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Ten Tests: Can Your Website Live Through One More Year?

by Randall Craig on August 23, 2013

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Marketing, Web

Tagged as: , , ,

How long do you keep your car?  Some people swap their car every 2-3-4 years, while others keep them for ten, and run them into the ground.  There are pros and cons to both strategies, and endless arguments about which is best: older cars have higher maintenance costs, sport some rust, and look dated.  But there are no monthly payments.

How long should you keep your website before swapping it for a new one?  Here are ten key questions that can help:

  1. Does it generate leads (or registrations) at the level you expect?  Every marketing channel needs to pull its weight: if the web is not doing so, then there needs to be a change.
  2. Is your blog still separate from your website?  To improve search engine rankings – and expose users to your static content – your website and blog need to be completely integrated.
  3. Is the site built on an “open” social platform, such as WordPress?  22% of all new sites are built on this platform, for good reason: It’s free, it’s a social platform, and you’re not locked into a vendor’s proprietary system.  And there are 10K+ plug-ins that extend the functionality to do whatever you want.
  4. Are the pictures dated , or are they stock photography?  Is there video on the site?  Visuals give users the best clue to your relevance, and engage at an emotional level.
  5. Do site statistics show that users arrive on the site, then rarely click through to other pages?  This indicates poor page layout, poor content, and poor information architecture.  They expected something, and were either frustrated finding it – or disappointed in what they found.
  6. No mobile or tablet version of the site?  In some cases, the majority of users access the site on the go:  why frustrate them with a site that only looks good on a huge screen? (Read about Responsive Design.)
  7. Does your website’s look and feel reflect your real-world branding?  Websites should reflect what your brand aspires to be: does your website do this, or does it reflect a real-world brand from several years ago?
  8. Is your website connected to – and powered by – your systems?  Old-style sites are disconnected from internal systems; new sites tightly connected to both CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and Supply Chain systems.
  9. Do you get feedback that the site looks stale, is hard to find information on, or doesn’t “do” what they want?  It takes effort to complain, so listening carefully  – and doing something about it – makes sense.
  10. Are you satisfied with your site’s search engine ranking?  The site’s initial construction plays a significant role in how well it ranks: no amount of after-the-fact money paid to so-called SEO experts can fix a site that isn’t built with SEO from the ground up.

This week’s action plan:  What grade does your site get on each of these questions?  While you may not need to re-do your website immediately, as each year passes, the site’s grades will continually worsen.  How long will it be before your site completely fails?  Planning for that time (this year/next year/the following year) isn’t such a bad idea.

Bonus question #11:  Check out the websites for your top three competitors: how does yours stack up?  If it is seriously out-classed, then re-doing your website should be a high priority – even if your answers to the other ten questions all seemed OK.

An offer:  Interested in direct feedback on your website and strategy?  I can be reached at request@108ideaspace.com, or directly at 416-256-7773, ext. 101.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com:  Professional credentials site
www.108ideaspace.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
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About 

Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at randallcraig.com and 108ideaspace.com.

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