Being Responsive to Change with WordPress

As I read this great article on The Next Web, I couldn’t help but think how many times we’ve gone through this cycle of design > build > watch technology advance > scrape the lot > start over again. The article gives me hope that we may be on the road to never needing to reinvent the wheel with the first item on its list – Responsive Design.

Let’s take a look at how WordPress can be used to best effect to address each of these 10 signs.

Is your website responsive?

If your answer to this is ‘no’, WordPress makes addressing this shortcoming as simple as choosing one of the ever-increasing number of responsive themes that are available.

Is it hard to keep updated?

If you have to keep calling a web developer to make updates to your site’s pages, or  you’re using an outdated ‘free website’ platform that came with your web hosting package, you’re likely spending too much time and money to keep your site fresh. In the case of the ‘free web builder’ scenario, these seldom, if ever are up to date in how they publish your content, and you’re suffering in search because of it. WordPress makes creating new content simple.

Are there functions and features that are no longer used?

The WordPress Dashboard allows your site owner/administrator to turn features on and off.

Does your website take a long time to load?

The keyword here is ‘performance’. If your site takes too long (and I mean just a few seconds here), users will abandon you like rats from a sinking ship.

You could pay a web developer to optimize your current site; this will require a time-consuming site audit to determine what’s slowing things down. They’ll identify pages, scripts and files that are too large due to unused or inefficient code, images that are too large, and server bottlenecks that prevent code from loading quickly.

Or, you could install and enable one of many caching plugins for WordPress. We like W3 Total Cache for our clients’ sites. It’s easy to configure, but very powerful under the hood if a default setup isn’t ideal for your site. Once your site has caching enabled, you can stop worrying that your site isn’t performing up to users’ expectations.

Are visitors navigating past your home page?

Any discussion of your website that doesn’t include measurement is ignoring the reason the web has become the de-facto way of communicating with your customers about your business: you don’t have to guess if you’re doing it right and hope for the best. You  can measure whether your ads are working. You can see which of your pages is getting the job done. You can see where the users are looking and clicking, how long they stay on your site, and which pages turn them off and send them running to your competition.

With an analytics plugin installed, WordPress tracks your visitors actions. We usually recommend Google Analytics to our clients. It’s free. It’s also the most powerful platform ever created for analyzing your business online. You really can’t pay for more insight than GA offers, at everyone’s favorite price.

Is your site slowly losing visitors over time?

There are lots of reasons why your ‘Unique Visitors’ metric may decrease over time. While it takes a certain amount of analysis to determine the likely cause, it’s safe to assume that stale content is one of the leading causes of an eroding user base. Consumers and businesses today assume if your website is out of date, that your business is too. ‘Out of date’ has become synonymous with inefficient; you can’t afford to be wasteful of your most valuable resources.

WordPress makes easy the task of keeping information up to date, posting news and articles and publishing your own business thought leadership, so your users will continue to have faith that your business is ahead of, not behind, the curve.

When was the last time you completely overhauled your site?

I don’t necessarily agree with the time line the authors of the article I linked at the top of this post when it comes to this question. I prefer to focus on continuous, not periodic, improvement.

That said, a new website is something your visitors will love to hear about – nothing will do more to get your site a flood of visitors than to announce you’ve launched a new site. If you want return visits after your re-launch, you’ve got to keep the ball in the air, so to speak, and we’ve already talked about keeping content fresh as the way to accomplish that goal.

Are parts of your site not functioning properly?

The authors of the aforementioned article point to using a Content Management System to ensure your site is properly managed and content is indexed and linked.

While you may be among those who have heard of WordPress, and heard that it powers more websites than any other single platform, you may also have become used to hearing about how it’s just a blogging platform. Today, WordPress is more powerful and capable than ever. The tremendous support of theme and plugin developers from all over the world, and the vision of the WordPress development team have made WP the standard for CMS’s against which all others are measured.

Do search engines even know you exist?

There are a number of ways to make sure the answer to this is yes: almost none of them are as simple as installing a plugin in your WordPress admin panel.

Is the copyright year in your footer any other year than 2012?

I don’t have to tell you how competitive the world around your business has become. If your competitors haven’t caught on to this yet, and you care about growing your business, now is the time to strike. Be fresher, newer, and more responsive to your (and your competitions’) customers, and they’ll reward you for it.

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