You do it for your house. You do it for your car. You do it for your financials. Who says you can’t do a little spring cleaning for your website? Right about now is a good time to think about how you can freshen up your website and shake off the blahs so it’ll shine again – and start bringing in some more business.
Now seriously… when was the last time you really thought about your website or did anything to improve it? With so much going on in social media, video and content marketing, who has time for something as 2008 as a website?
But if your website is just languishing out there, sort of sad and neglected, you could be losing potential customers or tarnishing your hard-earned professional image.
I’m not talking about doing a major overhaul. I’m talking about a few low-stress, high-impact ways to spiff up your site, clean up your marketing and breathe life back into it.
So take a moment, whip out the mental mops and dust off your calls-to-action. Here are some ideas to get you started.
1. Update Your Personal Bio Or “About Us” Page
If you haven’t updated your “About” info recently, it’s time to start writing. Time never stands still, not even for something as dull-sounding as “Our Company History”.
Sure, the history doesn’t change, but I bet things have changed in the past year – or few months – or even few weeks! I bet you’ve closed some new deals, learned some new lessons or skills, attended a charitable event, published a great article or book.
Think about how you can freshen up your bio to reflect where you are today, rather than where you were a year ago or whenever-ago.
It wouldn’t hurt to revisit that boring Company Profile again, either. If it’s dry and dull to you, imagine how the rest of us feel about it! Instead of using it as a throwaway page, turn the highlights of your business into a story.
People love stories and most of us love telling stories about ourselves, so use that to your advantage. Tell your story of rags-to-riches, the underdog who succeeded, the nearly lethal obstacles you encountered along the way.
Brighten up the page by adding selective humor, like “March, 2012: Ordered our 100th takeout pizza working late on our favorite project”.
And if you want a little history about this site and my business, you can check out this post from last year’s reboot. Granted, it’s not exactly an About Us page, but it could be, (with some editing – by half!) and I may be biased but I still say it’s more interesting than starting with “Our company was founded in 1999 with a vision to bring synergistic solutions to blah blah yawn…”
2. Add New Testimonials
Even if you’ve got great testimonials on your site, it doesn’t hurt to replace them once in a while. Save those tired testimonials from 2010 and add new ones from recent projects you’ve worked on.
Reading the same three lines of praise from the same client every time I go to your site doesn’t inspire confidence, it just makes me think it was probably hard enough to get those few lines so you decided to breathe a sigh of relief and call it a day.
Don’t throw out those old testimonials, of course. Keep them in your library so when next year’s spring cleaning comes around, you’ll have a few “fresh” words to add to your site.
3. Add New Photos
For starters, get rid of any photos on your site that are woman-on-phone or man-in-business-suit or people-shaking-hands. Get rid of the piggy banks and clocks. Get rid of any pictures of sailboats, sunsets or retirees in hammocks.
If you’re going to use stock photography, think beyond tired clichés. Seriously, after reading this, if you ever purchase a stock photo of anyone in a business suit or pushing a keyboard button, I am going to personally find you and slap you. There are so many ridiculously inexpensive stock photos to choose from so click past the first page of your search results and find something interesting.
Better yet, ditch the stock photos –and I’m talking about your business site here, not your blog posts – and get some real photography. It can be professional, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be as simple as a photo you took with your phone camera and Photoshopped into submission.
Our company website has neither stock nor professional photography. We were more interested in personalizing it and so we did – with real photos of our real selves. Imagine that!
Now is not the time to get camera shy. Get your photo on your site, get your team’s photos on your site, get your office photos on your site. If your business lends itself, take photos of your work – the brochure you created, the landscape you designed, the house you painted. If you’re selling creative work, you must have a portfolio, so make sure it’s fresh and current.
4. Test On Different Browsers
I bet you did this when you launched your site, didn’t you? You checked to see if it worked across different browsers and tweaked until it did. I bet you think you don’t need to do this again. It works, right?
Not so fast. It worked, but how long ago was that? IE8? Pre-Chrome? Just because it worked before doesn’t mean it works now. Do yourself a favor and see what happens right now when you open your site in IE, Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari…
And while you’re at it, when was the last time you looked at your site in a mobile browser? Those count, too. If all is well, then good for you. If not, it’s time to call your developer or if you’re so inclined, start tweaking until your site is up to current standards and is just as usable in IE on a PC as Safari on an iPhone.
5. Look At Color With A Critical Eye
You don’t have to be a designer to get a sense of colors that look dated. You can put any photo of my childhood in front of me and I can date it based on the colors in the room around me. Orange lampshades mean 70s, hot pink and lime green curtains say 80s, and we repented with beige and neutrals in the 90s.
Trends come and go and on the internet they certainly aren’t measured in decades. If you’re using colors that feel dated, they probably are dated.
Take a look at some of the popular sites out there and see what they’re doing. I bet you don’t see a lot of dark blue anymore, or black backgrounds with colored text. Freshen up the colors on your site and it’ll look like a redesign without all the actual work of a redesign.
And please, I don’t care how much you love black and dark purple, if your site is dark and depressing it’s not only dated but… well, dark and depressing.
If there’s one trend you’ll want to get on board with it’s the light, airy and open look of modern sites. That might change next year but for now, get your site in shape with a quick color-lift.
6. Check Your Forms
I’ll make this one easy for you: check your forms. Just because they worked last year, last week or even yesterday doesn’t mean they work today. Software is like a car. It gets you to work today and dies in the driveway tomorrow.
In the case of your form, it could break without warning and how would you know? It would simply sit there, not sending you questions or comments from customers and prospects.
As you test, revisit those “thank you” messages. Are you automating a response? If not, it’s time to implement one. If so, freshen up your message and think of ways to add value by inviting people to connect with you on various social media channels or read your blog.
7. Check Your Calendar
If you host events, webinars or otherwise put out a calendar with dates, make sure that it’s current. I can’t tell you how many sites I visit that still list event dates that have not only passed, but are so far gone that they’d look good in a room with an orange lampshade.
This one is so easy you can’t avoid it. Remove outdated dates. Add new ones. No new ones? Remove the page entirely.
8. Check Your Webmaster Tools
Speaking of the possibility of removing pages… when was the last time you checked your Webmaster Tools to see what pages are turning up missing? If you’ve updated your site, moved or renamed pages, relinked anything at all – chances are you’ve got some 404s.
Start by looking at your Google Webmaster Tools and you’ll be able to see a list of all the pages that Google tried to crawl but couldn’t find. This could alert you to some linking problems in your own site, or to pages that you have removed or renamed but that are still showing in search results.
You should fix broken links on your site, submit pages that you’ve permanently deleted for removal from the index, and 301 “old” pages to counterpart new pages if applicable. If this all sounds totally foreign, just call your developer. Or wait for my next post about Webmaster Tools.
9. Do The 5-Second Test
Every year it seems our attention spans get shorter and sho…
What was I saying?
Oh yeah, our attention spans max out at about 5 seconds these days. Do this exercise: type your URL into a browser and the second it loads, start counting to five. When you get to five, close the browser. What do you see in your mind’s eye? What do you remember? What stuck out and caught your attention?
If it’s the big ugly stock photo, that’s probably a good indication that it needs to be changed. If it’s not much… that’s probably a good indication that you need a better focus.
After a quick 5-second glance you should have two things: a favorable impression (think bright, think nice photos, think clean and professional) and at least a passing idea of what your site is about (A networking blog? A non-profit site? A handbag retailer?)
If you can drag a friend or neighbor into the process, have them try the 5-second test. That will give you a better perspective from someone who is less likely to know what to expect.
10. Freshen Up Your Content And Keywords
If you optimized your site for some great keywords… I hate to tell you but it’s time to do it again. Search trends change, too. What was popular last year may not be this year. And while you aren’t going to revamp your entire service line to take advantage of a trending Justin Bieber topic, you should still crack out the old Google Keyword Tool and see what people are searching for in your industry.
You might discover new lingo, new customer needs or a few long-tail keywords that slipped by last time. The good news is that this doesn’t require a major rewrite – just a little tinkering to add new and beneficial keywords here and there in strategic places.
And while you’re at it, check out the “mememe” talk and make sure you’re writing about your customers and to your customers. In spite of your fabulous and witty “About” page, they really don’t care about you – just what you can do for them.
Wipe your brow, you’ve just given your website a spring cleaning! It doesn’t take much to freshen it up and give it a boost. A little attention to detail, a few updates and a simple change here and there can make it look fresh, sound fresh and work to its optimal potential.
Did I miss anything? What are your thoughts on freshening up a website?