If your freelance business website looks old, it will damage your brand.

nick usborne's freelance websiteLast year’s fashions look old. Last year’s smartphones look old. And last year’s websites look old.

OK, I’m exaggerating a little. Let’s make that 5 years.

Whatever the exact timeframe, there is no doubt that any given look and feel for a website eventually grows old.

As a freelancer, or for any business, you can’t allow that to happen. You can’t have a website that looks like it was last worked on back in 2005 or, even worse, 1998.

In some ways it’s odd that website design should be so susceptible to changes in fashion. If a particular look and feel works, why change it?

Well, we have to change it for the same reasons that retailers have to update the design of their logos from time to time, and redesign the interiors of their stores. It’s important that you and your website be seen as up-to-the-minute.

For freelancers who work in the online space, it’s particularly important, because you want your site’s appearance to reassure your prospects that you are on the leading edge. In other words, the design of a freelancer’s website is part of its messaging and branding.

Beyond the part about looking fresh and up-to-date, there is also the issue of your site’s functionality.

If your site was built in 2002, you probably find it awkward to add new content, edit existing content and change its appearance in any way.

Or, if you built your site with some kind of free template, there is very little you’ll be able to change.

Not to mention the fact that old, static sites make it hard, if not impossible, to add a lot of the functionality that has come out of the growth of social media.

Put simply, if you want your freelance site to look good, and send your prospects the right kind of message, you need to have it on a platform that allows you maximum flexibility.

As I think back to the various versions of this website, the first version was designed and created back in 2000, at a cost of $5,000. The pages were all static, and any additions or changes had to be made with Dreamweaver and then uploaded by FTP. If I needed even the slightest change in design, I had to hire someone to do it for me.

Since then, the site has gone through a number of design versions. Each of those versions has reflected changes in web design “fashions”, in addition to shifts in my own messaging.

And, as of this week, the site is now built with WordPress, using the Freelancer Theme.

Nepotism Alert: Freelancer Theme was developed, and continues to be improved by my son, Thomas. It’s excellent!

Why the shift to WordPress? In part, it’s about the look and feel of the site. But more than that, it’s about being able to add functionality that is either impossible or at least awkward to do on a traditional, static website.

For example, I now have a huge library of WordPress plugins I can choose from. Also, writing posts instead of articles makes it easier to allow for and manage comments.

Perhaps most important of all, I can now make my website a lot more social media friendly. It’s easier for me to add badges, include “share” links and so on.

Ultimately, there are two reasons to keep updating your freelance website.

First, you need to look current. You can’t afford for your site to look old. It’s bad branding.

Secondly, you need to build on a platform that allows you to connect seamlessly with social media. As a freelancer, you should be using social media as part of your marketing strategy, and you need a site that allows for simple integration with your social media channels.

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3 thoughts on “If your freelance business website looks old, it will damage your brand.

  1. Yes, it is a very nice new- looking site.

    I’d go one further though (which I’m sure you’ll do soon) and say “and make sure all your downloads look up to date, too.”

    I’m working on that w/my free download and a new artist and it’s
    really exciting to see all that newness (full disclosure: Thomas did my site in February–hope I don’t need a visual update yet!).

    Thanks for this advice, Nick.

  2. Thanks Nick for the refresher course in web updates. You are so right that you need to continually update a site’s look and functionality. For freelance sites, I also concur on WordPress.

  3. Looks terrific, Nick. I really like the ability to do comments. I just updated the look of my template site, but it’s a pain to have to go in and redo each of the sidebars on all the pages … I can’t do it globally. I’m thinking of going with WordPress or Drupal. I like the comments feature a lot … so much to do, so little time.

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