A young man nostalgically enjoying old school music on a boombox.

Is Your Outdated Website Costing You Customers?

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Why Your Website Stuck in 2010 and How to Upgrade for Growth.

In today’s digital age, having a modern website is crucial for business success. A current website reflects your brand’s professionalism and ensures a seamless experience for your visitors. (This is often a tricky discussion with clients, especially if they designed their current website.)

Last year, we engaged with a client, Jenny (name changed to protect the innocent), a small business owner who had recently realized she hadn’t updated her website since 2010. She ignored her customers’ feedback or thought it came from the wrong place because she’d just sat on it for years.

She was fortunate in that her customers were vocal about the site’s deficiencies. Most customers will take their business elsewhere, but these frustrated customers complained about slow loading times and outdated information but still did business with her. That’s a testament to the business she built, but most companies risk failure if these problems exist too long.

In the end, Sarah decided to invest in a modern website design. Her online sales doubled within months, and customers praised the improved user experience. Sarah’s story underscores the impact of a current website on business success.

This article will delve into the risks of maintaining an outdated website and provide insights into key elements of a modern website, strategies for modernizing your website, and a compelling call to action to update your digital storefront.

A Quick History of Sites That Suck Now

A modern website is essential for establishing a solid digital presence in the competitive online landscape. It serves as the virtual storefront for your business, playing a critical role in creating a positive first impression and engaging potential customers.

One thing we should be clear about here: back in the day, it made sense to think of your website as a brochure. Bandwidth was slow. People were figuring the web out. And the cost of building and maintaining a website dwarfed the promised but non-existent online sales.

Times have changed.

Now, there are 5.8 billion people online. The question is no longer, “Are people finding and buying products and services online?” It is “Who’s looking in the phone book or depending on word of mouth to solve problems when Google is on swipe away?”

Which brings us back to websites.

Prioritizing User Experience Over Trends

Let’s be honest: if you know design people, you know how seriously they take their craft, and rightfully so. There’s much to be said about having an eye for detail and design elements. We need these experts on our projects. There can be differences between a site that wins business and one that repels customers. But this isn’t about what they think or feel or anything subjective. It’s about the numbers, so let’s start there.

Statistics on the Website User Experience (UX)

This should prove our case, but let’s add a few more to get our reps in.

The big picture is this: yes, a beautiful website should be a goal if you’re in business to make money, or charity, or government; I think it’s clear that every website should aim to be “beautiful,” but since that’s in the eye of the beholder (the user) we should focus on creating a good user experience for our visitors, and that starts with a visually appealing website.

Why Your Business Needs a Modern Website

First, let’s consider that technology and web elements allow you to showcase your products or services in an attractive and user-friendly manner. You can go as far as having Augmented Reality walk-throughs of your showroom if it makes sense.

This can help build trust with potential customers and encourage them to explore what you offer. A well-designed website can also help to convey your brand’s personality and values, giving visitors a sense of who you are as a business. Imagine having a showroom that shows what you do/sell on its best day, captured and made available for potential customers to find 24/7. That’s powerful.

A modern website can also improve your visibility in search engine results, making it easier for potential customers to find you online. By incorporating search engine optimization (SEO) best practices, you can increase the likelihood of your website appearing in relevant searches, driving more traffic.

Let me say that differently: Google prefers websites that provide great user experiences.

While I have your attention, this is a point that I must clarify with our clients a lot; Google’s core business model is to match their user’s intent (what they type in the box) with an answer. That can be a simple answer or your web page, but it’s in Google’s best interest to be a great customer concierge.

That means doing what it can to rank pages and provide the best pages it can find. A part of that is content but more and more, it’s about user experience. If your site sucks, they know because their users will only spend a second or two on your page (bounce rate). Too many bounces, and they get the notion that your website sucks and will steer their customers somewhere else. Making sure you can be seen and have something people want to hear about is what search engine optimization(SEO) really is.

Okay, back to our program.

Lastly, modern websites can provide valuable insights into your customers’ behaviors and preferences through analytics tools. This data can help you make informed decisions about your marketing strategies and online presence. This wasn’t the case back in the day.

In those days, the game was to spend a lot of money to make a website, hope people like it, never really have more than gut feelings and instincts about the site, then be approached by a web design company about a re-design, only to do it all again. Luckily, we no longer live in that world.

The Business Value of First Impressions

Thought experiment: You are hiring a new accountant; two candidates are scheduled for an interview today. You walk into your lobby and see two people: one is dressed like a home guy, and the other looks like an accountant. Do you invite the homeless guy into your office, even if he has an impeccable resume, or do you skip him and move to the account that looks like an accountant?

Sure, it is a thought experiment, but it is happening every day on your website:

Are you the homeless accountant and don’t realize it?

A man wearing a yellow and black hoodie and sneakers, skilled in breakdancing for clients.

So, what are the key Elements of a Modern Website Design?

I think one of the things clients are most frustrated with (there are a lot) is being able to measure some of the deliverables they get from agencies and their internal teams. There are often a lot of useless discussions about art and design, form versus function, or some design theory or the other.

Those discussions usually end in some amorphous conceptual asset that prevents anyone from judging the “artist’s” work. BS.

I will address this in a separate article, but websites are only art if you sell art (design or creative). For those not in the business of selling art, a website is our best salesperson. Yes, I need that salesperson in an Armani suit and Gucci loafers, but his job is to sell first; the clothes help build trust and set an excellent first impression.

Mobile-First Approach: Designing for the Modern User

A modern website must be responsive, ensuring seamless functionality and visual appeal across various devices, particularly mobile phones and tablets. Full stop. Good designers will build the mobile version first (aptly called mobile-first design), then the desktop version. This approach ensures that the mobile version of the site is front and center. It doesn’t have to be done this way, but it’s a good sign if someone is thinking along those lines.

Streamlined Navigation: Enhancing User Experience

Navigation matters. Intuitive navigation and well-organized content are crucial to enhance the user experience, allowing visitors to find information effortlessly. There are many reasons why this will be important downstream (SEO, information architecture, etc.). Still, in the early stages, it is important that you stick to a modern design pattern and not get experimental.

The menu should communicate what pages are available and should be in expected places. Keep the menu at the top or left bar if you have to be different [rolls eyes]. On your site’s mobile version, the menu should be at the top right of the screen. Stick with what people expect; if they don’t get what they expect, they won’t try to figure it out; they will leave.

Visual Impact: The Role of Engaging Imagery

This is a powerful one. Engaging imagery and illustrations contribute to the visual appeal of a modern website, capturing visitors’ attention and conveying a compelling brand message. This will sound crazy because every photographer you’ve spoken to has a position on this, but here’s the business reality. Google hates stock photos.

They aren’t unique, and Google doesn’t want to add non-unique information to its index. It’s better to use actual photos of real-life people, preferably your people. It says authentic (see trust above) and doesn’t cost a million bucks. If you must do videos or imagery to meet your brand needs, the only real reason you should be making these investments is to keep in mind that the more you stage scenes, the more you look to your customer like a stock photo project, and the less authentic appear to them.

Speed Matters: Optimizing Page Load Times

Speed is king; well, it’s the first king. Content is the second one. A modern website should prioritize fast loading speed to prevent user frustration and encourage prolonged engagement. The reason why is simple. [opens magic stat bag]

I think these numbers speak for themselves. Moving on.

Connecting Beyond Your Website: The Power of Social Integration

Love it or hate it, Social media is a fact of life. Integrating social media and other digital platforms enables seamless interactions and extends your brand’s reach, fostering a connected online presence.

From a business perspective, these are all sales channels; some are more useful or valuable than others, but they should all work together to generate leads, make sales, or improve your brand (to generate leads or make sales). Branding is useless in isolation. Please don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

Safeguarding Trust: Prioritizing User Data Security

This isn’t an obvious thing, but it matters. There’s nothing weirder than making a payment and getting an error from the browser that the connection is unsecured. Nothing scares customers away faster. Ensuring robust security measures is paramount for building trust and safeguarding sensitive user information, constituting an integral component of modern website design.

Embrace the Present: Take Action Now

Your website serves as the face of your business in the virtual world, making a powerful first impression and influencing the decisions of potential customers.

We’ve explored the key elements of a modern website design, from responsive layouts to engaging imagery, and the significance of user-friendly navigation, lightning-fast loading times, and robust security measures. We’ve seen how large and small businesses have reaped the rewards of embracing modernization.

Now, it’s your turn. Don’t let your outdated website hinder your growth and turn away potential customers. Invest in modernization, prioritize user experience, and stay ahead of the competition.

Remember, every click, every second a visitor spends on your site, and every positive impression counts toward your success. Your website is more than a digital storefront; it’s your best salesperson, working tirelessly 24/7 to represent your brand.

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