Whether to Rebrand or Rebuild, the Time Has Come to Update Your Website
If your business’ website loads quickly, links to all the right pages, and enables your customers to consistently contact you, why consider updating the site when everything seems to be running smoothly? Unfortunately, building a website isn’t like buying a new car that you plan on driving for seven to 10 years. Websites need frequent updating for a variety of reasons.
At LocalFresh, we recommend our clients update their websites every three to four years. While that may seem too frequent, consider the speed at which technology evolves.
Less than five years ago, TikTok had yet to launch in the U.S., the iPhone 7 was the hottest product on the market, Instagram Stories was just starting to redefine the slideshow, and Facebook Live finally gave celebrities the opportunity to get arrested live for the world to see.
Behind the scenes, the plugins, platforms, and tools that enable your website to run smoothly also continued to evolve. In 2016, WordPress released version 4.7. After 125 updates over the last five years, WordPress moved to version 5.8 this July. As technology sprints ever forward, users quickly feel the pressure of either keeping up or being left behind.
Earlier this year, Apple announced plans to stop supporting the iPhone 7 in 2021, and WordPress no longer supports any version prior to 5.7.2. Tech companies have no sympathy for customers who fail to update their technology, and have no problems leaving them behind. If you want a site to consistently function and not become easy prey for hackers looking to exploit holes in website security caused by outdated software, you need to regularly update the technology your business relies on.
A website can also become outdated in other areas, including style. In 2016, parallax motion was all the rage when designing a new website. While aesthetically interesting at the time, the software used to create the scrolling effect was notoriously buggy, often causing pages to load more slowly and creating sites that didn’t feel intuitive to use.
You can argue that a site that grabs a user’s attention is worth slightly slower page load times and a few issues on the backend. Unfortunately, parallax motion became so popular at the time that it became almost ubiquitous on the internet. Seeing something for the first time has a far greater effect than when you see it for the 1,000th time. But like a bad hair style that briefly becomes all the rage, some trends burnout faster than others. Sites that use parallax motion now look outdated and even somewhat cliché, especially when compared to more modern augmented-reality applications favored by web designers today.
Whether for style or substance, updating your business’ website offers a variety of benefits that can greatly improve your ability to attract new customers.
At LocalFresh, we helped two of our clients update their website in very different ways. McDowell Dentistry took the opportunity to update their brand identity when refreshing their website design, while East Portland Dentistry updated the foundation of their website to make it run more efficiently and to provide a better user experience. While the end results of both refreshes were incredibly different, they both served to improve each site and help to attract new patients.
A single-dentist family practice located in Gladstone, Oregon, McDowell Dentistry originally featured a very professional, functional, and attractive-looking website. The only problem – it looked far too much like every other dental practice website on the internet.
McDowell’s old dental website was excellent at presenting the practice as a place where patients would receive exceptional dental care, but the site also did little to help differentiate what separates McDowell from the competition. In a field as highly competitive as dentistry, your website needs to do more than just present your practice as a place where patients will receive quality care. The site needs to express a brand that shines with personality.
In 2017, Dr. Robert McDowell decided to pivot away from his old brand and toward one that did a far better job of showing the inherent charisma possessed by the doctor and his staff. Gone were the standard photos of Dr. McDowell interacting with smiling patients, replaced by photos of the doctor and his staff dressed as superheroes in masks and capes. A color scheme that once featured many neutral colors was replaced with more vibrant shades of blue and red. The text on the site still provided patients with valuable information, but the copy was written more expressively by leaning into the superhero theme of the website. The art style shifted towards the type of action panels a reader would see in a comic book.
Overall, the site couldn’t look more different, and patients visiting the site would immediately know that Dr. McDowell was different from your average dentist.
When you have a willingness to frequently update your website, your brand gains the flexibility to reinvent itself on the fly. During the height of the superhero craze in 2017, changing your website to capture that zeitgeist makes perfect sense from a branding perspective. Yet, once superheroes become less part of pop culture – should such a day ever come – you don’t want a brand to look out of place like the one person at the party who showed up wearing parachute pants.
Earlier this year, Dr. McDowell decided to alter the branding of his website once again. Gone were the colorful costumes and masks of the superhero genre, replaced by images of the doctor and his staff in a variety of matching outfits. While the imagery may have changed, the humor and personality depicted in the photos remained very much on brand.
Now, instead of having a direct connection to an existing genre, the McDowell Dentistry website leans heavily into a shared sense of humor and a type of zaniness that imparts a very specific message to new and current patients – If you’re looking for a dental experience that offers a fun and entertaining atmosphere while still providing exceptional care, then McDowell Dentistry is the dental practice for you.
East Portland Dentistry
While Dr. McDowell chose to update his practice’s brand when refreshing his website, Dr. Joy Arend elected to maintain the branding of her website while working to improve the foundation on which the site operates.
Originally built using Headway Themes, the East Portland website needed an upgrade from its existing foundation. A type of WordPress app, Headway provides web designers an easy and effective way to create a dynamic website layout. However, older Headway sites no longer receive developer support, which prevents them from running the latest WordPress apps.
Without an ability to update to the latest patches and updates, East Portland Dentistry’s site would have struggled to provide the type of functionality patients had come to expect. Regular updates also provide the security patches needed to prevent hackers from accessing a site and causing havoc. Combined, these and other issues meant that East Portland needed to update their site or risk it simply shutting down.
Working behind the scenes, the LocalFresh team was able to upgrade the site from Headway to Beaver Builder, one of the latest WordPress developer apps. This switch opened a new world of possibilities for the East Portland website.
Features that were incompatible with the old Headway site could now be implemented. Broken apps and widgets that impeded how patients were able to use the site were easily fixed. Security threats that lingered due to the outdated software were no longer an issue as the new updated platform was fully supported by the developer. The threat that the site would simply shut down for being too old and incompatible was gone.
Now that the East Portland Dentistry website has been refreshed, future updates will no longer require a massive investment in time or money. When a site receives regular maintenance and frequent refreshes, the time it takes to complete those types of infrastructure tasks goes down significantly.
From the outside, the East Portland Dentistry doesn’t look significantly different. Unlike McDowell Dentistry, which dramatically changed its branding and appearance, most patients visiting the East Portland website wouldn’t know much had changed. However, the top-down refresh the site received made all the difference in areas the public doesn’t see but still matter significantly when it comes to performance and function.
The Time Has Come to Update Your Website
If your business’ website is more than a few years old, you need to refresh. Whether a dramatic change of your business’ branding or subtler improvements to its overall infrastructure, refreshing your website offers your business a significant return on your investment.
The web designers at LocalFresh can assist you with the process of refreshing your business website. Whether you’re looking to start fresh or just need to bring your current site up-to-date, we can help. Click here to learn more about how LocalFresh can keep your business’ website looking and functioning at its best.