Remember the distant dying years of the last (although hopefully not final) century, when the internet/world wide web were still a clunky, barely functioning novelty and social media wasn’t yet even a twinkle in primary schoolboy Mark Zuckerberg’s eye? Actually, probably not – 22 years into the 21st century we all pretty much take our websites for granted, like hot and cold running water.
But just because your website ‘ain’t broke’ exactly, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fix it – or even redesign and rebuild it. It might seem to be working OK – but, like a car with balding tyres and dodgy brakes, it might well do you some damage at some point. So, how do you know when it’s time for a major overhaul? Well, here are eight things you might want to think about:
- It isn’t mobile-friendly and fully responsive
OK, maybe it just about works. Maybe with a bit of patience and perseverance your users can get the information they want on their phone screen – but if the experience is like viewing what might be your new home through the letterbox, they’ll probably move on to a competitor’s site. It’s easy to find out if your site’s responsive – try it on your mobile. And if it doesn’t perform at least as well as on a desktop, it urgently needs an overhaul!
- Only the office Ubergeek knows how to update and amend it
It really shouldn’t be ‘rocket science’ just uploading blogs, new items or just refreshing your website’s content. If you have to get one of the IT guys or your web designers to make every little change it’s not just time-consuming and therefore costly – chances are you won’t get round to doing it very often. And that’s not good. The vital importance of information being accurate and up to date aside, frequent updates and enhancements are a great way to get greater visibility on search engines. The good news is that you (and absolutely anyone in the company) can do all this incredibly quickly, easily and with minimal cost using a Content Management System (CMS).
- It’s clunky and no fun to use
Because you know it like the back of your hand, it’s easy to get complacent about what your website’s like for your users. It’s all about keeping your visitors/customers happy isn’t it: if it’s tricky to find what they want and the content’s not engaging and useful, they’ll go elsewhere. We suggest asking people with no stake in the business or organisation to give your site a ‘test drive’. If the subject matter’s fairly technical, ask people familiar with your field. It might be worth giving them a mission: find out about X or sign up for Y or purchase Z… and see how they get on. In our experience, it’s often quicker, slicker and more cost-effective to develop a whole new state of the art website with user experience in mind than to keep fixing a constant stream of niggling issues with one that’s way past its sell-by date.
- Visitors and new business dwindling?
Of course not every website exists purely to deliver new business leads or sales – but has anyone ever created a website who doesn’t want as many visitors as possible? Take a look at your visitor stats and contacts from the site. If the trend is downward, people almost certainly aren’t finding what they’re looking for. There are countless possible causes. If your site’s grown organically over years, for example, there may well be redundant sections, misleading information and navigational dead-ends – all of which add to your ‘bounce’ rate. Again, we’d probably advise starting from scratch rather than patching things up piecemeal – not only does that mean your site’s bang up to date; it also forces you to think radically, which literally means ‘from the roots’, about creating something that will grow and grow.
- It’s just old and out of date
OK, it’s not all about being as hip and happening as the next guy – but if your site’s more than, say, five years old, it’s bound to start looking a bit tired. And if all your competitors have snappy and stylish state of the art sites, you’re giving yourself an unnecessary handicap. In this case, you might not need a complete re-design and build – perhaps some serious refurbishment would do the trick. It’s amazing what some judicious tweaking of colours, imagery typography and so on can do.
- It’s painfully slow
This is related to most of the other points above. Because you’re so familiar with it (and perhaps because your own site’s always cached on your devices) you probably won’t notice if it takes ages to load. Your users will though – and they may well go away rather than wait. So we’d advise you to check. Under a couple of seconds is great. Two to three seconds is OK – but few visitors will wait more than 3 seconds… hardly anyone will put up with 5. If that’s the time it takes, it’s time for a redesign before you lose any more potential business.
- Your business has changed significantly
It might be great-looking, highly functional, fast and efficient – but if you website no longer fits your business’s needs it’s time to rebuild it. There are all sorts of reasons why it’s no longer a good fit – maybe you’ve radically changed your product range, altered your terms of service or perhaps you’ve introduced new software that doesn’t easily interface with the existing site. In our experience, when a business has undergone major change, it’s often more efficient (and a lot less painful) to build a new website with those changes in mind than to keep hammering square pegs into round holes.
- You and your team are sheepish about your site
Do customers ask about features and widgets boasted by their own or your competitors’ sites that are sadly lacking in yours? And do you and your team find yourself making excuses in the same breath as your URL? If you’re not 100% happy and, better still, downright proud to say your URL out loud, you need a new site!
To be honest, these 8 issues could be expanded to a hundred or so if we wanted to be really boring – but we think this is plenty to be going on with. With over 30+ years of experience in agencies creating impeccable websites, we are experts in our fields when it comes to web design in Hertfordshire, so if any of the above apply to you… we would love to talk to you.