A new client recently said something about the new design firm always trashing the work of the old design firm. I protested — I hope we never trash anyone’s work. But sometimes you need a change, either a big one or a small one.
When website owners come to us for support, the first thing we do is to look at their website with a critical eye. Our number one question at that point is this: can we get good results for the company with their current website? Here are the factors we consider:
- Does the design work for the company? Sometimes the design doesn’t really suit the organization. Sometimes it was great when it was built but things have changed — either in the company or in the world. You don’t still have a mauve and teal waiting room, so why should you have a dated website? Equally, if your website focuses on a product that is no longer your focus, or has a mood and tone that no longer reflects your company accurately, it’s time for change.
- Is the code up to date? You’ve updated the furniture in the waiting room, and you probably don’t have an 8-track player there, either. Outdated code can keep your website from looking good on new devices, or it may just make it unpredictable.
- Are there SEO or usability problems? If your site is built with lots of ads above the fold, Google will hold it against you. They’re right — users don’t want to have to search through lots of clutter in order to find your actual content. We also still see websites where the homepage content is hidden inside images or Flash where search engines won’t see it. Sometimes this kind of problem can be fixed with a content refresh, but often it’s just the way the page is laid out. This type of problem means a new design will serve you best.
If the website is okay, with none of these issues in its design and code, updating the content can be enough. We’re talking with an organization that has a beautiful new website — but the homepage content is copied from the About Us page. That needs fixing, no matter how new the design.
A content update can be a quick, economical change with huge ROI. We often see serious traffic increases after a content refresh. This can be true even if there was nothing wrong with the content to begin with — we recently converted a site to WordPress and took the opportunity to add testimonials and social media integration. These items weren’t as important when the site was first built as they are now.
Saying a website needs changing doesn’t have to be a criticism of the website. Sometimes it’s just time for a change.