There are many important reasons to keep your website up-to-date, from security risks to keeping the conversions coming in. But sometimes being able to spot the telltale signs that your site isn’t meeting modern standards or user expectations isn’t so simple.
We’ve racked our considerably experienced web design and digital marketing brains to bring you a whopping great list of things to look out for when considering a new website.
Your web design is horrible. Ok, we’re not going to mince our words… if your site is a horrible thing to look at, you need to upgrade. Brand is everything these days and your customers won’t tolerate a bad web experience anymore.
Your website no longer reflects your business. Good businesses keep up with the times, and if your site hasn’t been updated in a good while, the content on it might be out of date, which means visitors to your site aren’t getting accurate information about your business. With a modern CMS, updating your site is just a few clicks away.
“We all know about the power of great copy, but over time it’s easy to miss a build-up of bland, empty and un-optimised content. This drags down your whole website performance from conversion to SEO. Starting from scratch with a new site design will give you a chance to see what works – and a chance to cut everything that doesn’t!”
Your search visibility and ranking are dropping. We all know SEO is a fast-paced and innovative field, and keeping up with the latest updates is a full time job. If your site hasn’t kept up to date, or your CMS doesn’t have a certain level of SEO customisability, then an update is long overdue.
Your website is broken. This is an easy one. If your site is broken, either on the customer-facing side (front end) or somewhere in the code (back end) then you have problems. Broken sites feel untrustworthy, and your customers will choose somewhere else, especially if it’s an eCommerce site.
Your design jumped on a trend. Whether it’s a certain font that was all the craze in 2015 (looking at you Gotham) or an “under construction” gif on your homepage, some web design trends can badly date a website.
Your backlink strategy isn’t working. So you’ve got a really engaging digital PR campaign, your outreach emails are getting opened, but you’re not getting any coverage, why? Well, it could be that you’re not as good as you think… but it’s also very possible that your website isn’t providing the best showcase for your content. For example: Is your blog layout easy to read? Are your images too small, or overly compressed? Remember that another site will only share your content if they think it will benefit their own audience
You’ve had a rebrand, or are considering one. A rebrand is more than just a new logo and as such, simply sticking a new logo on your existing website may defeat the purpose of the rebrand. Instead, you could use the opportunity to build the site around your rebrand, and give yourself the website you deserve.
Your current site is littered with outdated references. Whether it’s dated cultural references, expired promotions or obsolete industry terminology, the internet moves at a blistering pace. Keeping on top of these changes can be a time-consuming job, and from time-to-time a reset is far more manageable..
You don’t have a website. Okay so, you can’t redesign or update a non-existent website, but in this day and age if your business doesn’t have a website you could be seriously missing out on revenue, visibility and all sorts of opportunities.
Even small changes to your site are costly or require a developer. Whilst some changes should absolutely involve a developer, older or more bespoke builds do have a tendency to require more technical skill to implement changes.
Your website is not mobile friendly, or responsive. Google prioritises the mobile version of your website’s content, known as mobile-first indexing. Google will actually penalise you for not having a mobile-friendly site, and perhaps more importantly your users won’t have a good mobile experience. There’s really no good excuse not to have a mobile-friendly site these days.
Your customers keep asking you basic questions about your product or service. Engagement is good, there’s no question about that. But if your customers aren’t finding basic information about your product or service, then your website is not doing its job. Just because you can remember the four clicks needed to find your contact details doesn’t mean your customers can be bothered to. Remember for every customer who asks a question, hundreds more could simply be leaving for a competitor’s site.
You just relaunched and you already hate your site. Sometimes businesses will rush into a website design without considering the scope of a project, or the budget, or whether or not the agency they’ve picked will be able to deliver their requirements. The result is almost always disappointment, what rarely happens is that they learn from the experience, pick themselves up and give it a second, more considered, shot. Even if your site is brand new, the damage a bad website can do to rankings, brand perception and ultimately to a business is untold.
It’s been more than three years since your last redesign. Okay so this isn’t a line in the sand, there are many well-built websites far older that perform excellently. However, it’s a good rule of thumb to start analysing your current website setup after a couple of years and considering whether it’s still fit for purpose.
“Try sending your site to a trusted friend who doesn’t know much about your business. Ask them if they could tell you what your company does, and why you’re good at it, in less than thirty seconds. If they struggle – you might at least want to look at your homepage and your messaging. Honestly, even if you think your website is still amazing, do this regularly anyway, you’d be amazed what ownership bias will blind you from”
You can’t update your site easily. These days there’s no excuse for not being able to update your site. Most modern CMS’s such as WordPress, or Webflow are extremely user friendly allowing business to easily update content.
Your competitors’ sites are better than yours. A hard pill to swallow, but if all your competitors’ sites are quicker, better designed, rank higher, with improved functionality and so on, then your customers (and future customers) will likely have noticed. Take some time to analyse your competition and see if it’s time for a new site.
Your visual content is out of date. If your site was built a considerable time ago, it’s very likely that your visual content e.g. photos and videos will be of a lower resolution, or quality. Updating these might as well tie in with a larger redesign.
Your conversion rate is dropping. If you’re noticing that users are visiting your site but not converting, your site may be in need of some conversion rate optimisation, or even a complete website overhaul.
Your site is reliant on way too many plugins. If your site has been around the block a few times, there’s a good chance it’s been “Frankensteined” beyond its original scope with plugins, add-ons and added functionality. After a while all those plugins could really slow down your site, or cause considerable conflicts. Having a regular and thorough plugin audit is advisable, but sometimes a fresh start knowing the full scope of a new build is the only sensible option.
Your site doesn’t pass Google’s Core Web Vitals. Without taking a deep dive into CWV (done expertly over at Boom), the bottom line is: Google has been taking user experience very seriously for some time now. Core Web Vitals are Google’s UX metrics, and if Google says jump, you need to know how high!
Your website is blocking growth. Put simply, if your website is no longer supporting your business goals or is actively hindering leads and growth, it’s time to start planning your new website.
You still have a HTTP non-secure site. If your website has http:// at the beginning of the url, then your site is considered “non-secure” and you should look at upgrading to https:// at the earliest opportunity. Not only will your site be far more secure, Google actively uses HTTPS as a ranking signal. You can read more, from Google themselves, here.
Your content is one-dimensional. If your site is of a certain age, there’s a reasonable chance your CMS, or theme, may only allow you to post text and images. With a thousand new content formats exploding onto the scene every year, if you can’t keep up, your posts are going to get stale soon.
“If it’s too difficult to find information on your website, either because content is spread over multiple pages, or full of contradictions/mistakes, then you’re making it impossible for visitors to learn about your products and services. When it gets this messy, sometimes a fresh start is best.”
Your site is no longer fit for purpose. Businesses change and grow, sometimes entirely pivot. If your site no longer accurately explains, or sells your products or services, it’s time to correct that.
Your website doesn’t score high when it comes to accessibility. As more websites and governing bodies take accessibility seriously, it’s time for your business to as well. Not only is it the right thing to do, you are potentially turning away customers who require levels of accessibility you may not have considered.
Your website looks “wrong” on certain browsers. If your site is of a certain vintage, it’s very likely that the code its built on is no longer 100% compatible with modern browsers. Any good developer will carry out extensive browser testing on a new build.
“If you have no supporting content (blogs, hubs, FAQs etc), you dramatically reduce the chances of building links to your website organically because you’re not “adding value” or actively demonstrating your expertise with informational content.
You can also outreach this informational content to other publications, who may find it useful as a resource in their own work.
Links are a fantastic trust signal for search engines, so being able to build some deeper links off the back of your content indicates to Google that the whole of your website is worthy of paying attention to, not just the homepage.”
Your business is ready to add eCommerce but your current CMS can’t provide that functionality. Tacking an eCommerce platform onto an existing site is a breeze with a modern site, whether its WooCommerce, Shopify or something else. Your options on an older site are potentially quite limited.
Your website uses “Flash” or another outdated technology. If your site is of a considerable age, there’s a chance it uses Flash or some other ancient tech. As no browser supports Flash anymore, considerable portions of your website will be blank, or contain error messages.
“Having an engaging, modern website is key for any kind of strong online presence. If functionality, UX and design are outdated, users aren’t going to stick around very long – it could be time for a refresh!”
Your site is no longer compliant. GDPR confused the heck out of a lot of people, as businesses scrambled around to ensure they were compliant in time for the deadline. Whatever country’s or governing body’s rules your business has to adhere to, there’s often quite a bit of work involved, a lot of which can require significant changes to how you collect or process data. If you’ve not looked into this recently, an update could be essential.
Your stakeholders say it’s time for a change. Whether it’s your CEO, your manager or your customers, when the feedback from higher up comes in, it might be time to listen. Just remember to consider any new website carefully before jumping in with an arbitrary brief and budget.
You’ve found the right agency for the job. Whether it’s a cultural fit, or they excel in your business’s sector, finding an agency you feel you can build a lasting relationship with is worth its weight in gold. The payoff can be quite spectacular.
Your visitors aren’t using your site as you’d expect. There are a few ways you can see how your visitors are using your site, our favourites are MSClarity and Hotjar. These plugins allow you to observe via videos and heatmaps how users interact with your site. If it becomes clear your site is confusing visitors, you can use the information to inform your redesign.
Your bounce rate is high – or – time on page is low. Either way people are getting to your site (yey) but leaving quickly (boo). This means the page isn’t loading quickly enough, or they don’t like what they see, which is often attributed to poor aesthetics or content.
You need to bolt on some new technology. Similarly to bolting on an eCommerce platform, any new technology or functionality is best implemented on a newer website which is more likely to support the tech. For example, chatbots or a new SaaS integration.
Your design or marketing agency is struggling to get results. Okay, so you might just have a bad agency, but if your site is prehistoric there’s a decent chance they are genuinely struggling against a tidal wave of Google algorithms, bad design, outdated code and more.
You didn’t give your current site the thought it required. So many websites are rushed, or designed on the cheap, and the reality is these sites are destined to be redesigned again relatively soon after launch. Buy cheap, buy twice. Give your new website the attention and consideration it deserves and talk to designers and developers about the true scope your website needs.
You can’t experiment. Older tech rarely allows for experimentation or adaptation, limiting your ability to test new ideas, adapt to changing trends, or implement innovative features efficiently.
You can no longer get any support. If your website was constructed some time ago, it’s likely that any website hosting and support from the original development team may have lapsed. If it was a bespoke setup, there’s every chance your team may have changed significantly since it launched leaving your current team with little operational understanding of the site.
Your social media has taken a dive. Social media for businesses relies on a steady stream of valuable and engaging content. Most often this content lives on, and drives traffic towards, your website. If your engagement has taken a dip, it could be that your content or your site are to blame.
Your customers are complaining about your site. When a customer goes out of their way to complain about a site you know it’s serious. When it happens, it’s vital you address the problem, as most visitors would simply grumble and then navigate to a competitor.
You just know it’s time for a new site. Sometimes it’s a number of factors, and other times it’s just a gut feeling. You look at the site and think; it’s time for a change.
If you think your website might be due an update, get in touch with our extremely talented, friendly and knowledgeable web design and development team today.