The easy answer is every 3-5 years. Trends on the web change quickly just like clothing trends. Colors, patterns, and design philosophies mature and evolve over time; you don’t want your website dressed in bell bottoms and a tube top! Of course, the right answer is always a big more complicated than that. Read on for more signs that its time to wash your hands of that old website.
Still, more often than not, there just isn’t a budget for a complete redo of your website every year, or even every other year. The money may be invested in other places, or you may not see the benefits. Some holdouts may find they can wait up to 5 years, which is more like 20 in the world of the web. Styles change rapidly and technology constantly advances and moves forward so fast that it’s hard to know when it is time to make an upgrade. A website redesign can have many benefits including better conversion rates, better user experience, new features or abilities, or all of the above. We hope this blog may help to guide you in knowing when it is finally time to upgrade or redesign your website.
New ownership/team – If you are a new business owner taking over an existing business, or your team changes dramatically, you may wish to redesign your website to reflect the personality of your team. Having a website that everyone can be proud of is a great way to ensure that your employees are being proud active referrers of your business.
No CMS – Even if you paid for a website yesterday: if your site isn’t built on a CMS it should be rebuilt immediately. A CMS will allow you to make the critical updates you need to ensure your content is relevant, accurate, and updated, for both guests and search engines. Since most CMS platforms themselves are updated frequently, your website will always be using standard modern coding practices, and most likely will have extensive documentation in case issues arise or you need a developer to add a new feature to the site down the line.
New location – If you’ve opened a new location, it may be time to revamp your website. Sure, you could just add the new address onto your existing website, but it may be more beneficial for you to look at a redesign that incorporates the new location into the website. If the new location has different hours or different selection, for example, a store-specific landing page will help differentiate the two locations and may also be beneficial to your SEO efforts.
New service/division – In a similar vein, if you are offering a new product or service, this may be an ideal time to launch a new website. Again, the easy method of adding a page for the new service may be the most obvious solution, but creating a new website may better allow you to incorporate the new information within the existing website. Only through a redesign will you be able to make it seem like the service has been a part of your company vision since the very beginning.
New technology – If a major shift in technology happens, it is a definite time to release a new website that takes advantage of these features. Pay attention to tech circles to see if something big is happening. For example, some of the major updates in the web design world over the last few years included the jump from tables to table-less design (or divs), the launch of the mobile web and mobile responsiveness, the rise of major design and development frameworks, and other user interface standards including hamburger menus (as popularized by Apple).
New design trends – It is always a good idea to design a website so that it incorporates trends, but to stand the test of time, you should always put a spin on it so that it doesn’t look out of date when the trend has passed. The latest design trend (at the time of this writing) is the “flat design” philosophy inspired by Microsoft’s Windows 8. Editor’s Note: At the time of updating this, the current design trend is Android’s “material design” philosophy.
New branding/marketing – If your website doesn’t reflect your current marketing efforts, it should be redesigned immediately. While the website doesn’t necessarily need to look exactly like your marketing materials, it should be fairly close and in-line with your brand identity. If your website uses an old logo and tagline, it’s well past time for a redo.
Not getting web results – If your site isn’t getting traffic, or has an abnormal bounce rate, this is a good indicator that the site may not be “wow-ing” guests. A complete redesign in which you focus your efforts and develop a strong call to action may be the best solution to deal with a dud.
Competitor’s new sites – If your competition is investing in a redesign of their website, this is a good sign that you should be as well. While you don’t need to wait to “one-up”them every time, you can use the chance to see what new features they have that might make sense for your own website.
In conclusion, you can always go by the basic rule of 3-5 years, but this isn’t a hard rule and may not make sense for every website. There are a lot of factors that go into deciding when the time to upgrade your website is. Research the changes in technologies and consult our list above, and if you think it’s time for you, contact your friendly neighborhood Buffalo Wired.