This blog was initially written in 2012 and last updated in August 2021. It’s essential to update our guidance on this as web design and technology trends continue to change.
Lately, the most frequent project request we’ve received has been for website redesigns. We’ve seen it across the board — from single-person startups to large, well-financed organizations — they’re all taking a look at their website and realizing that it’s time for a change.
The reasons our clients want a redesign are as varied as their businesses. Some need to improve their SEO, and others require a way to move prospects through the sales funnel. Several just felt their site was dated and stale and wanted a refresh.
The age of the websites we’re redesigning also varies greatly. We’ve redesigned a website that was barely a few years old and currently working on one that hasn’t changed much in nearly a decade. Both were in desperate need of updating, but why did one website last for so long and another didn’t?
It’s an interesting question, and one we hear from our clients all the time before redesigning a website:
What is the lifespan of a website?
How long will your website last?
Technically speaking, websites don’t have expiration dates. For example, the website from the original 1996 film “Space Jam” is still active. More practically, websites will only be functional as long as the technology they are built on allows them. Websites built with Adobe Flash, which was wildly popular in the early 2000s, are no longer supported by the major web browsers like Chrome, Safari, and Firefox.
But unless modern web browsers can’t support your website, there’s no concrete rule as to when you should redesign your site. Every website and every business is different. You need to look at your site and examine if it’s helping your company reach its goals and its full potential.
How do I know if I should redesign my company’s website?
Several factors may determine whether or not it’s time to redesign or redevelop your website. Here are some questions you should ask to find your answer.
Has your business grown or changed direction?
Now more than ever, customers rely on a company’s website to find critical and relevant information. If your business has grown by offering new products or services, your website needs to reflect that. Otherwise, you’re missing out on potential business. The opposite is true too. If your company has consolidated operations or pivoted, that needs to be reflected on your site. If not, you’ll alienate customers who thought you provided a particular product/service when you don’t while also missing out on valuable search traffic from people who are seeking out companies such as yours.
Are the content and the navigation still relevant?
If your offerings have changed, the structure of your site may have to as well. Creating new pages for new products or services could require updating your site navigation and organization of pages on your website. You should also rethink your user experience. For example, if you previously offered one product, all your calls to action probably drove to that one product. But if you expanded your offerings, how do users determine which one is right for them?
Is your message to prospects still on target?
Consumers’ tastes and market conditions change over time, so you must position your product or service to reflect those changes. Also, consider how COVID has impacted your business — do you focus more on e-commerce? Are you available for virtual consultations? These are all crucial factors to consider, and you may want to hire a marketing professional to help you adjust your website’s messaging and design, so it’s more in line with what your customers or clients want.
Are you behind or ahead of the technology curve?
Web standards change fast. While you can try and anticipate trends, it’s impossible to predict the future. A few years ago, what was a best practice (or at least reasonable practice) may no longer be worthwhile. One example is mobile web design. Even though nearly half of all web traffic comes from mobile devices, it’s shocking to see how many websites are hard (or even impossible) to use on our smartphones. Today, good web design must take into consideration mobile and desktop users. If yours didn’t, it’s time to think about redesigning it so it will.
Does your site reflect modern design practices?
Web design is constantly evolving, like all design — fashion, home decorating, automotive, etc. What might have been cutting-edge and modern when you first launched your site may now seem dated and offputting. Dated websites also create trust issues with users. If you haven’t bothered to update your design, have you also not updated your content, inventory, menu, prices, location, store hours, etc.? Are you even still in business? Take a look at the primary, national brands in your particular space. These are the companies that can afford to update and refine their sites constantly. Your’s doesn’t (and shouldn’t) look exactly like theirs, but if the design difference is night and day, you should rethink about redesigning your site.
What are the expectations of your clients and prospects?
Your website will likely be the initial and primary touchpoint customers have with your brand. Their experience with your website will be a reflection of your company. If your design is outdated, they’ll think you aren’t modern. If it’s clunky to use and hard to navigate, they’ll assume your overall customer experience is that way. If the content isn’t relevant or helpful, they’ll believe that you don’t pay attention to details or put much effort into your customer’s needs. If your website doesn’t provide for your customers’ needs, your customers will find competitors that will.
Do I need to redesign my website?
There’s a lot to consider — but what’s the bottom line?
As I said, there’s no absolute rule, but the requests we’ve been getting for website redesigns are coming from organizations that last built their website three or four years ago. If your site is approaching (or past) that age, it’s worthwhile to take the time to perform an internal audit and see if your website is meeting your (and your customers’) current needs.
However, a well-designed and built site using best practices can likely live beyond that timeframe or at least provide you the flexibility to make updates without needing to perform a complete overhaul.
On the flip side, if your site skimped on design and sound technological development, its expiration date will likely be much sooner, and it may not be easy to make simple, straightforward updates without completely rebuilding the site.
Here at Visible Logic, we focus on building sites that can last for years. Our sites can still feel modern years after they’re made by focusing on timeless design principles instead of chasing the latest trends. And by following best practices in terms of development, we’re able to create web experiences that are flexible and easy to update as your business evolves. If you’re curious about redesigning your site and would like a professional opinion, feel free to contact us.