Is Your Website Screaming 2004 Instead of 2014?

Let’s face it: if your best friend told you your wardrobe looked like it was ten years old you’d be running to the mall for a makeover.  Right?

So why is it then, that we don’t feel the same urgency about our corporate websites?

It’s astounding that in 2014 we can still find tons of corporate websites that run the gamut of needing a “facelift” to full-blown surgery!

This phenomenon apparently has little to do with the size of our marketing budgets or the size of our collective payrolls.  Just the other day I visited a website owned by a sizable organization that gave the impression it hadn’t been updated in at least ten years, maybe even longer.

So why would a company (assuming they possessed both the budget and the manpower to get the job done) risk their reputation with a sadly outdated website?

The Top Three Reasons We Let Our Corporate Websites Become Outdated (based on my own research and what clients tell me):

Reason 1: Not grasping the importance and gravity of your online brand – Consider this: “A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company.” (Marty Newmeier, The Brand Gap)  Is your corporate website contributing positively to that gut feeling?

How much time and money do you spend on office aesthetics in an effort to create a positive corporate image?  How many people actually visit your office on a weekly basis?  Compare that to the thousands of potential visitors who are able to visit your corporate website on a weekly basis.

With such a potential audience why would you risk underestimating the importance of your corporate website?  More often than not, the website is the first impression that a potential customer may get of a company.

Reason 2: Too much time spent on other online efforts like social media – sure, everyone is talking social media these days, but as entrepreneurs, do we really need to spend two hours every day on Facebook, Twitter or some other network?  I don’t know about you, but I for one do not have that kind of time with everything else that goes on in my business.

Make time for social media, but don’t let social media run you.  Make good use of these tools by using them to enhance the areas of customer support, customer feedback, and information sharing within your company.

It goes without saying that if you are placing priority on social media you also need to place priority on the presentation of your corporate website.  Treat both your social media platforms and your corporate website as valuable assets.

Reason 3: Intimidation (fear) of change –The truth is, even the most aggressive business owner can be a little afraid of the dreaded website overhaul; especially if they’ve been courting a love affair with the same online presence for ten plus years.

So how do you know if your website falls into the “outdated” or dare I say “sadly outdated” category?

Here are some pretty good indicators that your corporate website could use (at least) a moderate tune-up:

  1. Your corporate website uses animated gifs or blinking lines of horizontal text to captivate visitors.
  2. Your corporate website is 99% text and 1% everything else.
  3. The website footer still has a “best viewed in browser x” message.
  4. Your home page still loads a flash intro from 2008.
  5. Your corporate website still uses static html and/or renders in frames.
  6. Your corporate website is pretty much 100% un-engaged.
  7. It feels a lot like a one-way relationship when someone visits your corporate website.
  8. You don’t have the option of updating your corporate website (lots of business owners appreciate the flexibility of performing in-house updates to their website nowadays).
  9. You still rely on pdf files to gather information from your (annoyed) website visitors.

Take Heart – You Are Not Alone!  There’s strength in numbers, and that’s why this discussion wouldn’t be complete without some tips for sprucing up all those corporate websites out there.

1.  Revamp Your Content

For the majority of product and service companies it’s all about the written message at first glance, so your corporate website should deliver a clear message with well written content, free of typos and grammar errors.  After all, Google places a lot of importance on quality website content so you should too.

2.  Revamp Your Navigation

Once you have mapped out a solid foundation for your content, you need to consider how it will impact your navigation.  Does your current website’s navigation provide visitors with a clear way to visit every page?  It is vitally important that your corporate website use clear and consistent navigation.  There’s really no excuse for anything less.

3.  Review the Design and User Interface

Your corporate website’s design and user interface (UI) are connected to each other.  For example, as part of your UI you may require a special set of buttons that perform client-specific functions.  An important design consideration is where these buttons should be located on your website.  (Are you a Mortgage Broker company or a Financial Planner?  This might be functionality worth considering for your website.)

The design of your website should be appropriate (for your target audience), user-friendly and motivating.  It should provide your visitors with the right emotional triggers through a combination of color, graphics and layout.

Is your website responsive?  Nowadays most people are surfing the net at least part of the time with a mobile device.  How does your site design function on an iphone, tablet or android?

4.  Use the Right Amount of Media

Pay attention to the right way to use social media on your website.  As mentioned earlier, use Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms appropriately – if you run a service company, rev up your customer support via social media.

5.  Start a Corporate Blog

I know it can be a time intensive activity but blogging can increase traffic to your website and ultimately improve your bottom line.  Just stick with the basics and if you’re intimidated by the idea of starting a corporate blog, take some time to see how your competitors do it.

In closing, I’d like to add that there are countless ways to go about giving your corporate website a makeover; you may even decide that it’s time to start from scratch.  It’s important to conduct an honest and qualified review before you make any big decisions about this vital piece of your corporate brand.

AManda-AylesAmanda Ayles is Owner of AmandaMarks Creative, a professional website design company located in Glovertown, Newfoundland, specializing in visual branding, website development and e-commerce.  You can reach Amanda by visiting www.amandamarks.com or by calling 709-533-2376. You can also follow her on Twitter @amarkscreative.

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