If you’re in business, chances are good that people are researching the services or products you offer by searching online. But you say, “we get all our business through word of mouth.” That’s wonderful! But guess what. They’re probably researching online anyway, to prequalify that referral before connecting with you.
Examine your own behavior for a moment. You need something and don’t know how to get it. You search online and the top-of-the-list result goes to a website that fails to inspire confidence, and fails to convince you to call them. You click <back> and try the next one. In the space of 6 seconds, that website unintentionally referred you to someone else.
This story illustrates how important a website can be. It can provide instant credibility—to keep them from bouncing back to their search results—and convince them to engage with your business.
But those things only happen if your website meets the needs of its visitors. Many do not. And missing there is damaging. Remember, someone who doesn’t know you will assume that how you do anything (your website), is how you do everything.
So then, how do you know if your website needs a redesign? Below are some of the common things we see that indicate it’s time to redesign a website. How does yours stack up?
Some of the indicators of a problem are obvious and acute. Once noticed, it’s clear that something needs to be done, and quickly.
Things have changed
A new name. A business name change is significant and far reaching. If it reflects a change to the nature of the business, a website redesign may be needed.
A new brand identity. If your brand identity has seen a redesign, the website must follow. Mismatched branding indicates misalignment of some kind.
Transition. A merger or leadership transition can fundamentally change a business. The website must also change.
Unchanged for two years or more. Old is subjective. There’s no clear answer to how often a website should be replaced or redesigned. But if a website has existed, unchanged, for two years or more, it’s time for an objective assessment, and it may be time for a redesign.
It doesn’t fit on your phone. If you have to zoom in to read it and drag things around to find something, there’s work to be done.
The whole website is missing, including those websites that are forever ‘under construction.’ This one feels obvious.
It loads reeeeeeeeeeally sloooooooooowly. If it takes more than a couple of seconds to load, the visitor may have already opted for the <back> button.
The website doesn’t work on every browser. If it works on the Chrome browser but not on the Safari browser, then something is amiss.
An important function is no longer functional. Did that un-maintained form or calendar or facebook widget break something?
Page layouts are broken. Jumbled, overlapping content and missing images are common symptoms of an untended website.
Something expired! Hosting and domain registrations expire, as do software subscriptions. And they can take your website with them.
Personnel list isn’t current. Did Janice retire 5 years ago? Is everyone 10 years older than their photo? Does the website reflect those changes?
Services/products aren’t current. Maybe you started as a generalist, and now you focus on employment law only. Does your website show that?
Location isn’t current. Did you move to a new office? Does your website acknowledge that?
It’s missing something
It doesn’t have the tools you need. Contact and sign-up forms, calendar and scheduling tools, and member portals can be powerful upgrades.
You want to sell something. E-commerce or other transaction capabilities can smooth the buying process.
You need some control. Are you able to make simple content updates? Add blog posts You should have the access and tools to do this on your own.
You don’t have the keys or the help. Did you lose contact with whomever built your website? Or is someone holding the keys hostage as their strategy?
Known breaches. Do you know or suspect your website has been hacked? It’s time to rebuild with new best practices.
Your industry has security concerns. Especially in medical practices, there are security requirements and best practices. Other industries that deal with confidential information and sensitive intellectual property should be looking that this as well.
Maybe there’s a suspicion that it’s time to redesign the website, but it’s not clear why. Some indicators are more subtle and subjective. An outside assessment may be helpful here.
It’s not helping your business (or you don’t know if it is)
Impossible analysis. Analytics lets a sophisticated business owner see and dissect the usage and performance statistics of their website. Do you have this level of access?
Searching… Is search an important marketing channel for you? A new website can remove many obstacles to search performance and enhance SEO efforts.
Poor user experience
Hard to use. Can visitors find what they need easily? Is the navigation intuitive? Can they take action with minimal effort? Older websites may not be inline with how people expect them to work today.
It was once ‘cutting edge.’ That amazing website designed for the first iPad is almost unusable today. Websites designed for emerging technologies will often need a redesign after that technology is fully realized (or abandoned).
Questionable brand experience
It doesn’t match. If your branding and website design don’t match, it’s time to redesign your website or your brand identity (or both).
It feels old. How does your website compare to current trends? Or your competition? If it feels or functions like an old website, it can turn away business.
It’s a facebook page. A facebook page is not a business website.
What is the website for? Some websites are built to contain relevant information, but without a stated purpose. If its new purpose is to be a business development tool, web redesign may be in your future.
What do I do here? A website built without a stated purpose can leave a visitor wondering what their next step is. Have you told them what to do?
It was a DIY project
Look what I made! We understand the allure of builder tools like Wix and SquareSpace (and others). They are powerful and helpful, and are definitely cost-effective for smaller and younger businesses. But if your DIY website has been online for more than 2 years, it might be time to graduate to something custom. It’s at least time for a redesign, even if that happens within the same platform.
Do I have to?
We get it. Running a business takes a lot of energy in a lot of places. And if a website has already been paid for and published, it’s tempting to consider it done. Forever. Many, many businesses are operating with 5- and 10-year old websites out there. And they're still in business.
Imagine how much better they’d be doing if they kept up with the technology, the competition, the way people use websites today, and the way they expect things to look and behave.
The good news is that you don’t have to learn how to redesign a website. You don’t even have to know exactly when or why to redesign your website. You just need the right guide.
There are lots of approaches to redesigning and replacing a website. An honest assessment by the right experts will help you determine what actions you need to take.