Our clients often wonder when it's time to update their website. We're not just talking about a minor tweak here or there, we're talking about a major update or even a complete overhaul. It's a very complex matter and it can differ from one company to the next but here are the top 10 reasons that your website might need to be updated.
Search Engine Optimization! This is the single biggest reason to update your site. We could have made a list of 10 reasons to update your site with all 10 of them being SEO. What's the point of having a website if your potential clients aren't visiting it? Part of the reason that this is #1 is that it is so broad. We should probably write another whole article about SEO but suffice it to say that in the ever changing landscape of search engines and social media this is more important than ever. Content, security (see #4), speed (see #7), microdata, local/mobile search, keyword research, there are so many things that fall under this category that can make the difference between a user never finding you and a lifetime customer. If your SEO isn't up to date you're missing out, period.
This is another big one. Many people think that their website is all about driving traffic or making sales or increasing their brand identity. While all of that is true it can also provide a treasure trove of data to help you run your business. It pains us to see sites in 2018 that don't have analytics and it pains us even more to see sites that have them but they aren't using them. Well implemented analytics can help inform almost every business decision. If your website isn't providing you with this benefit or it's using older, less valuable analytics platforms then you could greatly benefit from an update in this area.
UX seems to be such a hot buzzword right now but it's not without good reason. Websites have to be user friendly so the user experience is critically important. The only reason this isn't higher is that SEO and Analytics drive you toward good UX and it's not always the other way around. Just look at how user experience has changed over the years, who remembers Windows XP? The days before tabbed browsing? How did we get by? Even if your site followed the best UX principles a few years ago, it could be time for an update. As the big players like Google and Facebook evolve, users eyes and fingers are trained to move towards different areas of the screen, they expect certain things to be placed in certain areas. If your website doesn't match, you'll be neglecting your users and losing conversions.
We've had so many high profile hacks and security bugs in the past few years. The most concerning thing is that most of these breaches could have been easily thwarted by simple updates. Sometimes this is a simple patch and sometimes it's larger upgrade. Again, the only reason this isn't higher on the list is that most of our clients aren't targeted the same way that Verizon, Equifax and Uber are. Each year there are many companies that wish they had made this a bigger concern.
You might be wondering why list design since we've already touched on UX. While they may be related, there are subtle but important differences. Design takes into account many things that don't strictly fall under UX. A site could have a solid user experience but still be lacking in the design department. Design encompasses all of the layout, graphics, colors, etc that aren't specified by the UX. Users expect to see a certain quality and a certain visual style for your brand, your website should give this to them in spades.
- You've changed
This sometimes seems like the most obvious one. Your company has gone through a lot of change. Opening a new department, adding a new location, even a change in overall direction or market segment shift are all times when you need to rethink your web presence. If there were major changes in your personal life you would communicate them, the same goes for your business. This can be either one big change or a series of smaller changes. We see some clients that have made small updates to their website over the years without realizing that after a while a complete re-design was in order. If your website isn't clearly communicating where your company is at now then it's not really doing its job.
Speed is becoming a bigger factor for websites every year. What felt fast a few years ago just doesn't feel fast anymore. Who remembers waiting nearly a minute just for one image to load back in the days of dial-up? Nowadays we expect to watch an add and start a video in less time. Users just don't engage well with slow sites even if they were fast when they were first released. This shows up in search rankings and conversion rates. If your site isn't fast by today's standards then it's that much harder to keep up with the competition.
We've all seen it. A website with a broken recent tweets box. Facebook links that don't work, or worse yet no social integration at all. Not to even mention dead links. Websites just don't exist in a vacuum, they talk and interact with the rest of the web. That web is moving and moving fast. Your site needs to keep up to stay relevant. If it's time to add an integration with a new service or fix an old one that's no longer supported it's probably time for a major update.
- More than 3 years old
It's hard to tell how often to update a website. As we've seen there are so many factors and even after six months you could find some reasons to update but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's worth it. We would say, though, that if it's been over three years it's almost certainly time to bite the bullet and do a complete website overhaul. In some industries this could even be as short as 1 year. In the past 3 years and in the 3 years before that not 1, not 2 but all 8 of the items already addressed have changed substantially. If that's not enough reason to change we don't know what is.
- Unhappy with current Provider
This is a big one, we weren't really sure where to put it but here it is. It's technically not so much of a reason to update your website but it's absolutely a reason to make a change. There are so many great companies out there to choose from. If you're not happy with your current web company it's time to move on. While, there are times that this doesn't mean a website update it often does. The new company probably doesn't do things exactly the same way as the old one (and you probably hope they don't). It can be easier for them to start from the ground up in their own systems that they are efficient at than to take over and try to maintain something that someone else built. Combine changing providers with even a small desire to make some other changes and a complete redesign is often the way to go.
Well, there you have it. Our top 10 reasons to update your website. Of course, there are many other reasons that just didn't quite make the cut or that we felt fell within the scope of one of the reasons listed.