By Alli Summerford
March 5, 2014
Online style and design standards continually evolve; websites can begin looking outdated if they don’t evolve too. Vintage and retro can be cool, but plain old out-of-date designs won’t cut it. Furthermore, Internet technology is ever-changing and affects website performance. When either design or technology begin to lag behind, it’s redesign time!
Your website is one of your company’s most important marketing tools. A user-friendly site with an updated look is critical.
However, small business owners often adopt a set-it-and-forget-it attitude when it comes to their website, creating a negative impression among potential customers. A company’s website is the first point of contact between the business and potential customers, and online first impressions are sticky. If customers consider a website outdated, they might conclude that the company’s services are outdated as well. That’s not good for business.
Review your website each year, and remain open-minded. Just because you thought your website was perfect several years doesn’t mean it’s not time for a change now. What do your competitors’ websites look like? Is yours still as attractive and as functional as theirs are?
If you suspect it might be time for a redesign, use award-winning websites to guide you. For inspiration, see the 2013 Webby Awards for web design winners; Econsultancy also provides a list of 25 of the best responsive design websites of 2013.
Does Your Site Need New Technology?
As styles change over time, so does web technology, which can make a site easier to maintain, more secure, and can offer increased functionality at less cost. WordPress, for example, can add functionality to your site with as little as a free plug-in. (Check out this list from Forbes.com of “10 Must-Have WordPress Plugins for Your Business Website.”) Taking advantage of these advances keeps you fresh and competitive.
If you have a website older than two years, chances are that it’s not optimized for mobile devices. Responsive web design is the answer to this problem. We recommend a responsive, WordPress website build for most small businesses, which allows you to take advantage of these new technologies.
The Big Question: How Often Should You Do a Website Redesign?
When should you undertake a redesign? How often a company should redesign depends not only on the industry, but also on the specific site. The redesign timeframe for a company in a design-related field, for example, will be shorter than in other industries, because it is more important to be on the cutting edge of design.
Overall, most small businesses should budget for a fresh design every three to four years.This might be more frequent than you would like, but it’s necessary to keep pace with online advances. When you consider the importance of that first impression and the cost of a website relative to other advertising options, moreover, it’s still a bargain!