For Developers and Business people alike, it is important to both know and understand – why and when you should update a website. There are both technical reasons and business reasons why a website needs to be updated, and it is not as simple as making some simple rule like a website should be updated every 5 years.
This is Part 1 of a 2 part article, and in this first part we will focus on Website basics and how to determine if and what to update on your website. Developers may want to skip to next months’ Part 2 of this article; but if you are not a developer, you may want to read the following review of website technology and structure.
In The Beginning
So, let’s start at the beginning. A website also known as a web presence or even a web app, is a collection of publicly accessible interlinked web pages and related content that is identified by a single domain name and published on at least one web server. Websites can serve a variety of purposes or topics such as e-commerce, news, education, entertainment and social networking among others.
They are accessed using a device such as a smartphone, laptop or tablet, with a web browser such as Google Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer as well as a working internet connection in order to be able to access a website. Together, all publicly accessible websites constitute the World Wide Web.
Today, having an up to date website gives your business or organization the competitive edge, and is as crucial as having a physical premise or phone number, since it comes with several benefits which include; 24/7 online presence, quick and easy information exchange, confirming credibility, market expansion, access to consumer insights, effective advertising, as well as improved customer service.
Updating a website can be as simple as updating some plugins, and refreshing the front-end design; to a complete rebuild and integration of manual back-end business processes to grow a business.
Even though you may think you know what a website is, it is important to know what are the main components and structure of a website. The web pages within a website are often a mix of text, photos, videos and audio, meaning there are no rules dictating the form of the website. However, many websites follow a standard pattern of a homepage that links off to other categories and content within the site.
The homepage (also known as the Main Landing Page) represents the main page of the website itself, and is a sort of hub from which other pages can be accessed. An internal webpage to which several pages are linked in a coherent structure such as a specific category of topics is instead called a “parent page”.
Every web page is a single HTML document, and all pages are connected through hyperlinks which can be combined in a navigation bar for ease of use. The navigation bar is displayed on every webpage, rather than just the homepage and allows the user to quickly move across the main websites’ structure.
Most websites also include the footer, another recurring section found at the bottom of every web page. The footer contains external links pointing to similar websites, or other external resources, together with other essential information such as disclaimers, links to the terms of services, privacy policies, contact pages, and the physical address of the company that owns the website.
Websites generally consist of 2 main sections: the Front-End and the Back-End. The Front-End is all the mechanics that generate what you see visually on the device you used to access the website. The Back-End is all the data and data processing code that supplies/serves the Front-End with the importing and exporting of information to and from the user.
How do you know it’s time to update your website?
Your website is not just your brand’s identity, but also one of the first places your prospective clients will visit to learn more about your business. Therefore, regular website updates are vital to staying ahead of the competition, building credibility, attracting potential customers, generating revenue and preventing data breaches by malicious online persons. Here is how to know for certain that your business is in dire need of website updates.
Outdated Website Design
The constantly changing design trends are the main reason for website updates and website redesign. Outdated websites not only look unappealing to users, they also seem unsafe to use and purchase from, especially if your competitors have newer, updated websites. Your website ought to keep up with today’s digital standards and look visually appealing enough to engage your audience and encourage them to interact with your online offering. Google’s John Mueller recently suggested that poor design could hurt a website’s search rankings.
Not Optimized for Mobile
Research shows that 60% of website traffic comes from mobile devices. It is crucial therefore, to give your customers an excellent mobile experience with your website. Mobile optimization means that content automatically adjusts to the size of the mobile device’s screen, and features like buttons, images and videos are sized correctly and are easy to view or click.
Having an unsatisfactory mobile user experience calls for website redesign, in order to avoid being one of the non-mobile optimized websites ranking lower in searches.
In the business world, changes often take place as the organization grows which in turn results in evolution of branding. As a result, you might find that there is a disconnect between your business and what is presented on your website. Whether it is service or product development, or an acquisition is taking place, these factors all have an impact on your brand and should be well reflected in your website.
Even if your website is beautifully designed and working flawlessly, if it has a different messaging from your current company brand, you should have the website updated to avoid confusing your prospects and ultimately driving them away.
In the event that your website is too slow to load, move from page to page or struggles to load images and content, there is a need for website updates, otherwise users will quickly move on to the next best thing. Speed is a relevant factor as it affects your website performance, Google rankings and user satisfaction. Research shows that just one second loading delay can lead to page views being reduced by 11% and customer satisfaction down by 16%.
Depending on the cause of the speed issues, sometimes it is best to opt for a website redesign as opposed to website updates that patch up the parts of the site causing slow loading time. To improve speed, you may need to go from a bloated and slow code base to a fast one such as JamStack, you can find more info on that subject in this article on JamStack.
Poor User Experience
When analyzing your user experience (UX), a key metric to keep an eye on is the bounce rate. In the event that your bounce rate is unusually high, it is best to analyze your users’ onsite behavior to understand why they are disengaged. Through this analysis and the insights generated, you could highlight where a potential website redesign could be required, whether it is for a specific user journey, web page or even the entire website. Equally, simple website updates such as new page templates, or small improvements to the UX and navigation could make a huge difference and drive onsite engagement.
Websites will always have to be updated in some way at some time. Whether to stay ahead of the competition, build credibility, attract potential customers, generate revenue, and/or prevent data breaches by malicious online persons – regular website updates are vital.
Outdated website design, non-optimized for mobile devices, and branding evolution are some of the reasons that necessitate website updates. In Part 2 of this article, we will focus on the technical aspects of updating a website.
Ultimately, regular website updates are important to stay ahead of the competition, build credibility, attract potential customers, and generate revenue.
Contact an expert from Screaming Box to learn more about how to update your website today at email@example.com