I have just completed my new website. Have a look at www.aydinstone.com.
How often should you totally change your site?
You should, of course, be updating your website every day, keeping it fresh with new material as well as reminding the search engines that it’s a vibrant and relevant resource to offer in their search results.
But what about the design of the site? How often should you ‘start again’ and re-do the whole thing?
If it was just the branding of your business we were talking about then my opinion would be that a corporate identity should be refreshed every five years or so. Not necessarily completely changed, but modified or enhanced. We’re talking about a concept (the internet) that hasn’t been with us long enough to have formed a reliable pattern to guide us.
There are two factors that help us answer the question. One is that the technology is constantly changing and improving – there are better things you can do with a website today than you could five or even two years ago. The other is how people interact with websites and more specifically, how your customers and prospects engage with you online.
When businesses started on the web, things progressed more or less in this order. Their first websites were an online copy of their brochure. Then they realised they could add much more information than the brochure so they added more pages. Then they added Flash animation. Then they took the Flash animation off. Then they realised that they could add data capture, signups and sell materials via their website, have shopping carts. Then they realised that they could add ‘microsites’, separate but connected websites for sub-brands and promotions. Then they realised they could add more regular updates in the form of blogs, twitter feeds and have readers interact with that content (so-called web 2.0). Then they realised they could add video clips. Todays up-to-date website is probably incorporating all of those things.
So what’s next? Technically, it’s hard to say what, if any of the cutting edge web technologies will catch on and actually be useful. It’s not our remit to worry about the actual technology when it comes to creating our websites. It’s far more valuable to spend the time thinking about what we can do to attract the right visitors, to enthuse, impress and inspire them to engage (and buy).
So rather than thinking of the solution first and finding a problem to fit it, we should be defining the problem first and then working out the best technical solution to deliver.
The key questions I had to answer to avoid wasting time and money were these:
1. What is the point of the website?
2. What do I want people to do when they are there?
In the next article I’ll discuss how I answered those questions.
See Part 2 here