How Long Should Your Website Last?
Change – it’s often referred to as the only constant in life. While I don’t claim to be a philosopher, I can speak to the validity of this concept when it comes to the longevity of websites. Many businesses are under the unfortunate misconception that once a website is complete, they can toss up their hands in victory, pop the champagne and never concern themselves with their website again. That is, until it becomes abundantly clear that a website redesign and/or redevelopment is not only recommended but a requirement to maintain a proper digital connection with customers and prospects.
How do you know when the time is right? Especially if you are not a designer or a programmer. For many, it is difficult to know what looks desperately outdated and what appears to be fresh and new on the web. It is even more difficult for the layman to understand the complexities of back-end code that acts as the wizard to your website’s Oz, pulling the levers behind the curtain.
That said, reasons to update may vary, but a few key warning signs let you know when the time is right for a fresh take on your brand’s digital home.
Top Signs It May Be Time for a Website Redesign
Time: The simplest metric when deciding on the right time to redesign is, well, time. How long ago was your site built? Much like anything in the digital realm, the technology running your site is constantly being updated to be more secure and more efficient. Add to that the ever-changing design trends and your site can begin to demonstrate warning signs for a redesign in as few as three years.
Engagement: The proof is in the pudding, and if your site is no longer getting the results you intended, it may be time to look to a website redesign. After some in-depth analytics research, you can approach a redesign understanding exactly why your current site has fallen flat with your audience and what must change.
To understand engagement, you must also have a clear definition of your brand’s goals and mission. If these have changed over time, your website must change as well to realign with the new focus and engage from a new angle.
Usability: Tied very closely to engagement, usability and user experience are extremely important in order to achieve desired results. Your website should prioritize ease-of-use above nearly all else. After all, how frustrated would you be if it seemed like a website was actively fighting against you? If your visitors can’t get to what they want (and fast) they leave and find the information, service, or product elsewhere.
An incredibly important aspect of a site’s usability is its responsiveness. Do you own a smartphone? How about a tablet? And a laptop? All of these devices vary in display size and interaction methods (touchscreen vs mouse and keyboard). If your site is only designed to be used on a laptop or desktop but your audience prefers to visit it on their iPhones, you could be in trouble. Plus, in order to provide the best search results, Google has cracked down on how non-mobile-friendly websites are treated in search results. If you have to pinch and zoom to view your site on your phone, Google is penalizing your site in favor of mobile-friendly sites.
One method of determining your site’s usability is through what’s known as user experience testing (or UX testing). This is an extremely helpful method of testing just how intuitive your site’s layout and functionality are, which could help you decide the extent of redesign needed on your site.
Tech: Without getting into code talk (you’re welcome), what’s running your website is just as important as it’s user-friendly facade. Over time, your site’s code can become outdated, leading to crashing pages, link issues and general bugs that can hinder user experience and page loading speed. Additionally, your site may have duplicate content, missing or inadequate meta descriptions, broken internal or external links, and missing ALT titles and title text on images. All of this adds up to a site that runs more poorly with every passing technological update.
Though not technically a “tech” issue, per se, search engine optimization (SEO) can play a substantial role in the success or failure of your site. If your site and its content were not crafted with SEO in mind, you may struggle to be found.
Branding: Has your company completed a brand refresh? Even if your target audience remains largely the same, a website redesign is necessary to maintain the brand consistency we always strive for as marketers. You may think an old logo on your site after a brand refresh is a minor detail, but the devil is in those details and every single change matters.
We understand the trepidation that comes with considering a website redesign. You worked hard, invested the time and money and maybe even grew attached to your site’s look and feel. But as I stated earlier, the only constant in life, and in websites, is change. You can either plan accordingly or see your brand’s online presence suffer for it.
That’s not to say that a website redesign is always the solution. There may be smaller, iterative changes that can be done, such as refactoring the code, homepage redesigns, content, SEO updates and more. Be sure you review all of your options and compare the pros and cons before you engage in a website redesign.
You can be sure your website isn’t collecting digital dust cobwebs that can stifle your online presence by reviewing the age of your site, investigating visitor engagement, ensuring usability is at the forefront of your design, confirming the code is up to date, and maintaining brand updates for consistency.