We talk to a lot of companies that approach website redesign like it’s throwing in the towel against the superior forces of the Internet. “I’ve been putting this off for years,” they’ll say. “I just didn’t want to deal with it.”
Why does committing to a new website feel like crying “uncle” to your brother when he’s beating you up? For most people, it’s because the last time they built a website, it was a terrible, time consuming, business-disrupting experience.
This was because many websites “of a certain age” were developed with custom programming for everything from page design and layout to e-commerce, lead generation and search engine optimization. Everything was custom developed. Everything took longer than planned and, when the site was finally complete, you had to call your “web guy” (or girl) every time you wanted to change something as simple as a phone number or photo. You were trapped–and when your “web guy” decided to move to Costa Rica and become a surf instructor, you were trapped with no one to help you.
Well, a lot has changed. If you have a website that is 5 years old or older, updating it or creating a new site is not nearly as time-consuming or disruptive as you might imagine.
Here are three reasons why:
There are now hundreds of thousands of templates available to jumpstart a new website. These are pre-designed web pages, or sets of HTML web pages that anyone can use to “plug-in” their own text and images to create a website. A designer can still customize the template to your brand, your image, and your message, so it won’t look like anyone else’s site, but few businesses now build new websites from “scratch.”
Website plugins are like apps for a smartphone–you can add functionality that may not have been included in your template with a simple download. One of the most common plugins used is Yoast–it makes it extremely easy to optimize pages for search engines. Yoast creates a form that appears at the bottom of the page and guides you through all the different tags, descriptions, titles and headings you need to make sure Google and the like finds you and can guide searchers to your site. Other plugins add features like contact forms for lead generation, and e-commerce for online shopping–much of which would have required custom programming (and maintenance) in the past.
3) Open Source
Many web development platforms, also called Content Management Systems (CMS) are now open source, meaning they are available to everyone for free and you own your entire site. WordPress is one of the most popular CMS platforms. If you use an open source CMS you’ll never be dependent on one person or company to access or update your site. Millions of programmers know WordPress and can help you if you need support. Open source websites are also regularly updated by developers, so you don’t have to worry about missing out on the latest functionality.
Website development is not nearly as painful as it may have been the last time you went through it. Even better, the very things that make sites easier to build make them easier to update and maintain in the future, making it unlikely that you will have to go through a major overhaul again in the near future. Sites can evolve smoothly over time.
As online search becomes more and more important to businesses–some 92 percent of people say they research products online before contacting a company–having an effective web presence is more important than ever.
If you think your old website might be slowing down your business, download our latest white paper “6 Ways Your Old Website May Be Hurting Your Business.”