If you inquire to a lot of advertising and marketing agencies, many of them will recommend a fresh coat of paint for your whole online identity. Most will try to sell you on the idea that your current website is outdated, and a new website will fix all your problems.
But here’s the key: the outdated website is just a symptom. Without fixing that problem, what do you think will happen to the fresh, new website in a year? It will be old, outdated, and another company will come along and pitch you on a new website – and so goes the cycle.
When someone tells you a fresh coat of paint will fix everything, they’re lying. The secret is up-to-date content on your website.
A few caveats: when you really do need a redesign
Before we get started, it’s worth pointing out that there are a few good reasons to update your website. If pieces of the website are broken or displaying incorrectly, it may be simpler and easier to set up a brand new website.
Also, if your current website doesn’t display properly on smartphones, you are losing out on a massive segment of your audience. Smartphones are the only way that many people access the internet. Here at Mosaic, my clients see about 40-50% of their traffic from mobile devices, and that number is only growing.
There may be legitimate cases where you really do need a website redesign, and I’m not trying to trash professionals who advise you to do so in those cases. After all, I’ve had plenty of clients that have needed a website redesign in addition to fixing other issues.
The most important ingredient for success: up-to-date content
Most small business websites that I visit aren’t working as well as they could be. They’re functional, sure, but are mostly just a billboard. The great thing is, if you have a functional, but mostly boring, small business website, you’re right in line for the improvements we’re going to talk about.
Everything we talk about below could be done on a basic website with the default WordPress theme installed. You don’t need to pay for a redesign that you don’t need to improve your website.
Sometimes you may need a fresh coat of paint, but the number one underlying problem on most small business websites is the content. It’s broken, outdated, or doesn’t accurately reflect the goals that the business is built around.
Here’s the great thing: with a little time investment, you can fix this problem yourself. And fixing this problem will take your website a long way!
Don’t be content with outdated content
Let’s start with something simple: outdated content. Most websites have some content that’s pretty old or outdated. Don’t wait until a website redesign to fix this! It’s better to have correct, up-to-date content on a website than it is to make sure everything looks new and updated.
I’m guilty of this myself – I rarely revisit my about bio, or old blog posts that I’ve written on my personal blog. Don’t miss this trick! Everything on your website should be correct and up to date – and in many cases, that’s just a matter of rereading the About page every quarter to make sure everything is correct.
If you list products or a menu on your website, that information absolutely must be correct. How embarrassing would it be if a potential customer tried to buy an item that no longer existed, or order a beverage that was mistakenly advertised as two dollars cheaper than its actual price? Save yourself the embarrassment, and make sure this kind of content stays updated (Particularly, look out for dates and names of employees as outdated content that’s often easy to miss.)
Invest in new, up-to-date content
Keeping a website fresh takes more than just not making mistakes. Occasionally, it’s good to see new content on a website – and honestly, your money may be better spent here than in a website redesign. I say that as a website designer!
Here are a few ways you can invest in content for your website:
- Hire a videographer to produce a short (30-second) video about your business for your website and social media
- Have a photoshoot. Stage some good photos (or snap candid ones!) of your business and its environment. Use them, again, on your website or social media.
- Pay your employees to write about what they do. If you own a coffeeshop, you’ve already hired people to make coffee for a living – why not pay them to write about what they do, too?
- Arrange for short written or video testimonials from previous customers. This is especially useful if you work with clients in an ongoing relationship: your previous clients will offer glowing reports which go a long way to reassure prospective clients.
- Repurpose existing posts on Facebook or Instagram for a blog post or page on your website.
The list could go on, but there’s a few ideas that should cover a mix of industries. Businesses aren’t exactly used to thinking about investments like these. The point is, with up-to-date content you can continue promoting your mission and your message to your customers, even without dropping the investment on a brand-new website. Use your current website to say the things you want to say, and then start worrying about a new website.
A new site will absolutely help you amplify what you’re saying, but if you’re not saying anything at all, there’s no point to having a beautiful, silent website.