Building a website is often a substantial investment. It may seem somewhat unfair, then, that you will probably have to spend time - and money - updating your site over the years. In addition to branding changes, these updates are often necessary to comply with current best practices and to optimize your site.
Studies show that people judge an organization’s credibility based on its website - and that judgment is often made within seconds of landing on a site. If your website isn’t up-to-date, isn’t properly branded, or isn’t accessible to all users, then it could have a negative impact on your bottom line. An update - as opposed to a full redesign - is often a cost-effective way to make sure that your website looks and works beautifully. Below, we outline the steps that you should take to update your site.
At Inclind, we offer a full suite of website services, from initial web design and development to SEO to accessibility audits. We stay on top of current trends and technological advances so that you don’t have to, giving you peace of mind in knowing that your website is functioning exactly as it should. Reach out to learn more about our services, including website updates and redesigns.
Website Update Checklist: Before You Get Started
Before you embark on a website update project, it’s smart to figure out exactly what needs to be done first. You may already have a good sense of needed updates if you are changing up your branding or want to make sure that your website is accessible. However, doing some research before you begin is still a good idea.
Gather Feedback From Your Team
As an initial matter, you should have some internal conversations about the website and its functionality. Your team might have their own gripes about the website, such as that it is hard to find a certain document that they need. They may also interact with members of the public who have difficulty with the site or call with basic questions that could be answered more easily through your website.
For example, if your employees at a healthcare provider are regularly getting questions from patients about how to log into their accounts, then it may make sense to choose a different plugin for the login. Alternatively, if you get calls asking about your hours or address, it may be a sign that the site should be updated to make that information easier to find.
Review Site Analytics For Strategic Update Opportunities
In addition to talking to your staff, you should also review your analytics. Your site should be set up with both Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Google Analytics collects information about what pages people visit on your site, what pages drive conversions, where they exit your site, your bounce rate, and more. Google Search Console tracks what searches from Google led to clicks to your website.
If you notice that certain keywords are driving clicks in Search Console, but you haven’t been focusing on those searches, then you may update your site to optimize it for those relevant terms. Similarly, you can use Google Analytics to find pages that are driving a large amount of traffic to focus on making sure those pages continue to perform. You can also look at pages that have dropped in traffic to re-optimize those pages.
Reviewing site performance data is a good way to make data-backed decisions, instead of relying on opinions and guesses. When you understand how website visitors come to your site and what they do once they’re there; you can make smarter, more informed decisions about how to structure and update your website.
Create Your List Of Needed Updates
Once you’ve gathered insights from Analytics and feedback from your team, you can compile a list of changes you want to make to the site based on your research. You can include these changes with the other items from our website update checklist found below.
Website Update Checklist: How to Update Your Website
Once you have gathered intel on what changes need to be made, it’s time to get to work. The first step in the process should always be to run a backup of your site. This will ensure that you can restore your website if necessary if something goes wrong with the process.
Update Plugins & Themes
The next step is to update your website's backend. Specifically, you will need to ensure that any plugins and themes you use are up-to-date. Doing this will improve performance and reduce the likelihood of a security breach. While updating themes and plug-ins is a good place to start in an overall site update, it should be something that you do regularly moving forward.
Test Contact Forms
Next, review your contact forms. Contact information is incredibly important to any business or organization, particularly when customers opt-in to receive communications from you. Visitors also expect to get a timely response to their queries. If the “contact” forms are going to an outdated email address or they’re ending up in a spam folder, then you’re missing a huge opportunity. Be sure to update the address where these contacts are sent and implement systems to ensure your form submissions are ending up in your main inbox. You can also utilize an app that automatically adds new contacts to your email service (such as MailChimp or Constant Contact).
Update Broken Links
Next, you should take some time to check for broken links on your site. Not only does this avoid user frustration, but it also helps improve your site's search engine optimization by ensuring all external links point to working pages. You can do this manually, but there are a number of tools - like deadlinkchecker.com or Screaming Frog - that can be used to speed up the process. In the future, you should check for broken links every three months.
Test Your Pages On Mobile & Make Necessary Edits
Once you have completed this step, it is time to check for mobile optimization. After looking at your analytics, you may have discovered that most of your visitors come to your site from a mobile device. According to Google, 50% of all web traffic comes via a mobile device. For this reason, it is important to make sure that your site is effective when viewed on mobile devices. Spend some time navigating around your site on your phone, and make note of any issues. You can then use mobile optimization tools to ensure that your site looks good and performs well on a phone or tablet.
Update Site Content
At this point, you should also do a review of the content on your site. Poorly written, outdated, or incorrect content on your site - like an old address - will likely impact your credibility. Similarly, if you are missing information that most people expect (such as an overview of your team or the services that you offer), site visitors may be less likely to trust your organization. You can also make some editorial changes to reflect current practices, such as using person-first or gender-neutral language when appropriate.
Review Your Site CTAs
Next, you should do a review of your site to check to make sure that you have appropriate calls to action (CTAs). A CTA is some text or a button that encourages a visitor to take the next step, like making an appointment or scheduling a call. CTAs make it easier for customers to find what you want them to find - which makes your website much more effective.
For example, if you offer a new service, but it isn’t easy to find on your site, you may not get much business for that service. If you add some CTAs to point visitors to the service, you may quickly see an uptick in sales. Because your priorities change over time, it is a good idea to go through your site to review CTAs. You may find that you need to add some CTAs for higher-priority items or remove some older CTAs for goods or services that you no longer offer.
Review & Update Site Images
Finally, it’s a good idea to review all of your site's images. You may have initially used stock photos that now seem dated or out of place. Alternatively, you may want to upload new staff photos or change logos to reflect your new brand. A website update is a perfect time to go through all of your site's photographs and graphics to ensure that they accurately reflect your organization.
You may choose to use custom photos or simply select better stock photos for your purposes. At the same time, you should add alt text to the photos so that people who use screen reading devices will know what the graphics contain.
These updates can help to ensure that your website is credible and reflects your branding. However, they may not be sufficient if you find that your website is hard to navigate or isn’t as functional as you’d like it to be. In this situation, a total redesign may be necessary to ensure that your site is clean, easy to use, optimized for mobile, and does what you need it to do. An experienced website development team like Inclind can help you with the process.
Inclind Can Help You Update Your Site
Having an up-to-date website is important for your organization's credibility and bottom line. Taking a few simple steps can help keep your website current and optimized. Inclind offers website support and maintenance to take the time-consuming process of maintaining your site off of your hands. You might also be considering a full website redesign instead of making a few more minor updates. Inclind’s team of award-winning designers and developers can help you redesign your site to showcase your brand better online.
Inclind is a full-service boutique website services company. Located in Delaware, we work with clients throughout the United States, offering website design and redesign, conversion optimization, custom integrations, accessibility audits, automation, and more. We work collaboratively with our clients to help them get the website that they want.
We're available to talk if you’d like to learn more about our web services. You can fill out our online contact form or hit the live chat button to talk to one of our experts about your website.