An outdated website can not only damage your rankings, traffic and conversions but also your reputation, brand image and the trust between your business and your audience.
Your website is the hub of your brand’s identity and one of the first places your prospects will visit to learn about your business. It’s important to ensure it’s working hard for you around the clock. After all, you’ve spent a lot of time and money to make it what it is.
If you’re thinking “when should I update my website?”, you’re in the right place.
There are many reasons why a business makes the decision to update their website. Sometimes it could be multiple reasons and an update just can’t wait any longer. Other times it could be one factor in particular which has created the need for a refresh. In this blog, we discuss 12 tell-tale signs that it’s time to start considering a website update.
1) Outdated website design
Design trends regularly change, and few website designs are timeless. If a website is beginning to look outdated, it can cause distrust with the user. Outdated sites can seem unsafe to use or purchase from.
Equally, if your website is simply starting to look unappealing, it’s probably due a design refresh. Your website needs to look visually appealing to engage your audience and encourage them to interact with your online offering.
For example, the design and build of mobile-friendly websites has become a huge topic in recent years. Older design trends won’t work as well on smaller screens so if your site hasn’t had a major design update in the last three years, there’s a good chance it could be out of date for mobile users.
Don’t let your audience think you are behind the times. Compare your current site to the ones you enjoy browsing. An agency’s web design services can help you update your website’s design to keep up with today’s digital standards.
2) It doesn’t stack up against your competition
Are your competitors doing a better job at selling their business than you are at selling yours? If so, what’s the cost to your business of the action a user doesn’t take on your site? Would the result have been different if your onsite experience was better than your competitors?
If your site is way behind your competition, you’ve got an issue. But there could be many different reasons why your site doesn’t stack up against your competitors. Your site’s aesthetics, how it performs and the functionality it offers can all have an impact on whether a user chooses to engage with you or another business. It’s important to benchmark and evaluate your site in relation to others in your industry to get a true representation of how you’re fairing up.
It’s normal for business changes to take place which lead to evolutions in your branding. As a result, you can find yourself with a site that’s no longer true to your identity. Whether it’s product or service development or an acquisition taking place, these factors have an impact on your brand which needs communicating across your website.
Does your website reflect your current brand? There shouldn’t be a disconnect between your business and what you present through your website. Having a site with different messaging to your wider business can be confusing for your prospects and ultimately lead them away from you. Consistency is key when it comes to translating your brand messaging across various mediums.
Even if your site is beautifully designed, if it doesn’t match your current company brand, it either needs a redesign or a reskin to bring consistency back to your proposition. For example, we recently worked with the UK market leader for managed laundry services, Circuit, to redesign their website. They subsequently rebranded which meant their website design needed to be realigned with their new branding.
4) Site speed
A core ranking factor, speed matters. It affects your website’s performance, user satisfaction and your Google rankings.
Just a one-second loading delay can lead to page views being reduced by 11 percent and customer satisfaction down by 16 percent. If your site is too slow to load, move from page to page or struggles to load images and content, users will quickly go elsewhere.
Dependent upon the cause of your speed issues, it could mean your site needs to be rebuilt. This approach is often easier than trying to patch the parts of the site that are causing slow load times. Take a look at the speed of your webpages with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. If your score is below average, it could be worth a conversation with your web agency to figure out your next steps.
5) Limiting functionality
If you’re struggling with any of these issues…
- Your content editors need to speak to your developers to get anything done onsite
- You can’t provide the functionality needed for your users
- It costs too much to try and add new functionality
- Your site no longer stacks up against your competitors
…it is likely you’re due a website update.
Your internal team should be able to easily edit areas of your site as required whether it’s content, images or small design updates. If you’re having to rely on your agency to make every single change onsite, consider a website update to put you back in control.
Equally, if you have specific functionality that you want to integrate but can’t, your platform could be outdated. In some cases, it could simply cost too much to add the extra functionality due to how old your website is.
6) Poor user experience
When considering your user experience, a key metric to keep an eye on is your bounce rate. If your bounce rate is abnormally high, it’s a good idea to analyse your user’s onsite behaviour to understand why.
This analysis could highlight where a potential redesign could be required whether it’s for a specific user journey, web page or even the whole site. Equally, something as simple as a new page template or small improvements to the UX and navigation could make a huge difference and help drive onsite engagement.
A high bounce rate or low conversions could also signify that your users are disengaged. This is a good opportunity to consider:
- Am I giving my users what they need?
- Is my site easy to navigate?
- Have I considered accessibility requirements?
- Are my competitors offering a better user experience?
There is usually always a reason behind a disengaged audience. Sometimes it’s as simple as the user being unable to find what they came on the site for, or there are too many clicks to get to where they want to be. It’s your job to create a seamless, quick and easy journey throughout your site.
As part of our UX services, we offer a UX audit to uncover why page conversions are low, why time on site has dropped, why bounce rates are high and how to enhance your user experience in order to better guide your users to where they need to be on your site.
Interested to find out how your website’s UX could be improved?
7) Unresponsive pages
You may have noticed before that many older sites sit in the middle of your screen as this will fit most desktop screen sizes. However, this instantly makes a site look outdated. Users today expect a site to respond to their device and screen size. A responsive website will adapt from a smaller iPhone to a large monitor seamlessly.
Due to the number of users now browsing on mobile and Google’s mobile-first indexing, your website’s responsiveness plays a huge role in the quality of your user’s onsite experience. It’s worth noting that even if your users are primarily mobile users, Google’s mobile-first indexing will still apply to your website.
8) Technical debt
Technical debt occurs over time as changes are made to your website. Due to newer development practices, your site can end up with a range of inconsistencies in its underlying code. As a result, it can reach a point where making site changes becomes complex and costly and a rebuild could be the more cost-effective option.
As it’s integral to continuously improve your website, this can be a tough one to avoid. We recommend providing your internal team with regular opportunities to address technical debt and carry out website maintenance which can also help to reduce your total cost of ownership.
However, if you’ve already got to the point of changes becoming too costly, this is a clear sign that a website update is due.
9) Old technology
Old technology can be a significant hindrance on how your website performs. Here are some of the top signs that a website update is needed when it comes to battling your site’s technology:
- If you’re running a .NET WebForms site in 2020, it’s time for a rebuild
- If the layout of your site has been used with HTML tables
- If the vendor has stopped supporting your CMS or CMS version
- If your platform isn’t capable of adapting to technology advances
- If your website doesn’t support your browser of choice
10) Too many plugins
The majority of CMS platforms support the use of third-party plugins. However, as these build up it can cause issues with your site’s performance. Once you’ve got more than five plugins installed, it may be time to consider whether your site’s performance is being affected. If you’ve hit around the 10 mark, your original site probably isn’t fit for purpose and it’s time for a website update.
11) It doesn’t meet Google’s Core Web Vitals criteria
There’s a large Google update coming in early 2021. Earlier this year, Google announced that it will be adding page experience signals to how it ranks sites in the search engine results pages (SERPs), with the aim to allow websites to rank higher based on the quality of their user experience. The Core Web Vitals and existing metrics are defined as follows:
- Largest Contentful Paint: The time it takes for a page’s main content to load. An ideal LCP measurement is 2.5 seconds or faster.
- First Input Delay: The time it takes for a page to become interactive. An ideal measurement is less than 100 ms.
- Cumulative Layout Shift: The amount of unexpected layout shift of visual page content. An ideal measurement is less than 0.1.
- Existing Metrics: Mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS-security and intrusive interstitial guidelines
If you have a site that doesn’t meet these metrics, your user experience will be sub-par meaning your rankings and, subsequently, your traffic could suffer.
12) It’s not supporting your objectives
Your website isn’t doing your business justice. Whatever your objectives may be, your website should be a big part of helping you reach them.
- Are your users not converting? You've got a great marketing strategy but it’s just not working. You can see traffic is being driven to your site, but users aren't converting. Perhaps now's the time to put your website under scrutiny. Get your code audited, have the UX analysed and check you're complying with accessibility standards. There’s no point spending your budget to drive traffic to your website if it isn't pulling its weight. We recommend an annual website MOT which will produce a list of prioritised actions which can be completed within a retainer plan to ensure optimum performance.
- Is your website not supporting your growth? As your business evolves, your website needs to evolve with it. You may be in a position where your website can no longer keep up with the demand of your transactions and traffic. This is a big sign that your website needs updating in one way or another. If your website is unable to evolve in line with your business, it won’t be doing an effective job of selling your business and what you do. As a result, newer core services or key business innovations may not be communicated onsite.
- Is your site an internal blocker? We often talk about the needs of our users and designing with the user in mind. But your website is also a crucial tool for your internal team. Whether it’s automating processes through CRM integration or something as simple as a rich resource centre, your website is there to help internal users as much as your external customers. Additionally, if your sales team feel embarrassed directing prospects to your website because it doesn’t support their goals or accurately represent the business, this could seriously hinder the success of your team.
Your digital offering is under the microscope now more than ever. It’s a necessity to ensure your website is doing your business justice.
Maybe your site is simply outdated, it could be operating on an old platform, in need of a redesign or your web agency hasn’t provided the ongoing support you required. Whatever the case, these 12 signs will help you decide if now is the time to update your website.
If you’re unsure what to do next, we’re happy to provide guidance. A web development and design agency with over 20 years of experience, we know a thing or two about building great websites to solve your business challenges while making the most of the budget you have. Take a look at our previous work or get in touch with a member of the team to learn more about our approach.