Five Signs You Need a New Website

Five Signs You Need a New Website
CivicLive Blog - Five Signs You Need a New Website

We often say that technology ages in dog years. In one calendar year, a number of major advances will be made in the world of gov-tech and web communications. Compound this over a four or five year span, and your website can begin to look fairly antiquated.


Why is it important to have a fresh website? Your website acts as a “portal” into your community. You want your website to represent the best your municipality has to offer, and having a slow, out-of-date website can actually harm your city’s “brand”. Before you decide to redesign your web presence, you should first recognize some of the signs that you need a new website.


1. You Have Limited Capacity to Manage Your Own Message and Content

In the 90’s and early 2000’s, when web technology was still in its infancy, many organizations chose to hand complete control over to third party vendors who would build, manage, and curate content for their clients. Many organizations simply didn’t have the time or expertise to manage their own content. 1990 was 27 years ago, and technology has changed drastically since then. There are now countless options for using an in-house content management system which gives you the control to create and manage your own branding and message.


Many communities that have switched from a third party design/content model to an in-house model have said they did it partly because they felt like they no longer had control over their messaging. If you need something updated on your website ASAP, you would need to email your vendor, wait for a response and then wait for your messaging to be updated. One municipality told us that they needed to post a boil water notice, and it took an extra twelve hours before their vendor could update their website. Their inability to manage their own site was a clear indication that they needed to think about changing their web strategy.


2. Your Site Looks and Feels Out of Date

As we said previously, web technology changes fast and what was once in style may now have fallen out of favor. Hallmarks of 90’s websites were flash animations, visitor count tickers, and big blocky menus. There are a number of other ways in which your website could be struggling to keep up with the times. The first is if your website will only work on specific browsers. While it is true that some browsers may struggle loading specific website assets, if your site will only work in Safari/Internet Explorer then you definitely need to consider updating your website.


Another way is if your website is not responsive. Responsive design allows desktop-based webpages to be viewed from a number of different screen sizes and resolutions. As Bruce Lee once said “be like water”. We should apply the same principal to web governance. If you view your webpage on your phone, your site should self-optimize automatically for that screen. If you are using one static template across browsers, resolutions and devices then you definitely need to consider adding this functionality.


Finally, if you’re finding that pages are loading slowly, you may wish to consider redesigning your site in order to “de-bloat” your pages. A lot of research has been done to look at how long users will wait for websites to load before closing out of them. A general rule is that if your site takes more than three seconds to load, upwards of 40% of your visitors will leave your page.


3. Your Website isn’t Properly Search Optimized

The world of search engine optimization may seem confusing to some, but there is a lot you can do to make it easier for users to find your content. If you try searching for specific content on Google, is it the first option that shows up? Does your content show up at all?


Web engines use automated robots called “crawlers” to scour and categorize all sorts of web content. If your content isn’t easily digestible for these crawlers, they will ignore it completely. Adding meta tags, keyword phrases, and “Friendly URLs” to your website are some of the most basic ways in which you can optimize your content for search engines. If you’re currently not optimizing web content (or if you don’t have the capacity to), it is probably high time to consider a full website redesign.


4. You’re Finding Yourself Saying “It would be nice if we had the ability to do that” Frequently

Many CMS platforms offer a number of content modules to help you further customize your website. Integrated calendar feeds, online document receptacles, notification systems and citizen request tools are all easy ways to engage with your constituents. Take a look at the websites of other municipalities in your area. If they have features on their site that you’re currently not equipped with then it may be time to discuss adding those features.


5. People Are Telling You So!

Finally, if your staff or citizens are raising complaints about your site then it is definitely time to consider a redesign. Redesigning your site doesn’t need to be a long, strenuous process. In fact, we try to make the process as seamless as possible. You tell us your needs, and we take care of the rest. Content migration, implementation and design are all completed with minimal hassle on your part. Once your website is complete, we train your various users on how to maintain your site from that point forward.


Final Thoughts

Websites don’t need to be redesigned every year, but we recommend that you consider a facelift every four to five years to ensure you’re keeping up with the times. We’re so committed to making sure that you will have a fresh, technologically-advanced website that we offer a free redesign after four years. Contact Us Today to learn more about our award winning websites.

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