Over the past couple of weeks I've done audits and website upgrades for some clients who took a look at their websites and realized they needed a refresher.
You can follow these tips too and decide if you should spruce up your website:
1) Make sure your design is current
Yes, I'm going to be a broken record on this one. If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, websites have to accommodate both large and small mobile screens to be relevant to today's user. If your design is more than 3 years old, or does not display well on small screens, it's time for a makeover.
Here's one I did for long-time SDOC client and Dunwoody CPA Susan Renegar. Her first website was a single billboard, and it did the job for a number of years:
Then 2009 and the Mobile Explosion hit. Susan's website was still just one page, but it needed a fresh look to the still-current content:
Here's the result:
Best of all, this new version is easy to use on all devices, including an iPhone.
2) Sit and read your content. And look at your pictures.
You wanted to manage your own website to save money. But it was hard to schedule time to update your text and pictures, or even your store inventory. How's that working for you? Your search engine results are probably saying, "Not so much". Search engines just looooooooove text content that changes frequently. Spend some time reading your website, or get a friend or relative to do it for a really fresh insight. Then either use your control panel to change your text, or get back in touch with your webmaster to update it.
3) Are your add-ons up to date?
If you are using a popular open-source content management system like WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal, then you probably have some add-on functionality to add more features to your site. These are called Plugins, Extensions, or Modules, respectively. All of these CMS connect to a central database that scans your plugins and versions to make sure they are up to date. Take a look at what you are using to generate a contact form or a calendar, or a store, or whatever. Consult with your webmaster to see if there's a better way of displaying or integrating your content. Ask them to get rid of duplicate functions, or if your features can be added more efficiently. Keeping your website software up to date is a key defense against hacking.
4) The hands-on database cleanout.
For those of you who are CMS afficianados. You probably know how to install your plugins, etc. You also know how to "uninstall" them. But did you know that the data gets left behind in the database after you delete an obsolete plugin? Just because you follow the advice above and delete unneeded plugins (even going through the uninstall process) doesn't mean that the space-hogging database entries are gone. Most plugins do not "clean up after themselves" upon uninstall, even though they are supposed to. (WordPress is notorious for this.) A database administrator should access the database directly and make sure that obsolete "orphan" data is gone from the database tables. You'll be amazed at how much faster your website runs without unneeded data getting loaded. (WARNING: this task is NOT a DIY project, or for a casual web designer. This requires a skilled database administrator who knows how to make a backup before starting work and knows how to remove data without damaging anything.)
5) The obvious: check your contact information
Company employees get added, other employees leave but their email addresses can last forever. make sure your email links or contact forms so that data doesn't go to people who are no longer with your organization. Always check your website if you change email addresses so you don't miss important customer leads.
Bonus Tip: make Spring Cleaning a quarterly affair. Schedule a reminder to evaluate these steps every quarter. Stay in touch with your web developer to keep your software from going out of date or content from going stale. Maintenance is a lot easier when you only have to do a little at a time to stay on top. Just like at home.