Do you need a whole new website or just a simple refresh?
Many of our clients come to us and ask, “Do I just need to make some minor updates to my website, or do I need to start from scratch?”
10 Years or Older
The simple answer here is if your website is more than 10 years old, you probably need to start from scratch.
After 10 years, your software is more than likely out of date. Your content is probably out of date too, and you probably are not using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, Squarespace, or Wix. It is also likely that you do not have an SSL certificate for your website and your website is not secure.
Without an SSL certificate and the ability to deliver quality, up-to-date content, Google will penalize you in the rankings. So if your website is 10 years old or older, it’s probably time for an update.
A big update.
Between 6 and 10 Years
If your website is between six and 10 years old, there is a good chance you can get away with making some big changes, but not starting over completely. You will need to evaluate your website first to decide if your website is working off the proper platform and is modern enough for that kind of update (see below for what we look for).
6 Years or Newer
If your website is 6 years old or newer, you probably are in a good place, and all you need to do is some content and graphical changes. You may need to refresh content and reorganize depending on how much you use your website, but more than likely your website is built on a decent CMS, which will make the process easier.
Here are a few questions we ask when deciding between a simple update vs. a complete redesign:
Is Your Website Using a Content Management System?
The first thing we want to look at is your CMS. For sites older than 10 years, you may not be running on one. If you aren’t sure, you will need to ask whoever built your original website or your site administrator. If they aren’t available, you may have to start from scratch regardless.
If your site is newer than 10 years old, you may be running on a CMS like WordPress, Squarespace, or Wix. Having a CMS makes updating much easier and may make the update/redesign simpler and less costly.
Is Your Website Using the Full Width of the Browser?
Modern website design tends to utilize the maximum width of the browser window to good effect. While it’s okay on specific designs to box in your website if there is a creative reason for it, ideally you want to make sure your website design is using or at least taking advantage of the full width of the screen.
A good modern website design also is fluid when the screen is resized and images and content flow and fill their containers rather than being stuck in a rigid, boxed-in structure.
Rigid boxed designs are typical of older websites running on older code. While there are still many websites that make this mistake and haven’t updated their designs in years, it can be disconcerting for many viewers and cost you visitors.
Is your Site Mobile Friendly?
Since we were talking about flexibility, something else to bear in mind is, if your website is flexible, then more than likely you have a mobile-friendly website. Take a look at your website on your phone and tablet and make sure you’re not having to pinch to make things bigger.
Again, if your website is rigid and not sized for mobile and you are having to make your website bigger to read on your phone, then your website isn’t mobile-friendly. Google will penalize you if your website doesn’t act in this responsive manner.
If your website is flexible but there are places where it may not work perfectly on mobile, write those things down and consider talking to your website designer about making some improvements there.
But again, if your website’s fairly new, it’s probably mobile-friendly. There are some tweaks you could probably make, or your web designer can make. For those older sites, if you notice it’s not mobile-friendly, it’s time to start looking at getting a new website.
Is Your Navigation Organized Well?
The next step is to look at your navigation and site organization. If we are looking at a website and the navigation is out of control and has a lot of drop-downs, it’s usually time to stop and look at reorganizing it.
If it’s a newer website, in many cases, it doesn’t need a new redesign. It just needs to have some things moved around and your navigation just needs to be updated. Out-of-control navigation can be very confusing and is a sign of a website that’s either grown too fast or is a bit older. Modern website navigation is very simple and well-organized.
Is Your Content Out of Date?
The last thing we want to look at is content. Look at your content and make sure everything is speaking in the voice your brand has established. Is it saying the things that are more about you today rather than about you, say five years ago?
If you have old articles with news or events that aren’t relevant to your current audience, you can delete those. Get rid of any out-of-date content. Make sure all of your phone numbers and contact information are correct.
Go through your content and curate that content to make sure everything is as up-to-date as it can be and is speaking to your brand.