When the internet first emerged, we were told to update our websites every five years. As technology continued to advance, that number dropped down to two years. Now, with technology and web design trends changing so quickly, we are lucky if we only have to update our website once a year.

Why is having an up-to-date website so important? Simple, it is what our customers demand. In 2011 over $1.1 trillion in sales were generated by the Internet, according to Forrester Research.

So, how do you update your website to engage more customers and keep up with the times?

Decrease Load Times

Let’s start with your customer’s first impression: load time. According to Econsultancy, “40% of people will abandon a web page if it takes more than three seconds to load.” If your website takes longer than 3 seconds to load, then it is time for a simpler design.

To create a simpler design, opt for flat web pages or in other words a 2D design. Avoid 3D graphics because they cause your website to take longer to load. You may be tempted to add 3D graphics to make your website “state-of-the-art,” but it is a waste of time. It does not matter how elaborate your website looks if almost half of your customers never make it to your site.

In addition, a flat design is easier for your customers to view and process. 3D graphics can be overwhelming, and cause your customers to leave your website sooner. Instead, choose simple elements, typography, and flat colors. This flat design will always be easier for your customers to view, even if they are on a mobile device.

A simple design is also easier to update, so your website can always stay current even as time goes on. Since we all need to update our websites often, this is a huge benefit of using a simpler design.

Add Visual Elements

Once you get your customers to your website with a faster load time, how do you keep them there? The answer is to use more pictures and less text.

According to 3M Corporation and Zabisco, “90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text.” Since the brain processes visual information more easily, it makes sense that your customers enjoy seeing pictures more than text on your website. Use meaningful images to enhance your website and keep your customers browsing.

Improve Navigation and Readability

Another way to keep customers browsing through your website is to improve navigation. According to Keynote, “46% of mobile users report having difficulty interacting with a web page, and 44% complain that navigation was difficult.”

In fact, “48% of users say that if they arrive on a business site that isn’t working well on mobile, they take it as an indication of the business simply not caring,” according to MarginMedia. To improve mobile navigation and avoid disappointing your customers, decrease the number of clicks and increase scrolling on your website.

To reduce clicks and increase scrolling, reduce the number of pages on your website. According to Creative Director Dan Ulichney, you want to engage your website visitors by telling a story. Splitting your website into numerous pages inhibits your ability to tell business’s story. Ulichney states, “Bulky websites fragment your ability to tell a story. Presenting a complete narrative on one long, scrolling page is preferable to having visitors click through multiple pages.”

However, you do not want your potential customers to get tired from scrolling either. To mask how long your pages are, utilize parallax scrolling. Parallax scrolling is a technique where background images move more slowly than foreground images. This creates an illusion of depth, disguises the length of your pages, and encourages your customers to keep reading.

Personalize Your Website

The final step to updating your website is to personalize it. Instead of advertising your website to everyone, tailor it to your specific customers. Whether it is the images, blog posts, or calls to action, absolutely everything about your website should focus on the customer.

Senior Designer Walt Winchel explained this concept best when he said, “We used to design websites for the general visitor. Now we’re personalizing and contextualizing the design and content so a website will look different depending on personas and lifecycle stages. You have to alter your business’ branding into variations, so it’s attractive to all of your buyers at all times.”

Tailoring content based on personas and lifecycles stages only provides the most relevant content to your customers. This personalizes the experience for all of your customers, and makes them feel like your business was born to help them. In addition, your tailored content should focus on providing solutions for your customer’s problems. This will make your website visitors connect even more with your company and convert them into paying customers.

In summary, update your website by incorporating simple designs and visual elements. Also, decrease clicks and increase scrolling to improve navigation and readability. Finally, personalize your website and focus on offering specific solutions for your customers.

Sources:

-“Get the Most from Your Web Design: Your Top Website Redesign Questions Answered” by Kuno Creative

-http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33423/19-Reasons-You-Should-Include-Visual-Content-in-Your-Marketing-Data.aspx

-http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/compelling-stats-website-design-optimization-list

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