3 Reasons Your Website Will Never Be Finished
Join us at Entrepreneur magazine's Growth Conference, Dec. 15 in Long Beach, Calif. for a day of fresh ideas, business mentoring and networking. Register here for exclusive pricing, available only for a limited time.
Say, I’ve got some news for you: Your company's website will never be finished. You will never sit back, breathe a sigh of relief, and say, “Finally! We’ve got this thing wrapped up; now we can move onto other things.”
That is, this will never happen if you’re doing all you should with your website. And this adds up to some good news because if you’re constantly updating your site, you'll develop an advantage over your competitors who aren’t.
Here are three reasons you should never stop working on your website:
1. Web design trends are evolving. Compare websites designed within the past few months with those designed a few years ago, and you’ll notice some differences. Web design trends can sometimes be mere fads, but often they are driven by changes in technology. Two modern trends in web design are flat design and responsive design.
Gradients, drop shadows, bevels and elements designed to resemble real objects have no place in flat web design. Proponents of flat design eschew the fancy in favor of simplicity, clean lines, bold colors and a focus on content and usability. Flat design also means cleaner code, faster-loading pages (good for SEO) and greater adaptability, which factors into the next trend.
Responsive web design means that a site responds to the various sizes of screens that people use to view websites. Today someone might look at a site on a desktop monitor, a tablet or a smartphone, which come in different sizes.
Years ago, most companies had either a separate mobile site that would be displayed for users on a tablet or smartphone and a full website that would appear for desktop users. But this strategy was less than ideal because those websites were geared toward only two screen sizes. Responsive websites take into account all screen sizes and adjust to provide an optimal experience for every user. This leads to greater website-visitor retention. As a result, companies today are ditching the dedicated desktop and mobile sites in favor of a single, responsive website. (FlatInspire.com displays websites that are both flat and responsive.)
2. Consumer preferences are changing. Customers expect something different from your website now than did two, five or 10 years ago. When high-speed internet became widely available, users started to anticipate rich content, such as high-resolution photography and HD videos. As desktop screens grew larger and wider, consumers looked for sites that would take advantage of the additional real estate.
This year the number of smartphone users worldwide is expected to surpass 1.75 billion, prompting a toward a move toward long, vertical websites that scroll.
Today's consumers don’t want to waste time. Everyone is busy and wants to get to the point as efficiently as possible. Many companies have understood this to mean that content should be clear and concise.
While brevity may the the soul of wit, consumers don't always want webpages short on content. What they want is high-quality content that delivers real value. Sometimes the best way to do this is through long-form content. Basecamp performed an experiment with long-form content on its home page and found signups for its project management software rose 37.5 percent.
Design agency Teehan+Lax embraces long-form content in its portfolio section, in a post about working with client Krush. The segment delivers value, by helping potential clients understand what the process of working with the company would be like. Long-form content is also good for SEO.
3. Search engine optimization rules. The premise of SEO is that if a company sells widgets and its site shows up No. 1 in a Google search for the term "widgets," then viewers will be drawn to that corporate site. But it may not be the only company desiring to market widgets. Therefore, the company's task is to convince Google that when someone searches for widgets, any user arriving at the company's website will find it especially appropriate for the search term. If users aren't happy with Google's search results, that's bad for Google.
It used to be that a lot of SEO firms would trick Google into sending traffic to their clients’ websites. But Google employs thousands of people with doctorates to systematically filter out search engine spam. Google's search algorithm updates like Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird have forced websites to provide real value to visitors or see their rankings in the search engines fall and traffic dry up. Although some aspects of SEO can be done just once (such as ensuring that you have a credible web-hosting firm and solid code on your website so that it loads quickly), here are some ongoing activities that companies can engage in to get good search-engine rankings and drive traffic to their site:
- Attract inbound links from high quality, relevant websites.
- Create content that people enjoy reading and want to share.
- Update the corporate website frequently with high-quality content.
- Keep up with design trends to make the website fresh and attractive.
Creating new content and attracting links can mean updating a blog and press section, or developing valuable informational resource sections like tips, FAQs; or articles. It also helps for the company to become an expert in your field and engage in online PR. And yes, even guest blog posting is still a viable tactic for link building, as long as it’s of high quality.