As customer expectations move at the pace of the web, letting a website linger way past its sell-by date will have a lasting, negative impact on your business. Deciding when to start again can be tricky, so we’ve put together a guide to summarise some of the signs that show it is time to invest in a brand-new website.
In 2023, we know it’s never “just a website”. In most cases, your website gives people the first impression of your business, so having an up-to-date, user-friendly and fast website gives you the best chance to generate more business.
Quick Check: Why might I need a new website?
You know it’s time for a new website when yours is:
- Difficult To Use
- Doesn’t Render Correctly
- Not Mobile Friendly
- Hard To Update
In this guide, we’ve put together 9 reasons businesses need a new website so that you can assess for yourself whether it’s time to get a redesign. Many of these are rooted in the expectations of potential customers searching online today.
Here, we’ll cover the 9 reasons to get a new website:
- Your website looks dated
- The site is no longer fit for purpose
- Your competitors are way ahead
- You’ve not updated your website for a long time
- Your website isn’t easy to use on mobile devices
- It’s slow to load
- Customers find it difficult to use
- Your Employees find it difficult to use
- Employees are spending a long time working on the website
1. The web has moved on, and your website looks out of date.
The online industry moves at an incredible pace. There are new web design trends, techniques and layout options almost daily, so it is inevitable that your website will be out of date to a degree, and there is no getting away from this. Sure, you can re-skin a site and patch it up, but you’re essentially putting a plaster on it until the next time, and it will cost you more in the long run.
While some website trends come and go, it’s clear when a website looks dated. Customers searching for the first time make huge assumptions based on the quality of a website, and one that looks more suited to 2013 than 2023 will turn people off, losing potential business. But how can you tell which website trends are worth pursuing, and which will simply date your website further in a few years’ time?
Rather than falling for the ‘wow’ factor, this checklist helps us identify the trends that are here to stay:
Does it improve the User Experience? If it helps people navigate your website better or have more enjoyment from using your site, it’s worthwhile.
Does it improve website performance? A new design could decrease loading times, or help the website function in a more integrated way.
Would the website be a success without it? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – there’s no point in adding superfluous trendy features to an already successful website. But if it could be the lynchpin that holds the whole user experience together, go for it!
Does it help the site achieve its goals? Bespoke website design rejects the idea that there’s a one-size-fits-all formula for every business’s website. Each design is grounded in the specific goals of the business, guiding us to choose only the features that will advance the site towards them.
Using this checklist, I have been able to utilise existing new trends which are of benefit to the site as a whole and understand which trends to dismiss.
2. The site is no longer fit for purpose.
Sometimes the lack of functionality of a website is affecting the day-to-day running of your business, or you can identify holes in the online ordering process. When this happens, the site is working against you, rather than attracting and converting customers.
Your website should work with your business, not produce problems and extra work for employees. It can often be frustrating if you are constantly working around your site or having to change your workflow because of it.
If your website no longer works for you but against you, it’s time for a redesign.
3. Your competitors are way ahead.
This is a particularly tricky arena. Sometimes following the trends of the market leaders can reap excellent rewards because your new client base will already be familiar with the look and feel of your website, and it will reflect a professional approach to your business.
On the other hand, trying to keep up with competitors can lead to looking the same as everyone else, which is just as unhelpful as having a dated site. Rather than simply copying your competitors, updating your website can help your brand to stand out from the crowd.
We achieve this with a Design-First approach, putting the needs of your customer and their journey through the site before aesthetic changes.
This is the same approach used by Apple in the 90s when they decided to produce desktop machines that looked totally different to the beige boxes that were on the market at the time. Apple pivoted to emphasise design-led products and reaps the rewards to this day.
The decision to update in line with competitors or innovate to stand out normally depends on what market sector your business is in, so consult a web design expert to find the best approach for your business.
4. You’ve not updated in ages
The average lifespan for a well-designed website is normally 3-5 years, depending on the sector and competitors. In all honesty, if you had a website built yesterday and it was built poorly, it’s already time for a redesign! The day-to-day operations of your business can take up a lot of time, but without showing your prospective customers a professional and usable interface, you will struggle to gain their trust and increase purchases.
Your website should be your statement: your first impression. If it’s dated or, worse still, broken or not rendering correctly in modern browsers, it will be harming your image and your reputation as a business.
As developments in website creation, browsing and hosting capabilities progress rapidly, the longer you leave it to update your website, the more problems will arise. For example, if your website is using a payment method that hasn’t been updated since 2019, most likely it is not compatible with SCA (Strong Customer Authentication) systems such as 3DS2.
Using an outdated, non-compliant payment method is problematic for your customers and your business, as customers will be unable to pay, get frustrated and leave. We recommend simply using up-to-date payment methods that allow quick checkout. The best of these are self-contained and protected under a green lock (HTTPS) SSL certificate.
5. Your website isn’t easy to use on mobile devices
Ensuring your site can adapt to mobile phone screens, accounting for the differences in dimensions and orientation, is particularly important in today’s mobile markets. Responsive web design is a standard these days because almost everyone searches for services and products on their mobile phones more frequently than on a desktop computer.
If your website is not responsive, users will need to scroll sideways or zoom in to read the text. But mobile users are all about convenience. Rather than going to the extra effort, people will simply move on to one of your competitors. It is absolutely paramount to have a website design that can provide a positive user experience on every device, using responsive design.
6. It’s slow to load
Websites that take more than 3 seconds to load lose potential customers quickly. With millions of search results, at least 53% of users will simply click on the next link instead of waiting for a slow website, so it’s important to get this fixed quickly.
However, it may not be as simple as patching or reducing the number of plugins. Your website might need an updated CMS or a full overhaul to get speeds up to scratch.
It’s easy to assess your website’s speed with tools such as PageSpeed Insights. If you find that things are taking a while to appear, it’s worth speaking to a web designer who can advise as to what is slowing your website down.
7. Customers find it difficult to use: You need UX Design
User Experience (UX) is important to factor in when deciding whether your website needs a redesign. If it’s too difficult for visitors to your website to find what they need, purchase products or understand what your services are, you are missing out on potential business. The journey from your homepage or landing page to the checkout or enquiry can be simplified and directed even if your offering has many complex layers, with some clever UX design.
This usually involves creating an easy-to-follow “navigation flow”. If the flow is interrupted or not fluid, visitors can be frustrated and have a tendency to leave. In certain situations, there are accepted standards and habits that customers follow which we can play into to create easy navigation. For example, an eCommerce platform usually shows the cart or basket icon visibly in the top right of the page.
If your eCommerce site makes the customer search for the basket or scroll a long way to add products to the basket, or if the information around product pricing, VAT or deliveries is difficult to find, then your customer will struggle to complete the purchase, and you lose the sale.
8. Your Employees find it difficult to use: You need an up-to-date CMS
Using a Content Management System (CMS) that is not intuitive can also lead to frustration, delays and damage to your visibility online. With a small amount of training, you should be able to manage content on your website yourself, adding blog posts and new product pages in a few easy clicks via the admin area.
But if your CMS is out of date, it may not be user-friendly and require a more specialised operation, costing you more in the long run and leading to struggles further down the line.
9. Employees are spending a long time working on the website
Even with a usable CMS and appropriate training, there may be long processes of updating the website which can now be solved. For example, your website may be requiring a lot of manual work from you and your team to process enquiries and orders.
New integrations and automation options are being released all the time, so it may be worth updating your website to make the most of these algorithms, APIs and widgets.
If you can relate to any parts of this post, then you already know whether or not to redesign.
Having a new website built begins with an aim: a purpose. One of the first questions we ask is: “What do you want your website to do for your business?” and we go from there.
A new website can be tailored specifically to your goals, whether it’s lead generation or helping customers find information easily. A website redesign can help with:
Improved Branding: An updated website with a modern design can promote trust and brand recognition among consumers and improve the overall design and quality of the website can help to evaluate the trustworthiness of the company, thus enhancing the brand image and keeping the business relevant.
Smooth information flow: The core goal of a website is to provide information that helps visitors learn more about the business, products/services, and ultimately close deals, by having an optimal information flow and a website redesign can help to structure and present the information in a way that all the important stuff is easy to find.
Reduced business costs: A complete website redesign allows for re-evaluation of hosting and CMS, can run more efficiently, save costs in the long run, and cut costs of missed opportunities and lost revenue caused by an outdated website.
More sales and business: A website redesign allows you to make conversions the primary focus by presenting a flow of information that guides visitors towards actions such as purchase, subscription, or request for more information, which is something that older websites often fail to do effectively.
If you’re hoping a new website will help you gain business via search inquiries or if you just want more traffic to your website, you may be looking in the wrong place. In this instance, I would advise you to read about Search Engine Optimisation first, before completely rebuilding a possibly perfectly good website.
To get the most out of your website design, make sure your designers understand your requirements, functionality and sitemaps. Be open and honest and set goals. Take advice and, if it is in line with your website’s goals, then go for it! Employ designers and developers that have a track record of delivering. For that reason alone, eSterling is a great place to start.
During these unprecedented and difficult times, there are many business owners who are trying to minimise financial risk for their business by pausing advertising efforts or cutting advertising spend.
This could be seen as a short term and temporary fix but eventually, this will lead to needless lost time and effort later on when it comes to rebuilding your marketing strategy from scratch.
So could this be the time to re-evaluate your existing budget and invest more in Digital Marketing? This blog explains why continuing with your marketing efforts is now more crucial than ever.
Grow your online presence & connect with your clients.
Following the government announcement regarding halting the spread of the virus, people are spending more time online and are using social media to connect with others. So this is the best time to grow your online presence and get more people to engage with your brand.
This could include working on your website to improve rankings and increase your site’s visibility when someone is searching for a particular product or service and being more active on social media. Even if your business is currently closed, you can still use social media to stay in contact with your current clients by showing your empathy and support during the outbreak or posting about small steps you have taken as a business to help people in need.
Make sure that information on your website or social media is up to date and keep your clients posted about any changes in regards to your services.
If you are not familiar or confident using social media, eSterling offer a complete Social Media Management service. We can manage your social activity and provide you with reports to track your online performance and engagement.
Understanding the importance of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a process which includes a number of steps and actions that aim to increase the quantity and quality of traffic to your website via organic Search Engine results. SEO is a long term process and the results are not immediately obvious. So now is the right time to invest in SEO so that your website is fully optimised for when the sanctions are lifted and business returns to normal levels.
eSterling are experts in all things ‘SEO’ and our SEO services provide regular reviews, up to date reporting and on-going support. We make sure the site is fully optimised and that you are targeting the right keywords as well as resolving all technical issues.
That gives you a big advantage over your competitors as many of them may have not looked at their SEO campaigns.
Time to invest in content.
Content is one of the main ranking factors for all Search Engines and Google has made it clear that a great content strategy can increase traffic and in-turn improve rankings. During these days people are spending many hours browsing the internet and reading articles. You should focus on updating your website’s content and optimising pages for desired keywords for your products or services.
Don’t forget to add or update your blog section with interesting and informative content to keep your customers engaged, even if your company is closed or you are not operating usual hours.
Take advantage of our copywriting services and we’ll create well-written, original and engaging content based on your brand and target audience.
Start online advertising by creating profitable Pay Per Click (PPC) Campaigns.
People are staying at home and searching for products and services online, so you could take advantage of the increased search volume and invest in PPC advertising. With Google Ads you’re in control of the money you spend and are only charged when someone clicks on your ads so most of the clicks will come from customers who are looking for your products or services.
If you have already set up PPC campaigns and your business is still operating then it is worth leaving these campaigns running as your customers may still be looking for your services or products.
Should you have any questions about online advertising and PPC, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Here at eSterling we are still fully operational and can help you with online adverting and offer full support throughout this period and beyond.
Focus on your website and improve User Experience.
With daily traffic at an all time high, now could be the right time to think about a new website or a redesign of your old website to improve user experience. You need to make sure that your website is mobile friendly, the page speed is good and navigation is easy with clear structure and defined call to actions on all pages.
If you are not currently selling products, now is a great time to convert your site into an eCommerce site or improve your existing site since most of the transactions are taking place online. With so many people in quarantine and not being able to go to the stores, eCommerce sales are booming!
We have years of experience in designing and building websites and we always endeavour to build sites that exceed your expectations and generate you more business. Give us a call to discuss your project & requirements today!
At some point in the future this pandemic will pass, so you will need to make sure that you’ve got your business ready to go. Investing in your online strategy now, will reap the rewards further down the line.
We are here to help! We can help you promote your business online and develop an effective and measurable Digital Marketing strategy.
Call us on 0121 766 8087 and tell us what you want your website to do for your business.
The COVID-19 pandemic means that almost all businesses have had to change how they operate to cope with the new social distancing measures in place.
Consumers are currently seeking out as much information as possible regarding services and products that have been affected by the lockdown. For all businesses, getting this information online is vital in ensuring your business can continue to operate as smoothly as possible whilst everything remains in flux.
Although your website might be the primary point of contact for all of your customers, there are other channels that are key to ensuring all updates are as visible as possible.
Here’s some tips on how you can communicate effectively with your online customers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Your website can often serve as the main point of contact for customers or clients looking for more information. If your business operation has changed significantly due to COVID-19, it’s definitely worth getting this on your website as soon as possible. It is also worth updating your site to reassure any users if your business activity is unchanged to let them know that any services or deliveries will be uninterrupted during the period of lockdown.
Notices should also cover any impact to customers, how employees are being protected with social distancing, any services or timescales that will be affected, changes to opening hours, any alterations to how customers can contact your business and anything else may be changed due to the restrictions.
Depending on the amount of information you need to communicate, this could take the form of a short message in the header, a paragraph on the homepage and FAQ section or dedicated landing page for all COVID-19 updates.
If you need to put notifications on your website, but aren’t sure how to action this, the eSterling design team can help provide a solution that will best integrate with your existing website design and ensure anyone who lands on your site is up-to-date with any changes to your business. We also offer copy writing services that can help effectively communicate your message to customers.
Mailers to current clients and customers is the ideal way to directly communicate with the individuals who will be most affected by any changes to service. A mailing list therefore can be a powerful tool for getting a message out during quarantine.
Recipients are most likely going to be most interested in what measures you are taking to reduce risk and how this will impact any services they have with yourselves.
Producing a short, punchy email with a clear subject line can easily distribute this information to everyone who needs it most. By keeping the copy simple and details down to the essentials, emails can be one of the most effective forms of communication over this uncertain period.
If you don’t currently have any mail campaigns set up or need some assistance with your current campaigns, eSterling can help. Our marketing and design teams are able to put together high quality mail campaigns for you, making the process quick and stress free.
Google My Business/Local Listings
For local businesses, Google My Business can often be the first thing users will see in search when looking for your company. Updating this listing is vital in making sure any changes in local business operations are highlighted to customers.
Google themselves have advised on updating store hours and putting as much information about COVID-19 measures via posts and descriptions in their GMB profiles.
Before making any changes, be aware that Google have changed some features and functionality of GMB listings.
It’s also worth updating any key profiles you have such as Bing Places, Yelp, TripAdvisor and any other directories or platforms that offer local business information to users.
If you need assistance updating your Google My Business listing or any other local directory listings, then eSterling will be happy to help.
Social media is one of the quickest ways to get information out to the world, as it’s the easiest way to provide updates to a wide user base in real time. Facebook and LinkedIn have all put out guides on how to keep customers updated on their platforms. This mainly involves making as many posts as possible, ensuring the most important updates are clearly visible and you are promptly responding to any messages you get during this period.
If you need some assistance with your social media strategy during quarantine, eSterling has a dedicated marketing team who can help find the best solution for you businesses as things continue to change.
Structured Data is a useful way to keep customers updated that may be overlooked by a lot of websites.
Structured data is code in a specific format that can be read by search engines to present the information within search results.
For instance, sites can use the itemAvailability structured data to display stock availability directly within search results. Options for this include InStock, OutofStock, Discontinued, has LimitedAvailability, is available InStoreOnly, OnlineOnly and more. This can be extremely useful if your store has moved all of its products to online only availability to reduce contact between employees and the public.
There’s a variety of quarantine related info that can be presented in search results through structured data, including event cancellations and creation of now-virtual events. Google have also added a SpecialAnnouncement data option for any COVID-19 related announcements to be displayed next to your website in search results.
For more advice on how you can implement structured data or amend existing data, please get in touch with our team now.
Page speed, in its simplest terms, can be defined as the time it takes for a website page to load.
Page speed has been a ranking factor for Google since 2010, and increased its importance in how Google ranks sites in 2018. Simply put, a slow website can hurt your search engine rankings and traffic.
What is page speed?
To fully understand why page speed is an important factor in the overall performance of your website, it is best to first understand what page speed is.
Page speed can have a few definitions, but the definition Google uses is made up of two metrics: first contentful paint and DOMcontentLoaded.
First contentful paint is the time it takes for the first bit of any content on a page to be rendered and the DOMcontentloaded is the time it takes for the entirety of the HTML content on the page to be loaded.
Google uses these to generate their page speed score – which can be tested with Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
What impact does page speed have?
From an SEO perspective, the first reason you should pay attention to page speed is that it is a direct ranking for Google.
While a faster site won’t always mean you will automatically outrank a slower site or vice versa, it does definitely improve your chances of ranking higher in search engines.
Speed also has an impact on PPC performance, as a slower site can also decrease your Google AdWords Quality Score. A lower quality score makes it more difficult and expensive to bid for the top positions in Google’s paid results.
Page speed is not just important for how Google views your site, but how users interact with it as well.
A slow site is less efficient and more difficult to use, which may actually turn users away that have already landed on your site. A study by Kissmetric suggests that if a page takes longer than 3 seconds to fully load over a quarter of users will click away.
This will increase bounce rate and lower conversion rate considerably, particularly if you are an eCommerce site. If it takes a long time for a user to navigate a site to reach their goal, whether it’s buying a product or finding information, the more likely they are to abandon their journey. For instance, Walmart.com saw that with every second of increased page speed, their conversions increased by two percent.
How to improve page speed
Improving page speed comes down to removing unnecessary elements that may be bogging down your page load time – however, it can often be more complicated than this sounds depending on how your site has been built.
Here’s a few examples of how you can improve page speed:
- Minimize HTTP requests
- Minify and combine files
- Enable compression
- Enable browser caching
This is by no means an exhaustive list and it won’t always just be a simple case of following these steps and seeing your page speed rocket upwards. No two websites are the same, so diagnosing speed issues requires the knowledge of a skilled web designer or developer.
The team at eSterling can help you improve your page speed, with our expert designers and developers equipped with the knowledge and skills to quickly identify any issues that are preventing your site
If your site is scoring low on Google Page Speed Insights, give eSterling a call now on 0121 766 8087 and we can offer expert advice on how to improve your site’s performance.
As search engine results have evolved over the years, helping Google understand your website has become more important than ever.
One method of providing explicit clues about a page is by including structured data. Structured data is a standardized format for providing information about a page and classifying content. This is typically written using Scheme.org vocabulary and can provide information on everything from product prices, stock availability, company contact details, customer reviews, delivery information and more.
Structured data, however, isn’t a direct ranking signal for search engines – so why is it so important to have, especially for eCommerce sites?
One way Google ranks sites is relevancy. For instance, if a user searches “cheap floor tiles”, Google return sites most relevant to that query and the user intent – so in this case it will most likely be eCommerce sites selling floor tiles. So if Google understands your site is an eCommerce store selling floor tiles, it will have more chance of ranking for this keyword.
Structured data make it explicitly clear what your page is about to Google, and while this isn’t a direct ranking signal, it may contribute to a stronger relevancy signal for the keywords you are trying to rank for. Allowing Google to easily see the exact information on products you want to sell is always going to be beneficial.
Another reason for structured data is Google’s ever-growing use of rich snippets. Rich snippets are Google displaying additional data aside from the usual organic listings and Google Ads – for instance, this may be a knowledge graph, showing the direct answer to a question.
Rich snippets extend to much more than just providing answers – here are some of the ways this can be utilised for eCommerce sites:
Displaying as much information as possible next to search listings is a proven way of improving click through ratio (CTR). The more information you provide, the more likely it users will click.
Some sites have seen as much as 30% increase in CTR after implementing structured data – this could be a major boost to both traffic and conversions.
Additionally, users will be entering your site with more information on the product they want to purchase. This can help decrease bounce rate and improve conversions as customers may have already made their purchasing decisions before clicking on the site.
If you are interested in improving your site with structured data markup, please get in touch with eSterling now. Our expert web design and SEO teams can implement structured data on your site, boosting your rankings, traffic and sales.
It seems like a good thing to have, and there’s plenty of companies out there who harp on about its effectiveness and how it improves the search rankings. So here is some information we thought would be useful
What is Google Business View?
Based on Google Street View, Google’s Business View gives users an inside view of your business. The idea is that, instead of just seeing a shop front, warehouse or generic office facade, you can now do a virtual walk in and see what the business looks like on the inside.
The difference from Google Street View is that there is no special Google vehicle doing the photographs. Instead, to get all those 360° images, you must hire a trusted agency (which we are) – it’s not something you can just do yourself.
The web seems to be unanimous in saying that there are benefits to having your business included in Google Business View. Having images of your business displayed right next to search page results should give customers a better sense who you are, and whether you are a real and trusted company.
So, it would be fair to say it will help your click through rate. But will it help your search ranking?
To date, it there doesn’t seem to be much research on this, and Google are pretty “hush hush” about it.
“An article that appeared in Moz.com in 2013 did show that sites that ranked high in local searches and have also adopted Google Business View managed to retain their dominance.”
Which suggests a correlation between having Google Business View and maintaining a Google ranking.
One thing we are fairly sure about, is that Google usually looks after those who use a Google feature. Having a virtual tour may not directly boost rankings, but is will increase trust, which does play a part in the local algorithm.
What can we offer with this Google 360 service?
- High quality 360 degrees walkthrough of your business from a Google Trusted & Verified agent
- Images linked to allow a virtual walk around offering a Virtual reality experience
- Interior & Exterior images
- Improve your Google presence
- Improve traffic to your website
- We will add the feature on your Google Business page, maps and street view
- Can be viewed across all mobile devices
- The codes/306 will be embedded onto your website
- The codes/306 can be embedded onto your social media accounts
- Ideal to show your showrooms/offices/factory/industrial/Warehouses
To discuss this package please contact Wave White on 0121 766 8087
Letting a website linger way past it’s sell by date will have a lasting, negative impact on your business but knowing when to start again can be tricky, so here’s some tips and signs that will help you to know when to invest in a brand new website.
Here are some of the most obvious signs that your website needs a redesign:
The web has moved on.
The online industry moves at an incredible pace and new trends, techniques and layout options appear almost on a daily basis therefor it is inevitable that your website will be out of date at some point in the future. There is no getting away from this. Sure, you can re-skin a site (this can often be more expensive in the long run – Ed) and patch it up but your essentially putting a plaster on it until the next time.
Web Design trends are a funny business. They can have the ‘wow’ factor but they can also date a website badly. I have a checklist which let’s me know if a trend is here to stay:
- Does it improve the User Experience?
- Does it improve website performance?
- Would the website be a success without it?
- Does it help the site achieve it’s goals?
Using this checklist I have been able to utilise existing a new trends which are of benefit to the site as a whole.
The site is no longer fit for purpose.
If your website is effecting your day to day running or you can identify holes in the online ordering process the site is already not fit for purpose. Your website should work with your business and not produce problems or extra work for employees. it can often be frustrating if you are constantly working around your site or having to change your workflow because of it.
Using a Content Management System (CMS) that is not intuitive can also lead to frustration. It is important that you are fully trained to use your particular CMS once the site is built and neglecting this can lead to struggles further down the line.
If your website no longer works for you but against you, it’s time for a redesign.
Your competitors are way ahead
This is a particularly tricky arena because sometimes following the trends of the market leaders can reap excellent rewards because your new and existing client base will already be familiar with the look and feel of your website and will reflect a professional approach to your business.
On the other hand, sometimes it is better to stand out from the crowd and put design first to help you achieve this. An example of this can seen with Apple in 90’s when they decided to produce desktop machines that looked totally different to the beige boxes that were on the market at the time. Apple pivoted to put the emphasis on design led products which reaped dividends.
This choice is normally dictated by what market sector your business is in so consult an expert on the subject to find the best approach for your business.
You’ve not updated in ages
The average lifespan for a well designed website is normally 3-4 years but in all honestly, if you had a website built yesterday and it was built poorly, it’s already time for a redesign! We get that your busy with the day to day operations of your business but your prospective customers want signs that you’re professional about all aspects of your business and a dated looking website is a surefire way of losing potential business.
Your website should be your statement, your first impression and if it’s dated or worse still, broken or not rendering correctly in modern browsers it will be harming your image and your reputation as a business.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking “It’s only a website”. In most cases it’s the first place people go when speculating your services.
If you could attribute at least one of the following words or phrases to your existing website it’s time for a redesign:
- confusing to use
- not rendering correctly
- not mobile friendly
- hard to update
- Content Management System is confusing.
If you’re wondering whether having a new website will help you gain business via enquiries or you want more traffic to your website, the simple answer is no. In this instance I would advise you to read about Search Engine Optimisation before completely rebuilding a possibly perfectly good website.
If you can relate to any parts of this post then you already know whether or not to redesign.
Having a new website built begins with an aim, a purpose. “What do you want your website to do for your business?” is one of our first questions we ask and we go from there. Make lists of requirements, functionality, sitemaps and anything else you can think of! Be open and honest and set goals. Take advice and if it is inline with your website’s goals then go for it! Employ designers and developers that have a track record of delivering and for that reason alone, eSterling is a great place to start.
The new eSterling website has been a labour of love for myself for just over 18 months now and the result is so far removed from the original ideas and sketches I created back in the winter of 2015.
As we know everyone’s a critic so I knew my ideas had to be solid and without doubt, the right way to go. So with that in mind I set about tearing through the old eSterling website to find a more streamlined sitemap which focussed on three main elements:
- Who are we?
- What do we do?
- Evidence of our success
Once I got a defined page list I was able to begin sketching out the main pages which were to make up the bulk of the new website.
It quickly became evident that the copy from the old website did not have the tone I wanted for the new website – it was stuffy and very formal. So with the help of the beautiful people from our SEO department we were able to come up with more relaxed, engaging copy which reflected a more friendly approach.
After sketching out the layouts of all the main sections of the website and confirming the UI elements, I finally opened Photoshop to address the design’s look and feel. Once I’d selected the right design elements according to our branding guidelines and created some concepts from within Photoshop the home page began to take shape.
The home page dictates the style of the whole website and therefore, at that stage every design decision was pivotal in the make-up of the new site. Now, I would be lying if I said that this stage took a couple of days, it in fact took 3 months! The structure, layout, typography, imagery and individual elements had to flow and with this in mind I began to obsess over every little detail.
I had to draw a line in the sand and when I saw that my revisions were not as good as what I had originally designed I realised I had to move forward or risk the whole project going stale.
I then had a home page which I was (generally) happy with, the mobile and tablet versions were created alongside the desktop version using Photoshop’s lovely Art board feature.
So, do we need a CMS? If so, WordPress? What responsive framework do we use? Maximum grid width? Which font repository do we use?
In short I went with the following:
- No CMS – More light weight and we’re web professionals – we shouldn’t need a CMS to update our own website!
- A much scaled down version of Foundation – Light weight and simple to use
- Fluid grid system of 100% & 1200px – Why tie yourself down to just 1?
- Google Fonts – They have the right fonts and in the right weight
It’s these decisions that we make daily that are vital for any website we build, not just our own.
…It’s off to work we go
At this stage I was fully entrenched in Sublime Text trying to create the best website I’ve ever made. Beautiful, fast, informative, responsive, easy to follow, the list goes on! It was very challenging and a lot of fun!
I would often ask my fellow designers for their input and something which kept coming up was imagery. We lacked high quality images of the staff and premises so I scoured the web for Birmingham based photographers who could come in to eSterling Towers and take some beautiful pictures of the staff at work.
The name that jumped out was Ross Jukes. He was only in the office for what felt like 10 minutes but he produced some really amazing pictures for the new website. We hope you like them because we certainly do! Ross is available for commercial work so visit his website here.
When taking on positive/negative criticism it is important for any designer to keep the initial vision and aim of the site firmly in mind. If any advice or criticism deviates from the original plan, discard it with a polite ‘Yea, I’ll look into it’, but it is just as important to accept criticism when it works towards your original goals. Don’t be too stubborn to accept it with a ‘Yea, that’s a good shout’.
Once the team had taken a good look at the website and decided it was ready, we then set about launching eSterling.co.uk v3.0.
The website launched on Thursday 4th August 2016 and I really hope you like it.
Special mentions: Richard Locke, Wave White & Antoniya Darova for glorious PHP and copy that makes sense!
As ludicrous as it sounds, there are only 106 days left until Christmas and whilst the sane amongst us are still hanging desperately onto barbeque season and flip flops, the retailers amongst us know that now is the time to get ready for the festive season. The mince pies are in the supermarkets, the incidence of toy adverts on the television is steadily increasing and consumers, whether they know it or not, are being subtly herded towards the bright lights and ringing tills of Christmas shopping.
Now is the time to make sure your website is ready for the approaching season of madness, take stock, decide on any strategies or special offers and make sure your web development company has details of any changes you want to make sooner rather than later. Christmas 2013 is going to be tough for retailers but with a slight upward trend in the amount of consumer spending, for the well-prepared things are looking up. So, what to do to get your website ready?
1. Freshen up.
Have a good check through your content. It is always a good idea to change or add to your website, keeping your content fresh not only gives you Google points, but it keeps your customers interested too. If your site has a featured products section, start adding in your best-sellers or any new ranges. Make sure any photography is professional and shows off your products to their best advantage.
2. Special Offers.
Consider running some seasonal offers. Online purchasers love little extras like free delivery and that can make the difference between them choosing your site and someone else’s for their gifts. Most modern ecommerce systems will allow you to display linked products (customers who bought this also bought that). Alternatively a good old-fashioned BOGOF always goes down a treat.
3. Keep things simple.
Making your website hassle-free is one major way of improving your customer commitment. Look at how smoothly your search function works, and how easy it is for customers to checkout. Keep things simple and give good customer service and people will come back.
4. Don’t go mad on the tinsel.
Although you want to get ready for the festive market, don’t over-do the Christmas vibe. Gradually introduce changes to the site to get ready for the bells and whistles of December, but don’t go for it too early.
If you need to discuss any promotional changes to your website, or would like further information on website design, get in touch with eSterling today. We offer full design and development services to ensure your website is at the heart of your business.
Anyone who pays any attention whatsoever to the world of web design will by now be very familiar with mobile sites and the concept of responsive design (and if you aren’t, you can read more here).
Well, now there’s another reason to perfect your mobile presence – Google have now decided to take the smartphone-friendliness of a website into consideration when determining where a site ranks in its SERPS – meaning if your site can’t strut it’s stuff on the small screen, you could be losing even more traffic than before.
Google have announced in a recent blog post that they are planning to roll out algorithm updates that will penalise websites that are incorrectly configured for mobile browsing.
Here are a few of the most common errors made in mobile sites, and our advice for avoiding them:
Correct Your Redirect
A common strategy for providing a mobile site alongside your desktop website is to use different URLs to serve different pages. This tactic can work very well, as it allows you to lay out the content on your pages in a different format that is better suited for smaller screens and touch-based interaction. However, these redirects must be handled correctly in order to provide a consistent experience for the user with minimal frustration.
A mistake that often crops up with this sort of configuration is directing smartphone users to a set page (most often the home page), no matter which desktop page they are trying to access – requiring extra work from the user in order to navigate back to the page they originally attempted to visit in the first place! Naturally, this can be a source of annoyance for the user, and can result in them leaving your site in search of something less tedious to find their way around.
The solution for this issue is simple – make sure each page redirects to its own respective mobile-friendly page. If the content is not available in mobile form, then directing the user to the home page or other related page is preferable to serving a 404 page – but still not really ideal.
The difficulty that mobile platforms have with video content is well documented, and a topic for lengthy discussion in its own right. However, if you’re serving unplayable video content to your mobile users, pretty soon you can expect to see a drop in your search rankings.
The solution for this problem is (perhaps unsurprisingly) to avoid Flash content on mobile sites in general, as it is unsupported in iOS and Android version 4.1 and higher. To include video content, it is possible to use the new HTML5 markup
<video> tag, which should work without a hitch on all mobile platforms.
If you also provide a mobile app, it would seem only logical to promote this app to users browsing on a mobile device – and this can seem like a perfectly user-friendly move too, as your app may provide a better interface for your users to interact with similar content. However, advertising your app through interstitials or other methods which disrupt the conventional user experience of your site will soon start to have a negative impact on your site’s rankings, as well as annoying your users.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t try to entice mobile users with your shiny new app – as long as it is done tastefully. Google recommends using a “simple banner” displayed inline, alongside the rest of your website’s content. This can mean either a standard HTML image banner or utilising the support offered by the device’s native browser and operating system – for example Smart App Banners for Safari on iOS6.
More Speed, Less Haste
On top of these new rules concerning content, Google’s head of search spam Matt Cutts has alluded to a site speed penalty for mobile sites, similar to the penalty imposed on slow loading desktop sites. Whilst not much information has been disclosed at the minute, it’s fairly safe to assume that as mobile users are often connected to the internet via low-speed cellular connections, the load time that must be achieved will probably be significantly faster than in the desktop speed test.
As is usually the case with Google’s algorithm updates, these new guidelines will help to make the web a better place – both for webmasters and users themselves. Here at eSterling, we welcome them with open arms, and look forward to the mobile web becoming more user-centric and streamlined.
If you’d like to read more on the issues which may cause your mobile site to lose rankings, Google has helpfully compiled a list of common mistakes in smartphone sites to help you out.
As always, if there’s anything in this post which you wish to discuss or would like some more information on, please leave us a message in the comments or email us here.