No doubt, having an outdated website can harm your business. After all, for most businesses website is often a starting point for their audiences' buyers' journey. A place where they move them from awareness to consideration and purchase stage.
That is true for billion-dollar brands and local businesses. For freelancers and big companies. eCommerce and nonprofit websites.
Let's be clear about something first.
Nobody likes to invest in a website re-do. However, at one point or another, we all will probably have to do it, if we want to maintain the health of our site and keep up with current and future trends, that is.
The need for a re-do (redesign and/or redevelop) goes well beyond personal preferences, obsess over fancy imagery, cool fonts, catchy photography, forms, tech stack, etc.
The most common reasons for a website re-do fall into two main categories: the first one is related to branding and a shift in marketing strategy, and the second one is related to tech issues or trends.
Let me explain what I mean.
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Branding, audience, and competitors analysis
For most businesses, one of the main reasons for re-doing a website is a shift in branding and/or marketing strategy.
A change in brand messaging
If there's one phrase that could explain how customers see your company, it would probably be brand consistency reflected in brand messaging and brand visuals.
The wording is a crucial part of consistent branding. Having a copy open to various interpretations is a terrible practice. Think hard on your content style guide, your slogans, brand voice, mission statement, and about page, all aligned with your original idea, of course.
While brand messaging is super important, your brand toolkit should also consist of a standardized logo, color palette, typography, photography, and more. If you identify any discrepancies between these elements, then a website overhaul might be in order.
You can put all these under the label of the brand developing. Now, you may think that maintaining brand consistency is reserved for big companies like Adobe, Apple, Walmart, and others, but if you expect your company to grow, you'll have to do that. Plus, having everything documented in one place will most definitely save a significant amount of work time for many teams in your company.
Target audience changes
Another common reason for a website re-do is a change in the target audience. Let's say you have launched a new product or a service that causes a shift in marketing strategy and the buyer personas (audience) you're targeting.
If that's the case, your old website's copy, design, and layout (probably) are not aligned with the new users' expectations.
A first step you should take is establishing new buyer personas, understanding their needs, and proposing changes to your marketing strategy and website re-do per new findings.
Competitors that are doing better than you
Do you run a competitor analysis? If not, you may be missing out a lot. Analyzing your competitors doesn't mean copying them. It means conducting thorough research to influence the next steps for your business. If you're unsure where to start, check one of these competitor research tools that you could use.
The most common questions you should answer during your research are: does your competitor have a better website and UI? Does their site load faster? Are they outranking you on Google? What audience they attract, and how? How users interact with your competitors across various digital channels?
These will help you understand your audience better and align your efforts and changes with those findings.
Your site's purpose is changed
For most businesses, a marketing strategy is not a fixed thing, and they go where the users' behavior takes them. Sometimes because of the change in their users' behavior, they might have to make some changes to their website. For example, adding an online store to a site might require a full overhaul.
On the other hand, if the goal is to get more leads from the website, they should probably invest more time creating lead generation content such as webinars, ebooks, and blog posts. In this case, re-do of certain aspects of the website rather than a complete re-do is a far better option.
Tech trends and reasoning behind them
Besides brand-related aspects, you'll have to pay attention to tech issues on your site and follow trends in the field to compete with others.
Bad user experience
According to Uxeria, about 55 percent of companies said they weren't conducting proper user experience testing and research. That's little considering the impact user experience has on your business. Nearly 88 percent of your website visitors wouldn't return to your site if they had a bad user experience the first time.
The most common characteristics of bad user experience include slow loading pages, unnecessary complexity, outdated content, confusing navigation, website errors, lack of information, and more.
If your company has a customer experience team, that's an excellent first step in researching potential issues. Dive deep into complaints that they receive and try to identify the most common problems your customers experience when using the site.
Website speed is an integral part of your users' experience, but it also influences your search engine keyword ranking both directly and indirectly.
Websites that load in less than 5 seconds can expect 70 percent longer average sessions. Even more important fact is that a 100-millisecond delay causes conversion rates to drop by at least 7 percent.
Not sure where to start? Use website speed analyzing tools like Pingdom or Google's page speed tool. With them, you will be able to identify the most common issues with your site's speed, such as bad code, JS overload, image size, caching issues, etc.
Another common reason for slow loading times is the lack of a content delivery network (CDN). A CDN can be described as a group of servers that are geographically distributed, with each one of them being responsible for loading the content to visitors within their proximity.
Not only do CDNs improve your load times, but they also offer a couple of other benefits such as reduced bandwidth costs, increased content availability, and better website security.
If any significant issues show up during your performance analysis, you will most likely have to invest time and money either into website maintenance or a re-do.
The importance of a sound content management system (CMS) is often overlooked. A good CMS will help set workflow for bot devs and editors, allowing you to minimize time to publish. A good CMS is user-friendly for both experienced and novice users in your team. A good CMS is future-proof.
Some of the most popular CMSs are WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Shopify, along with some headless options such as DatoCMS, Forestry, Strapi, and others.
Headless CMSs are built for the future. Their back-end acts as a central repository that can distribute content to any device or touchpoint via RESTful API. They are loved by both developers and content editors, thanks to their ease of use.
Finally, changing the CMS every couple of months is not a great long-term business strategy, and it costs a lot of time and money.
Your site is not mobile responsive
Are we still talking about this? Unfortunately yes. According to Google, about 40 percent of mobile consumers turned to a competitor's website after they had a bad mobile web experience. Also, 57 percent of them wouldn't recommend a business with a bad mobile site.
Having a mobile-friendly website is no longer one of the tech trends. According to Statista, nearly 53 percent of all traffic is generated from mobile phones. It's a necessity because it helps you rank better on search engines, builds credibility for your brand, influences user experience, and ultimately, if done right, increases sales.
BTW mobile-friendliness is another reason to invest in a CMS beforehand. For example, one of the best content management systems (CMS) for mobile apps is Contentful. The service offers a mobile-optimized, API-first CMS. Some of the most famous worldwide brands such as Nike and Axel Springer use Contentful to generate their online presence.
If the headless approach is good enough for big businesses, it should be right for you as well.
Your site requires new functionality
In some cases, there won't be anything wrong with your website and the way things are. However, as companies grow and evolve, so do their websites.
That's especially the case during the implementation of new tools and rebuilding a MarTech stack the company uses. eCommerce stores are a good example that quite often needs integrations with other tools.
Your tech' stack' is outdated
As web development evolves, so do tools, programming languages, and practices. The early web was pretty much ruled with HTML. During the 2000s LAMP stack dominated the web dev world. Then the MEAN stack arrived as a considerable improvement mainly because it offered flexibility and a better environment for a SPA. As of late, Jamstack is under the spotlight of many.
It's not an issue that the stack you use is wrong. It is more of a case if it is future-proof. Now that is a concept open to different interpretations.
Building a future-proof website
One of the most common questions that clients ask is, how can we build a future-proof website'?
Building a future-proof website requires having a solid foundation that outlines all the steps that need to be taken. Smart businesses understand the importance of allocating budgets for future website upgrades and maintenance. They take the usage of the site, the technical know-how of their team, and the available resources into consideration upfront.
If you already have a website, the first step is finding out whether your current site has any technical issues and are there any areas for improvement or an overhaul is inevitable.
More often than not, a call for a re-do is a mix of both branding and tech reasons. Take a look here at what we did for our website almost a year ago. New branding material pushed us to tackle performance and outdated stack issues.
Questions you should ask yourself when considering a re-do
Re-do of your website can be a fantastic opportunity for growth. However, it requires a significant deal of depth and understanding of what you're trying to accomplish rather than relying on personal preference (though those might work).
If the thought of a re-do crossed your mind, ask yourself these before making a decision:
- What's the purpose of our site, and did you set SMART goals for it?
- Who are your competitors?
- What isn't working currently?
- What is your budget for this project?
- What business goals aren't met with the current version of the site?
- Who is the website for?
- Are we going to do it alone or outsource the project to experts?
- Did your audience change?
- Is there a significant shift in your marketing strategy?
- Is your site mobile responsive?11. Is the current CMS the right one?
A well-made website is one of the most effective marketing tools you have at your disposal. It doesn't have to be perfect, but it has to help you build your brand, satisfy your audiences' needs and wants, and help your business grow. If these are not met, it might be time to think about a re-do.
Get in touch with us today and see how we can help you move your website forward and grow your business.