s something the average amateur developer or graphic designer simply isn’t prepared to provide.
Even small marketing agencies that say all the right things on paper may miss out on opportunities, all despite the best of intentions. The result is that businesses like yours can go many years without even realizing they could be seeing real revenue results from their digital properties, especially their website.
Let’s take a closer look at seven big reasons you may need a totally new website design – and why it needs to be handled by a marketing agency with proven experience in your industry:
1. Your Current Website Is Probably Already Out of Date
What determines whether a website is “out of date” or not? It isn’t about style or trends. It all comes back to Google, the company that determines whether or not people actually find your website when they search online. And Google changes fast, sometimes hundreds of times a month.
A few decades ago, it was Microsoft that was deciding what constitutes a “good” website. These days, nobody uses Microsoft Internet Explorer (it’s on the verge of non-existence) but everyone uses Google – much to the chagrin of those “other” search engines out there.
Since Google takes an active hand in deciding which websites are easy to find and which ones get consigned to oblivion, it’s a wise idea to heed its suggestions. For the most part, Google has been straightforward with its evolving standards in recent years, but there’s a lot to deal with.
As an advertising platform—err, that is, a search engine—Google wants to give a positive experience to as many of its users as possible. That means helping them surface accurate, relevant information from safe, well-designed websites. The goal is sound, but the way to get there is increasingly intricate.
If your website is five years old or more, you’re probably missing out on several of Google’s rules.
And that has a negative impact no matter how much marketing you do.
2. Your Current Website Wasn’t Built for Search Engine Optimization
Meeting Google’s standards means your website is more likely to achieve top billing for searches related to your business. The toolkit that gets you there is called search engine optimization (SEO). It combines best practices in website design, user experience, information architecture, security, and speed.
Since Google is always changing, search engine optimization is an ongoing practice. From the back-end of your website that no human sees to the text in your business blog posts, everything must serve the needs of your human audience while signaling the search engine’s algorithms correctly.
To be truly successful in SEO (and get a shot at “first page on Google”), the foundations of SEO need to be built right into your website. For example, it needs to be compatible with the tools your marketing team uses to monitor the correct use of the exact keywords people type into search.
These may seem like fiddly details – but at last count, there are more than 200 factors Google uses to rank websites in search. Every detail counts. And unless search engine optimization was part of your website’s strategy when it was designed, you can’t even measure many of these details.
3. Your Current Website Is Slow – and It’s Costing You Business
Research shows it only takes about one second of delay for a user to perceive something is wrong with a website. If a delay reaches three seconds, their train of thought has already been broken. They may stay on the same quest that brought them to your website, but they’re very likely to look elsewhere for help.
Many business websites are very inconsistent when it comes to speed. Chances are, you don’t monitor average load times when users visit your website. Equally, most companies aren’t using downtime alerts to discover how often their websites go down (warning: It can be a lot.)
Some speed issues are caused by the company that hosts your website. But just as many can be reduced or fixed if you make the right changes to your website design. “Lazy loading” loads only the portion of a page the user is looking at, making the whole experience faster and more intuitive.
You can even compress large images into a smaller file size without affecting their quality.
A typical business website can take advantage of several dozen opportunities to speed up. Often, a comprehensive raft of fixes can be made within just a few days. That has a marked impact on how easy your website is to use. And, yes, it also affects your Google ranking.
4. Your Current Website Probably Isn’t as Secure as You Think
It wasn’t that long ago when the majority of mainstream browsers started tagging lots of websites as “unsafe.” In the wake of the 2014 Heartbleed bug, the internet had to change how security was done.
Practically overnight, websites without modern SSL security were being marked as dangerous, with at least one browser telling its users to flee “back to safety!” Nothing had changed on the websites themselves, and many of them weren’t even collecting sensitive information that needed securing.
Today, the cat is out of the bag. Even if you don’t collect any personally identifying information from any user, your website needs to use SSL encryption. If you manage transactions through your website, SSL is the difference between true best-in-class security and the potential for major liability.
From the moment these new standards started to take hold, Google gave a slight bump to websites that were in compliance. Since then, individual browsers have gotten a bit less obnoxious about it, no longer flashing bright red warnings – but Google is still keeping score on the security front.
While SSL encryption is easy to set up, it’s just as easy to do it incorrectly. If that happens, you’re not reaping all the security benefits. You could even be operating under a dangerously false sense of security.
5. Your Current Website Predates Voice Search
Voice search is poised to be the next big thing online. With smart assistants finding their way into more homes, we are living in a world where people may soon launch online searches from their refrigerators, showerheads, or lawn mowers. This will change the very nature of search.
When people are typing search queries with a keyboard, they tend to summarize their needs with a short phrase. This is the core idea behind the use of keywords to identify and promote your content. But as users adopt smart devices, they begin to express themselves using whole questions.
The structure of your website must make it easy for them to find the relevant answers. While traditional keywords will continue to be used, a “natural language” approach based on questions as people actually ask them will become more important than ever before.
6. Your Current Website Predates Mobile
In mid-2016, nearly 60% of searches came from a mobile device. That figure has only gone up since.
No matter if someone arrives on a smartphone, tablet, or exotic Internet of Things device, they need to navigate your website smoothly. When they run into something that would be fine for a desktop user – like a large, slow-loading graphic – it might be the factor that sends them packing to a competitor.
Likewise, Google puts plenty of emphasis on whether your website is easy for mobile users to browse. In fact, it now looks at the mobile version of your website before the desktop one, weighing it more heavily in your final results. After all, Google knows precisely when someone is using its service on mobile.
The best way to ensure a world class experience for everyone, regardless of hardware, is to use a mobile responsive theme. A responsive theme automatically adjusts its navigation, appearance, and input to the smaller form factor of a mobile device. That means all visitors get a friendly, customized experience.
7. Your Current Website Isn’t Producing Real Business Value
Last, but certainly not least, can you trace first-time appointments or sales directly to your website?
Your website needs to be fully tied into your overall marketing strategy. When a website is set up to shine as the core of your online identity, it can be a thing of beauty. As people seek insights about the problems and questions your business can solve, they discover a website that can help them succeed.
Your website serves as your digital first impression, but it’s also much more. With the right content, it can deepen and strengthen relationships. That sets the stage for a productive relationship even before someone meets you in person or reaches out for the first time.
When your website is optimized to lead first-time visitors through your customer funnel, it can become a largely automated customer care tool that positions you as a trusted advisor. That enhances the odds you’ll be the provider a visitor chooses when they need to make a purchase.
This kind of concrete value is what all business websites should aspire to. But you can only build results like these on a strong foundation of modern website design. Anything less does you and your business a disservice.
The Second Best Time to Get Going on a New Website Design Is Now
The best time to launch an amazing website? Twenty years ago.
The second best time? Today.
The sooner you get started with a website design that really works for you, the sooner it will help you to make an impact on your customers. Over time, your digital marketing – anchored by your website – can transform into an enduring competitive advantage others can’t overturn simply by spending more.
When a website is backed by the right skills and expertise, every day spent in the planning and design stages helps to build a resource that reflects your brand: Not only where it is today, but where you aspire for it to be in coming years. At New York Ave, we make the process simple and – dare we say it – even fun.
You’ll see NYA’s difference from the beginning. Whether you decide to call in, use video chat, or visit us at our main office, we believe that relationships come first. You can settle in over coffee, meet a friendly face or two (including the office dog), and help us get to know you better.
Once we understand your business, your goals, and your vision, it’s off to the races.
We’ll create a new website design that grants your brand fresh strengths, all while building on the ones you already have. Backed by digital marketing best practices, you are creating an asset that will make a real competitive difference in the long run. And we are with you every step of the way.
Odds are good your current website is an egg that’s never going to hatch. We can help you soar.
Contact us at New York Ave today to find out more or get started.