How to Tell When You Need a New Website
By Pam Neely
Worried you need a new website… but not quite sure it’s really essential yet? Maybe it’s something you could just put off awhile longer. Or maybe it’s costing you thousands of dollars in lost business every day.
A lot of us wrestle with “should I or shouldn’t I update my website” for too long. It costs us business. It costs us opportunities, too. So at what point does a website go from being just-barely-good-enough to something that needs to change?
To give you (and me, too) more clarity on that, I’ve outlined twelve situations when a site update is in order. If you find that more than half of these apply to your current site, I’d say it’s time for a change.
A few words about what I mean by “a new website” or a “redesign”
There are several layers to redoing a website:
1) Analyzing the content you have now
Ideally, your website redesign will coincide with a website audit. There are content audits and SEO audits… and there’s a ton of overlap between the two.
An audit will show you which parts of your site are working and which aren’t. What you find may suggest changing the architecture of your site – i.e., how the file structure is laid out. That’s a big job. It involves making sure the search engines can find where you move the content. Proceed with caution, and don’t make a single change unless there’s good reason for it.
2) Analyzing your business goals and how the site is achieving them
Thorough website redesigns also look at conversion rates, sales funnels, landing pages and the like. This will hopefully make you sit back and think hard about how you’re bringing people through your sales funnel. It’s less of an SEO job and more of a job for a marketer or a conversion rate expert.
3) Analyzing how the site looks
This is the part many people think of when they think of doing a redesign. Here we’re talking about colors, fonts, images, navigation elements and layout. These are certainly critical, but in some ways they’re the least essential part of a site redesign.
You need a new website when…
1) Your site is visibly more dated and less useful than your closest competitors’ sites.
If you were the only site in a given industry, you might be able to have a so-so site and not care. But once there’s some competition involved, then you gotta up your game.
Check your top competitors’ sites. How does your site compare? If you feel like your site is noticeably less robust than theirs, that might be a reason to update.
2) Your site design is more than four years old.
If that’s the case, you almost certainly need to update your site. If it hasn’t been updated in three years, you’re probably due, too. But just two years? You might be able to stick with what you’ve got.
3) Your site fails the Google Mobile-Friendly Test
We’ve written about how critical it is to have a mobile friendly site. If yours doesn’t pass that test, odds are pretty good you’re losing business. And rankings. And traffic.
4) You’ve changed your business model or significantly changed your business approach.
If you recently completed a business rebranding or repositioning, it’s smart to change the look of your site, too. It will eliminate some confusion for visitors or customers who knew you from the past.
5) Your conversion rates are vile.
What counts as “vile”? Like you can’t get more than 1% of your traffic to subscribe to your email newsletter, no matter what you offer them. Or your pages’ bounce rates are over 90%. Or you’re not selling much of anything. A redesign alone will not fix any of those problems, but it could help. For this situation in particular, you may want to put on your marketer’s thinking cap about who you’re marketing to and how your sales funnel works.
6) You’ve got Flash all over your site.
Really? Still? Time to switch it up. Please tell me you aren’t using frames….
7) It’s a nightmare to make even simple changes to your current site.
I see this one way too often with small business owners. They get themselves a nice-looking site, but it takes them over an hour to go in and make even the tiniest little change.
That’s no good. If you’re terrified of your site or it’s impossible to work with, that’s reason enough to upgrade. One of the biggest secret reasons small business owners don’t blog is they’re terrified they’ll delete their site if they hit the wrong button. Or they just generally find using their site to be a headache.
8) You bought filler content. A lot of it.
Did you fall for the cheap content fad a few years ago? Did you buy some of those $3 articles? Maybe you bought a lot of them. Maybe you built your site around them.
Now you realize that you need $50-$500 articles to get your business where you want to go. Cheap content doesn’t rank. And so you need to completely alter your website’s structure for less, but dramatically higher quality content.
That could be a big enough of an architecture change that you might as well do a redesign while you’re at it.
9) You’re switching to a completely different web platform.
Going from Wix to WordPress? Switching from Magneto to Shopify? That’s a big enough deal that you might want to incorporate a redesign while you’re at it. Or… maybe you might not want a redesign until the migration is complete. Just get your new site switched over and working correctly. Then fix its looks.
10) Your customers complain about your site.
Don’t ignore this. For every one complaint you hear, there are probably 20 other customers (or clients) thinking the same thing. They’re just not telling you.
Besides, a fusty old site sends a really bad message to prospects. And you won’t get paid what you’re worth if your site looks second-rate.
11) You have a one-page starter site and need to grow.
Single page sites are a web design trend that’s become popular for start-ups and solopreneurs. They actually work pretty well. Because you have to distil everything about your company down to one page they force you to keep things simple. This makes them easy to manage, too.
But if all goes well, as your business grows and you add more and more content, you’ll need more pages. That means you’ll need to think about site architecture and some navigation elements. And by the time you do that, a full-scale redesign isn’t out of the question. And that’s fine. Congratulations on outgrowing your starter website!
12) It makes financial sense.
This is a business decision, right? So let’s treat it like that.
First, figure out what additional income you’ll earn if you redo your site. This is going to be a guestimate, but try to get a realistic figure. For instance, say you’ve got a 1.5% conversion rate on your site right now. You’re reasonably sure a redesign can nudge your site up to a 2% conversion rate. What’s that worth to you? $500 a month? $5,000 a month?
Next, figure out how much it will cost to upgrade. Most good web designers cost at least $30 an hour. Web developers can be up to $100 an hour. Get specific about what you need to do to bring your site up to the next level.
Then get a quote on how much it will cost. Even better: Get two quotes. Also figure out how much of your own time will go into the redesign, and get a value for that.
As soon as you know the cost for the redesign, you’ll know whether or not it’s worth it to upgrade. Say you’ll make an extra $500 a month with the upgrade, and it will cost you $3,000. That means it’ll take six months to recoup your costs. Not a terrible deal, but not a great one, either.
Hopefully, when you do the math on a redesign for your site, you’ll see a clear-cut win.
What do you think?
What’s prompted you to take the leap and redo an old website? Or does your current website need a facelift, but you’re not sure if you want to spend the money? Tell us where you’re at with it in the comments.
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