The digital world is constantly evolving. If your website isn’t keeping up with these ever changing fluctuations, you could be in for a world of trouble. With things the way they are, the home builder website’s lifespan is roughly two to five years. The average website begins to show a bit of age after about three years of operation. It will require a redesign by the time year five rolls around.
In a hyper-competitive market that timeline is shortened considerably. However, with full redesigns required roughly every two to three years in order to maintain a competitive edge. And glaring issues with your website can force your hand even earlier. This article will offer you some key 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 enhance 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 elements.
The physical appearance of your website has a huge influence on your audience’s first impression of your company and homes. A site designed in 1998 is going to look considerably dated as design cues have evolve considerably and rapidly. In addition, it gives the impression that the home builder who runs the business is just as dated as the website. As you are well aware, you only get one chance to make a first impression.
Fortunately, this is one of the easier aspects 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 overall look.
Keep track of websites you visit. Try to note things that stand out to you about them visually that you feel would resonate with your buyers. This is a great way to find things that might work for your own website. It’s also an excellent 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 to new 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, it’s 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 more efficient as well. Once your site’s speed has 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 visitors 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 slow loading, 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 specialized 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. Not to mention that you are at risk of being beholden to the platform or developers. As such, it’s always 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 being costly to maintain, 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 proven and open source software platform ensures that you will always have access to developers that can work on your website even years after the original development.
Designing websites to perform seamlessly on mobile devices is a relatively new challenge, but it is an absolute necessity as smartphones and tablets continue to dominate the market place. In 2018 58% of all website visits were made from mobile devices, and that number will only continue to grow moving forward.
Building a solid mobile-compatible website is essential to your business’s success, and to the life expectancy of your website. If you aren’t running natively on mobile then, not only are you losing potential qualified traffic. But also, Google will actually penalize your site’s ranking. Work with your development team to make certain that your site looks and operates perfectly 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 feel. Regardless of the device to access your site. 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 impeccably. Hopefully these tips will help you get more mileage out of your next or existing website redesign. Ensure that you have the edge over your competitors in the digital space.
Which one of my tips can you apply to your current website?
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.
Fill out the form below to subscribe for the The Punch List Newsletter. We'll send our latest news & industry insights, directly to your inbox.