A website is like a home in that you have to keep it clean, maintain it and restore it should it incur any major damages. Most people make the mistake of assuming that once a website is up and running, that’s all there is to it and move on to their next project.
But in fact, so much work needs to be done after the initial launching that it is only then that most webmasters realize that it is a lifelong commitment. Adding of relevant content, configuration of apps, monitoring of visitors and administration of registered users are some of the routine tasks that need to be performed on a regular basis.
Then, after a while, you will need to give your website a facelift. Just like in real life, websites too fall victim to time and space – literally.
So, this begs the question: “How do I know when it’s time for a new design?”
A simple answer would be: Just the fact that you are thinking about whether or not your site needs a facelift could be a good indication that you do need one. But, also like in real life, it’s not that simple. There are many factors that can determine when you should seriously consider cleaning house.
Let’s look at a few major ones:
Mobile Incompatibility: More and more people are accessing the internet using mobile devices. In fact, as of 2013, half of the people that were online did so via their mobile devices.
If your website isn’t designed to be viewed on mobile devices or your apps do not work on them, you will need to go back to the drawing board unless you want to lose up to half of all the traffic that is heading your way. There is nothing more annoying than having to scroll your life away as you navigate across a desktop-sized page on a mobile device.
Your Site Uses Flash: In case you haven’t heard, Flash is passé. There are so many things wrong with using Flash that we will just look at the most obvious ones:
– Flash doesn’t work on Apple devices; you’re losing a lot of visitors.
– Flash content is unreadable by Google; hence you take a hit when you’re working to improve your SEO ranking.
– Flash sites can only be seen by people that have Flash installed on their computers. There’s nothing more annoying than a message that says you need to install flash to see the content. Most people just can’t be bothered.
– Flash is difficult to work with and maintain.
If part or all of your site is made with Flash, you really should redesign it with something that makes more sense, like HTML5.
High Bounce Rates: if you are leaking visitors left and right then you should probably go through your entire site with a fine tooth comb. Use tools like Google Analytics to find which page(s) have the highest bounce rates. Take a closer look, and if you find that people are turning away from your site because of broken links, malfunctioning apps or simply because relevant content hasn’t been placed clearly (or isn’t there to begin with) you might need to consider a total overhaul of your site and its content.
You should also consider doing the same if you are receiving the expected number of visitors and yet have a very low conversion rate.
SEO Ranking: If your SEO ranking is dropping like an anvil or has simply stagnated, you have a sure sign that your content is not doing what it is supposed to be doing – selling your site to search engines. A good place to start would be to implement a new SEO campaign. But for that to succeed, you would need to make sure that all your site’s pages are involved – you can’t just push one page and expect much results.
“It’s Ugly!“: If that is how your site has been described to you on more than a few occasions, then you probably need to fold and admit you have to redesign your site. You really have no excuse for chasing people away by presenting a site that is unpleasant or even painful to look at.
Today, there are millions of templates out there that you can use for free. There is simply no way that you can say there isn’t one that meets all your demands: aesthetically and functionally. If, by sheer chance, you don’t find the one that meets all your requirements, invest in a design or have someone build you a new one from scratch. It is worth it – because taking time to make your site look good shows that you care (a good sign of professionalism) – and just like in the real world, first impressions do count.
Difficult to Work On: If you, as the site’s webmaster, find it difficult to update your content or have to do a lot of work to make sure that it all looks decent, then maybe you are using a content management system (CMS) that is out of date.
Today, CMS like Joomla and Dot Net Nuke, allow you to make changes and add updates with ease. Why would you want to suffer needlessly?
It Doesn’t Fit: When you started out, you might have thought your website would last you forever. You might also have not predicted that you would require any more pages or disk space. You never thought that you would have a choice of apps that you could put on your site that would help your visitors. Simply put, you could have never guessed that one day you might outgrow your website.
In that case, you might need to go back to the drawing board and factor in your new bandwidth and disk space requirements. Once you have those, then you should go and look for web hosting companies that offer you the best scalability options – so you don’t have to go through all this again, just two years from now.
All Text: Too much text is boring – unless you’re absolutely sure that you have a gripping story to tell that is. Therefore, unless you are bestselling author sharing your latest work, you will need to break the monotony by using images and graphics.
Old Graphics: Just like you keep your content up-to-date, so too should you do with your graphics. Take for example the fact that countries change their flags. Their borders are redrawn and maps become obsolete. You should make sure your site doesn’t become so too.
It Keeps Breaking Down: If your site was designed using some old, obsolete programming language chances are it will stop working once your hosting platform has outpaced it. In that case, the only option left for you to do is to bring it all down and re-build it from scratch.