Last week saw Google update their logo. This wasn’t the first time or likely to be the last. In fact, with the recent emergence of Alphabet, I’d expect to see a few more changes from the most well-known internet address. What interests me more about this change is the lack of online whining that normally comes whenever a popular service updates its look, Facebook being the company that is usually met with angry fans and petitions to go back to the old look.
Google tends to take the opposite approach. Instead, its new appearance was launched in small bite-sized stages. By releasing content and design over a longer period, Google is killing two birds with one stone, at least with this image update. In order to avoid a backlash from a major overhaul (à la Facebook style), Google releases small pieces so that its users can get used to a new function/look. Also by releasing things slowly, it creates the illusion that Google is never behind the times because next week we’ll see something new and the week after that and so on.
Our agency experiences a version of this when redeveloping a client’s website. Often, a client will come to us with a website they’ve had for years; it usually looks like an ancient ruin in need of a complete overhaul. Happy to oblige, we redesign everything so that it looks sleek and modern. Then that’s about it, until a few years later when they realize the once modern site needs an update once again.
Tips to Keep Your Website Current
Redesigns are necessary every once in a while, but if they are not maintained then they can fall behind the times faster than you’d expect. Below are three simple ideas on how to prevent this from happening to your business’s website:
Get Regular Checkups
Look for content and images that appear dated, and even keep an eye out for what could become obsolete in the coming months. By maintaining a running list of smaller web design projects, not only will you keep your developer nice and busy, but you’ll slow down your website’s aging process.
Look to Your Competition
If you start seeing certain trends within your industry related to design, then it might be time to update your website. Remember the longer you take, the bigger the project will be. The other reason to keep an eye on the competition is you might see new designs on their website that you had months ago; that’s a good sign that you are taking the lead.
Trust the Data
This gets to the Facebook problem. Major updates can sometimes come with a backlash. Functions once in the website are different and users have to learn the new system, and more often than not frustrated users will just leave the site and not come back. This is especially important when thinking about updating the look and function of revenue sources like shopping carts and other ecommerce elements.
Small but long-term changes allow you to see the individual effects upon user behaviour. For example, changing the look and position of a buy button could result in a jump in sales (think above the fold or below). Conversely, a new landing page design could see a slowdown in conversions. By keeping track of how your updates affect your analytics, you can really hone in on improving elements that help sales while discarding ones that hurt them.
Stay Current by Frequently Updating Your Website
If there’s an overall tip, it’s that one of the easiest ways to stay relevant online is to frequently update your website. Not only is it good for SEO reasons, but it communicates to your customers that your business is proactive and cutting edge.
Also, typically, small updates to a website over the long-term tend to cost less in development time than one big short-term project. Ultimately, Google’s evolutionary design process proves that slow and steady wins the online race when it comes to keeping a brand looking fresh and current.
Would you rather have a major redesign every couple of years or be constantly spending small amounts on small updates? Leave your comments below. Also, if you’d like to learn more about the web design process check out this page.