Online marketing gurus tell you that the shelf life of a business website is only about 1.5 to 2 years.
I’ve found that in the real world, most businesses wait longer than that. And by the look of many of the sites you see out there, many businesses wait much longer.
The decision to undertake a website redesign is a big one for most small business owners.
It can be costly in terms of both money and time, especially if there is no one on staff to head up the project.
Meeting with the website designer, reviewing designs, making decisions–these are all things that take time, and if it’s the owner’s time, she or he has to carefully weigh whether it’s worth it to bring an ageing site up to date, or if it can be delayed another quarter, another year.
How often should you redesign your website?
In an ideal world, the answer to the “how often should you redesign your website” question would be two years.
But if you don’t operate in the ideal world and have competing claims on your budget and time, I suggest considering the following factors when deciding how often should you should revamp your web presence.
I’ve color coded them for easy reference: red, yellow, and green.
Red: Redesign Now
If your site has any of the issues marked red, redesign it now. Full stop. These are what you might call “website fails,” and addressing them should be a high priority. Your lackluster web presence may be losing you customers and damaging the credibility of your business. Now is the time for a website redesign.
⬤ Non-responsive or mobile-unfriendly design
An estimated 55% of web traffic is on mobile devices. If you are looking for redesign tips, this one is probably the most important: If your site lacks a modern, responsive layout, meaning that it doesn’t look good across various screen sizes, then you should redesign right away. (You’ll know you have a problem if you open your site on your phone, and it looks like a tiny, unreadable version of the desktop view.) This is one of the most common issues with older sites, and because of the way they are built, there is usually very little you can do to bring an older site up to date and in compliance with this modern web standard.
⬤ Broken functionality
As the code underlying your site ages, and browsers evolve, things can start to break. This often happens to sites built on an old content management system or using an old template that is no longer supported and updated by the developers. If this is the case, there is usually little hope of salvaging your site, and it’s time to start fresh with a complete website redesign.
⬤ Outdated technology
Even if the underlying technology of your site hasn’t led to outright broken functionality, some tech is so old at this point, that it’s basically unusable. A recent example is Flash, which was all the rage in the late 1990s and early 2000s to make sites animated and interactive. However, mobile operating systems stopped supporting it, and support for desktop browsers has also been phased out.
Here are some other outdated technologies that have been abandoned: Java Applets (for interactivity), Microsoft Silverlight (video player), Active X (interactive components for Internet Explorer), and Framesets (to divide a page into scrollable frames). If you’re relying on any of these, it’s past time for a website redesign.
⬤ Your business has changed but your web presence hasn’t
Your website should be consistent with your offline presence. If you have updated your company’s branding (but not your site), or if you have added or taken away any lines of business, then it’s time for a new site.
⬤ Static design
Every once in a while, I run into a site that was hard coded and lacks a CMS (content management system). If it takes a call to a web developer to add or modify your content, then you probably are almost never doing it. This is a good reason for a website redesign.
⬤ Poor user experience and confusing navigation
Today’s consumers have high standards when it comes to user experience. There are so many choices out there that they will immediately leave your site if navigation is clunky, and they can’t immediately find what they’re looking for. This problem arises commonly with sites that tried too hard to be unique.
The modern web is starting to converge on a standard set of web design techniques and UI best practices, so that users can quickly find their way around nearly any well-designed site. If the navigation and user experience of your site are too outside the box, then you should probably start fresh.
⬤ Inconsistent or cluttered layout and content organization
Good visual design and good organization of information usually go hand in hand. A site that’s crammed with headlines all calling out for attention communicates nothing because nothing stands out. If your site suffers from an amateurish, cluttered design, it’s time to hit the reset button. This is a common problem with sites that were built with consumer-grade site-builders like Wix and Weebly.
⬤ Lack of clear calls-to-action and conversion opportunities
This goes with the conversion goal I mentioned above. Your site may look pretty, and it may even be getting some traffic, but if it fails to convert visitors into potential customers, then it may not be effective enough to keep.
⬤ Difficulty in keeping website content up to date
This is often a problem if you have older technology on the back end. If your site was built on top of a rigid template or lacks a CMS, then it may be very difficult to make all but the most superficial changes. Your site should be user-friendly on both the front end and the back end. Time for a site redesign.
⬤ Competitors’ websites are newer and better than yours
If your business occupies a very competitive niche, or your main competitors’ websites are newer and better than yours, you may have very little choice but to prioritize a website redesign.
Yellow: Not Yet Critical
If your site has any of these issues marked yellow, you should start planning ahead for a website redesign in the near term. You would probably benefit from doing one now, but you may be able to get by with your current site for a little longer. Expect to make some investments in short-term upgrades to keep your site serviceable until you launch a new one.
⬤ Slow loading times and performance issues
Sites that load too slowly don’t rank well on search engines and cause visitors to leave. You may be able to tweak the performance of your existing website, but if it’s built on a proprietary platform (like Squarespace) or on very old technology, there may be little you can do short of a complete website redesign.
⬤ Incompatibility with modern browsers or devices
Older websites were typically designed for lower screen resolutions and may not scale or adapt well to the higher pixel densities of modern screens. As a result, the content can appear small, blurry, or pixelated, making them less visually appealing.
⬤ Outdated web design techniques and aesthetics
Design trends and tastes change over time. Older sites that went all in on the latest trends of their day will look especially dated now. (Think “slideshow” banners and bouncy animations.) Other sites that took a more restrained approach may hold up longer.
⬤ Your backend is a hot mess
If you’ve had different developers and employees working on your site over the years, the codebase and backend may be in disarray. Your site may work, but if anything breaks or you want to make a change, there may not be anyone you can turn to who knows what’s going on.
⬤ Lack of accessibility for users with disabilities
There is a movement toward making websites accessible for everyone, including website visitors with disabilities. Although it is rare, even small business owners can be subject to lawsuits if their sites are not compliant.
⬤ High bounce rates and low conversion rates
Your bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your site in the first few seconds. Your conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who take some action, like fill out a web form. If your site is scoring poorly on either of those measures, and the trend is in the wrong direction, it may be a sign that a website redesign is on the horizon.
⬤ Security vulnerabilities
Outdated software and plugins can leave you vulnerable to hacker attacks. Sometimes these can be patched with simple updates, but if your technology stack is too old, you may have to start over with a new site.
⬤ Limited or non-existent search engine optimization (SEO) strategies
Giving SEO the attention it deserves is important if you want your site to be found. I put it in the yellow category because SEO issues can usually be fixed, even on older sites, but it may take some work and investment.
⬤ Poor integration with third-party tools or plugins
If your business has started using other online tools, such as a sales CRM or marketing automation software like Hubspot, your older site may not be compatible.
⬤ Ineffective lead generation and lead capture mechanisms
Older websites can fall far behind when it comes to data collection and lead capture options. If your strategy includes things like content offers and other lead generation techniques, you may have to upgrade your site to take full advantage.
⬤ Poor integration with e-commerce functionalities
If your business has shifted to include e-commerce, even for a limited number of products and services, your current web technology may not be up to the task.
Green: Okay to Wait
Even with the issues below, your site is probably fine for now. If you are able to make some incremental updates, you can safely put off redesigning it for the time being.
⬤ Not “on trend”
Today’s trendy web design can look super dated super fast. If your site looks clean and has a good user experience, I wouldn’t worry too much if it doesn’t chase the latest design trends.
⬤ No new content
You need to regularly update your site with new content. However, it is usually not the website design that is at issue. You simply need to add new content.
⬤ Broken or outdated links and images
Again, this isn’t usually an issue with your site itself. You simply need to take the time to check and fix broken links and images.
⬤ Inability to handle increased website traffic and scalability
This is usually a web host issue. You can often upgrade your existing site to better hosting and solve this problem.
⬤ Inadequate analytics and tracking capabilities
Most sites can be connected to Google Analytics and other tools that solve this problem.
⬤ Lack of effective landing pages for specific campaigns
If you are running PPC (pay per click) ads, you should direct traffic to dedicated landing pages. The good news is, you can usually just add new ones independent of your base site.
⬤ Minimal or outdated content that fails to engage users
Not only do you need to regularly add new content, but you need to go back and trim, delete, or update old, outdated content.
We’re happy to help
I hope this post has helped you answer the question, “How often should you redesign your website?” We’re always happy to help with any questions related to your website or online marketing.
Feel free to contact us schedule a free, no-obligation consultation and evaluation of your current site.