The internet is an ever-changing medium. New information and new technologies both drive and necessitate changes to websites - and the way we engage with those websites - on a daily basis. If we look at the past five years alone, we’ve seen a major change with the way the average person loads a website. It used to be a given that all the visitors who arrived at your homepage were sat behind their desktop or laptop computer. Now, they’re considerably more likely to be using a tablet, or their mobile phone.
Because of that, it's now more important than ever to make sure you stay up to date with the homepage of your website, and this is something that far too many people get wrong. We sometimes make the mistake of treating the front page of our site like it's the front page of our home; we spend money on making sure it's made with great materials, and it looks pretty, and then we assume it's fine to be left alone for a few years. That isn't the case. The only way visitors can arrive at your front door is on foot. They can arrive at your website through dozens of different devices and browsers, and all of those visitors have to be catered for!
Here are just a few reasons why, if you haven’t made any adjustments to your homepage for the past few years, it’s time to give it a fresh digital coat of paint.
1) Your Formatting Might Be Out Of Date
If you've been on the internet for a while, you might remember that ten years ago, websites would offer you advice on the best way to access them. 'Site Best Viewed On Internet Explorer' was a common notice. The expectation was that the visitor should adjust the way they use the internet to accommodate the website. That's no longer an acceptable practice. If your site isn't friendly to the device or software your visitor is using, they'll just give up trying to log on, and they'll go somewhere else.
This problem is especially likely to impact small businesses. Large firms tend to have well-paid IT departments to make sure they’re ahead of the curve when technology and web design changes. Smaller companies often don’t have the same level of resources. That’s why 30% of small businesses still have websites that aren't mobile friendly. Can you afford to be losing three out of every ten potential customers? Try to load your site on your phone right now. If it doesn't look right, do something about it today. As a pro tip, HTML5 is the coding language you're looking for. It ensures that your site will have a uniform look no matter how and where it's loaded.
2) People Might Assume You’re No Longer Trading
There are more than a billion websites online now, and many of them aren't maintained, and belong to dead companies. It's like a big cyber graveyard out there. Because businesses often pay for hosting for years in advance to take advantage of discounts, a website can often outlive a company by a considerable distance. That sometimes makes it hard for a customer to tell whether you're still in business or not - especially if the look of your site is a little dated.
It might not always be relevant to change the information on your website. If you're an online florist, for example, your business model might be the same now as it was twenty years ago, when you first went online. That doesn't mean you can't modernize the appearance of your site. Have time-sensitive content on there, so people know that you're still in business. Just a live feed from your social media accounts (which, if you don't have, you definitely should) reassures customers that they're dealing with an active company, and so it's safe to place an order. A lifeless website is often a redundant one. If you want to give customers a sense of who you are and what you do, consider hosting (and regularly updating) a blog on your site - and link it to the homepage!
3) People Need To See Your New Products
If you've been in business for a while - no matter what it is you sell - chances are your product range today isn't the same as it was five years ago. It may not even be the same as it was this time last year. You might be diligently updating the 'products' section of your site, but if you're not reflecting those changes on your homepage, many of your visitors might not even know you have anything new to sell to them. That's no good for your potential revenue figures!
As with the point above, putting new products on the homepage of your website tells visitors that you're here, you're relevant, and you're refreshing your product line. If you want to see an example of this done well, go to any good online slots website like AmigoSlots.com. The online casino business is hyper-competitive, especially on mobile devices and companies live and die by their range of casino and slot games. The best companies are constantly adding new games to their range, and featuring those new games on the front page of their websites. That tells visitors who think that they might have played everything that there's a new casino game for them to play, and as a result, it might earn them money from someone who would otherwise have clicked away and looked elsewhere if they hadn't instantly seen the new addition. If the purpose of your website is to sell things to people, the products should be the star of the show on your homepage - and they should always look new and exciting!
4) Styles Change Over Time
All of us, whether we're consciously aware of it or not, have an expectation of what a website should look like. In the late 1990s, that 'look' was an Angelfire design, which was image-light, text-heavy, and not all that pretty. Connection speeds were low, and so content on a site was limited. All people offered was the essentials. When connection speeds improved, people took advantage of that by loading their websites full of slick video content, and flash animations. For a time, that was the modern way of showing that you were on-point and relevant in the world of cyber industries.
That, too, has now changed. People don’t like prolonged loading times, and they often won’t wait for a video to load if it’s blocking them from getting to the content they came to your site for. WordPress sites are now the order of the day, and they’re increasingly the go-to option for small business. That, too, will probably fall out of favor in time. Take the time to check the website of some rival firms. If they look slicker than yours, it’s time to do some spring cleaning.
If any of the above tips have hit home to you - and you’re now aware that your site could use some love and attention - the best time to act is right now! A dated, static website is a website that doesn’t sell. If you’re in business online, that means your website isn’t doing the one job you built it for. Give your homepage a spring clean, and reap the benefits!