Every year, I like to recommend that clients conduct a website audit or have a developer perform one. The landscape of web development ebbs and flows and the internet changes so exponentially every year with upgrades in both physical hardware and coding languages that there’s a lot to take into consideration for your company, your users, and the growth and future of your business. The question always ends up being, “Are you prepared for the next couple of years, or is it time for a website redesign?”
Here are 13 reasons why it’s time.
1. Your Branding Has Changed
The most obvious reason for a redesign is that your company’s identity has changed.
Circumstance: You throw some dollar bills at a new logo or a new suite of fancy printed materials. That’s fantastic, congrats, but your website still reflects your old logo or brand materials.
New identity updates are a great time to unveil a sparkly new website to go along with it. In an ideal world, you roll out everything all at once. But in the real world, you can roll your brand updates out in phases. Either way, get it done; update your brand 100% or not at all. Discrepancies can hurt your bottom line and brand awareness. If you’ve made any updates to your brand that fundamentally changed the way the public perceives your company, you need a new website.
2. You Didn’t Think “Internet on Mobile Devices” Was Going to Be a Thing
Let me tell you a little story. Back in 2007, I had a client that had just rebuilt their entire website—spent the time and money to re-infrastructure their entire site from the ground up with a new design, new sitemap, and new SEO efforts. The thing looked pretty good. Despite the fact that responsive internet had been a thing for a few years at that point, he was certain that “mobile internet was just a fad.” A few weeks later, the first generation iPhone was released, cementing mobile internet and the need for a 100% responsive website.
Don’t be that guy. You don’t have to chase trends, but you need to be aware of how and where your website is used. Having a mobile-ready website has never been more important than it is today. As of Q3 of 2018, mobile traffic represents more than 52% of all internet traffic. You cannot afford to not have a mobile-ready website. If your website looks the same on your smartphone as it does on your Windows 95 desktop, you need a new website.
3. I Have a Collection of Snails Faster Than Your Website
I’ve mentioned this before on previous blogs of mine, but you have, at most, seven seconds for your website to load and grab your user’s attention before they’re likely to just bail altogether. With mobile traffic being so important, that number is even more important on slower mobile internet speeds—3G for example. Internet that slow really depends on your target demographic, but you get the point. Google’s Lighthouse will test for this. I really don’t feel that I need to get into the details; it’s pretty self-explanatory. If I can sing the entire Wicked soundtrack before your website loads, you need a new website.
4. Half of Your Pages 404
I get it. The older your website ages and the more content you add, change, or remove, the more of a mess you make. It’s inevitable and expected. You can only do so much. The problem is that most users don’t understand or even care about the finer points of URL redirection or what a 301 code is. If your URL, according to the search engines, directs users to a web page that doesn’t exist, your website is broken and needs an audit. Nine times out of ten, you can resolve and redirect those URLs just fine without much problem. But if you have more 404s than you have pages, it’s time to burn your website down, treat yourself to a new one, and account for all of those 404s in your rebuild.
5. I Just Can’t Find Anything!
I’m talking specifically about organization and flow. Current website design trends take into consideration the philosophy that “less is more,” and the direction/navigation/call-to-actions should be clear and easily accessible. Ten years ago, it was popular to use fifteen content sliders, forty-seven modals, and paragraphs for days. Today, that’s not the case. I might argue that your website content needs an overhaul before you get a website redesign. It’s important to make sure that your users are finding what they need and are spending time on your website. If your Google Analytics tell you that your bounce rate is high (roughly 56-70%+), you might need to take a good hard look at your website. Pour yourself a celebratory glass of shandy because you need a new website. And… it… will… be… glorious!
6. You’ve Been Hacked More Than Zero Times in the Last 10 Years
Okay, that’s a low bar. Chances are that everyone has been hacked in one way or another over the years. Security and vulnerabilities pop up on the regular. However, if your site leaves you at risk of any privacy or security intrusions, you should take a look at your setup. Technologies that are typically considered “legacy” often slow down on active development or security patches. Look at what your website is built on and whether or not there are reported issues with it. Even older versions of WordPress can leave you vulnerable, so always err on the side of updating. They’re constantly looking to keep you safe with fairly-continuous active development, especially when security and privacy are concerned. If you:
- Can’t update your website’s framework
- Don’t know what your website is built on
- Have been hacked in any way in recent years
- Are unable to find a security statement from your host provider
- Require a 3.5″ floppy disk to save your new blog post
You need a new website.
Your website has too much content. No way I’m going to get through all that. Too long; didn’t read, and I guarantee that most of your user base is in the same boat. The only acceptable place for larger amounts of content are white papers, articles and blog posts, and even then, within reason. I’m busy. I have things to do, important things; I don’t have all day to absorb 22 pages of your thoughts on spreadsheet data entry. Your content really needs to be quick, targeted, well-articulated and broken into easily digestible parts.
*Pause for digestion.*
Your About page doesn’t need a 52-page dossier on your company’s history. I need to know simply: who, what, when, where, why, and your goals for the future. I might need a little info on each of your “notable” employees or information about your location, if that’s important. But if a page on your website takes more than five minutes to read (fifteen for articles), it’s too long. You need a good hard look at your content and to think about a new website.
8. I Can’t Find You on Any Search Engine
We all know that search engine results rankings are important. If you don’t show up on the first page or two, you’re likely to get lost on the internet. But choosing the best inline-keywords only goes so far, and in fact, I’ve still seen websites that utilize meta keywords which were deprecated some time ago. The truth of it is that so much more goes into determining where you fall in search results and how search engines find your website in the first place. As long as you’re updating your content continuously, you should be considered relevant to search engine spiders.
If search engines can’t find you, my bet is that your website doesn’t adhere to web standards, isn’t accessible, or isn’t set up in such a way that search engines can make sense of the content enough to properly rank you. This is probably more than a content issue. This could be a systemic issue that needs to be resolved. If you’re doing all you can to boost your rankings and are failing, I think it’s time you rebuild your website.
9. Your Goals Have Changed
This one is less obvious if you’ve been looking at the same website, or been with the same company for a while, but still important. You might have a relatively up-to-date website, maybe to match your new branding, but perhaps your demographic shifted after that rebrand, or you’ve pivoted to combat market changes. Either way, if your website is no longer effective at capturing users, it might be time to redesign or rebuild. There are lots of platforms out there to test before you commit, like Optimizely for A/B testing, and dipping a toe in the internet waters to find the best solution for your target. The important thing is that you keep an eye on your analytics and conversions, test, and if you’re not able to achieve the results you need with what you have, you might need a new website.
10. Your Website Looks Like a Vision Board
We all made those when we were kids, right? A collage of magazine cutouts and old receipts from Chuck E. Cheese’s would declare our intentions for the future. It works in that setting, since the idea of “putting it out into the universe” is all that’s required. We could make it as messy and overlaid as we wanted. On the internet, however, clarity is key. If your website resembles a vision board, you’ve got some issues to resolve. Chances are you’re dealing with “bad code” or “old code” that can be fixed with a little TLC and some elbow grease. Take some time to organize your content a bit better, reorganize, and clean things up. But if despite your intervention, your website just ends up looking like a Jackson Pollock painting, you have deeper problems that would probably take more work to dig through and fix than it would to start over. It might be time for a new website.
11. Your Website is Almost Back in Style, and Not In a Good Way
We all remember the old Geocities websites. No real conventions had been set in place yet, and the options were quite literally endless—tables and GIFs and Marquees, OH MY! Design trends have evolved over the years quite a bit, though we’re starting to see a trend into brutalist websites, which really plays off of what is acceptable and unacceptable on the web and challenges the currently accepted conventions. It does what any art movement does, questions the status quo. That said, your crappy website is not back in style, even though it looks that way. Under the brutal exterior, these sites utilize the current trends in code development, understand security and performance, and follow the rules required for search engines and users to find the site in the first place. Your website belongs back in 2001, but if you just LOVE that style, rebuild it right and get on the brutalist train.
12. Your Website Is More Than Four or Five Years Old
This one’s simple. Things change. Quickly. If your website is more than even a couple years old, I’d consider giving it a face lift. If it’s older than that, it’s time for a redesign and rebuild. At a certain point, band-aids, patches, and face lifts, like with people, don’t turn out great. You most certainly do not need all those flashy bells and whistles that you saw on the Awwwards website, but you do need to catch up, stay current, and rebuild your website to last you another several years, at the least. You owe it to your brother’s bratty children.
13. It Just Looks Old. You Know It’s Time.
Sometimes you just know. Maybe you don’t know why, but you know it’s time. It could be a combination of any of the things above, or it just feels outdated. Maybe it is heavily skeuomorphic circa Apple 2003 or just hasn’t been touched in a few years. I personally revamp my code base or website design every year. Things change way too fast to keep up with the current trends, and frankly, why would I want to? I don’t need a fad website, I need a future-proof website.
So, Let’s Get Going…
Before you take a drive to rebuild-town, use your best judgment. Audit your website, your content, and your sitemap. Take a look at your goals, your SEO, and your bounce rates. Compare your brand and your website. If you don’t like what you see, feel confused or uncertain of what you’re looking for, or you just need a second pair of eyes, we can help. Just give us a shout.
It might be time to rebuild your website.