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Is your website wandering in the desert? Here's a simple roadmap back to relevancy

Friday, September 30, 2016 1:00 PM

Fall is officially here, and with the fast-approaching transition into winter and a new year, people are diving headfirst into finishing (or starting) what they set out to accomplish in 2016. While home improvements and personal improvements top the list with various renovations and resolutions, it's also a great time to audit your web presence and think about any changes you might want - or need - in order to stay current in 2017. We've all surfed onto websites that feel incredibly outdated, either with respect to design or function. To continue to make a good virtual impression and avoid appearing stale, follow our four-step roadmap for avoiding irrelevancy:

  1. Think about what you want your website to do for your business or organization. You can do this by comparing your organizational mandate to the function of your website, and asking yourself whether they align. An error made often is acting on the assumption that mere web presence suffices, and that template-based websites are good enough. Unless one of your business goals is to "maybe kind of succeed", this is the wrong approach. If you've ever shopped for clothing, you know that one size really doesn't fit all. A non-profit advocacy organization will have very different website needs from a heavy machinery equipment supplier. Is your website meant to provide information? Make sales? Generate leads? Serve as a collaborative community hub? Is it currently doing any of those things for you, or can it do it better?
  2. Bob would like to know what your website 'does here'.
  3. Have you ever come across a website so graphically and visually disjointed from the company for which it was built, you wondered if you landed on the wrong site? This kind of disconnect looks disorganized and unprofessional - the exact opposite of the opinion you want others to form about your business or organization. Evaluate whether the look and feel your website match your organizational branding. If they don't, ask a professional web developer about how your site can be redesigned to maintain consistency between logos, colours, typography, photos and other graphics. Details matter. If your website doesn't look good, neither do you.
  4. Everyone has that one co-worker whose real-life persona doesn't at all come across in the tone of their emails. Perhaps they're always cheerful during meetings, but their curt-sounding emails leave you wondering if they're always secretly super grumpy. Websites have tones, too, and it's important to assess whether yours complements your organization's personality. If you plan children's birthday parties - lighten up. Providing dental care services? Don't use LOL speak. While these might sound like slight exaggerations, ask yourself whether the content and tone of your website portray a personality that makes sense for your business. If your business is casual and friendly, avoid appearing overly stiff and formal online. Don't be that one, confusing co-worker.
  5. It goes without saying, but we're going to say it anyway: having a defined plan for bringing traffic to your website should be a key part of your online strategy. After all, you don't want your website to be akin to a forgotten flyer, tacked haphazardly to a bulletin board and more or less ignored by passersby. On the contrary, you want your website to reach out to the four corners of the Internet and entice potential clients and collaborators with an assertive and intriguing "hey girl". Assess your current level of website traffic, and re-evaluate how you want it to increase. Not sure exactly what your website needs to bump up the amount of visitors you get? No problem. Make a list of websites you think are doing a great job at satisfying goals similar to yours, then let your professional web developer walk you through what web-based tools and techniques exist to make it happen.
Asia Szkudlarek

Asia Szkudlarek

Asia Szkudlarek is Division 1's word wizard. She's also a project coordinator, environmentalist and wilderness adventure addict. Asia reads law textbooks for fun and is much too verbose, as evident from this short bio. You can find her on Twitter under @oaktober

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