12 Jul Three Key Considerations for a Website Upgrade
The website is a vital asset to any organisation. When it works well it can single-handedly leap-frog your competitors. Done badly, it can lose you business and diminish your reputation. Following are some key independent considerations for how to make the most of it when the time comes for your website upgrade.
1. Make it future-proof.
There are steps you can take to ensure the next iteration of your website lasts longer, and your investment goes further than your current one. Your first consideration should be the platform, or Content Management System (CMS), it is built on. Web consultants tend to have a platform of choice, and it is the one which suits their developers better, but not you. It’s probably not a conversation they want to have with you at all. But you should always ask what CMS they’re building your site in. Here are some common ones:
Drupal, Joomla, WordPress, ExpressionEngine, TextPattern, Radiant CMS, Cushy CMS, SilverStripe – and there are many more.
Web developers will explain that the choice of CMS should depend on what you want your website upgrade to achieve. And there is no doubting that some platforms can be configured to do it better, and with more longevity, than others. Invariably however, there will be a hidden motive for them in proposing their particular recommendation. Most often it is driven by a particular expertise they have at the time more than how well it suits your purpose.
Who will update your new website?
An often overlooked benefit of a modern corporate website is the ability to update it. This means to add news, company messaging, promotions and latest announcements easily. Once you begin the process of adding frequent updates to your website, search engines (especially Google) pick up on the frequency of new content and give your site more weight and authority accordingly. This alone improves the rankings of your pages and can multiply the enquiries you receive for new business.
It is important therefore that your website can be updated and managed easily in-house. You shouldn’t have to send external instructions for for day-to-day updates. Aside from costing nothing, you will find it is done with more unique character and finesse when you do it yourselves.
Who is keeping the CMS alive?
For your website upgrade you should also consider the lifetime of support by the CMS’s programmers. And by programmers, I’m not talking about those who do the website upgrade for you, but those who actually keep the CMS going. I’m talking about Drupal, WordPress and Joomla technicians. How many of those are there? – and how long are they all likely to stick at their task? It might be difficult to answer, but you can get a good handle on it by asking your staff. The people you will assign to updating your site might have a preference. You could even tell them to research CMS’s.
You can do a lot worse than opting for their recommendation, if they have one, when it comes to your website upgrade. Get them to buy into the new website, and you will find they will happily take the initiative for frequent updates and content additions.
The biggest and most expensive upheaval a website goes through is its migration from one CMS to another. Getting the right one now will save you time and money down the line.
2. Engage your visitors.
Is your site for referrals to find you, or for gathering new visitor traffic from search engines like Google?
I have a surprising number of clients who insist they don’t want unannounced search engine traffic. They say their website is for people to visit after they have already heard of their company. Perhaps they have been given a card by an employee, or read about them in the press. These clients explain they don’t want to compete in Google for keyword terms relating to their industry, but just appear high in the rankings for their company name.
Companies which take this approach are missing a wonderful opportunity for growth. They are merely posting an advertisement on the Internet and appealing to viewers who are already half-sold on their product. They are not using the added dimension the web gives us to attract new business. Even if they wish to be highly selective about which enquiries become new customers, they are reducing their own potential significantly by adopting this approach.
Companies which gear themselves to use the Internet well carry significant advantages over the others. High volumes of new visitors brings with it a wealth of new inquiries. If there is any concern about receiving unqualified leads, there shouldn’t be. With your website upgrade leads can be qualified and filtered with tried-and-tested automation. These methods ensure only the the good ones, the ones most likely to buy, make it through the funnel. Online forms, for example, which lead your visitors on conditional journeys according to their responses, can replace expensive call centres and extra staff. They can also be more engaging and effective, and significantly more reliable.
User engagement is vital therefore, but it is often overlooked. Just as companies want and need new business, they are often over-concerned about getting it the ‘right’ way. They are prone to shy from the online methods available to them for fear of projecting the wrong signals. Education in online business is sometimes needed to make the change necessary in today’s digital world. It is about setting the right tone for the type of business you are, and the type of customers you’re trying to reach. There is always a way, and it is important to find the right one: A website isn’t serving its potential nor purpose if it doesn’t come with good user engagement.
3. Reconsider Ecommerce in your Website Upgrade.
As the web has evolved into a vital dimension of our day-to-day lives, we are now accustomed to being able to buy what we find straight away, without delay. This began with books and clothing, tangible items which can be dispatched, tracked and if necessary, returned. But now, with sophisticated developments in ecommerce, it is possible to make any product or service available for customers to either buy outright, invest in, place a deposit on or subscribe to.
If your business can’t receive payments online you are in danger of falling behind the curve. So be sure, with your website upgrade, to ask about the possibilities. No matter how complex your pricing model is, there is a way to improve the flow from enquiries to sales. You can even semi-automate the quotation and estimation process. You can do this to be more efficient and engaging than your competitors. Ecommerce can assist every business model, so if you think yours is too complex, be sure to ask first.
No one wants to see the end of human, face-to-face contact, but neither do we want to waste time with the wrong customers when there are plenty of right ones waiting. You can use the Internet and web engagement to help you captivate the leads which have found you automatically. You can then work only with qualified leads, so when you get to meet them, more of your job is already done. And they will thank you for it.