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MCLELLAN: Time for a website redesign?


In today’s marketplace, prospects’ first impression of a company often comes from its website. It’s a rare purchase today that doesn’t begin with some sort of research or due diligence. And as customers (in both business-to-consumer and business-to-business transactions) find themselves more time starved and more Web savvy, the research tool of choice is often a Google search.

Long before they’ll set an appointment for a consultation or walk into your retail establishment, they’re scoping you out on the Internet. It makes sense then that when it comes to your Web presence, you’d want to put your best foot forward, doesn’t it?

And yet, if you spend any time online, you run into a lot of stale, outdated websites. We just launched a new website for a client, and his comment was “Phew, now I can actually give people our Web address again.” They’d ignored their website for so long, they literally weren’t giving people the URL to avoid embarrassment.

When asked, companies say that they don’t update their website because:

• They don’t have the time to devote to it.

• They don’t have the budget.

• They don’t want to add interactive elements because they don’t have time to maintain them.

• The last redesign was such a painful process, they can’t think of going there again.

But letting a stale or static website be your first “howdy” to potential customers is more costly than you might imagine.

If you’ve got dated copy or information (many websites make it pretty obvious they haven’t been updated in years); what you’re saying to visitors is that you aren’t so hot with follow-up and attention to detail.

If your design is tough to navigate (you know … you just keep adding a page here or there, but there’s no organizational structure), you are going to frustrate potential customers before they can figure out if you have what they want to buy.

Cheaping out by letting your cousin, neighbor or other amateur build your website says that you aren’t a successful business. You don’t have to build the Taj Mahal of websites, but you do want something that speaks to your professionalism and functions the way you want it to.

Are you wondering if your website is working as hard for you as it should? See how your site matches up with these stats.

Websites with blogs get 55 percent more traffic. (Are you sharing your expertise and taking advantage of the organic search engine optimization value of that effort?)

Companies that blog get 79 percent more followers on Twitter. (How does your stale website encourage me to connect with you on social networks like Facebook, Twitter and other interactive spots?)

The No. 1 attribute people want is a website that is easy to navigate so they can quickly find the exact information they want. They don’t want to have to click four times or guess which heading the information is hiding behind.

People want contact information so they can call, write or drop by. This floors me, but many companies do not include offline contact options to their Web visitors.

Keep the distractions at a minimum. Remember, your goal is not to tell them everything so they don’t have to call. Your goal is to tell them enough to make them want to call.

Your website is your introduction to many of your potential customers. Is it the way you want to be introduced, or is it time to consider a redo?

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