Many website owners worry about, and some even agonize over, how often they should implement an update or a complete re-design of their website. This is completely understandable, since a website is generally the primary vehicle for communication with customers and potential customers, and is a major support for any business. While there are no hard and fast rules that need to be observed about how long a website should remain intact, there are definitely some triggers which should guide your thinking on the subject.
Is your website mobile-friendly?
Difficulty in reading your site on a smart phone these days can send the wrong signal to your customers. More than 70% of marketing managers polled in a Salesforce survey declared that mobile marketing was a central strategy for their business, and it gave them the best return-on-investment for their market spend. In a non-business context, another survey revealed that more than half of all respondents grabbed their smartphones immediately after waking up, as their very first act of the day.
There are undoubtedly a whole catalog of other statistics which would point up the overwhelming dominance of the smartphone in our society, but these two alone should make it crystal clear that all businesses must use responsive design or make their website mobile friendly to this vast audience of customers-in-waiting. If your website has not been optimized for responsiveness to this segment of Internet users, it’s something that should be addressed at the very earliest opportunity.
Can I just update parts of my site in lieu of a complete redesign?
In some cases, yes, updating the look and feel of a website can satisfy a business need, rather than a complete rebuild. Here are some situations which could be adequately handled by updating:
- New branding – If your company has undergone a shift in branding, you would absolutely want that reflected in your website, although the functionality and most of the content need not be revamped.
- Website Statistics– Another scenario for updating might stem from information gathered by statistics
you obtain from sources such as Google Analytics, e.g. specific web pages trigger high bounce rates, certain content is ignored consistently, more information is needed from contact forms, etc.
- Rapid growth – It’s very possible that your business has undergone rapid growth, so that new products and services need to be displayed.
It’s important to note that when you start hearing complaints from customers that your site has an outdated look, that navigation is not smooth or is broken, or that it doesn’t display well in a browser, this should be corrected quickly, because all those complaining users will just go to your competitor’s website instead.
When is a complete rebuild necessary?
The content on your website is critical in the effort to attract visitors, and inform them about your company, products, and services. It’s also vital to getting good rankings on Google. Relevant content is what makes your company stand out from all your business rivals. That means it needs to be kept current and fresh, so as to appeal to your potential customers – but you can’t make frequent updates to your content if it means a consultant needs to be called in each time, or a programmer has to write new code. If your website does not have a Content Management System (CMS) that’s simple enough for anyone in your company to use, that fact alone is reason enough for a rebuild.
If your site was originally designed using Flash, that’s another trigger for a major rebuild, since Flash is not supported by iPads or iPhones. Even on other platforms, Flash can slow down response time on your website, and as everyone knows, website visitors are not inclined to be overly patient. If your site doesn’t load and display pages fast enough, someone else’s will.
If your business has undergone a fundamental change, or if the purpose of your website has become significantly different, that’s another reason you should start from scratch with a complete re-design of the site. Obviously if a major component of the site has become outdated, or if it has somehow been rendered non-operational, a rebuild should be in the cards for that as well.
The bottom line on updating/rebuilding
There’s one source that will really help you decide. A calendar.
While website content should be updated constantly via your CMS to stay current, the look and feel aspect normally needs addressing every 2-3 years. In that short span of time, technology will have changed, and even something as simple as monitor resolution could make a difference in how your site appears to your visitors.
There are specific reasons why you might need to update, just as there are definite reasons for doing a total rebuild, as noted above, but in any case your site shouldn’t remain stagnant for anything like five years at a time. Periodic change is a sure indication to customers that your business is alive and well, and an active member of the Internet community.