Technology dates faster than fashion, and websites are no exception to this. That slick new portal you commissioned back in 2010 may seem as outdated today as the iPhone 4 or Windows 7 – both launched as this decade began. And any brand whose site hasn’t been revised since the 2000s has to accept its homepage might generate more jeers than cheers.
So how do you tell if your online presence is tired rather than on trend?
Here are ten telltale signs that a new website is required…
Visitors are greeted by a landing page
Remember the days of “click to enter” hyperlinks on a graphical background? Today, these three words would be treated as the entire homepage content, resulting in very poor SEO ratings, which is clearly unacceptable. Modern audiences don’t want to knock before they enter, and splash pages hinder any website’s attempts to encourage sales or enquiries.
Flash is still being used for graphics
Adobe Flash used to be a popular method of adding animations or transitions onto a website. And while a Flash homepage still looks nice, it probably won’t be visible in many browsers, and certainly not at all on most smartphones. HTML5 has literally rendered Flash obsolete, so a large proportion of visitors won’t be able to view your site properly – or at all. In addition, Google can’t index it, which is bad for SEO.
It takes a minute to load
In the dial-up age, we all waited patiently for web pages to load. Today, a site that hasn’t displayed within three seconds will begin shedding visitors; it will also be downgraded in future Google results. Test new websites on various desktop/mobile devices. If it takes more than five seconds to load, a new platform (or a better web hosting provider) may be needed.
Editing web pages is difficult
Early content management systems were extremely basic, only capable of uploading text in a handful of generic font types. By comparison, today’s CMS offer WYSIWYG editors that enable users to add stylish pages and create blog articles with ease. Regular site updates are another factor in SEO rankings, so it’s important to have access to page editing software.
There are blank or missing pages
Expanding on the above point, outmoded websites may have links to deleted subpages, or obsolete product pages. Without editing the sitemap and updating internal links, dead or repositioned pages can appear as 404 errors when people try to access them. As well as being highly unprofessional, missing pages scare away potential clients.
The design uses frames or sidebars
Twenty years ago, frames and sidebars kept different elements of a website in position. These days, they’re a disaster. They confuse search engines, display badly on smaller screens, and rarely print properly. With most web traffic now channeled through handheld devices, new sites need responsive frameworks rather than these inflexible throwbacks.
Comic Sans text and blue hyperlinks appear on a gray background
This was the default appearance for many 1990s websites. Despite the short-lived New Brutalism fad a few years ago, underlined blue hyperlinks are the HTML equivalent of lava lamps or Ford Pintos. Even the defense of irony isn’t sufficient to support their continuing presence.
There’s a tag cloud
Tag clouds are a lazy way to boost SEO, cramming dozens of commonly searched-for keywords and long tail phrases into a hyperlinked graphic. While Google and Bing haven’t publicly outlawed them, industry observers suggest tag clouds can damage SEO. Replace them with keyword-optimized text content, as part of a new website design.
A high bounce rate is being recorded
A bounce rate measures visits by people who arrive on the site and depart quickly without viewing any other pages. Although this may occur for benign reasons, it might also indicate content or design problems. If the majority of your traffic is bouncing, it could be because existing content doesn’t provide a compelling reason to explore further or it’s not easy to navigate elsewhere.
Your site has a separate mobile version
We’ve saved the worst ‘til last. M.dot websites had a justification in 2010 when 3G and Wi-Fi were too slow for multimedia content. However, modern HTML frameworks remove any need for stripped-down versions. Mobile audiences aren’t willing to accept compromises in functionality compared to desktop browsers, so ditch the m.dot subsites and get responsive.
Fortunately, creating a new website is far easier than it used to be. Platforms like WordPress have become hugely popular in recent years, enabling people with no coding or HTML knowledge to create stunning sites from customizable templates. Uploading images and text is simplicity itself, while 45,000 WordPress plugins handle specific functions like ecommerce or email marketing. And if you’re concerned about the technical process of replacing your clunky old website with a new one, Midphase can help you create and launch something suitable for 2017, rather than 1997…
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