By: Nicholas Bowers

In the early days of the Internet, it was sufficient enough to own a website and just let it go live. Those times have changed; users are more savvy these days, there is so much information available to them, and so many websites competing for their attention. Jurisdictions that are ignoring their assessor websites and failing to keep content up-to-date are making a crucial mistake. For these reasons, it is very important to keep your websites maintained and updated. Making sure to keep your site relevant, fast, and safe.

You will not believe how many websites still look like they did from the 90’s. On the web, the term “old school is cool” does not apply. Even people with no web experience can tell these websites are totally outdated. The Internet and digital world are constantly changing while user preferences and tastes shift even faster. Users are more likely to frequent a nice-looking, easy-to-use website. It gives the user assurance that the website is on top of the latest trends and technologies.

When users visit your website, they will see it as a reflection of your jurisdiction. If the website looks professional and is loaded with useful information, a user will see you as an authority and expert. Likewise, if your website is poorly designed, unstructured, and/or out-of-date, the user may make the same assumption about you. First impressions are vital to portray, so it is crucial that your website design stay on top of the latest design trends. Your website should highlight your jurisdiction’s services, content, and data in a positive manner that encourages further inquiry.

Your website should be responsive and mobile friendly. In 2017, 63% of all website total traffic in the United States was from mobile devices. Based on that, it seems likely that mobile devices will reach a full 2/3 of all traffic by the end of 2018.* Therefore, your website should be designed to look nice and be easy to navigate regardless of whether users view your website from a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or phone. Your site should adjust and respond correctly for each of these devices.

Of course, the user’s primary concern may not be your website’s design but more for the essential information it holds. The content on your website needs to be accurate and up-to-date. If a user discovers incorrect or old information on your website, they are likely to lose confidence in your office. Reviewing your website on a regular basis helps identify and remove articles and other postings that are no longer relevant or accurate. Failing to do so can deeply harm your credibility.

You might have also heard the term “user experience.” When we talk about user experience, we are referring to the total visitors’ experience with your site. User experience includes how easy your site is to use, how fast it is in loading pages, how quickly it is providing the required information, and how frictionless it is when a user tries to complete their action. One thing you can do to improve your site’s user experience is to check on what other jurisdictions are doing. Check what new features have been implemented by other jurisdictions to better provide the best experience to your users.

Web standards continue to change and new techniques are developed to build websites, making them more advanced. If your website was developed long ago, it may have old and unnecessary code which may slow down your website, or the way it responds on different devices. Or may it not be compatible with some of the latest browsers and their functionalities. Old code can also lead into your website being hacked. The older the website, the more security flaws it obtains from older, less-secure code and technology.

As you can see, it is important to update your website regularly. There may be other reasons why you need to update, but these are some of the most compelling reasons to consider. A website redesign is an important and demanding process, which requires some time and effort. If you are thinking about putting your parcel data online, Vanguard Appraisals can help provide you with a cost effective solution. Since 1999, we have helped jurisdictions large and small get online. Since then we have created, hosted and maintained over 140 websites for our clients and the number is continuing to grow to this day. We do include web statistics to help you better understand how your website is being utilized. We provide ongoing updates and improvements for our assessor websites, which allows you to run your jurisdiction instead of having to spend precious time on updating your website.

* Enge, Eric (Updated: May 1st, 2018). “Study Series.” Mobile vs Desktop Usage in 2018: Mobile Takes the Lead, Stone Temple Consulting Corporation. Retrieved July 20th, 2018, from http://www.stonetemple.com/mobile-vs-desktop-usage-study/

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