Thursday June 21, 2018

How Often Should You Update Your Website?

How Often Should You Update Your Website?

When new clients begin working with us, the first thing we do is have a sit-down to learn more about their company, goals and challenges. During that discussion, just about 100% of the time, they will admit their website could probably use a “refresher” and redesigning it should be an early priority.

They’re right — for many businesses, a website is the most important tool to attract and convert leads, so we often end up investing a lot of hours into a redesign from the start. These projects can demand a big initial time investment and leave clients waiting nervously to see the results. A redesign calls for hours spent researching, planning, designing, developing and testing. And as we’ve written before, some clients experience a post-launch slump when leads don’t immediately come flooding in the door.

One way to avoid this dynamic is to take a different mindset when it comes to websites and change from thinking of it as a project that requires a massive undertaking every few years, to thinking of it as a living tool that should be updated and improved regularly.

In this post, I’ll explain how by following a growth-driven design (GDD) template, you stand to create a platform that better serves your customers and saves you time and money in project costs.

 

Traditional Tactics v. The Age of the Internet

According to my internet search of “how often should you update your website?” many reputable sources believe a company should do so every two to three years. In theory, this timeline helps keep audiences engaged with their brand. Some sources claim you can wait up to five years if your website continues producing results, but both of these suggestions hold a flawed understanding of what a website is really for in the first place.

To state it simply, your company website isn’t about you; it’s a tool for users to engage with you. If you’ve been repackaging your website every two years and writing a self-congratulatory press release about your heroic efforts to “listen to the people,” stop.

Today’s analytics tools give companies enough data to understand what your users want on a daily basis. As your users grow and give you more data, you should use this data to make website updates that make their lives easier. Enter growth-driven design.

The Benefits of Growth-Driven Design 

GDD is the marriage of your marketing and sales data with your website. Rather than undertaking a herculean effort to build a completely new site every couple years, a GDD mindset involves continuous, ongoing updates that take less time and yield smaller improvements than a traditional website overhaul. Think of GDD as a series of sprints in which you tackle the biggest priorities and assess the results, rather than one marathon in which you try to address everything at once and hope for the best.

By integrating your real-time data into incremental updates, you take an informed approach to reshaping your website to best speak to your customers.

Yes, converting to a GDD mentality entails the same planning and preparation kick-off phase that accompanies a traditional redesign. As with a traditional site overhaul, you need to identify your target buyer profiles, create sitemaps, plan and update your customer journeys. However, once your site is live, rather than forgetting about your website for a couple years, you use data to optimize it regularly.

This could look like any of the following scenarios:

  • After reviewing how users are navigating through your site, you discover customers aren’t interacting with a specific e-commerce link on your website, so you adjust its location to facilitate their buyer’s journey
  • You discover users are overlooking a poorly placed CTA and it forces them to take unnecessary steps to get to a piece of content. So, you find a new, more effective home for that CTA to send them directly to your marketing materials
  • A particular email capture form isn’t redirecting users back to your website, so you create a response that shows them similar content they may enjoy

 

Rather than waiting another two years and spending $80,000 to rebuild your website, return to the platform in three months and make small, data-driven decisions about how to improve your customer’s experience.

If you have the resources to return to this initiative every month, you’ll be spending fractions of the amount from a full rebuild and arrive significantly under budget at the 12- or 24-month marker.

 

Ongoing Improvement

Now that you’re thinking of your website as a tool for your customers and not a gift you presented them with, listen to them. Surely you’ll have your internal goals for the site’s performance, but by switching to a GDD mentality, you’ve agreed to validate or kill any assumptions you’ve made about your website. You’re probably already using A/B tests for your marketing materials — now you’re just using them on your website to pave its way forward.

In this model, customers are essential to the design process. With every user who visits your website you gain valuable information about how you can better facilitate positive experiences.

Of course, a new way of thinking may come with some speed bumps, so be sure to create SMART goals for your new design method. Create a plan to return to your website as often as makes sense for your company and before making changes, share your data reports with your sales and marketing teams to make informed decisions about how to make your website stronger.

 

If you’re unable to allocate monthly resources to rebuilding your website, find an agency who can help develop your site or marketing materials in a strategy that aligns with your ongoing goals.

Don’t know anyone who does all that? Look no further, give us a call and we’ll chat to see if growth-driven design makes sense for you.

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