So you’ve had your website designed, built and you’ve filled it up with content. It’s perfectly written for your target audience and you love the look and feel of the site. Brilliant. Now what about a website update?
Why update your website?
A lot of website owners don’t realise that a good site isn’t finished once the development is complete. As time goes on and technology improves, there are a variety of reasons that your site can become out of date and fall down the rankings on Google. Does your site:
- Work on a mobile phone?
- Have the latest news from your field?
- Have the latest security updates?
If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, then you could be improving your site.
To help you think about what you could be doing, I’ve compiled a list of tips on how to keep your website functional, relevant and safe.
Responsive Design Update
As technology advances, the ways in which we view the web change. We’ve moved quickly from PCs and laptops to mobiles and tablets, and it’s now the case that mobile devices are more commonly used to access websites than desktops. Modern devices come in a range of shapes, sizes and screen resolutions and they can all access your website; if your site was made a few years ago, will it display correctly on a device that was released this year? Older sites can have issues with the menu not functioning, the site being too wide, the images being of low quality and a range of other problems. If your site is difficult to navigate and doesn’t look good on mobile, users won’t patiently wait to find their way around it; they’ll go back to Google and find another site that works better.
So, how can we solve this problem? Easy. Since the mid-2010s, responsive web design has been a staple feature of web development. This means that the website will identify what size device it’s being viewed on and then display in a way that fits that size. Modern designers make designs for large, medium and small versions of the site and the code behind the scenes determines which one of these displays. Many sites are even designed mobile first, meaning that the mobile design is the initial design and it’s then expanded for larger devices. This ensures you have a website that will work on all platforms and is even future-proofed as it will work on devices that are released after the website is built.
Responsive design is a part of all the sites we build at Indigo Tree. Have a look at our Website Design page to find out more.
SEO, Social Media and the Latest News
A news or blog page is a common feature on modern sites – especially on WordPress websites, a platform famous for blogging – and there are all sorts of reasons why an active news page improves a website.
The most simple reason to post regular news content is that it gives users the impression that they are on a site that is updated regularly. When you visit a site’s news page and see that there have been no news posts in a year, it raises questions about the site: why don’t they keep their blog up to date? Is the rest of their site up to date? Are they still in business? On the other hand, an active blog means that these questions don’t even cross the user’s mind; they are instantly reassured that the site is up to date.
But the quality of your news posts will also have an impact, so it is important to post content users will enjoy. If your posts aren’t interesting or informative, a user will stop reading it and leave the page. But, if your posts are interesting, users may share them on social media, giving your site more views if anyone in the user’s network clicks the link. Anyone who clicks this link may also like the content and also then share it themselves, meaning you can spread a link to your website around numerous people simply by writing a news post.
A technical reason to post news to your site is for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) purposes. What this means is that you can use news posts to increase your Google ranking and appear higher in the search results. Google and other search engines search for keywords and phrases, and having them on your site means that they can be picked up by Google. The more content your site has, the more searches you will be found in. Search engines also take into account whether sites regularly have new content added to them, and sites that do will be seen as more relevant than sites that do not. You can read more about SEO on our page about Search Optimisation.
Keeping your website safe should be one of your highest priorities, but many sites are left outdated and exposed to hackers. As vulnerabilities are found in the code used to build them, updates are released to fix them and secure the site. This is especially important when it comes to WordPress as it tends to use lots of plugins. So as well as updating the core WordPress files and the theme, each of the plugins will also need to be updated.
If no one is applying these updates to your site, then it’s possible that it could be hacked. This could result in a number of things: your site could get a number of spam posts, redirect to another site, or even be made completely inaccessible. Search engines will also identify that your site has been hacked and will inform users, which will put people off visiting your site and damage your ranking.
Whilst you can update these yourself, it’s not recommended that you do unless you have an understanding of how the code works as plugin updates can change the appearance of the site. Before updating a plugin, the developer will download the website to his computer and apply the update locally to test it works there before doing it on the live site. At Indigo Tree, we carry out updates as a part of our website maintenance contracts and update plugins for our clients on a regular basis.