Technology and the way we interact with it will continue to evolve forever.
Take social media. Back when MySpace was the norm, each user could personalize their profile beyond recognition. It was media intensive and bloated, allowing users to add fluff (glitter, flash, animated GIFs), music, photos and videos that made negatively affected the website. Then Facebook, which was originally developed to connect college and school-age communities, drew a lot of attention due to its minimalist and clean interface. It has since expanded to be the industry titan now. Even mobile devices have evolved beyond recognition in terms of usability, aesthetics and performance.
It makes sense, then, to regularly update your online and digital presence to keep up with the changing times, not the least of which involves your website. This way, you can ensure the best experience to your customers and audience and remain competitive in the market. In fact, as a foundational element of any business, your website should be an absolute priority when it comes to keeping up with modern times.
How do you know when it’s time to update your website? When should you kick start a redesign? Here are some signs that will help you determine whether or not your site needs an overhaul.
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Web site designs are similar to fashion design. A specific design and look becomes the vogue until a completely new website design comes along. It’s fairly easy to discern how dated your site looks by taking a look at some of your competitors’ content and compare it with what you’re offering.
If your site design looks blocky or retro—without you trying to make it so— then it’s time to spring for a visual upgrade. Sites that look like a relic of the ’90s are incredibly off-putting and frustrating to browse.
You Don’t Have a Mobile-Friendly Version or Responsive Design.
Mobile traffic has far surpassed desktop, and it’s been that way for a few years now. It also happens to be one of the biggest IT trends for the year ahead.
Knowing this, it’s rather obvious you need a mobile-friendly website. In the early days, that meant creating two separate versions of a site: one for mobile and another for the desktop. That’s no longer necessary today. In fact, it’s not even recommended.
The better option is to adopt responsive design techniques. What this means is that the site, on-page elements, and certain content automatically adapts to the size and resolution of the device users are browsing on. Many platforms incorporate support for this natively such as WordPress, Shopify, Squarespace and more.
When exactly was the last time you updated your website? Have you hired new staff? Have you moved to a new location or opened another facility? Have you launched any fresh products or services?
If it’s been a long time since you last updated, then it’s likely there have been at least a few changes worth mentioning on your site. Maybe you’ve won some awards since your site was last edited? Maybe you’re chasing an entirely new demographic?
Whatever the case, simply look at the length of time since your site’s last update or redesign. The longer it’s been, the more likely you need to make a few changes.
It’s Difficult to Update Your Site or Add Content.
Every site requires content to be updated on a regular basis, be it news and press release to product information or event notice. Your SEO rank would suffer if your website does not feature new content regularly. If you find it difficult to add new content, upload images or even change existing text, then it’s definitely time for an upgrade. Editing and adding new content should be easy, quick and relatively painless.
Current platforms make this process easier than ever. It is imperative for your website to have a CMS (content management system) which will allow you to easily add new websites. WordPress and Drupal are some great examples of extremely popular CMS.
Your Website Has a High Bounce Rate!
The bounce rate of a website or portal reflects user sentiment, particularly when they don’t want to bother navigating or browsing content. There are many reasons why people would leave the site. Maybe the experience was too dull or aggravating, or they couldn’t find what they were looking for, or they just landed on the wrong website.
A/B testing and user heatmaps can reveal a lot, like what people are doing when they visit your site. Combined with bounce rates, you can use the collective information to understand what’s wrong and what needs to be changed.
SERP and SEO Rankings Are Down.
At this point, you’ve probably had it drilled into your head just how important SEO, or search engine ranking, really is. It’s what determines the visibility and exposure of your site in search results and you definitely have to rank high to be seen by your intended audience.
Outdated and poorly designed sites, especially those with terrible loading times, tend to be listed much lower in search results. This leads to fewer visitors, fewer opportunities when it comes to converting new customers and nearly invisible local search listings. That can make or break a small business.
It may be worth a redesign or upgrade, simply to improve your SEO ranking.
The Site Lacks Social Connections.
You may have social elements incorporated into your site. If you don’t, then it’s time to upgrade.
Facebook is one of the most popular advertising platforms for modern business, with Twitter, Instagram and several others following close behind. If you’re not visible on these platforms and you don’t have connections to your main portals, then you’re missing out big-time. People love to share images, content and even products they find interesting on social media. Make sure you make it easy for them to do so.
You should also include your social account links on your site so people can easily find you. Furthermore, it’s always good to have a certain amount of social engagement on your site, as well. You can include a live Twitter feed in a sidebar or have a widget that shows your latest Facebook posts.
Site Security Is Outdated.
Cybersecurity attacks are much more sophisticated, and the threats to your business and customer data are more numerous. The older your site, the more vulnerable it generally is. Many loopholes, security vulnerabilities, and outdated tools likely exist — if they haven’t already been utilized by unscrupulous parties.
You can either conduct a security audit to find out what problems exist or redesign your website with newer, more secure technologies.
Your Business Has Grown or Become More Successful!
If your business has either grown in size or become much more successful since you last updated your site, it’s time for an upgrade. There’s a common misconception that once you reach a certain point, there’s no longer any need to improve your site or maintain your digital presence. The exact opposite is true. The more successful you are, the more important your website and online presence is.
Your website, in particular, is what your growing customer base will use to interact with your brand, communicate and learn about products. If the site experience is subpar, you’re going to lose customers. Keep that site updated no matter how great your business is doing.
Do You Need to Redesign Your Site?
If any of these points resonated with you, then it’s about time you invested in a site redesign. These days, a brand’s online presence, as well as its website, are influential on customer sentiment and experiences. If your site is subpar, your customers are not going to be happy.
Lexie Lu is a UX content strategist and web designer. She enjoys covering topics related to UX design, web design, social media, and branding. In her spare time, she enjoys walking her dog, watching HGTV and baking. Feel free to subscribe to her design blog, Design Roast, or follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.