Website design trends and standards move at a dizzyingly fast pace. Because of the increasingly pervasive emphasis on usability and the rapid speed with which technologies evolve, what seemed innovative and cutting-edge a couple of years ago probably looks antiquated – and possibly a bit daggy – today.
Chances are,if your website is more than two years old, it’s time for a drastic overhaul, if not a full-scale redesign. A dated, functionally limited website will significantly detract from the credibility and appeal of your business and, ultimately, your brand.
Unsure as to whether your site has stood up to the test of time? Here we’ve compiled ten reasons why it might be time to take the plunge and update your online presence.
1. Your website’s purpose is not clear
Your website is the home base for your online presence. It is often the first (and last) form of interaction prospective customers will have with you, so it needs to be quick and effective in driving home your desired message.
As the first port of call for prospective customers, your website should make who you are, what you stand for, and what you offer very clear. It is therefore vital that your site not only makes a dazzlingly good first impression, but also succinctly and effectively communicates what your business actually does.
Try to look at your current website through the perspective of a visitor who has no previous knowledge of your business.
- What is your first impression upon a minute or so of looking around? Is the site’s objective clear?
- Do you get a quick and accurate idea of what kinds of products or services are offered?
- Is the character or tone of the brand clearly communicated?
If you can’t answer these questions with any kind of certainty or confidence, you probably need a redesign.
This also applies if your site’s purpose has changed since it was originally designed. Your website should reflect the current objectives and marketing campaign of your business, and change accordingly.
2. It looks dated
Are you embarrassed when you give out your web address? Does your website play music and feature Flash animation? What about flashing or blinking images? Does it take forever to load?
If your website looks like it’s stuck in 1999, prospective customers are not going to have any choice but to assume that your business is, too. First impressions count for a lot - obnoxious, dated trappings like an excess of Flash, autoplay music or video, and difficult-to-read typography are going to repel visitors and ultimately diminish your brand.
Your website is a direct, immediate reflection of you as a business. As such, it should be engaging, pleasing to the eye, and easy to navigate. A dated website will make your business look unstable, untrustworthy, and ultimately obsolete. An intelligently designed, fresh, up-to-date site, on the other hand, creates an immediate and lasting impression of confidence and integrity.
3. It takes forever to load
If your website takes too long to load, people will leave out of sheer frustration. Potential customers don’t have the patience for slow-loading websites, and, as it happens, neither do search engines.
Google’s algorithm now takes into account loading time. Ultimately, this means that not only is your slow website likely to be driving people to madness, but that it’s also not ranking highly on search engines.
Things that may affect loading time include image sizing and formatting, coding languages, and hosting services.
4. You’re not ranking on search engines
With search engines, like Google, regularly changing their search criteria, your website needs to meet new standards. Otherwise, your search engine ranking will plummet, and your site will become unfindable.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is dependent on a whole range of variables that your old site is probably not equipped to handle or provide – for example, site speed, user experience, and fresh, high-quality content.
Work with a web designer who understands SEO and will build strategies into the design to optimise your ranking.
5. It doesn’t display correctly on all web browsers and mobile devices
If your website doesn’t look and behave the same way in all web browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.) and on all devices (desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.), it’s time for a redesign. By incorporating responsive design, your reach will expand. Keeping it as is, on the other hand, runs the risk of alienating an entire generation of smartphone users.
6. It is difficult to navigate
Navigation doesn’t have to be flashy or complex. What it should be able to satisfy, however, is accessibility, clarity and simplicity, making your site as easy to use as possible.
Consider the user experience as objectively as you can:
- How easy is it to find information on your website, and how long does it take to find that information?
- How does the architecture of your website contribute to its overall usefulness and relevance? Each clickable tab or bar should be of use to visitors. Is there a search bar?
- Is the layout logically organised and easy to traverse? Do internal links open in new tabs or windows (this should be an emphatic “no”)?
- Are there any broken links (ditto)?
7. You aren’t getting great results
At its core, your website exists to build your customer base, and your data should reflect a movement towards that goal. Ultimately, your results are a direct upshot of how you attract, engage, convert, measure and optimise your website. If you’re not happy with the results you’re getting, a redesign is in order. Have a look at your conversion rates.
- Does your call to action convert visitors into leads and customers?
- Is your site extremely text-heavy?
- Is it rife with technical or corporate jargon?
- Is the look and feel of your site compatible with your company’s voice?
- Does it speak directly to your target audience?
8. Your competition looks better
While maintaining an edge isn’t everything, your website should be at least as good as those of your competitors (although having an identical website to your competition isn’t a great idea either).
Have a look around at similar businesses in the same general area.
- What are they doing that’s different to you, if anything?
- Do they more effectively meet your goals than your own site does?
- How do they compare in terms of search engine ranking?
If yours is the only site that hasn’t been recently redesigned, consider this a red flag.
9. Your business and/or brand has changed
Maybe your business goals and overall plan have changed since your website was originally designed. Perhaps your website caters for an audience that you’ve decided to no longer target, or maybe your target audience has broadened in scope. Maybe the tone of your website is no longer compatible with the character of your brand.
All businesses change, and your website should reflect its shifting objectives. Regardless of the particular shape your business has taken since your site was built, it’s important for your website to be aligned with your current business direction and plan.
10. Your website looks like everyone else’s
In a saturated, competitive market, it’s imperative for your website to be unique. Your website should establish your point of difference – that which separates you from your competitors.
If your website was designed using a pre-designed template, consider a redesign customised to your individual business needs and audience. Generic might be easy and safe, but it’s not going to distinguish you from everyone else.