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July 16, 2014

How to Refresh Your Website without a Total Overhaul

Image courtesy of (Stuart Miles)/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s been more than 18 months since you changed anything on your website, and your analytics are starting to reveal some problems related to this fact. Each month, your number of new visitors has declined. Fewer people are downloading your free PDF brochure. Plus, you aren’t getting as many online requests from prospects. You know it’s time for a change, but you hesitate to take the plunge in terms of a total website overhaul.

The good news is that you might be able to avoid completely redesigning your site. Instead, making some smaller changes could refresh the site enough to make a positive impact on your business’s bottom line. These changes can best be described as aesthetic, functional and content-related.

Aesthetic Refreshes for Your Site

Take a look at your site from an objective perspective – you may even want to gather together a focus group of individuals who will be brutally honest. Is your website dated-looking? Are the colors unappealing? Have you been relying on stock photos that seem uninspired or contain pictures of people who are wearing clothing of the early 2000s or before?

These are indications that part of your issue could be that you need to approach your website redo from an appearance perspective. Some of the changes other sites have made that work well for this purpose include:

  • Choosing a new color palette. As long as the palette doesn’t clash with your current logo, it may just make all your pages seem new again. There are sites like this one to help you figure out which shades “match” one another.
  • Having a professional photographer take pictures of your workspace, clients, staff, etc. These images will be entirely your own and obviously not stock elements that you’ve paid to put on your site. Make sure you optimize the images for an extra SEO “punch”! If you don’t want to go the professional photographer route you could find yourself…
  • Buying new stock images. At least they will be more up-to-date than the ones you have now!
  • Altering the font you are using. Many websites try to get too “creative” with font typefaces. Most places recommend a sans serif font like Arial or Georgia because it’s easy to read; if you’re really creative, though, you may want to check out some really cool new ones that have just been developed. The bottom line is that if you have a site that’s filled with a variety of fonts, it’s going to look cluttered.

Functional Refreshes for Your Site

Maybe your site is okay from a visual perspective, but it’s just not working functionally. There can be plenty of reasons for this: maybe you have too many videos that are taking forever to download; your site doesn’t look great on mobile devices; the navigation is wonky. Fortunately, you can usually make adjustments that will fix these functionality issues like:

  • Fixing any broken links. Go through your site page-by-page and fix any links that are broken or lead to 404 errors.
  • Taking out any graphics or videos that are taking forever to download. This will speed up your site’s loading time, which will be good for everyone and encourage visitors to stick around.
  • Modifying your website so it’s mobile-friendly. You may even want to create a special free downloadable app if your product or service lends itself to this purpose, as in the case of a financial institution offering an app for real-time CD rates.
  • Streamlining the page navigation. Navigating should be simple and logical. If you have pages that lead to pages in an illogical fashion, fix the flow.

Content-Related Refreshes for Your Site

While one person may think a piece of content is terrific, while another person finds it lacking, there are still some characteristics of good website writing that all websites should have. These include having strong calls-to-action, being optimized for specific keywords or key phrases, and being easy-to-read.

To freshen up your website from a content perspective, why not try one or more of the following proven techniques?

  • Make sure every page has some call-to-action. This can be to pick up the phone for a consultation, email for an appointment, download a white paper, join an email list, set up an account, add items to a wish list, etc. Think about what you want to get from every visitor to your site.
  • Rewrite the content on all the webpages. Just as the appearance of a site can become dated, so can the readability. You don’t have to majorly rewrite all the content; even minor tweaks can alter the way a piece reads.
  • Make certain you are following updated SEO guidelines. Google’s algorithms have changed rapidly over the past couple of years. If your optimization hasn’t kept up with those changes, you may find yourself with a site that isn’t ranking as high as it should be.
  • Delete pages that no longer apply to your company. Has your business changed its direction? Do you have pages that make zero sense to keep? Remove them or risk confusing your guests.
  • Add pages for new products or services. Just as you deleted some pages, you may want to add others for the same reasons.

Remember: Refreshing a Site Takes Time… and That’s Okay!

It can be tough for many marketers and executives to consider all the refreshing possibilities at once. That’s why it’s important to bite off little pieces of this process a bit at a time. Don’t try to make all the alterations at once; it will only make you crazy! Rather, you should start with the most pressing ones and work your way down your list.

Of course, it should be noted that if you cannot make any or most of the changes above because of a clunky, outdated CMS, you may be on your way to needing a site redesign. Try not to fret too much if that’s the case. If your CMS is that antiquated, having a new site developed on a modern CMS system will provide you with a decent return on your investment.


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Adrienne Erin writes twice weekly for SiteProNews about online marketing strategies that help businesses like SESWriters succeed. Follow @adrienneerin on Twitter to see more of her work or get in touch.

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