When it comes to your business website you have two choices: you can choose the Jimmy Barnes approach, producing the same message year after year, or the Madonna approach, regularly reinventing and reinvigorating to keep your message fresh.
With the advent of Content Management Systems like Joomla! and WordPress, updating your website can be as easy as buying a brand-new wardrobe. Even so, some still prefer to stick to the web equivalent of their fashion comfort zone.
So in terms of your web page, are you a Barnsie or a Madge? And how can you get a bit of that pop idol flair?
The Jimmy Barnes approach to website maintenance
You probably built your website a few years back, spending some serious time planning and working closely with a designer and copywriter to get it just right. Since then things have moved on a little. Your website still looks great, but you know there are a few modern innovations that are possibly passing you by.
You might have also taken to mixing in the odd element in a desperate attempt to modernise (like shoving a Pinterest logo randomly on your home page, or embedding a YouTube video in your footer).
But right now you’re not prepared to invest the time and money reworking your website. Why should you? Your business is thriving, your customers are coming back for more and you have different financial priorities.
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If you’re planning on taking the Barnsie approach it’s important to watch your competitors. When they suddenly update their site with lots of new features and functionality you could lose customers. Also, be aware that your existing site might not look that great on the plethora of mobile devices flooding the market.
Ultimately, tried-and-tested is a comfortable way to run your business. If your customers love what you do, then it’s okay to serve them more of the same. But unless one of your brand values is ‘traditional’ or ‘old school’ then try not to let your website get too dusty.
The Madonna approach to website maintenance
Good old Madge. Although she’s pushing 96 (in pop star years) she still dons her sparkly tights and rocks the latest dance moves. In website terms, the Madonna approach means staying on the cutting edge. When Adobe Flash intros were in, you had one. When WordPress became all the rage, you recoded your site. You’ve got social networking links in your header that most people haven’t even heard of yet.
Reinvention is a great way to keep things fresh for your customers. A new look can reinvigorate your brand, give you something new to talk about with your customers, and reignite your passion for what you do.
Just like people – brands and businesses change. What suited your business five years ago might look a little tired and dated today. It’s important to evolve your website as your business grows and changes. This doesn’t just mean a sexy new design every few years, but it could mean a review of your tone of voice, the way you sell yourself and the way you communicate with and engage your users.
By keeping things fresh you could attract new customers, but be conscious that shaking things up too often can also be a turn-off. I for one was devastated when a favourite business of mine updated their site. I couldn’t find anything. I never went back.
If you plan on taking the Madonna approach it’s important to think things through. You don’t want to get sucked in by the latest gadget or gizmo, or spend so much time on marketing that you forget to actually make money. Also, be conscious that there’s a fine line between ‘trailblazer’ and ‘try-hard’.
Deciding how frequently to refresh your brand or redesign your website can be tricky. I suggest setting up a Google spreadsheet where you can store ideas, bookmarking sites you like and keeping a beady eye on your competitors. Then consider a revamp every two to three years. It might seem an expensive option but – as I’m sure Madonna and Barnsie would agree – you can’t put a price on looking good.
So do you prefer the Barnsie or Madonna approach? Or perhaps somewhere in between? Please let me know below.