As business marketing opportunities expand and evolve, there is at least one trend that remains constant: the company website remains the center of gravity of most businesses’ broader online marketing efforts. Even with the expansion of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media tools, the company website continues to be the go-to spot for clients and prospects looking to gauge what a company does and how well they do it. If your website doesn’t cut it, chances are that visitors to your site will believe your business doesn’t either.
With these concerns in mind, companies with older websites may want to consider an upgrade for 2012. If you’re not sure whether or not this applies to your you, the following considerations may be of help:
1) Website Upgrades Are Surprisingly Cost-Effective
The price of rebuilding your website varies based on a number of factors. But in the vast majority of cases, building an attractive, up-to-date website is far less expensive than the annual cost of maintaining an ad spot or a mid-sized Google Adwords campaign. Don’t overlook the fact that re-building your website is a one-time cost that multiplies the ROI and profitability of your other marketing endeavors. As mentioned in our lead-in, both clients and prospects judge companies by the quality of their websites. Committing significant resources to ad campaigns without first maximizing your website’s potential is a surefire path to diminishing ROI.
2) Mules Don’t Belong on the Highway
During a recent trip to a third world country, I was amused to see a number of mules lumbering down the highway with carts in tow. In light of the traffic snafus that ensued, I wondered how long such a practice could persist in light of society’s ever-increasing need for speed and efficiency. The answer: not long. An analogous situation exists on the world wide web, where thousand of outdated websites share bandwidth with newer, sleeker, and more efficiently built ones. As the web’s infrastructure evolves, these older technologies simply can’t keep up. Outfitting them with up-to-date features is a time-consuming, cumbersome procedure, and one that web designers are increasingly discouraged from undertaking. If you suspect that your company website is like a lonely mule on an increasingly high-tech super highway, the best way to resolve the issue is by upgrading to a car with an actual engine, and preferably a little pick-up and energy efficiency as well.
3) Some Websites Just Aren’t Friendly
Nowadays, serious website owners continually modify there websites to insure that they are as search engine friendly as possible. Some websites, however, would fare better with a fresh rebuild rather than a quick fix or series of fixes. This applies to many Flash-based websites and table-based HTML websites as well.
Websites built within a Flash framework (as opposed to HTML-based sites containing Flash animations) may never cut it if search engine friendliness is a key goal of your web marketing campaign. Flash technology, though amazingly versatile and powerful, is a closed system that search engines have trouble indexing. Techniques can be employed to circumvent this limitation, but the vast majority of web developers agree that Flash is not a search engine friendly technology. If your website is Flash-based, you will very likely find yourself spending more time and money optimizing it than you would with HTML-based technologies.
Table-based HTML websites present a host of other issues that threaten to interfere with a site’s search engine friendliness. If you aren’t trained in HTML, you may not know what a table-heavy website looks like. Suffice it to say, these sites often contain excessive lines of code and, in many cases, a host of errors and redundancies that result from poorly managed updates and improper maintenance. In many cases, these sites would benefit greatly from a rebuild that employs a more efficient coding strategy and a greater reliance on cascading style sheets (CSS).
4) Some Websites Are Out of Control
Here’s an issue a lot of website owners can identify with: you want to make a minor revision to your website but you can’t do it without the assistance of your web developer. And if that person is no longer around, things really get complicated…
Once again, rebuilding your website – this time within a proper content management system (or CMS) – is the way to go. Popular CMS frameworks include WordPress, Joomla, Drupal an others. Which framework to employ is a subject of debate among professions, but to make the decision simpler, focus on solutions that are open source, widely deployed, and well-supported by a community of developers. If you are happy with the design and architecture of your site, you can most likely build it into a CMS framework at a cost that is far lower than developing from scratch.
5) Some Websites Get Smaller Every Year
Desktop computer screens keep getting bigger. And as screens get bigger, websites expand to take advantage of the increased real estate. In light of this trend, many older sites looked dwarfed on today’s screens, leaving great swaths of empty space to the left, right and even below, the page. In some cases, retrofitting these sites to appear larger may be a fairly easy task. But not always. Old-school page layouts along with table-heavy HTML code could make your a site a poor candidate for resizing, and a fresh rebuild may actually save you money in the long run.
It is worth noting that while desktop screens are getting larger, tablets and smart phones counter this trend with smaller screen profiles. If you’re wondering how to keep pace with both of these opposing trends, tune in to next week’s article: Website Strategies for Tablets and Smart Phones