Recently, at my “day job“, a client asked, “How do I know when it’s time to refresh our site?” She offered this analogy, “I don’t want our site to be the woman with the same hairstyle 30 years later.”
My reply? “Yes, but you also don’t want to be the grandma wearing skinny jeans and a Juicy couture shirt.”
Because many of our readers work in marketing and communications, I thought this topic would be helpful to cover here at the Geek Girls Guide. Quite often, those who are in charge of the budgets for web sites aren’t always confident in their own knowledge base on the topic. We’d like to change that. We’re working on a series of posts aimed at helping people evaluate their needs and make good decisions about their web site. We’ve also got some guest posts in the works from do-it-yourselfers — small or independent business owners who, because of budget, need to do things on their own.
So, back to the topic at hand: how do you know when it’s time to give your site a refresh? (I almost used the word facelift, but I really can’t stomach the plastic surgery analogy!) And, how do you know whether you need a refresh or an overhaul?
First, I suggest evaluating your web site annually.
- Put a recurring event on your calendar so that you don’t forget, and in the description or notes section add the following list of my suggestions and any others that you think of that are specific to your site, industry or business.
- Don’t schedule it around the first of the year; there’s too much other stuff going on then.
- Pick a time of year when things generally aren’t overwhelmingly busy. Frankly, spring is a great time — schedule it between March and May and think about it as Spring Cleaning for your web site.
Review your site on three main fronts:
- Do a gut-check on what your target audience is looking for. What are their goals and does the site still make it easy for them to achieve those goals?
- Review your site statistics to see where traffic is heaviest on the site. Do you know why? Is that where you want traffic to be heavy?
- Has your target audience changed since this site was launched (either has your company focused on a new/different target since then or has your existing target changed their habits?).
You, Your Company and Your Brand
- Does the site still accurately reflect who you are as a company, both visually and in tone/content of copy?
- Does the site fit in with internal workflow (does it get updated regularly or is it forgotten)? If you want to make updates, it is easy to do or are you at the mercy of the CEO’s nephew to make changes for you?
- If search traffic is important to you, when you Google your company’s name, or important industry keywords, does your site come up in search engine results?
- Does your site still stand out effectively from the competition?
- Have your competitors, or your industry as a whole, changed how they talk about themselves? Does anyone have any significant online offerings that you need to match or do better at?
An answer you don’t like in any of those categories may prompt you to:
- make a small tweak (like optimizing the content for better search engine performance or updating the CSS with a slight style change to headlines);
- an addition or reorganization (adding a new feature/section or moving pages around);
- or a complete overhaul/redesign.
My next post on this topic will cover what to do once you’ve evaluated the site and come up short in one of those areas.