Does your site still has that Flash intro you devised to wow your visitors? Does it still have all kinds of tables and fonts all over the place? There are blocks of text in all of its pages? Then perhaps, my friend, you should consider tossing it out and starting a new one. A lot has changed in the Internet in recent years – and a lot is still changing. And if you fail to adapt to the flow, you’ll definitely drown.
That’s why you should refresh your site once in a while to make it look modern, up to date and, of course, active. People won’t spend much time on your site if it looks like it was developed in 1999 or isn’t easy enough to navigate. So, if you feel like that’s your case, then it’s time for a major makeover. There are lots of things to consider when creating a new site for your small business but, to us, there are 3 crucial stages that will make or break your project.
The before – AKA understanding the new site
If you’ve realized your site is outdated and is horrible to look at, then you’re already testing the waters of this first stage. Understanding your site really feels like a broad thing to do but that’s only because it encompasses so many things. Ok, so you’ve realized you need a new website but why? Simply because others have told you so? Because you want to make it look nice? That’s just the beginning!
Thinking about a new website is a huge opportunity to design a plan around it. But for that to work, you need to really understand what a new website can do for you. If you believe that a new site is just a more modern way to showcase your products and services, then you’re on the right track – but you still far from the goal. You also have to understand how that site can work to get you new leads, establish a relationship with your customers (existing and potential) and even reach new markets.
If you understand the full potential of today’s Web then you’ll be able to apply it to your site and take full advantages of all it has to offer. A new site is a tool, a very complete one, and you’d do great if you start thinking about it that way.
Finally, a not so minor detail – a new website needs time to be developed properly. If you aren’t willing to spend that time working back and forth with the designers, then you should wait until you are. Time is essential to develop a fully-fledged website that can serve all of the goals mentioned above.
The during – AKA putting goals into the design
Now that you understand why you need a new site and how to make it work for you, it’s time to put that understanding into something tangible – the site’s design. There are lots of stuff you’ll have to decide here: colors, photos, logos, slogans. We can’t help you with that because deciding on those things is the result of a combination between personal tastes and industry standards. But we can help you with other things you should be taking into account, such as:
- Go for a clean site: function should always be above form in your consideration. Write down a list of things you’ll need and leave out those that you want to put into the new site just because you like them. A site has to give its audience what the audience is looking for – no more, no less. Don’t overcrowd your pages with texts, pictures or buttons.
- Make sure it’s responsive: we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – if your site isn’t responsive, then it might as well don’t exist. As more and more people are using their mobile devices to browse the Web, making your site looks great on smaller portable screens is a must. Besides, Google has already applied a new update to its search engine that benefits those with responsive designs, so you’ll have to go for it if you want to get visitors.
- Don’t forget about SEO: search engine optimization isn’t what it used to be but there are certain things you can still do to help you get a better position in search results. Using keyword-rich content still works as also does registering your business with Google Places. Your images should be optimized too and be sure to leave a space apart for a blog where you can develop one of the most important things for SEO – content.
The after – AKA what to do with a new site
The design team has completed your new site and it has put it online but things just don’t end there. If you’ve outsourced the design job, make sure you have access to the site’s backend, the files, code and documentation to keep the site working. Additionally, use your social media to announce you’re launching a new site and even make the change extensive to the networks.
Ask for feedback about the new design and adjust whatever you need accordingly. Then, when you’re sure about it, start promoting your products and services via ads, social contests and affiliate marketing. Additionally, start an email marketing campaign that doesn’t just introduce the new site to the people but that also adds further value for those reading the emails.
All of these actions will drive new visitors to the site and even make other return to check them out. If they are convinced with what they see, you’ll be halfway to success. You’ll then have to learn how to profit from those visits, but that’s a topic for another article.
These 3 moments are critical for your new site, because they’ll define how successful it might or might not be. One thing’s for sure – your site won’t go anywhere if you don’t plan ahead, learn about your industry niche and act accordingly. Remember, hard work is the only thing that’s present in any successful business.