The digital world is constantly evolving. If your website can’t keep up with these ever changing tides, you’re in for a world of trouble. With things the way they are, the home builder website’s lifespan is roughly 2-5 years. The average website begins to show a bit of age after about 3 years of operation. It will likely need a redesign by the time year 5 rolls around.
In a hyper-competitive market that timeline is shortened considerably, with full redesigns required roughly every 2-3 years in order to keep a competitive edge. And glaring issues with your website can force your hand even earlier. This article will give you some insight into steps that you can take during your next site redesign in order to extend that lifespan to your benefit.
When it comes to building a modern website for your home building business, there are essentially four major factors that you should consider when trying to increase your site’s lifespan:
These four pillars will be critical to the longevity of your site. These apply whether you’re creating one for the first time or doing a scheduled redesign. Let’s take a deeper look at each of these.
The physical appearance of your website has a huge influence on your audience’s first impression of you. A site designed in 1998 is going to look considerably dated as design cues evolve rapidly. In addition, it gives off the impression that the home builder who runs the business is just as dated as the website.
Fortunately, this is one of the easier parts of your site to work on through smaller updates. Simple changes like updating fonts, colors and refreshing your images can help breathe new life into your website’s look.
Keep track of websites you visit and try to note things that stand out to you about them visually. This is a great way to find things that might work for your own website. It’s also a great way to learn what you don’t like. If something is visually jarring on another website, it probably won’t enhance in yours.
While keeping your site up to date is important, don’t be too quick to jump on trends. Talk to your design or development team first, and really decide if you need that nifty new front page animation.
It’s better to forgo the trend than to spend money and time implementing it, only for the trend to die and require another redesign to get rid of it. For example, don’t add needless bells and whistles that do not actually enhance the end user’s experience.
While not as immediately engaging as your website’s appearance, how well it performs is just as important to its longevity. Just from a search ranking perspective, every page on your website should fully load in under 3 seconds or risk getting buried by Google’s algorithms. That aside, your users will appreciate a fast and easy to navigate website.
Having a well developed backbone for your website will make future redesigns easier as well. Once it’s been optimized, it will require less effort to integrate new content and maintain your load speeds. Creating a positive user experience is very important as users are more likely to repeatedly visit a website that is easy to use.
Design trends come and go, but an easy to use website with clear menus and fast load times will always be in style. If your website is loading slow, or feels clunky to use it may be time for you to start looking into a redesign. It will require more work in the moment, but will ensure that you get the most out of your website over the years to come.
If you were to compare the appearance of your website to the exterior and interior of a home and the performance to the plumbing and electricity, then your site’s content management system would be the foundation. Your content management system, or CMS, is what allows you to support and update a site as time goes on.
If your CMS is closed source and only allows their developers to work on it, then you run the risk of losing everything if they go out of business or make considerable changes to the product. As such, it’s assuredly a safer bet to utilize a large, well known open source CMS. A CMS that is supported by developers all over the world such as WordPress.
This not only insulates you against the content management system going out of business or making extreme changes, but also against internal changes. Your home builder business may, at some point in the future, change the company you use for your web development, or hire new internal developers. Working in a well-known and open source software ensures that you will always have access to developers that can work on your website even years after the original development.
Designing websites for mobile devices is a relatively new challenge, but it is an absolute necessity as smartphones and tablets continue to dominate the market. In 2018 58% of all website visits were made from mobile devices, and that number will only continue to grow.
Building a solid mobile compatible website is important to your business’s success, and to the lifespan of your website. If you aren’t running seamlessly on mobile then not only are you losing potential visitors, but Google will actually penalize your site’s ranking. Work with your development team to make certain that your site looks and runs great on mobile.
It’s also a good idea to revisit your mobile site any time you make changes to your primary website. That way it becomes easier to keep a consistent theme. Also, it feels to your online presence while also keeping things fresh.
As a web conscious home builder, it’s important to keep your website looking and functioning well. Hopefully these tips will help you get more mileage out of your next website redesign, and ensure that you have the edge up on your competitors in the digital space.
About Terry Zelen
Creative Director | Consultant | Author | President of Zelen Communications
Terry Zelen is a seasoned Creative Director with more than 35 years of experience in Home Builder advertising and marketing.
He is the founder of The Punch List, which is an online blog to help inform home builders and developers on strategic marketing insights to fuel their firm.
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