It’s a new year and everyone is talking about fresh starts and self-improvement. You are going to eat better, exercise more, and work on those little personality flaws. The new year is a good time to get introspective about your business website, too.
Your online marketing should always be improving, but many business websites are neglected. It takes some time and money to refresh the look and function of a website, so it often takes a back seat to advertising and other marketing. The internet is constantly evolving, and what was a perfectly good website that still looks good may not perform as well as a marketing tool today.
It may be time to take a close look at your website and make sure it is doing what it is supposed to do.
How often should a website be redesigned?
There is no fixed rule regarding how long a website can still be considered “fresh”. Visually, a website built 5 or more years ago may look just fine. But behind the scenes in the underlying code, it may be missing opportunities to take advantage of new developments in technology that may make it better, faster, and more likely to succeed in search marketing.
Here are a few things that may not have been so important when your website was launched, but have become new standards for a successful website today:
Quite simply, if it looks old, people will not think as highly of your business. Take a look at your competitors’ websites to see just how trendy you really need to be.
In just a few years, we’ve gone from Google encouraging “mobile-friendly” website design to a policy of “Mobile First”. More on Google’s mobile first initiative can be found here and here. Since the majority of web users are now using smartphones and other mobile devices, Google’s method of indexing and ranking the web is about to become based on how sites and pages look on mobile rather than the normal desktop version. If you have a separate version of your website made for mobile devices and it is not well optimized, or only shows a limited amount of content compared to your full website – you are definitely going to need to change that. The best way to get up to current standards in light of mobile-first, is with a responsive design which adapts its appearance to suit a wide variety of screen sizes without redirecting people to a different version. Even if your site is already responsive, test it on as many different phones, tablets, netbooks, laptops and larger PC screens as possible. Some older responsive website designs were built with older devices in mind and may not look their best on today’s screens. If you don’t have a bunch of different iPhones, Droids and tablets to test your site, check out this screen size emulator from Screenfly.
Structured data markup schema helps search engines understand the information on web pages and provide enhanced search results. Those star ratings, phone numbers, show times, price lists, and other “extra” items you see in Google’s search results come from properly implemented schema. Adding schema doesn’t usually mean a complete redesign of the site is needed, but should definitely be included in any lists of features to add or reasons to refresh. Search engines want to make it easier for people to find the right information on the web. Adding schema markup to your site helps them do that, so you can safely bet that Google and other search engines will “like” your pages better with schema markup.
AMP and Facebook Instant Articles
Google and Facebook have each rolled out their own ways to improve the speed and format in which the growing number of mobile web users view content. People now use smartphones on the internet more than they use desktop computers. AMP and Instant Articles may not be right for every business’ content strategy. If you decide you want in on it, there will be some work to do. Like Schema Markup, you may not need a complete redesign to take advantage of Google’s AMP and Facebook Instant Articles – but it may be a little easier in the long run if you also have other reasons to redesign.
Of these few examples of things that have changed since your site was launched, Mobile First is most likely to influence your decision to redesign now or later. Google has also recently announced that it will downgrade websites that load too slowly on mobile devices. If being found in Google searches by people using the web on their phone (which is nearly everyone) is important to your business, then it may be time to upgrade that old website to a new mobile responsive site.
If you are not sure if you really need a complete redesign to implement new technologies, get in touch with us here and we can help you decide if you really need it, and the best way to go about implementing it if you do.