If your small business website was built a few years ago, you may be surprised to hear that it may soon be obsolete (if it’s not already). Big changes in digital marketing have affected how users access and use the web today, and new technologies have made many old-school websites inaccessible, unreadable, or completely unusable on current web browsers and mobile devices.
How can you tell if your once-slick, up-to-date website has turned into a dinosaur? Here are four developments – some not available even two years ago – that a business website must now consider:
1. Mobile Integration. Having a website that is mobile “enabled” or that can be viewed on a smart phone is simply not enough; you need to have a purpose-built mobile site created specifically for small-screen devices. Most users find that website text on an iPhone or Droid is far too small to read, and regular web navigation is difficult or impossible on tiny little touch screens. Mobile sites are not the same as a regular websites – they must be built to accommodate smaller displays, touch screen navigation, and contain pared-down content with a clear call to action.
2. Content Sharing. By now, most small businesses are well aware that their customers are using social networks everyday to share information, read reviews, and gather information or opinions from their social connections. Website visitors today want – no, they expect – the ability to seamlessly share content from your website with whatever social networking sites they use. Making it easy and convenient to share content on a variety of social sharing sites is now a must-have for business websites.
3. Simpler, less noisy design. Using tons of images, animation, or column after column of content is now a very dated notion. If your website is guilty of this, it’s going to show in the first few seconds a visitor arrives. Today’s websites focus on clean, easy-to-scan layouts that include CSS-based navigation and well-designed sections so users can quickly absorb your message and easily find information. Over time, if your site has become cluttered with added-on information, it’s probably time to rethink your site’s design and start over with a fresher, more user-friendly (and modern) approach.
4. New rules for SEO. With the addition of social networks, mobile technology, and improved web standards, SEO has definitely changed. Gone are the days of top rankings based on inbound links – today, it’s all about quality website content, the “freshness” of that content, how others consume and share your content on social networks, and new structured data markup that search engines can easily read and understand.
So if your current website was designed and coded more than two years ago, you need to evaluate how useful (or useless?) it is in today’s environment. If customers and prospective customers cannot use or even access your site with their current web browsers and mobile devices, you have virtually no chance of increasing conversions, gaining new traffic, or meeting your customers’ evolving needs. Today, dinosaurs may be found in museums, but your small business website needs to be found at anytime, from any place, and from any device.