Do you need a new website, or can you make changes to what you already have?
The first thing to consider when you make this decision is the technology underlying your website. If your site was built a decade ago, or built more recently with outdated code (often seen with offshore products), then you need to start over. Attempts to update your site, even if you find someone who can work with your outmoded technology, will not lead to a better-performing website.
Some questions to ask yourself about your website’s technology:
- Does your website look the way it should on all browsers?
- Does it look good on mobile devices? Many websites get more than half their visits from smartphones and tablets, and Google prefers not to offer searchers a site which isn’t mobile-friendly.
- Can you update it yourself when you need to make quick changes?
- Can you or your web team change pictures and add content easily through a content management system?
- Does it work well, or do you have features that don’t work any more?
- Is the code up to standard so it can be maintained easily, or do you have bloated code, copy-pasted bits and bobs from other websites, or very idiosyncratic code which only the builder can work with?
If any of these basics are not as they should be, you need to build a new website.
However, if your website is good under the hood, you may be able to refresh it with new content and see improvement in its performance.
Sometimes designers will look at your website and decide that you need a new website because they know they could build you something better looking. Sometimes they’re right. If a more polished and up to date website would bring you additional customers and those customers would more than pay for the cost of a new website, it doesn’t make sense to hold on to an unprofessional-looking website.
Sometimes your business model is such that you won’t see good ROI from a new website, though, and sometimes you are happy with your website’s appearance even when a designer sees flaws.
Sometimes, too, a new set of banner graphics or some changes in the WordPress Customizer can improve the look of your website at a fraction of the cost of a new website.
Can your visitors do what they want to do at your website without excessive friction? Test your website, asking people who haven’t seen the site before to try to perform common tasks like signing up for an appointment, getting a product to checkout, or finding your hours and phone number.
Identify all the points where visitors have to stop and figure out what to do. These are places where potential clients and customers may give up and leave your website.
Check your analytics, too, and find the pages that don’t get visited or the actions visitors don’t take even though you want them to.
Can you fix those problems without a new website? Often you can.
Your website’s content makes the biggest difference for SEO and often for usability as well. A content refresh can improve results at a fraction of the cost of a new website. Reorganizing and optomizing your site content can be done in your CMS without the need for a developer, though it can be worth your while to hire an SEO copywriter for the project.
If you don’t have a workable CMS, you should probably rebuild your website in WordPress or another good content management system, but you could have new content prepared as a Word document or Google Doc and send it to your webmaster for implementation.
Haden Interactive creates Strategy Documents that look at a number of factors, from on-site optimization and usability to navigation to your competitive landscape and your business goals. We use our specialized tools and extensive experience to create a practical checklist of steps you can take right away to improve the performance of your website.
A Strategy Document combined with a content refresh can give your old website a new lease on life — for much less than the cost of a new website. These two tools can also make your new website much better than your old website, even if you choose a designer who doesn’t do content or SEO.
Having thought over all these possibilities, you should be ready to decide whether or not you need a new website. If you do, think of Haden Interactive — unlike most web designers, we provide content and strategy, so your website won’t be just another pretty face. Our websites get out and introduce themselves. Contact us or call Rosie at 479.966.9761 to start the conversation.