We live (and conduct business) in a Web-driven world, so it is no surprise that small businesses can live or die by their company websites.
Are you wondering whether or not it is time to redesign your business website? If any (or all) of the following scenarios apply, the answer is probably yes.
You Made It Yourself — With No Prior Experience
It can be hard to let go of your labor of love. However, if you created your company website from scratch, with nothing but a beginner template and a few YouTube tutorials, chances are it shows. In this day and age, it is practically a requirement for a business to have a website. However, a poorly designed website can drive away potential customers just as well — if not better — than no website at all.
Your Site is Flash
Flash sites are notoriously bad for business. As FolioSnap explains: “Flash has proven itself to be an amazing platform for designing games, movies, media players, animations, and various other utilities. But when it comes to running a successful website, Flash fails… miserably.” Jakob Nielsen, of the Nielsen Norman Group suggests that, “Flash tends to degrade websites for three reasons: it encourages design abuse, it breaks with the Web’s fundamental interaction principles, and it distracts attention from the site’s core value.” Search bots are unable to read Flash content, which means that they cannot properly index your site. Furthermore, most mobile devices do not support Flash, which means mobile users cannot view your site. You might have a gorgeous, well-organized, easy-to-navigate site, but if it is Flash, no one will find it.
It’s Viewable on One Screen Only
With the advent of smartphones, tablets, and mobile devices screen sizes are varied. If your site is only viewable on a desktop monitor, you’re alienating a large portion of your potential audience. In a world laced with oversized monitors, netbooks, tablets, smart phones and other devices, your company website should be responsive (i.e., viewable on any screen.
Your Site Content is Unreadable
There are good fonts and there are bad fonts. For example, Comic Sans and Papyrus have become so universally reviled that they’re little more than a walking punch line. Truthfully, online visitors shouldn’t notice your font choice. Regardless of whether your site is minimalist in style or a busy shopping hub like Overstock, fonts should remain cohesive and easy to read.
Your Site is Just … Gauche
There are unequivocally tacky choices in the world of website design. If your business website contains one or more of them, it tends to send a bad message, and will send visitors running. For example: the aforementioned poor font choices or a visible hit counter are two notable faux pas. Wanting to track your page views is understandable; just track them privately. Displaying your hit count will appear either arrogant or desperate, neither of which are attractive business qualities.
Your Site Is Too Busy
Your company website should be streamlined and easy to navigate. If each link and piece of content doesn’t serve an explicit purpose, why is it there? Extraneous badges, buttons, and animations make it difficult for potential customers to find the information or services they need. That doesn’t mean your site has to be boring. Companies like Zeigler Cat manage to have dynamic sites with eye-catching images without obscuring key content and links.
No One Passes the First Page
If your website analytics show that most visitors are leaving without navigating past the first page, then you have a big problem. Specific reasons for this phenomenon may vary — unappealing design, poor organization, etc. — but they tend to be numerous and deeply intertwined. A high bounce rate is also a a clear sign that your site needs a major overhaul.
It’s Difficult to Update
You shouldn’t have to struggle to update your contentor make other necessary changes to your site. If it is a constant battle to add new information, you should consider walking away from the fight. Out-of-date content is a death sentence. If your copy is no longer accurate or relevant, visitors are likely to be both displeased and confused. If your site prevents you from updating it, it’s time for a redesign.
It’s Just Plain Broken
If your company website isn’t working, stop applying temporary band-aids. Constant issues don’t just drive away traffic; they waste valuable company time and resources. Go straight to the source and straight for a redesign.
It’s Invisible to Search Engines
Your site may be great, but that is irrelevant if no one can find it. And honestly, if no one can find it, it probably isn’t as great as you think. There are many reasons that your site seems invisible to search engines. The aforementioned Flash is merely one example. Content contained by images and poor SEO also negatively impact your search engine rankings. Finding a trusted company or designer to overhaul your website can help solve search engine issues. Before you go to a designer, it doesn’t hurt to get a good idea of what isn’t working, as well as inspiration for your new site. Taking a look at award winning small business websites is a good place to start.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Savannah Flynn is a public relations specialist for WebpageFX, a full-service Internet marketing, web design and web development agency offering integrated web solutions for medium to large sized businesses across the globe. She has a passion for online marketing and PR.