Updating Websites: Why I’m Like the Barber with Unruly Hair

You know how it goes – you set up a website when you start your business, and then you get on with your business. As someone who has founded and managed many websites over the years, I know how easy it is to forget to update links and content on a regular basis!

BarberShop2Every barber – even the best of them – has to get his or her own hair cut sometimes. It is exactly the same with me – sometimes my hair (um, I mean, my website) just gets out of control, or starts to look outdated.

Over the years, I’ve worked on dozens of websites – from writing to editing to complete rewrites – for clients and employers (as well as a few of my own sites). I understand how important it is for small businesses, nonprofits, and solopreneurs to be sure their websites are working to attract customers – not repel them.

It’s usually when I notice a problem on a client’s website that I am reminded to take a look at my own. I start thinking to myself “Hmmm, I should really have X on my home page,” or “Why didn’t I notice how cluttered my Y page had become?”

To stick with the barber analogy, here are three easy fixes for your unruly hair website.

1. Trim the dead ends / Check your site for dead links

I can’t even tell you how often I discover dead links on my website pages, despite checking every 3-4 months! I recommend asking yourself “Is this link necessary here?” when you find a dead link and before you go through the trouble of researching the new URL to update it. If the link is not necessary, revise your text to eliminate it, and save yourself from having to check it again in the future.

2. Modernize your look

Yahoo’s home page header, circa 1996

Remember the 1990s, when grunge was in style and so were websites with placid, classical music, an overuse of color, retreating text (just like the Star Wars opening crawl!) and dancing baby GIFs on the home page? Yeah, we don’t want to go there again.

Take a look at the home pages of some of your current favorite websites. What kinds of graphic elements do they use? Resources for websites have come a long way since settling for whatever free elements your provider offered. Consider using image design sites like Canva (www.canva.com) and photo providers like Unsplash (https://unsplash.com/) to update your website’s visual appeal.

3. Wash-and-go / Avoid a high-maintenance style

Go for a style that’s easy to maintain. Sure, you could have ten pages on your links bar, or all of your news on the home page as well as a “news” page and another page for “press releases” but who wants to have to update three different pages when one news item is announced?

If you don’t want to have to constantly worry about updating your website pages, consider which pages you really need, and how to limit yourself to only one page that will require regular updates.

Don’t be afraid to shake up your style every so often. Check out how your website looks using different templates in preview mode. How does it look if people view it on a mobile device?

Just as hair keeps growing, technology keeps changing. Sometimes you have to look in the mirror and recognize that it’s time to sit yourself down in the chair and do something about it.