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Your Website Should Be Easy to Edit

Cobbler's Cold Feet - 5 Clues It's Time For a New Website

Cobbler's Cold Feet - 5 Clues It's Time For a New Website
photos by Jamie Hodgson
By John Waiveris - August 2005
Photos by Jamie Hodgson

"Only your real friends will tell you when your face is dirty." Sicilian Proverb

It's time. The honeymoon is over. You used to feel so proud of your website, but now what...? Remember gleefully checking the traffic logs? How about a quick click through for fun?

Root bound in a small pot
Well, maybe you don't...but I do. For me it was the Invisible Gold website. I have no excuse either. The software makes it easy to reorganize pages and give it a new look. However, I spend my time working on other websites. The last redesign was two years ago. (a senior citizen in "Internet years")

Of course there were clues along the way. Listen carefully - we hear not only WHEN it's time for a redesign, but also WHAT needs to change.

"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future." John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963, 35th President of the United States

Clue #1: "I tried looking for ____ "

Clue #1: "I tried looking for ____ "
Give yourself room to grow
Uh oh... this is usually the first sign. Someone went to your website and got lost in the mix of unorganized pages. Of course, it probably didn't start that way. But just as Goldilocks needs the right size bowl of porridge, you need a navigation system that matches the amount of information on your site.

The Invisible Gold site started with just 5-6 links down the left side of the page. Now it has 200+ pages. There's just not enough room. Adding drop down menus for the main sections not only reorganizes the information but gives room to grow.

Luckily, reorganizing your site is easy. Start out by making a list of all of the pages (in a tree), and think about the best way to organize them. This is probably the first thing a web designer will ask for.

"Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs." Henry Ford, 1863-1947, American Industrialist and Founder of Ford Motor Company

Clue #2: "Is that page on your site still accurate?"

Clue #2: "Is that page on your site still accurate?"
Good soil is so important
Ok, you probably won't hear someone say this - but just as you need to give a site room to grow, you need to trim out the dead leaves. There are probably lots of pages that can be combined, eliminated, or updated.

Sometimes it makes sense to make a site smaller. People tend to wait too long for their first website, and then start out with too many pages. You can feel good when you realize which pages are important and which are just fluff.

A related clue is when you say "The information on the website is out of date...". Again, there's no real excuse for this. Just click through and make a list of what needs to be updated. You won't be too far off if you do this at least as often as you adjust the clocks for daylight savings time.

"You can't have a better tomorrow if you are thinking about yesterday all the time." Charles F. Kettering, 1876-1958, American Engineer and Inventor

Clue #3: "I'm sort of embarassed but..."

Clue #3: "I'm sort of embarassed but..."
Gentiania sp.
Yup, this is the big one. It's all about style - if you're excited about your site, you'll want it to have good content. If you're not - you'll ignore it and the content will suffer.

Working with clients I experience a change with almost every redesign. It's exciting to have a new look, so people get into the project and rewrite lots of pages.

I felt this in a strong way with the Invisible Gold website. It was still reasonably professional but didn't affect me the way it used to. I would avoid reading it myself, and even forget what pages were available. Just thinking about a new look was enough to get me excited again.

"Seize the moment of excited curiosity on any subject to solve your doubts; for if you let it pass, the desire may never return, and you may remain in ignorance." William Wirt, 1772-1834, American Politician

Clue #4: You just printed, explained, or packed something that could be online

Clue #4: You just printed, explained, or packed something that could be online
Soak the roots after repotting
Websites are for communication and often replace printed materials of all types. It can save you money, eliminate waste, and help people learn.

This is the main reason I wanted a new website for Invisible Gold. Years ago we released software every 6 months so it was OK to have printed manuals.

But now we release a new version every month. There's more information to share with a wider base of users. (designers, web hosts, website owners, etc.)

Every year you should think about the ways you communicate with your clients, members, or outside world. Do you send out a newsletter? Mailings? Brochures? Can any of these be combined or replaced with something online?

"An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail." Edwin H. Land, 1909-1991, American Scientist and Inventor

Clue #5: Sales or traffic are down.

Clue #5: Sales or traffic are down.
Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus'
The world is moving online and just about every site is seeing more traffic. Is yours? How about online sales. It's tricky to keep people buying. Is it time to check out your competition's website? Is your online shopping cart doing it's job?

A low conversion rate (the percentage of website visitors that buy) is actually not a bad thing. A website presents an image to the world that is hard to quantify. On the other hand, you should keep track using whatever means are available (such as traffic logs and sales graphs).

"If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner." Tallulah Bankhead, 1902-1968, American Actress
OK, so redesigning the Invisible Gold site was much easier than expected. I made a mental note to not wait so long next time, and can't wait to check the traffic logs again. If you're going through the same thing, get in touch - I'll be happy to help.

John Waiveris writes about business and online marketing for Invisible Gold, LLC. For more information call 1-860-285-0172 or visit www.invisiblegold.com. "Your website should be easy to edit."