So you've been searching around the internet, looking at your competitors and checking out cool new websites, and you started thinking, "Maybe it's time for a website update." I get it, it's like the guy who cruises through the car lot and decides his 2001 Ford F150 is a little dated. And with how fast web design and development is evolving, it starts to make your own website look outdated. Redesigning your website isn't an easy decision; it can be expensive, you may be impacted on your rankings and you will probably have to update some content, but there are some tell tale signs that it really is time to bite the bullet and start the process. Here's a list of 10 signs that it's time for a website update.
1. Your Site is Not Responsive
This is a pretty obivious issue. Back on April 21st of 2015, Google changed their algorythm to give preference to websites that were mobile friendly (easy to use on a mobile phone.) This could mean that your site had two different interfaces depending on which device the user was on, or that the site was designed to be responsive for all screen widths. Today most, if not all websites are designed on a responsive platform that changes based on how wide the screen on the device is. We build all of our sites on Bootstrap which is one of the most popular responsive platforms. If you aren't sure if your site is responsive, shrink your browser window's width down, and you should see things reconfigure and resize as the width gets more narrow.
2. Not Acomplishing Your Goals
The best practice when designing a site is to establish some objectives or goals that the site will serve. If you have goals but the site isn't performing, it might be time to redesign, or at least rework, the site's architecture to help optimize the user experience and funnel them to areas on your site which will help to achieve your goals. Lead capture points should be easily accessible and content should funnel users toward these areas of the site.
3. URLS Are Comprised of Page IDs Instead of Keywords
Recently we've dealt with some large sites that were built a few years ago on platforms where the designer just customized some templates and called it good. Each page looks exactly the same other than the content that fits into a box on the template. For some businesses or industries, this kind of website works just fine. But these platforms can be a bit limiting or outdated when it comes to SEO. Take a look at your site URL structure. If it looks something like this "/pages/index.cfm?pageid=12634," you have some issues. One of the biggest areas for SEO value is in the URL of each page. A good URL structure should look like, "mysite.com/seo-optimization-strategies." This URL includes the keyword "SEO optimization strategies," and will provide Google, Yahoo, and Bing a better idea of what type of content resides on that page.
4. The Site Is Not on a Content Management System
Believe it or not, there are some websites that have to be updated through the html code. We call these static sites. Nowdays, it's very easy to set up a platform like WordPress, Joomla, WIX, Squarespace or Light CMS and build your site from a gallery of templates that are offered. The great thing about all of these systems is that you can log in and manage all the content on your site from any browser. It doesn't take knowledge of HTML or any special software to make changes. If you have to update your HTML code or call someone to make edits to the content on your site, it might be time to explore some other options. The two content management systems we use are Craft and ExpressionEngine. Both of these are licensed platforms, meaning we pay a licensing fee for each site we build, which includes support. The other great thing about these platforms is that they are open source so there is a community of developers who can create plugins to help with functionality and we can get in and customize the platform's source code to accomplish what we need.
5. Lack of Consistency on Pages
If you are flipping through your site and you see a lot of differences from page to page, you may have some serious interface issues. By differences I mean different color schemes, fonts, layouts, buttons, images, etc. Having some consistency from page to page makes the user's experience more intuitiave. If they are seeing navigation in different locations or a bunch of different fonts and text styles, it makes things confusing and difficult to find what they are looking for. Your overall design should be consistent and your layout should be pretty close from page to page. The only thing that should change is your content. We typically build 2-5 standard layouts for each site we do. These templated layouts are designed around the type of content that needs to be displayed within the site.
6. Last Redesigned 5 or More Years Ago
A lot has changed in the last 5 years when it comes to technology and design practices. We tell our clients that websites have about a 4-year shelf life before it's time to look at a redesign. This isn't because we want to make more money off of our clients, it's just a fact that web design and development is moving at a fast pace and things become outdated quickly. We are constantly evolving our design practices and learning new ways to build scalable websites that can evolve with our clients and the advances in technology. The platforms that we utilize allow us to seperate the content from the design, which means we can maintain the same backend and content entry points while completely redesigning the look and feel of the website's interface. Scalability is an important factor in our process. If we can continually make small changes to a site over time that can help our clients save money from doing a big overhall every few years.
There are a lot of factors that will ultimately go into your decision to revamp your website. The examples above are some of the key areas that we look at when we are reviewing a potential client's current website. Your site may have one of these issues or all of them, but the bottom line is how well it performs. Is your website helping your business grow? Isn't that the general purpose of all websites? It is the biggest marketing tool that you have and should receive as much attention, if not more attention, than any other piece of marketing collateral or tool that you have. Take the time to do it right and you should reap the rewards.
If you found this blog helpful check out the following blogs to dig deeper into your digital marketing efforts:
- The Evolution of Mobile Responsive Websites
- How to Pick a Content Management System
- 5 Website Mistakes that are Killing Your Brand
- Lead Capture Strategies that Need to Be Part of Your Website