Your Website is often a visitor’s first impression of your ag retail business. A positive first impression can set the stage for the rest of your visitor’s experience with your company. But if your Website is stuck in the dark ages, a visitor — and potential new customer — may not give your dealership or cooperative a fair chance after the initial glance.
And while there are many ag retailers that have created exceptional Websites with modern, clean designs, there are also plenty with outdated sites. Could your Website use a redesign? Here are 10 telltale signs to help you answer just that:
- Archaic design. Does your Website still have a “hit counter” from 1998? If it’s obvious that your Website is from yesteryear, not this year, then it’s probably time for an update. It’s not always easy to be specific about why a site looks outdated, you just have to sense that it’s no longer current. Generally, Website design should be freshened up at least every two to three years.
- Stale content. It’s not just the look of your site that contributes to whether it’s dated. Your content needs scrutinizing, too. If your latest news article talks about how the 2013 drought is affecting crops in the Midwest, then your content probably needs working on to keep it fresh. This is also beneficial for search engine optimization (SEO).
- Low search rankings. Speaking of SEO, if your Website is falling down the search rankings, it could mean it’s time for an update. You could be using SEO initiatives that are outdated and no longer viewed favorably by search engines. Google continues to update its search algorithms, changing the way sites are ranked. For example, keyword stuffing, once considered a popular technique, may now get a site penalized.
- Not mobile-friendly. CropLife® recently updated its site to be mobile responsive. A responsive design simply means a Website automatically adjusts layouts for optimal content display on any device. Anyone visiting your site could be a potential lead and they could be coming from a tablet or smartphone. This might be their first and only impression of your company. Make it a good one.
- Painfully slow. Older ag retail Websites likely have been built with outdated code that causes them to load very slowly. Your site may also be slow because you have bad hosting or your site was never correctly optimized for speed. In any case, slow load times can cause visitors to bounce and go elsewhere rather than waiting for your Website to load.
- Too much Flash. When Google Chrome announces it is phasing out Adobe Flash, it’s probably a good idea to listen. Nearly 40% of CropLife.com visitors use Google Chrome, which is a big reason why we eliminated Flash on our site.
- Inaccuracy. Incorrect information on an ag retailer’s Website will turn grower-customers away — possibly for good. Correct false information immediately to maintain trustworthiness. Also, spelling and grammar mistakes scream inaccuracy too, and readers love pointing out these mistakes. Trust me, as editors, we know this all too well.
- Font inconsistency. The wrong font can quickly give your site a dated feel. Avoid gimmicky and non-Web-safe fonts. Avoid scrolling and blinking text. This is dated and can actually make your site less accessible.
- Broken pages. Too many 404 or Not Found pages frustrate visitors. This forces them to find the answer on another Website. In the meantime, you’re losing potential customers and increasing your site’s bounce rate. A consistently high bounce rate (60% or higher) is cause for concern and may require you to audit the site to find the culprits.
- Poor social media integration. If your Website is lacking social media share buttons, you’re falling behind the times. Having a tie-in with social media on your Website is a great way to increase awareness of your site. Social media is bigger than ever before, and many customers expect your business to be on social networking.
Are the visitors to your Website viewing you as a progressive, professional company that is organized and savvy? Or does your Website tell visitors that your company is disorganized and behind the times? If it’s the latter, then you may need a new site. Consider Meister Interactive. Our designers are well versed in producing Websites with the optimal balance of form and function to effectively extend your brand into the digital arena. Visit www.meisterinteractive.com for more information.