There are lots of variables to consider, but I think most people are intuitively aware when their website is getting outdated. Article titles like this start to stand out to them. They start to feel anxiety about the messages their site may be sending (like “out of touch” or “irrelevant”). They find themselves slow to refer potential clients to the site, handing out line cards instead. Usually in the 2-3 year mark the design begins to show some age and in the 3-5 it can become downright painful! But some people really aren’t as aware of design trends as others may be and they depend on us to give them solid direction about the state of their site. Our recommendations vary depending on the type of business you’re in (non-profit vs resort destination) and by the type of site you have (highly creative or classic design). Depending on where you fall in this range your site will have considerably more or less shelf life. Here are some guidelines…
High Turn Sites: 2-3 years lifespan
If your business is trendy or dynamic with frequently updated content and custom designs that are complex or necessarily trendy in order to appeal to a more sophisticated audience, then you’re going to get a lot less mileage from that site. Design trends change… visitors get bored… fresh content and new looks become necessary and change is much more important. This kind of site is going to last about 2-3 years if done very well.
Low Turn Sites: 3-5 years lifespan
If your business is designed with a more classic approach and your clients are less inclined to be put-off by older graphic design work then you can enjoy a bigger cushion. Businesses that have smaller “brochure” sites that are infrequently changed or are mostly used by visitors for gathering information and vetting the company’s capability and legitimacy will typically fall into this category. Design is still critically important even for this group because and older design may compare favorably for your competitions newer site… so it’s always good to be as current as possible. However, as a group, sites on this side of the spectrum typically take a little more time before updating so you have more cushion. Or more opportunity to stand out, depending on how you look at it. 🙂
How To Get More Mileage from Your Existing Site:
If you have a site that is HTML based or is a relatively current Content Management System (like a current WordPress or Joomla site) then you could add some life to your old site. But consider these options as money thrown in the trash if you are still on an old version of your CMS. They are not secure and need updated before doing anything else, and often the cost is not much more than a full redesign. So make sure hte site is current before throwing any money at the design.
- Do a refresh to the home page design or a few other key pages to enhance the look. Many people that manage their own content can benefit from a professional graphic designer updating their pictures and some color changes and giving certain pages a facelift.
- Add header page animations – adding animations and full width headers to a landing page or home page can immediately improve visitors first impression.
- Triage some of the worst areas for some quick improvements until you can really get things in order; some pages may be really bad while others can go for a while longer. Give them some attention and you aren’t casting as dark a shadow over your brand.
And that last item is a pretty important one to remember- no matter how old your site is. A website is a marketing piece just like any other. It reflects who you are. It’s a prominent, 24/7 accessible, image shaping experience that should compare favorably to competitors in your space. And if it’s getting old, you probably already know it… you need a website redesign.