Navigating the World Wide Web has become a labyrinth of digital material in recent years. While fields like user experience and content strategy aim to improve people’s interactions with digital information, technology continues to evolve.
The task of updating a website can be a bitter pill to swallow. Whether it’s business or personal, web pages require time and energy to update. Several questions may arise: Why do I have to update the website? How long can I wait before I update the website again? Where am I going to get the information for the website? As the number of questions rises, so might your anxiety when faced with this daunting task.
Before you jump ship, take a moment to think about being on the receiving end (the website user). We’ve all been there; scrolling through a website and noticing information that is out of date or information that leads to even more questions. You are left frustrated, right? You may even have a negative view of the organization, company or brand.
For the sake of example, I’m going to focus on higher education websites. The college search process can be tiresome when looking through degree programs, student housing, meal plans, tuition and scholarships and application forms. For prospective students (and families) it is important to have the most up-to-date information available at their fingertips so that a well-informed decision can be made about obtaining a college education. A lack of updated information and poor site maintenance can cause audiences to stray from websites (and organization), thus losing them as students (and customers).
Content isn’t the only attribute that can make your website outdated. Aesthetic features such as colors, fonts, images, and functionality also play a role. The role of user experience is key here. Nielson and Norman define user experience as all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.
It’s safe to say that most people are attracted to bright and shiny objects that we dub as “pretty.” If you’re shaking your head in disagreement think about the last time you saw an Apple commercial on TV. Part of you wanted to order that shiny new iPhone didn’t you? Back to the point though, website users want an experience that is twofold: (1) they want to be able to accomplish a task and (2) they want to feel good while clicking through a website.
Simply put, keeping an up-to-date website will not only give your audience a good first impression, it will also provide them with a positive experience.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when updating your website:
- Content. If you want conversion of any kind you need to update your website’s content regularly. Being timely with site updates will demonstrate your organization’s activity in the industry. If your site’s written content remains consistent, consider updating images and testimonials. You can also use web analytics to measure traffic to specific pages in order to determine the necessity of the content or perhaps even the location of the information on your site.
- Site templates. Don’t use a template that looks like it was created in 1995. Stick with the ever- changing trends but also remain loyal to your brand. Updating your website should not focus only on the aesthetics of the site. User experience functionalities should also play a role in updates. For example, perhaps you want to include a blog feed, a form submission link, anything that will make engagement with your audience easier. Update your site so that it allows your audience to interact with the content created for them.
- New technology. Similar to templates, your site should adapt to new technology as it is introduced to the market. If your site isn’t already responsive, make it so. Mobile versions are a thing of the past. Using widgets for social media, online forms and calendars are another way for users to engage on a website.
Updating your website doesn’t have to be scary or stressful, but it will be beneficial to your organization. If you aren’t updating it people might assume that you aren’t doing anything worthwhile, you need to invest in your audience if you want them to invest in you. If you’ve found success in your personal or company websites please share your experiences with us!
Bethany Haberstroh–Content Strategist