When you think about it, websites have made giant improvements in appearance over the years. In the ’90s, businesses merely rushed to set up an online presence, resulting in an Internet full of electronic brochures. The look and feel of sites has changed tremendously, much of it with the goal of giving customers a better experience. Potential buyers now show an interest in doing more than simply learning about a favorite store or restaurant. They want to order online, view menus, see live webcam shots of a location and more.
Complicating matters is the fact that customers are now visiting websites on a variety of mobile devices. They’re also expecting no clutter and overall user friendliness. If businesses haven’t retooled their websites in a while, they could be sending the wrong message to potential customers. An outdated website harms a business’s hard-earned reputation, giving customers the impression that everything else about the business is outdated, as well. Here are a few things you can do to give your old website a new look.
1. Add a CMS
If you’re still relying on your website designer to update your information, you’re already behind the competition. You should be able to add information to your site through an easy-to-use admin tool. Have at least a portion of your site set up to give you free reign to update as necessary, adding information like news and blog posts as needed. This is usually done through converting all or part of your site to a CMS-type site like WordPress.
By adding a CMS to your site, you’ll also be able to grant multiple people rights to post content. You can assign editors to take care of sourcing content and reviewing it before it goes live. You can even outsource work to contractors and give them rights to only access the information they’re updating. This will keep your site updated without forcing you to constantly log in and do the work yourself.
2. Make it mobile friendly.
How does your site look on a smartphone screen? What about an iPad or Kindle Fire? If you don’t know the answer to that question, you’re taking a risk with your site. Customers are increasingly relying solely on mobile devices for their Internet surfing, so a mobile-friendly site is crucial. Either have your site professionally redesigned or use one of the many responsive templates out there for WordPress, SquareSpace, or Weebly.
3. Capture visitor information.
You can’t even check out at a department store anymore without being asked for your email address, so why should your website not capture this information? Every visitor should be offered an opportunity to sign up to receive special offers. Whether you choose to ask this after checkout or as a pop up when customers first visit your site is up to you. Once you’ve captured that information, though, it’s important to follow up with regular discount emails or your customers may see your emails as spam.
4. Speed up slow page load times.
This one often doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves. Customers no longer tolerate websites that are slow to load. Tools are availableto test the load time of your page and pinpoint bottlenecks. Resist adding annoying features like videos or music that auto-load. Keep your landing page simple. If a customer finds that your main page takes too long to load, that customer will likely hit the back button and shop with one of your competitors instead.
Once you’ve rebooted your site with a fresh new look, make a date to review it each year and investigate areas that need improvement on a regular basis. Keep an eye on other websites and note things they’re doing that you’d like to see on your own site. To remain competitive, pay attention to the way businesses interact with their customers through their websites, and emulate the best practices you see. Sooner or later, people may even start to emulate you.
This article was originally published on Entrepreneur.com.