“When should we redesign our website?” Everyone has probably said that more than once. It’s a common feeling. We become so familiar with our website that we fall out of love with the design long before our users do. As the hub of marketing and information to your fans, it serves a variety of purposes, not least of which is as your digital stadium. But, it’s true that at some point your website will need attention. Before blowing up your current site, remember that every part of your website had some thought and reasoning behind it. Those reasons might still be valid. Or maybe not.
Here are ten things to consider whether you need a new site.
1. Does it serve and engage visitors’ needs?
First and foremost, are your users finding what they are looking for? Look at statistics for the site and review your pages personally. The time it takes you to consume the content should correspond roughly with the results shown by your engaged visitors. If they leave your site immediately after scanning one page, they’re likely not finding what they wanted or expected. (Note: this is a bad sign for future search engine results). Consider your audience, what they want, and how they want to be communicated with. Do they want video? Can they find schedules quickly? Does your site deliver?.
2. How is the mobile experience?
This almost didn’t make the list because it should be evident. But just in case you haven’t been paying attention to your analytics or the world at large, EVERYTHING IS GOING MOBILE. In fact, as the provider of websites for more than1,400 clients (accounting for more than 110,000,000 visitors) we see that more than 60% of our website sessions are via a mobile device. They don’t use it all the time. And they don’t use it for everything. But when people want it on their mobile device (think game day – we see significant spikes on Saturdays) you had better be able to deliver it.
3. Does it accurately reflect your brand?
As the communications hub and digital stadium for your fans, your website in many ways is your brand. Does it make the first impression that you’d want to make in person? Consider more than just the visual representations like colors, logos and typography, but the language and communicative style. They are just as much a part of your brand as the images and need to be aligned to where you are currently.
4. Does it incorporate current user expectations?
Visitors expect to accomplish more and more on your site when they arrive – and they are irritated when they can accomplish their goal. They’re nearly as upset when they are redirected to another site to complete their goal. Can they watch videos, get updates and everything else they want in one place? If not, can you remove the friction to get there, or bring the desired task inside your site.
5. Do search engines like it?
If your site doesn’t play well with search engines you’re wasting a lot of energy. The ability to be found should be near the top of your goals for your website. While the factors that impact rankings are continuously changing, ensuring these three things at a minimum will help keep your site in good standing: information accuracy (see 1 above), mobile-friendliness (see 2 above), and ensuring you have SEO fundamentals like URL structure, page titles, alternate text for images, etc. in order.
6. Can your team work with it?
As mentioned above, new and fresh content give visitors reasons to visit your site again. That won’t happen if your site is so difficult to work with that only the sole web-ninja-guru-savant on your team that can update the system. More and more people have a basic understanding of how to update on websites and blogs. Modern systems make it nearly as simple as working on a social media platform, something that nearly everyone in a communication role will have some familiarity.
7. Does it tell you what you need to know?
While many still think of websites as simply a way to deliver information, there’s absolutely no reason this shouldn’t be a two-way transaction. Your website is probably the single best way to get insight into your audiences’ likes, dislikes, what they say they want and what they actually do. Make sure that you are getting the data and analytics out of your site to give you the information that you need to go forward.
8. Is the timing right from a resource standpoint?
We know you don’t have an offseason, but the fact is that you don’t want to make drastic changes in the middle of a sports season. And everyone likes to start the season fresh. Just like new uniforms, it can give programs a bounce and anticipation of something new. Just like coaches look at their first game and first official practices and work backwards to make sure they cover everything they need to accomplish, so should you when planning changes to your website.
9. Is it compliant?
There are two major themes to consider regarding compliance: accessibility and privacy. Did you know that 19% of all Americans have some type of disability? Make sure that your site is up-to-date with current accessibility capabilities and that it is WCAG 2.0 AA compliant. New privacy laws now in place in California and soon to extend across the US mean that you need to be aware of the information you’re collecting and make your users aware as well. Make sure that you and your institution are covered.
10. Does it support your goals beyond communications?
Every program is looking for more resources and control over their revenue flow. Does your website give you the ability to show sponsors you choose throughout the site? Who controls the flow of revenue? Additionally, does it allow you to incorporate other types of fund-raising and social opportunities?
You are going to have to take action on your website at some point. It is going to be an investment in resources, both time and money. The bottom line is: “does your current website truly capture and engage your fans right now, and looking ahead, will it be able to grow with you and your changing audience preference. Putting some thought into the points above will help reveal when you really do need from a redesign and to make the most of the results when you do.
Want more? Watch an on-demand webinar covering these points in detail.