This question can be interpreted two ways: How often should I put fresh content on my site? Or, how often should I carry out an upgrade of the design and the technology?
In this blog we tackle the latter question – how often should you carry out an upgrade, and why? The “how often” part really depends on your answers to “why”. For example, if you answer “no” to any of the following questions, it might be time for an upgrade.
Does your site display the way it should in all browsers?
Statistics tell us the web browser of choice has changed. Take a look at the table below. Just 4 years ago Internet Explorer was by far the most used web browser, with over double the market share of its nearest rival, Firefox. IE’s share has since been cut in half and Chrome is about to take over the number 1 spot. Four years ago Chrome was barely on the radar. If your site is older, how is it showing up in these newer browsers? Is it functioning the way it should or are pages and links broken? This is not a good user experience for your web visitor.
It's also important to understand that a website design won't last forever. New features have become available (such as embedding non-Flash videos directly on your site) that were not possible before. As browsers change to accommodate these new features, they're often phasing-out the ability to display old features (features your website might still be using).
Finally, as we all get bigger monitors to view the web it's not uncommon for older designed sites to appear unnaturally small on the screen.
Are you using a technology that restricts you from updating your content on a regular basis?
A content management system (CMS) gives non-technical users the power to keep the content of their site up to date, without the need to hire a web firm every time they want to make a change. Keeping a stream of original content flowing into your site is critical if you want to improve your potential for being found through searches. This will be the topic of Part 2 of this Blog, but for now it’s important to know: 1.) Search engines place high value on websites that are consistently being updated with current, relevant content, and 2.) new content can be used to increase the volume of key words and phrases (that people are using to find you).
Is your site up to date with your branding?
Have you updated your website to match the look and feel of your latest signage, displays, storefront or literature? Have you repositioned the vertical markets you are targeting since your site was launched? Has your competition changed?
Businesses today are finding new and more diverse channels to communicate with their customers, to build and support their brand. Websites now host blogs and newsletters, video demos, links to social media, online stores and a host of other features. Has your website kept up with these trends? (Or do the people displayed on your home page still wear bell bottoms?)
Does your site compare well with the competition?
Most business managers are constantly monitoring their competitors and trying to stay one step ahead. Have you fallen one (or several) steps behind when it comes to your web presence and the online experience you are offering your customers? How much money is this costing you?
Is your site mobile friendly?
The percentage of people using mobile devices (versus desktop computers) to access the internet has doubled in the past year. (There are now over 100 million smart phone users in the US alone). Have you tried recently to access an older site using your mobile device? Remember what happened? Chances are images didn’t show, or you had to do a lot of “pinching and scrolling”, or the site didn’t load at all. Do your clientele fall into the demographic that are likely to be using a mobile device to access your information or online products? If so, you want be make sure they don’t get turned off or turned away.
Is your site optimized technically for search engines?
When it comes to search engines, think of your website as your resume. If search engine spiders can’t read your site because old technology is blocking them or not letting the spiders know what your site is all about, the search engine will likely move on to a better prepared resume, resulting in your website being positioned very low in search results, or not showing up at all. Can you control your meta data from page to page? Is your site built using old fashioned frames which hide content? Is content on your site displayed using a search-un-friendly platform such as Flash or Silverlight? Is your website’s programming valid, so that search engines can identify the Title tag, Heading tags, alternative text (i.e. on images), menus, sitemaps, address tags, etc.?
Watch for next month's blog when we discuss the importance of keeping your website content fresh and relevant.