At Stand And Stretch, we tend to think of websites as living documents. That simply means that sites grow, change, and develop over time. No static website will be successful forever. Continuous improvement is the name of the game!
However, there comes a time when a site needs to be completely redone. While individual cases may diverge, we generally find every three years is a good benchmark. This is particularly true for small to midsize organizations.
The salient question, however, isn’t merely how often to redesign, but why you should redesign. Checking a box every three years won’t cut it. You need to understand the reasoning behind the decision to maximize the benefits of the process.
Websites Look Dated Within Just a Couple of Years
Hopefully, your current website was built by an experienced professional who did a terrific job setting you up for success. If not, you definitely need a website redesign. But even if your website was flawless at launch, within just a couple of years, it will be out of date to some degree both visually and technically.
From a visual perspective, the website may or may not look good today. That depends on how trendy or classic your design was, how well it was executed, and if your site has been updated to keep the components that control what the users see from breaking.
If you are in a trendy niche, or you are appealing to a more youthful audience, you absolutely want to keep your site looking fresh and up-to-date with a refresh at least every three years, and probably more often than that. If your market wants the latest thing, your website should definitely not announce, “This is the old thing from three years ago.”
On the other hand, if you work in a more staid, traditional field – I recently had a client request something “stodgier” because that’s what his clients want – you might be fine with your existing visuals for a bit longer. However, even a “stodgy” client often doesn’t want to work with a company that puts no effort into maintaining a quality online presence.
Rebuilding Your Website Can Boost Your Conversions
Even if you determine based on feedback from clients and team members that your site is still OK visually, the real question is how your site is performing.
Your older site might look acceptable, but if your traffic is low, you don’t see conversions, or your bounce rate is high, then the website is ripe for a refresh.
If you have a site that isn’t driving traffic or conversions, that means you need to invest in optimizing your site. The best way to do this is with a redesign. Hire a quality designer or agency with a firm grounding in not just aesthetics but performance. Talk about your KPIs and the types of conversions that will help your bottom line. If you don’t already know, find out what type of SEO has been done so far, and why it isn’t working.
Redesigning your site doesn’t just mean polishing it up visually – or at least it shouldn’t. A website redesign is a golden opportunity to take a hard look at your site’s performance and appearance. With the right approach, you can come out on the other side of the process with a site that both looks better and works harder for you.
Older Sites Are Maintenance and Update Nightmares
While a website redesign can be a significant expense to a business with a modest marketing budget, keeping an old website has costs as well.
We’ve already discussed the lower performance you’re likely experiencing, and the damage to your brand that occurs when customers see that your website looks old and outdated. But there are also notable costs in the form of maintenance issues. Either you manage your site yourself, in which case you will encounter problems as themes, plugins, and software becomes outdated and incompatible with newer tools. Or, you have a third party managing your site, and they will handle all of those problems, and then invoice you for the time.
Either way, you’ll be paying in time, money, or probably both, to keep a subpar site running. The internet ecosystem is constantly morphing, and sites need to be updated frequently to keep up with changing software and tools.
Building a New Website Takes Advantage of New Tools
Updating your site won’t merely save you trouble on maintenance issues. It will also allow you to take advantage of new tools that have been developed or come into their own since you launched your site.
Sometimes you can patch new things on but this is not always a great idea. You could be adding tools that are not compatible with your existing theme, plugins, and design. At a minimum, you won’t be holistically designing your site around whatever new tool or features you are adding, which will result in less cohesive integration. This might not be a big issue with a small item, but with a major feature, you really want to integrate from day one.
Redoing Your Website Allows You to Update Content
So far we’ve focused on more technical aspects, like your site’s performance. We’ve also considered the overall appearance of the site as a whole: Does it feel dated or clunky?
Now it’s time to zero in on the individual items that make up your website. At the most basic level, your content essentially consists of text, images, and videos.
While you are redesigning your site is a perfect time to examine each piece of content. Here are a few questions we encourage our web design clients to consider for each main type of content.
- Is this piece of text well written?
- Does this reflect my current brand and goals?
- Is there a clear purpose for this specific heading or paragraph?
- Does my site copy overall paint a clear picture of my organization, our mission, and our services?
- Is this a good-quality photo? Is it clear, well-lit, etc.?
- Does the photo look too much like a stock photo? (Quality, relevant stock photos are fine. Cheesy stock photos are not fine.)
- Is this image current?
- Is this video current?
- Is this video well made, or does it look amateurish?
- Are people going to watch the whole thing? If not, is the important information at the beginning?
A new site is a motivator – you have to put in the work to achieve the potential ROI on your website redesign.
By now, you probably see quite a few ways that your site could benefit from a website redesign. Most of what we’ve considered is measurable – it’s pretty easy to see if your traffic increases or if you get a better conversion rate. Design can be more subjective, but most people can tell a fresh, new website from a clunky old one.
Our final point is more nebulous. This doesn’t happen for everyone, but often, a new website can be a catalyst for a business or organization to redouble its marketing efforts.
Why is this? I believe it comes down to getting buy-in. If you’re getting a new website, you’re probably doing one of two things:
- Building it yourself, and putting in a lot of time, or, more likely.
- Paying a professional a significant amount of money.
Either way, you’re motivated to get a return on your investment. If you’re doing the work yourself, you want it to pay off. Nobody likes to see their time and hard work wasted, so you’ll have extra motivation to put in the work in the long term to make your site successful. And if you’re paying a professional, you’ll be motivated to ensure that they deliver a quality product, and then to take measures to keep it maintained.
Again, this doesn’t happen for everyone, but I have found that sometimes the process of developing a new site can be a refocusing for marketing efforts, especially in smaller organizations.
So, What Next?
If you’ve decided you want to redesign your website, the next important step is to take a hard look at your existing website and determine what needs to change. Review it in light of the sections above. How is it performing? How does it look? What do your clients say about it?
Then, get some quotes. We’d be happy to have a chat with you and see if Stand And Stretch might be a good fit for your next website redesign. Contact us and let’s set up a website review!
Neva is the Web Manager at Stand And Stretch. When she’s not designing websites, she enjoys hiking, reading classic novels, and baking.