Advertising
Advertising

How To Future-Proof Your Website

How To Future-Proof Your Website

As user preferences change from desktop viewing to smartphones and tablets, and technology advances – where websites now use tons of different styles and formats for sharing and displaying information – business owners are concerned that their websites may become quickly outdated.

To help business owners, designers, and marketers like you, below, we discuss ways you can future-proof your website.

Make room in your long-term budget for improvement costs

One of the best ways to avoid getting into trouble with woefully outdated web design in the future is to create a website now that could easily be improved later. In other words, you want to lay a solid foundation you can consistently build upon. Additionally, you will want to allocate funds for future website upgrades. However, business leaders often erroneously assume that if they make an investment in quality web design early in the process, then they can avoid putting more money into updates for a very long time.

You have to anticipate that, no matter how well your website works at the moment, there is going to come a time when certain changes need to be made. By structuring website maintenance and improvement costs into your future budget plan, you can minimize the chances of getting blindsided by expensive redesigns or a wholesale overhaul of elements such as security protocols or hosting requirements.

Advertising

Keep an eye on the relevance of your content

Almost every organization now strives to set the pace in content marketing, as companies who excel at the practice benefit from a marketing contribution to revenue that is six times greater than those who lag behind. Hopefully you know the feeling of creating an exceptional story or video: you know you have extended value both for your audience and the company, and you feel like it can live forever on your website and continue to be shared across numerous platforms for years to come.

The fallacy with this attitude is that even great content sometimes becomes outdated. Economic and political realities shift and often affect great change in certain industries, the evolution of technology renders advice obsolete, and statistical information can rapidly shift. In order to combat these effects and build a website that remains value-added long into the future, pre-existing content needs to be regularly examined for continued efficacy, including the quality of links and the accuracy of all data and claims shared within.

Work within a tried-and-true content management system

When choosing a content management system (CMS) for your website, you want to find a solution that has the capacity and ability to evolve along with your needs, as well as one that will remain a reliable partner many years into the future.

Some unproven CMS providers promise loads of extras at rock bottom prices in order to entice new companies to utilize their platform. Be wary of such options; not only may you find that a software update in the near future leaves your systems unsupported, but such new entrants also often lack the robust security mechanisms employed by the established platforms.

Advertising

WordPress, which is far and away the most employed CMS platform in the world – used in over 60 million websites – is a worthy choice for almost any company. Not only is the platform supported by numerous third-party developers and bestowed with frequent updates, but add-ons and a suite of features make it easy to scale with your business as you grow.

Always build pages on a foundation of responsive design

Few factors have upended the world of web design quite as significantly as the explosion of mobile devices as a primary browsing option for buyers. Forrester research anticipates ecommerce revenue from mobile devices will exceed $140 billion in 2016, meaning that no company can ignore the importance of the mobile website design experience in the present or the future, regardless of size or industry.

Building pages with responsive design results in interfaces that intuitively adapt and format depending upon the screen size of the user. The result is a cohesive and well-designed UX, even if they frequently interact with your site by switching back and forth between devices of different sizes.

Implement code that can be easily maintained and updated

If you want your website to be nimble and easily tweaked to respond more effectively to future audiences, then it needs to be built on a codebase that can be maintained with minimal effort and changed just as easily.

Advertising

It is also critical to think about who will be in charge of updating your site design years from now: the answer is you do not know. If the design is based on a platform that one person who is no longer with the company is fluent in, you may find yourself having to start from scratch when adaptable code would facilitate simple updates.

Alternatively, you may want to work with a web design agency that has years of history helping other businesses in your niche so that they can continue to provide expert support for your website over the years to come.

In terms of aging, simple and minimal is almost always preferable

There is a reason most of us cringe when we look at fashion or furniture design from even as recently as 15 to 20 years ago: designers like to take advantage of bold trends in order to stand out from their competitors. It often works in the short-term, but future audiences often banish these designs to the memories of history in favor of more classical styles.

In web design, as well, centering your site around a simple and more minimal theme is generally the better strategy if you want it to age with dignity. By avoiding succumbing to trends of the moment, you can maintain the overall look of your website for far longer and still feature an engaging experience that will spark interest in your audience and increase conversions.

Advertising

Understand that you cannot reliably predict the future

Part of the process of future-proofing your website is understanding that it is impossible to account for every development that will affect the worlds of commerce and design in the coming years. Even the most famous technological prognosticators have histories of hits and misses throughout their careers.

In this regard, it is not wise to spend too much time trying to design a website filled with elements that you think are far ahead of the curve and will resonate in the future. You may occasionally find something that does work, but the benefits will be outweighed by the resources exhausted in constant pursuit of future trends. Elegant, highly-functional web design that is based on currently sound principles will persist over something flashy and new almost every time.

More by this author

Giving Gifts to Clients: How to Avoid a Generic Choice Should Your B2B Sales Team Use Video for Sales Calls? How To Future-Proof Your Website 5 Low-Touch Ways To Keep Sales Leads Warm When They Aren’t Ready To Buy 4 Compromises to Offer When Clients Ask For a Discount

Trending in Entrepreneur

1 Advice for Entrepreneurs: How To Find A Mentor Worth Listening To 2 How to Be a Successful Businessman (The Complete Guide) 3 How to Brand Yourself and Make Your Business Stand Out 4 How to Start a Company from Scratch (A Step-By-Step Guide) 5 15 Best Books for Entrepreneurs to Start Reading Right Now

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on April 17, 2019

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

2. Flexibility

Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

Advertising

Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

3. Being a Team Player

Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

4. Positive Mental Attitude

There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

5. A Strong Work Ethic

People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

Advertising

If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

  • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
  • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
  • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
  • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

6. Public Speaking

Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

7. Integrity

From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

  • Always doing what you say you will do
  • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

…even when no one is around to check up on you.

There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

Advertising

Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

8. Managing Your Time

Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

9. Assertiveness

In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

  • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
  • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
  • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
  • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

How do you use this information for yourself?

It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

Advertising

How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

10. Creative Thinking

LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Final Thoughts

The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

More Articles to Help Advance Your Career

Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next