Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Does Your Website Need a Makeover?

-Five signs that scream YES!

There is an old saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression!” And this saying is never more true that when it comes to your website. When your index page pops up, it better give a good impression or the visitor (and potential customer) will go somewhere else.

But how do you know when it's time to change the look and feel of your site? Here are five signs that it's time to make changes or even start over.

1) Dated Images
Do your images look old? Are there things in the background that indicate the image is not up to date? Have you changed images in the last year? Old images and poor images scream, “get me out of here!” Images and graphics are the first thing people notice when visiting a website. If your images/graphics are not grabbing attention, you are loosing business.

2) Non-Interesting Content
It's just a fact, most people don't like to read. And if your copy (the text on your pages) is not engaging, you'll loose the visitor's attention quickly. Copy should be short and to the point. The use of bullet points, lists and images should be used whenever possible.

To complicate the topic of content even more, it must be interesting to the human visitor as well as search friendly for 'bots. 'Bots are programs that scour the web for content. Search engines use them to find and categorize websites.

'Bots look for key words and phrases that are used when a human does a search. For example, Google keeps track of the word or phrase that is typed into their search field. This information is then 'connected' with the sites that are visited from the search results list. Using this information, Google's complicated algorithms figure out what people are really looking for when they enter a word or phrase. And this information is constantly changing.

What does this all mean to you? It means that if your content is outdated, 'bots may not be listing your site when people are searching for your product or service.

So, is your content interesting to the humans and the 'bots that visit your site?

3) Poor Navigation
Is it easy to find the information needed on your site? You might have a nice navigation bar on your site, but has it been updated lately? Using web/visitor statistics, you should be able to figure out which pages are getting visited the most. Are these pages the most prominent in your navigation system?

Also consider the 'modern' effect... does your navigation system use drop-downs or pop-ups? Web users expect the latest and coolest technology on the web. If your menus are 'old fashion' the visitor is liable to think you service or product is too.

4) Website Statistics
Is your website getting more visitors than it did six months or a year ago? Are visitors staying at your site, looking around, becoming shoppers and not just browsers? Is your site performing better on search engine rankings?

If the answer to any of these questions is not positive, it's time to make changes. (If your current web host does not provide some type of web statistics reporting system, it's time to change hosts!)

Review how visitors are using your site. Discover how most visitors are finding the site and what they're doing while at your site. Analyze the information provided by the web statistics report. If the numbers are not going up, if trends are not moving in a positive direction, it's time to make changes.

5) How Does Your Site Compare?
Look at your site, then look at other sites that do/sell the same thing you do – if you have some direct competitors, pay close attention to their sites. Does yours look as nice as theirs, better than theirs?

For this one, you might need a little help from your friends and family. We often like what we have and are even a little biased when it comes to comparing our stuff to our competitors. It is very important to get several opinions here! If those you ask say that your competitors have better sites than yours, your site is screaming for a makeover!