There are lots of good reasons for doing a new website. In fact, before the end of this article I’ll give you four of them. But let’s start with the most important of them.
1. The Site is Underperforming
There are also lots of bad reasons to re-do your website. Website styles go in fads. A year or two ago one-page websites were the hottest thing since the invention of sliced bread. Everyone was using them for Everything.
A fad is just that – some short time popularity that never had a real reason. Like celebrities who are famous for being famous, someone pumped them up and they caught on for some reason. Until they were no longer new and the fad fizzled and the next one came along.
If your site is performing well, why change it? It would only be to perform better. If you can look at the site analytics and see that people are leaving as fast as they arrive or don’t spend time on your site and never call or buy or fill out the contact form – well that’s a call for change, isn’t it?
And if the site used to perform well and its been getting worse and worse – that is often a reliable sign your site is out-of-date and needs to be redone (see reasons 3 and 4 below).
2. The site is BAD.
Now it is true you may have no way of tracking your site’s performance. A lot of times it is obvious looking at it, and trying it out, that your site just, honestly, awful. A good way to get perspective on this is to look at competitor sites and sites which you like. If you get complaints about how hard your website is to use, or people tell you they don’t like it, there’s your sign. If it loads slow, people can’t figure out how to find what they are looking for, or it doesn’t have the answers or information they need – well, take a hint. Get a new site.
Five years ago most people weren’t using their phones to look at websites. Lots of people still had so-called feature phones that had tiny screens and very limited browsing capability. Now almost everyone has a smartphone and whole industries get over half their visitors on mobile devices. This change spawned a whole new website technology – Responsive Web Design – and made it mandatory for virtually any website of any sort for any purpose.
With responsive web design, every page and most if not all content is displayed regardless of the device or screen size. Not only that – if applied correctly, pages look good and work well and are nearly as easy to use as on a desktop.
If you don’t have a Responsive website, your site is officially obsolete and it is costing you business.
That’s not the only technology change. A few years ago Flash was the common technology used for animation on websites. Flash is no longer supported by its creator, it is a security nightmare and browsers no longer load or run Flash by default. If your website uses Flash, your visitors aren’t seeing all your content, and it is costing you business.
I could give you more examples, but in general, a website more than 3 or 4 years old almost certainly is using out-of-date technology.
Genuine, longer lasting style changes occur every few years. This makes older sites look old-fashioned, uncool, and unprofessional. This of course is not just in websites. A ten-year-old car, with rare exceptions, make have been the coolest thing 10 years ago. With rare exceptions, now it just looks old.
Sometimes the style changes come from technology changes. Thanks to Responsive Web Design, websites now use the full width of the screen, whatever screen size they are viewed on. In the old days they were designed for the most common screen size and background textures colors or images were used to fill out the rest of the screen on the left and right. Any site that still does that is going to look old-fashioned.
Large, screen-filling “Hero” images on the home page are now usual on websites. This again is the result of a technology change – the fact that almost everyone has a fast internet connection now. Sites that don’t do this again will look out-of-date.
Another example is left side versus top (horizontal) menus. Once they were equally common. A recent survey of the top 50 websites in the world found not one of them uses a vertical main menu. Not only old-fashioned, but it violates people’s expectations.
I could give many more examples. But let’s not beat a dead horse. If the site looks out-of-date, it is out-of-date.
So there you go, as promised. Four reasons to get a new site – and one reason not to.