For most businesses today, your website is the foundation of your entire marketing presence. It is the hub that showcases who you are, what you do, and it’s often the very first impression that customers and clients will have of you. Even when you have a brick-and-mortar business, your website is typically where your marketing will lead people before they step through your front door. It is the online place where people often decide whether to do business with you or not. That said, it’s critically important that your website puts your best foot forward and showcases exactly who you are in a way that works best for you and for the people you hope to serve. So, how do you know when your website isn’t working the way it should anymore? And what exactly should you do about it when it isn’t? Read on to find out more about how to assess whether your design aesthetic, functionality, and marketing might need an update and to learn what to do about it when it does!
What does your website look like? Does it look modern and visually appealing? There’s no hard and fast rule to what determines the lifespan of the aesthetic appeal of your website, but would it surprise you to know that the average lifespan of a website is only 2 years and 7 months? With the rapid changes in technology and continued shifts in consumer online behavior trends and preferences, it’s a wise practice to regularly assess the overall look and feel of your own website, particularly in comparison to your competition, to decide when it’s time to refresh or redesign it. The good news is, though, that with regular maintenance and a good content management platform, it may not be as daunting as it seems to keep your design current, fresh, and relevant. Refreshing content, visuals, and even the basic theme of a website can be easy with a platform such as WordPress, for example. Having a flexible platform can also help maintain website functionality over time as user needs change.
More important than the general design and visual appeal of your website is how the user experiences its functionality and how the website serves your business. The layout, fonts, and color schemes may be beautiful design-wise, but if your website isn’t mobile friendly, or it has a high bounce rate, is not ADA compliant, doesn’t produce leads, is slow to load, or simply doesn’t perform the way you need it to perform to conduct business, then it is certainly time to consider making changes. Further, if the goals of your business have changed from the time you last updated your website, a refresh or redesign is a worthy investment. A good way to start this assessment is to ask if your website is up to the current best practices in web design and development, commonly referred to as web standards, and then drill down from there to identify your next steps. If your website has significantly outdated features, such as improper coding, a defunct or clunky content management system, or incompatibility with popular browsers, redesigning the website entirely and starting fresh may be the best route to take. However, if those foundational components of your website are solid, then simply refreshing the content, adding sections, and updating visuals to better reflect changes to your business may be an option. Most current content management platforms can accommodate numerous plug-ins and updates to increase functionality such as accessibility, e-commerce, and mobile-friendly solutions.
Another key factor in determining whether it’s time to refresh or redesign a website is if the marketing elements of the site aren’t working the way they should be. If you’re not getting the results you want from your website, such as leads, conversions, or general traffic, then you may need to update your website to better align to your marketing goals. There are many tools available to help determine the effectiveness of your website regarding search engine optimization, for example, that not only identify problems within your website but also provide road maps to correcting them so that your website can be more easily found in searches. Adding video elements to your site or blog components to help keep your content fresh can boost SEO. Also, newer features such as live chat might be incorporated to better offer immediate, convenient communication with customers or clients to spark them to action. Updating calls to action to reflect the wants and needs of your audience to offer services like one-click shopping or instant messaging can result in an excellent return on your refresh or redesign investment, too, if it makes it easier for your target customers to do business with you.
Ultimately, it’s not just how long it’s been since your last website update that determines when it’s time for a change, any combination of these factors from design to functionality to marketing may be the tipping point to help you decide when it’s time to refresh or redesign your website. At GRIT, we’ve helped businesses of all sizes, from all industries, B2B, B2C, for-profit, and non-profit, audit their websites and improve their web presences. Our team can help you determine the most efficient and effective path to updating your website depending on your needs and goals. Check out some of our work here and contact us to start the conversation and find out how we can help you create a strong website foundation that will serve your business now and give you the flexibility to grow and evolve into the future as needed to support your business goals!