Thoughts on Stale Websites and Cold, Outdated Content

Content development leads to white page syndrome

For many years I’ve been working with small businesses and entrepreneurs. A great amount this work is assisting them with the development of websites and content.

Content is the single most toe-stumping, road-blocking obstacle for every single SMB owner I’ve worked with. Whether at the start of the web building or later after outdated content is on the site, keeping a business’s web presence fresh seems to stymie most business owners.

Slow to start

During the web development phase content is what takes longer to determine, author and edit, especially if owners wish to pen their own page text. Most get “white page syndrome” and stare at the blank screen and produce nothing. Cure: Hire a content development expert.

Set it and forget it yields outdated content

After a site is launched many entrepreneurs simply forget their sites and never look back, overlooking the fact that their business website is their always-on, always-open office. Outdated content makes your business look out-of-date. Cure: Develop an editorial calendar to keep you on track.

Most websites we develop are based on a content management system (we prefer self-hosted WordPress), allowing the easy modification of existing pages, and quick publication of new pages or posts.

Yet despite these easy to use tools, most website owners neglect their sites. It is so easy to get caught up in the other activities of managing your business. However, I’d ask you to consider this: almost every single small business I’ve ever worked with has very little disposable cash to spend on paying for advertising placements, or pay per click ads.


quotation marks
The single most effective marketing spend is that of time and thought to keep your website updated.


From listing new testimonials, to new clients to new business accomplishments to insights designed to help your customers solve problems, you can find many sources of fresh content for your site.

Has your content grown cold?

If you find yourself suffering from white page syndrome, and lack inspiration on how you might update content, use these tips from Site Pro News blogger Adrienne Erin:

    • Make sure every page has some call-to-action. This can be to pick up the phone for a consultation, email for an appointment, download a white paper, join an email list, set up an account, add items to a wish list, etc. Think about what you want to get from every visitor to your site.
    • Rewrite the content on all the webpages. Just as the appearance of a site can become dated, so can the readability. You don’t have to majorly rewrite all the content; even minor tweaks can alter the way a piece reads.
    • Delete pages that no longer apply to your company. Has your business changed its direction? Do you have pages that make zero sense to keep? Remove them or risk confusing your guests.
    • Add pages for new products or services. Just as you deleted some pages, you may want to add others for the same reasons.

Want other tips to develop your website content? A few of our previous articles may help you find exactly the topic or trend or type of inspriation you need.

Blog Post Inspiration Sources

Avoid Writing “Click Here” When Authoring Your Website or Marketing Email Content

WordPress Blog Post Development Checklist


Give me a call. We’ll help get you focused and on track with an editorial plan and if you need it, professional content development assistance.

Getting An Accurate Website Quote: What You Need to Prepare

So you’ve been tasked with getting a website quote for your company.  Where do you began?

Know your requirements

The process of developing a website is often compared to that of building a house. As with any construction project, you need to know what your requirements, budget and timeline are. You would not dream of going to a builder and saying, “Build me a house.” And in the same breath ask, “How much will that cost?” You would expect to specify the size, location, and materials for the structure before being able to know a price. Nor would you go to a builder and ask them to specify the house they want to build for you without providing them a budget. Yet, this is what many people do when asking for a new website.

In this post I’ll enumerate essential questions you need to have answered in order to work with a web designer and developer in order to gain a web site that achieves goals, creates leads, and provides conversions which lead to sales and new business.

Create a planning document

Every home design begins with a list of requirements. Every website should too. You must create a website brief which you can give to your potential website designer and developer. You can do this as a spreadsheet or word processing document. The format doesn’t matter, the content does.

As to the content, by writing down the answers to the following questions, you will create a through requirements document for your web developers. Now, if you don’t want to do this yourself, you can pay to have this created as the first part of your website’s development, but most don’t want to pay for planning, only execution. So, if you see yourself here, do the planning before asking for a quote.

Getting started

A crucial question every web developer and designer will ask you is, “What is the purpose of this website?” If you cannot answer this simple question you are not ready to build.

So many people focus on how a website looks above everything else that they forget that there is a business purpose behind it. You’re going to to be expected to provide answers to the classic questions:

  1. Who?  Are your website visitors? Who are your customers?
  2. What? Will they do when they reach your site?
  3. When? Will they seek information, services or products that lead them to your site?
  4. Where? Will you promote your website?
  5. Why? Are you creating a website? Why are your visitors here? Why will they trust you? Why will they buy from you?

Let’s examine each of these questions to comprehend the answers you will be expected to supply.

Who

The world is not your customer.  Your customer is some subset of the population which seeks the products and services you are in business to sell.  You need to tell your web site designer about your customer.  We need to know what motivates your customer and what kind of lifestyle they enjoy.  We also need to know where they live or why they would shop on your site.

What

Knowing business purpose behind your website is critical to building a successful website conversion. You must know what you want your visitors to do when they reach your website.  Which path do you want them to take through your website?  Do you want them to read about your services?  Or do you want them to visit your online store? If you don’t know what actions you want your site visitor to take and the order in which you would like them to take these actions your site will not function as you wish.

When

Your business products and services fulfill your customer’s needs. So, what are the triggers which cause your prospective customer to take to Google to search for services? Knowing your customer’s motivations will allow your site’s content to meet the customer where their need begins. Having focused content also helps you show up well in search engine results.

Where

Another critical element about which you will be questioned is, “how are you going to market your web site?” The most common ways people market or promote their website and thus their business include: social media, Google AdWords, blog post authorship (on their own and other’s blogs), and syndication of your website content to company pages in social media such as SlideShare, and LinkedIn.

Why

Why should someone buy from you? Why should they pick up the phone or ask for a quote? Establishing trust and authenticity on your site is another important component to earning a customer’s business. Trust is established by a number of signals. Testimonials are one signal which demonstrates the esteem you’ve earned. Another is to list where your products are sold, which is especially important if your product is a consumer packaged food or beverage. If you have an ecommerce site, offering a guarantee statement is important. You can also amplify trust by offering badges or symbols highlighting the secure processing of payments.

Form and function

Now that you’ve gathered answers for these essential questions, you need to know your preferences for functionality, look and feel.

Start with what you like and what you don’t like about your current web site. Add to that examples of sites that you really like along with a list of the features and functionality in those sites that you find most attractive. Spend time reviewing your competitors’ websites and seeing what they have done that works or doesn’t work. Have some of your customers tell you want they look for in a website.

Wrap it up

Now that you’ve created a list of requirements, customer insights, and examined competitors, you should have a pretty fine set of directions for a prospective web developer. Now, when ask for a quote, you can provide your requirements and expect to gain a realistic quote.

Use our website planning document if you don’t want to create your own. Just be sure to answer all questions thoroughly in order to get a valid quote.

Majority of Americans Have a Smartphone

Smartphone at bar by flickr user phil campbell

Smartphone ownership is on the rise and is closely linked with age and income according to Pew Internet.

As of May 2013:

  • 91% of American adults have a cell phone
  • 56% of American adults have a smartphone
  • 28% of cell owners own an Android; 25% own an iPhone; 4% own a Blackberry

Pew Internet Chart: Cell and smartphone owner demos

Referring to the chart above, one can see that almost 100% those with incomes over $75k per year are most likely to own smart phones. Smartphone ownership is most common in the age group 18-29 and for those earning $75K or more.

There has been rapid acceleration among those switching from feature phones to smartphones as well.

Without a doubt, this is the year for smartphone market penetration. Once assumed to be the province of geeks, now smartphones are in the pockets and purses of slightly more than one in two Americans.

Website planning impacted by smartphone ownership

Be sure to calculate this into your website planning and social media marketing. Is your website mobile optimized? If not, you will want to be sure it is before the year is out.

Photo credit: flicker user philcampbell