Ultimate Guide to Updating Your Website in 2021

Your Website Must Evolve!

All growing businesses face the inevitable at some point --  a website project! Your website is your digital foundation. It’s key to driving revenue growth, lead generation and employee recruitment in today’s online world.

Add into the mix a pandemic that literally changed the world - how we interact, work and conduct business. This means: Your Website Must Change Too!

If your company website looks and reads the same as it did at the beginning of 2020, you are due for an update. Why? Because ...

  • The way your customers interact and buy has changed. They expect online interactions that are comfortable and easy. They want a personalized online experience just as if they were walking through the door.
  • Search Engine Optimization is more important than ever! Can users find your website online? Do you show up on page 1 of Google? Is your online listing accurate and up to date with hours, phone numbers, changes due to the pandemic and more?
  • You must keep your competitive advantage online in a virtual world. Your competitors are likely updating their sites, if they have not yet already.

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What Should A Good Website Have in 2021?

Not all websites are created equal. And that doesn’t just mean some are better-designed than others. There are several other elements behind what you see on the screen. 

The execution of these elements, as well as the “pretty,” is what can take a website from sub-par performance to becoming a high-performing extension of your sales team that also ranks well in Google. Let’s break down what these elements are in five categories:

  • Design - 2021 is all about mixing modern with vintage, using bold fonts and gradients - but never at the expense of usability.
  • User Experience/Customer Expectations -  Buyers want videos, chat capabilities, interactive content and more in today’s virtual world.
  • Technical - Pages should load in less than 3 seconds, and your site should include top-level security features.
  • Accessibility - ADA compliance is key! That means accessible forms, color contrasts and more.
  • Search Engine Optimization - If you don’t show up in Google, your customers can’t find you. Keywords, links and alt tags are more important than ever before.

Get the complete checklist.  60 Website Design Trends, Customer Expectations & Best Practices for 2021

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Your Website Is Not A Static Entity

During the 2000s, and even into the early 2010s, a business’ website often took on the look and function of an electronic brochure.

E-commerce websites aside, they existed to provide basic information about a company and often mimicked the content of their printed counterparts. If a point of contact was provided beyond a standard email and telephone number, it often was a contact form that sent a generic email to someone at the organization.

Website designers were primarily focused on making these sites look pretty. (Although, if we’re being honest, many were still cringe-worthy.)

Maybe this sounds like your current website. You’d be surprised how many companies have websites that look great and were recently redesigned, but have no strategic alignment whatsoever. They fail to drive leads, revenue and company growth and remain a largely useless piece in the marketing stack.

How To Make Your Website Sell For You 💰

If you want to make the most out of your investment in a website, you need to approach your next website as a strategic corporate asset. 

There should be goals tied specifically to your website. These goals should dictate a well-thought-out strategy that influences every aspect of the website redesign. From colors and font choices to the placement of call-to-action buttons, each part of the website should offer a positive user experience and, in some way, make an impact on those goals.

A Website Should Drive Company Growth

Your website is your No. 1 online asset -- especially as the world moves to more and more virtual events, interactions and buying experiences. 

The majority of your prospects are online every day, and if you’re failing to put your best foot forward, you will fall behind your competitors. 

That’s why it’s so important to look at your website as an investment. And it’s not just an investment that you make every 5-10 years when you think it’s time for a fresh look. Instead, you should see website improvements and updates as part of your annual budget to help reach your business goals.

Your website should be developed for flexibility and company growth. By positioning your website as an evolving system focused on user behavior, you will ensure that it will continue to meet your needs over the years. 

An effective website is one that can prove through data that it is generating traffic, converting traffic to marketing and sales qualified leads, driving company growth and increasing ROI.

If your current website is not doing all of these things, then you’re missing out on a tremendous opportunity in today’s digital world.

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How Much Should A Website Cost in 2021?

Consider the absurdity of asking “How much does it cost to build or renovate a house?” Such a question raises more questions than it answers. The size of the house, the quality of materials, the location of the build and the builders who were chosen all have an impact on the final number (along with hundreds of other considerations). 

A website proposal is no different. Some factors that can contribute to a difference in cost include the number of pages on the website, the platform the website is built on, a template vs. custom development, the number of lead-generating forms it includes and whether you are building a new site or renovating the existing one.

Think of your website as an asset and extension of your sales and marketing teams. Your website does not clock out at the end of the day. It is literally working for you 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. 

When considering it in this light, it’s worth noting how much you’d expect to pay another sales rep annually. And if you want your website to help achieve company goals similar to a sales rep, you can expect to set aside a similar yearly budget. 

With all that being said, costs may range anywhere from $1,500 on the lower end to upwards of $100k+ for a robust site. There is no set number for what a website should cost, and there is no “industry standard.” 

The final number depends on your objective, your budget, your goals, the ROI you hope to achieve, the size of the website, the quality of the agency or developer you choose and more.

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To Build Or Renovate?

Do you completely tear your website down and build it back from the ground up? Can you patch and repair cracks and broken pieces? It’s a tough decision and a lot plays into the answer - design, user experience, SEO, the CMS platform, and of course, costs.

 

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Custom Development Or Template Site

One of the foundational elements that can dictate the cost and user experience is how your website is built. Using a template will cut down on development time and cost; however, it will not have the capabilities of a custom site. 

Here are a few key points to help you narrow in on what may be best for your new site:

Template Websites

Template sites begin with a premade template already built. This template can then be used as the starting point for various sites.

Developers place your logo, brand colors, copy and images into the template to make it unique to your brand. Most of the time on the project is spent adding content and styling individual pages vs. building pages from scratch with custom development. This significantly reduces development time and cost.

The downside can be in the template, you use as some templates are better than others. Watch out for templates built on shoddy code, which will only cause more problems than fixes. Also, stay away from templates that are very limited as they will be difficult to manipulate to fit your brand and needs.

If you do pursue a template site, work with a website agency or professional developer who has recommended templates they know are good to use or who can assess what you have picked out.

Custom Development

Custom-built websites are built specifically for your business, making them truly unique to you. They are often built upon a framework or theme that has been stripped down so that the only code the developer starts with is the bare bones to make that website function. 

From there, it is built entirely based upon your organization's needs and usually mimics a custom mockup that has been designed and presented to you. As you can guess, there is a significant time investment during the development phase of a custom-built website project. 

While you may see this as more dollar signs, you can rest assured knowing that a custom-built website is tailored specifically to your needs. If done by a reputable agency, it will also load quickly, present the best user experience and make the search engines happy.

 

Get the complete checklist.  60 Website Design Trends, Customer Expectations & Best Practices for 2021

Download Now

How To Compare Website Proposals

Ready to get the ball rolling? We recommend getting a few website proposals to compare. Just note that website proposals can vary widely, making it difficult to compare apples to apples.

Therefore, when evaluating website proposals or vetting website agencies, here are few things to consider:

  • A good website proposal should include goals that feed up to your overarching company goals. For example, these goals may be to increase brand awareness and overall traffic, to generate 10 new leads a month for your sales team or to boost conversions on SQLs reaching out via contact forms (or all of the above!). 
  • The proposal should include a strategy phase. Will buyer personas be developed? What upfront research will be done to ensure the site is built to meet your needs, compete with competitors, tie to your goals and be up to par with industry standards?
  • The proposal should clearly identify that the site will meet search engine optimization (SEO) best practices. Unique title tags and meta descriptions should be written for every page. Alt text should be added for every image. Page load times should be under 3 seconds each. 
  • The proposal should also outline that copy will be written, or at least reviewed and optimized, by a professional content writer who is well-versed in writing for the web and for search engines.
  • And a nonnegotiable should be that the site is built to ensure every page is not just responsive, but truly designed and optimized with mobile users in mind.

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What To Expect When Outsourcing

Just like in any industry, not all companies are created equal. Remember, your website should be an investment and should be working to help you meet your goals. The days of building a “set it and forget it” website are gone. If you hope to remain competitive, it’s time you up your game.

Expectations for a Website Agency: 

Knowledge

They should be well-versed on industry trends and best practices. Ask them to provide examples of sites they’ve recently completed and ask where they draw their inspiration. Do they regularly look at well-designed sites by other designers? Do they follow industry blogs? How long have they been designing and developing sites?

Communication

Your agency or assigned web team should clearly communicate that they understand your expectations, keep you abreast of a realistic timeline and be readily available for questions. 

 

Partnership

They should not be an order-taker. They should come to the table with strategic plans and creative ideas, and they should use data to back their decisions. What your organization really needs is a partnership to help launch and manage the most important aspect of your digital presence. Make sure you can see yourself collaborating with them! 

Strategy

Consider the significant benefits you will gain by employing an agency that truly understands digital marketing and will consider strategy first. A developer that works alone may come at a much cheaper price tag, but chances are high that they won’t have the full understanding of digital marketing. Their expertise lies in design and development. A full agency team, on the other hand, brings knowledge in not only design and development, but also copywriting, search engine optimization, social media marketing and more.

"Our website was old, was outdated ...

the challenge, for us, was 'can we afford a new website?' "

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Talk To Us About Your Website

At Marketing Essentials, we’re a digital marketing and sales agency with seasoned team members who are results-driven and focused on our client’s bottom line. We invite you to set up a free consultation with our digital experts to discuss how your website can drive company growth today and into the future.

 

I'm Interested In A Free Consultation

Or call:

Patty-CEO

Patty Cisco,

CEO

419.629.0080
Grant-Director

Grant Covault,

Director of Business Development

419.629.0080