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With the new year and a tough economy now is the perfect time to consider redesigning your website.  Websites are the most cost-effective way to promote and conduct business.  But how do you know when to redesign?  Here are some questions to ask yourself to help determine if your website is a candidate.

Does your website stand up to your competition?

Your website increasingly is the first impression someone has of your business, and you can be sure that your visitors will be conducting some online comparisons.  Does your website look dated next to your competitor?  Has a competitor recently redesigned to stand above you?  Staying one step ahead of your competition is always a good idea.

Does your website code validate?

If your website is more than a few years old, chances are it was built with non-standard code.  Websites with standards compliant code are easier to maintain, rank higher in search engines, have increased accessibility and ensure design uniformity.  See if your code validates with the W3C validation tool.

Is your website built on old technology?

I remember having to learn the Perl programming language.  Today Perl and a number of other technologies have been set aside in website development.  The risk to you, the website owner, is that you will be unable to find people to work on your website.  If your website is running on one of these older technologies now is the time to update.

Does your have a content management system?

In the early days of the internet a webmaster would have to be contacted to make any change to content.  For active websites this became both difficult to manage and expensive.  Today there are many excellent content management systems that will allow you to edit your website directly to easily keep content current.

Is your website more than an online brochure?

Early websites were strictly informational. Today a website does much more. Contact forms, mailing lists, forums, blogs, reviews, calendars, rss feeds, audio and video – all of these (and many more items) are becoming commonplace on websites.  Having such features will both keep your website current and give visitors more reasons to return.

Do you have clear goals?

Aside from technology and aesthetic concerns looking at obvious items such as website goals is important.  The days of having a website to merely have a website are long gone.  Today websites focus on return on investment and serve as a tool for converting visitors into customers and clients.

What do your visitors say?

Every day your visitors tell you what they find useful on your website and what they don’t find so useful.  Website stats and analytics give you this information.  Look at your stats and analytics and see if you are meeting your visitors needs.  This information is invaluable when considering a redesign.

Conclusion

Websites and the technologies behind them change rapidly.  I like to tell people that if I built websites the same way as I did five years ago I should be fired on the spot.  And it’s true!

New technologies improve how your website is built (both from a visual and technical standpoint) and make it easier to manage.  By answering the questions above you will be able to determine if the time has come to redesign your current website and make it work harder for you, especially in a down economy.

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