First impressions are everything, especially in business relationships. More often than not, those first impressions are happening online, via your company’s website. With technology changing so rapidly, businesses need to prioritize the look and feel of their websites to avoid scaring away potential customers and business partners.
Is it time to give your online presence a fresh look?
Blayzer’s design team shares five telltale signs that your business needs a website design makeover.
1. You don’t have a website.
This one’s a no-brainer. Unless you have a really, really good reason otherwise, then your business needs to be on the web. Period.
2. Your website looks old or outdated - Part 1
Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: An outdated website isn’t vintage. It isn’t timeless, classic, or retro. It’s old. There is a big difference between Vintage and Old.
One exception: the website for the 1996 Warner Bros. animated film Space Jam, which has been preserved in its original glory. It’s truly a sight to behold — a pixel-perfect time capsule of the ‘net in the 90’s, complete with tiled backgrounds, terrible clip art, free wallpaper downloads, and even a “hit counter.”
But you are not Space Jam.
Your site does not exist merely to entertain aging Millennials. You have a business to run, and goals to reach, and customers’ needs to meet. None of that is going to happen with an old website design.
So, what are the hallmarks of a fresh, new website?
Here are a few Hot & Not trends to watch.
- Flat design is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. This simple, minimalist design style includes color blocking, bold typography, simple shapes, clean lines, and lots of open space. Busy textures, patterns, overlays, and shadows have been dumped for a flat and sleek appearance.
- Mobile-inspired design is now bringing familiar mobile device UI/UX features into the desktop realm. joins responsive and adaptive design websites work well on any device screen ranging from desktop to smart phone. We live in a time where multiple screens are used throughout the day, and modern website design reflects this cultural shift.
- Large-scale imagery is replacing written copy as the main storytelling medium on websites. The fewer words a company uses to describe their services and products on their websites, the more “likable” a company’s website is perceived to be. Liberal use of white space and imagery keeps the viewer’s attention on the important elements on the website.
- Video backgrounds have been turning heads over the past year, and we expect more and more companies will be putting this trend in motion.
- Parallax & modular scrolling, where foregrounds, backgrounds, and individual columns can be scrolled through independently and/or scroll at multiple speeds.
- Single-page sites, where websites are designed as one single page, challenges companies to present their business on the web in the format of a single story or collection of information. It doesn’t quite work for everyone, but on the right project the results can be astounding.
- Tile-based design, where content and information are displayed in small sections often called “tiles” or “cards.” These quick bits of content are clickable, flickable, and mobile friendly, plus they make information a bit easier to see and absorb. For examples of tile or card-based design, think Windows 8, Google Now, Pinterest, and Twitter.
- Flash animation started as a great feature for websites, but these days it just doesn’t work across all systems and screens. When Flash does work for a viewer it takes a long time for the animation to load and it is not easily indexed by Google, which can hurt your search rankings.
- Widgets and toolbars out the wazoo were hot for a minute, but users quickly grew tired of cluttered pages, broken sites, and slow load times.
- Auto-play Flash or video intros only create a barrier between your visitors and the information they came to your site to get. Make this outdated trend stop, or risk sky-high bounce rates and few conversions.
- Frames are out of style when it comes to website design. If your content is constrained to one area on the screen, it’s time for a website makeover.
- Backgrounds that include too much texture and detail are not catchy to the eye. They actually scare viewers away from your website.
2. Your website looks old or outdated - Part 2
Over 8? Time for new mattress. Over 3? Time for a new website. Could be even less in your industry. Some industries, such as consumer goods, practically demand a new site every 6 months! For most companies, though, the window is this: Your site will start to show its age in about 18-24 months. It should remain passable for about 3 years max if you have a proactive content strategy and keep the info on your site up to date. Beyond 3 years you’ll be falling behind technology and worse, your customers’ expectations.
Just how much can change in 3 years? Well, check out this small list of big developments that have come about in recent years:
- New OS, browser & website CMS versions – WordPress 4.0.1, Joomla 3, Drupal 7.34, Magento 22.214.171.124, Android KitKat (4.4.4) & Lollipop (5.0), iOS8, Windows 8/8.1/10, etc.
- The rise of HTML5 and the fall of Flash
- The Heartbleed bug, data breaches & other security issues
- Cloud computing for all!
- Niche social media & targeted advertising
- Google search algorithm changes – Hummingbird, Panda, Penguin, etc.
- The mobile revolution – sites & solutions now need to work on a wide range of devices
These are just the big ones our team came up with in a 5-minute brainstorming session, but you get the idea.
3. Your site isn’t mobile-friendly.
Websites today are being viewed on many different screens. In fact, 50% of website traffic is now on mobile browsers. Having a mobile-friendly or responsive website eliminates frustrations and keeps your site accessible to all users. Websites need to work and work well on mobile devices. This means infusing mobile-driven features and elements into your designs from the start, not just making a “m-dot” version and adding a link to your homepage.
4. The book doesn’t match the cover.
The world has always been a fast-changing place, and the internet has only increased the pace. Over time, most companies will have a change in direction and focus. It’s simply the nature of the beast. Be sure to take a step back now and then and make sure your current site reflects your company’s most recent changes. Tip: Your sales team is usually an excellent gauge of how well your site is addressing your customers’ needs.
5. Your site just isn’t working for you anymore.
Finally, if your website isn’t catching eyes, turning heads, pulling in traffic, and captivating visitors, then you MUST make a change. The rules of search and site structure change over time. Sometimes they change very quickly. You have to keep up and make sure your site content is drawing & keeping traffic.