10 Surefire Signs that Your Website Needs a Redesign
If you haven’t considered a redesign for your current web design in the last two to three years, read on for some pretty compelling reasons why you should do so now.
Why are so many established companies and startups relaunching brand new websites? Well, just think about it. Technology is constantly changing. Design, like fashion, is subject to current trends. The devices people are utilizing for viewing websites is changing. Social media and community interaction sites are changing and expanding. Of all of these reasons, probably most significant is that the new devices people are using are changing very rapidly. That single factor is the strongest in determining whether you need a redesign or not because the vast array of available devices are determining how websites must look to function properly.
So, redesigning websites is no longer just about changing the look and feel of your site. With technology changing as quickly as it is, a whole new set of problems has arisen and new solutions must be implemented to solve the new issues resulting from technology changes. Redesigning and rebuilding websites goes so much deeper than just the appearance of a website. Functionality, presentation, how quickly they load, and how easily they can be updated are all things that are encouraging website redesigns on a daily basis.
If you feel like you could be falling behind with everyone around you launching new websites, following are several questions to ask yourself when it comes to your own website to see if it is time to redesign.
Is your website responsive?
There has been a very big push in the last several years to make websites device friendly. With so many sizes and styles of the devices that are able to access the Internet now, the search engine and web design communities have made it clear that it is time to rethink the way we build and design websites. Now, millions more people are accessing the Web on their smartphones, tablets, TVs, phablets, music and gaming devices. This really became apparent thanks to Ethan Marcotte who published an article entitled “Responsive Web Design” which has now become the established terminology for the growing necessity to allow websites to work on all devices without diminishing the user experience.
Ask yourself, can your website be viewed easily on all devices, from desktop computers to smartphones and everything in between? If you cannot say “yes,” then it is time to evaluate how your website is working and to consider rebuilding your website to be responsive.
Is your website hard to update?
If the answer is yes, then it is important to determine why this is. If you don’t have the time or the knowledge, then it is essential that you contact your web design company. An updated site keeps visitors coming back. There is nothing worse than a stale site.
Most high quality web designers now utilize a CMS (Content Management System) for new websites being developed as it does allow for easy updating and it offers additional benefits as well.
Are there functions and features of your website that are no longer being used?
As websites continue to operate over time, it often becomes clear that certain elements are no longer working as they once did and are now outdated. If so, this is another indication that it is time to remove the outdated features, or, more than likely, it is time to restructure or redesign your site so that the underperforming features are removed.
How long does it take your website to load?
An issue that is almost as important as responsive web design, is how quickly your website loads. Websites must load quickly so that they do not download an excessive amount of information. This is because many Internet service providers and smartphone carriers are limiting the amount of data we are allowed to download to our devices. With these limits being placed on usage, we don’t want to ask our visitors to have to download huge amounts of information, images, and complicated scripts just to view our sites. This just leads to data drains and frustrated viewers who tend to abandon sites that annoy them.
Remember, a good guideline to follow: If your site takes longer than five seconds to load, then you have another reason for looking into a website redesign. Any amount of time longer than about five seconds on slower bandwidths will cause viewers to become disinterested and ultimately, to leave your site.
Are visitors navigating past your home page?
Of course this would be hard for you to determine without special analytics software running on your site that enables you see what your visitors are doing. If you don’t have one of these services yet, alarm bells should be going off for you! Google Analytics or StatCounter for Wordpress sites would be the place to start. Plus, the sign up is free. If you have one of these or any other service, view your stats to see if visitors are navigating deeper into your site. Usually, there are metrics and features that have been designed to calculate this information for you, but if not then take a look at the last couple of weeks’ worth of visitors.
If you determine that you are starting to lose visitors, then take a look at your home page to see if you can make it easier to navigate, or more interesting, or as this article has been emphasizing, consider a complete redesign of your site to make visitors want to dive into your site and see what you have to offer.
Is your site slowly losing visitors over time?
Obviously related to finding out if visitors are navigating past your home page, would be to also see if there are fewer visitors coming to your site in general. If fewer visitors are coming to your site, you have another important reason to consider a website redesign to at least a revamping of the content on your site. The objective of any website has remained the same since the birth of the worldwide web. The whole point of having a website is to drive visitors to visit your site; to purchase your products; learn about the services you offer; or simply to enjoy the content your website has to offer.
A slowing trend in visitors is also a good indicator that either your SEO is not working for you, or your site is becoming stale. More often than not, it means that your site is becoming stale. However, the SEO is often directly related to the stale website issue. When your site starts looks like a dinosaur from the way back machine, visitors will be turned off and will go looking for a more updated site to meet their needs. You may also have lower search engine rankings because the top search engines tend to favor sites that are constantly being updated with new content.
When was the last time you completely overhauled your site?
It seems like such an obvious question, so why isn’t this at the top of the list? Mainly because this is not a very strong indicator of needing a new website. The predominant understanding among most webmasters is that you should completely redesign the entire look of a website at the minimum at least every two to three years, and the functionality every four to five years. Although technology is changing very fast indeed, it still isn’t changing as fast as design trends on the Web. For example, we have had smartphones since around 2006 but we are just now really getting the word out that website design has to be responsive to the device we are using. Just last year in 2015 Google announced that websites that were not responsive would receive lower rankings. However, the “Web 2.0” look came and went in a matter of about four years (roughly 2006-2010).
If you can’t remember when you completely revamped your website, then it is time for a redo, simply because technology and design trends have probably changed significantly since your site went live (i.e. post-Web 2.0, responsive web design, HTML5/CSS3, social media integration, minimalist designs, etc). However, because different sites have different purposes, some may not need to be overhauled as often as others. Alternatively, some websites may need to be overhauled more often than others.
Are parts of your site not functioning properly?
Errors like the dreaded “404 not found” message is a sure sign of decreased functionality. It is often a simple fix to correct missing pages or broken images, but it could also indicate a bigger problem like your site is utilizing seriously outdated methodology. If you have many broken links, error messages, and/or missing images, then you should not hesitate to consider a complete website redesign that will likely include the installation and use of a content management system.
If you only have a few broken links, still take some time to fix those as soon as possible.
Are search engines still indexing your website?
A lot has been published about good SEO in reference to getting your site listed on the search engines and in various web directories. It can actually require a lot of work to build a site that is favorable to the major search engines. Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo like sites that have content that is constantly changing and coded properly. Making sure the site is coded properly requires investigation by a web developer with SEO experience who is familiar with the latest search engine algorithm changes.
If you are virtually nowhere in the results pages of the major search engines, it is likely time for a new website to help you achieve higher rankings. Because most people will find you through a Google or Bing search than by directly typing in your URL (for most websites), respecting search engine requirements will go a long way with getting visitors to come to your site. It is up to you to make your visitors stay, purchase or connect with you, however, through a great looking site and fresh content .
Is the copyright year in your footer any other year than 2016?
If the copyright statement in your footer has a year that is anything other than the year 2016, chances are you haven’t updated your site in quite some time. Your site will be considered stale at that point. If it says 2015 or earlier, then you are signaling to your customers/clients that you haven’t updated the site, and there is a chance they will leave. This is another signal of needing a website redesign, especially if that year is 2014 or earlier.
Ultimately, you have to make the decision on a redesign
If you are beginning to get the feeling that maybe it is time to redesign your site, then it is actually probably past that point and you should take action. Contact your web design/development company and have a discussion about why you feel your site needs an update. They can help you determine if it is truly time for a completely new website or just a bit of tweaking.