Is your website in need of an update? Is now the time to get that update done? The answer depends on your existing website and your business situation.
Is it time to update? Factors to consider
As you debate whether now is the time to update your website, you might want to consider the following factors, as they relate to your existing website.
A website is not a fine wine. A website is not even a fine cheese. Generally, most website designs do not age well. The Internet is a fast-changing place, and this year’s design trends are noticeably different from the styles that were popular just a few years ago. Design decisions that might have saved money on the initial build may quickly make the site’s style look outdated.
Web technologies are changing rapidly. New browsers support an entirely new syntax, and old browsers are completely dropping off the market share map. Gone are the days when a new site must provide backwards compatibility for IE6 (thank goodness). Instead, we have now entered a new era when your users might be visiting your website using their cell phone, their tablet computer, their laptop, their desktop, or their giant TV screen.
The lifetime of a website will depend on many things, including your industry and the quality of the original site. Generally, a design for a technology-intensive company will probably only last two years, while a website for a small local business might hold up for as long as five years. If your website is more than five years old, then it’s almost certainly due for an upgrade.
You’ve heard it before: content is king. If you want to rank well in the search engines, your website must include fresh, interesting, relevant content. This content should match “long tail” search terms that drive traffic to your website. This content should be “link bait” that will be so interesting, it will encourage people to create natural links from their own website content to yours. More than that: if you want to rank well in the search engines, you probably also need your website to get shared on social media. Even though social media links are all nofollowed, it’s still a cue that the search engines evaluate. Best of all, those social shares also drive traffic, and hopefully, revenue.
Your existing website’s software platform is an important consideration to evaluate. If your website is not built on a Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress, then Mardesco highly recommends making the switch. As the website owner, using a CMS benefits you by allowing you to make text content changes yourself, without the intervention of a web developer, at any time you wish, without learning how to write code. It returns the power to you. Take control of your website with a CMS.
Regardless of your website’s software platform, if it hasn’t been updated in a few years, then it’s probably time to patch some security vulnerabilities, and make some usability improvements.
If your website ranks poorly in the search engine results, then an upgrade would probably help your search engine rankings. A modern SEO upgrade should pay close attention to information architecture, title tags, and the removal of old SEO techniques that now run afoul of Google’s “Penguin” and “Panda” algorithm updates.
Increase revenue by improving usability. Revenue is the ultimate purpose of your website. Usability drives engagement, social sharing, traffic, and ultimately, revenue.
If your users have to click six times to get to your “contact” page then an upgrade would benefit your usability. If your site only works when people access a complex URL like
then an upgrade would benefit your website’s overall usability.
Improving usability makes your site friendly to your customers. Improved usability usually also has an SEO benefit as well. Don’t underestimate the importance of usability.
This consideration might be either a caveat or a confirmation, depending on your business situation.
For many businesses, a website is not just a marketing expense: it is essential infrastructure. But regardless of how your accountant classifies your website, a company’s budget is often a deciding factor in whether or not this is a good time for you to begin an upgrade project.
I’ve talked to business owners with widely divergent views on this point. I’ve spoken to senior management at multimillion dollar companies who felt they shouldn’t ever have to spend more than a few hundred dollars a year on the company’s website (obviously their website was not a key element of their marketing matrix). In contrast, I’ve worked with business owners at the lower end of their growth trajectory, who are willing to make a proportionally large investment in building a website that will solidly establish their reputation for business professionalism and bring in a large number of new clients for skyrocketing profitability.
What’s it cost?
Generally, if you go with a local design firm, a basic website redesign project for a small website will cost somewhere from two to ten thousand dollars, while larger sites with more advanced marketing features and functionality may run into the millions. A marketing agency with an established reputation will charge more, while an untested freelancer will probably bill at the low end of the curve. Your designer may be willing to provide financing, to make the cost of your website upgrade easier on your cash flow. As I’ve written before, if you see an advertisement for a very low-cost website design, the offer probably comes with a long list of caveats attached. (You could even build your own website; but you should first consider the opportunity cost of spending your time this way. Probably a topic for a future post.)
Not every business is the same, so it’s hard to generalize with a rule of thumb. But if I were to offer one, it would be this:
If your business grosses more than $80,000 a year, then you can easily afford a $5,000 redesign every three years or so. That averages out to about 2% of your annual revenue (at exactly 80k). Some quick work with a calculator says that’s an average of just $139 a month. You spend more on your cell phone bill. It’s not a big deal. And if done well, your redesigned website will help you continue to increase that revenue figure.
If your business earns more than $250,000 a year, then there’s really no excuse for still sporting that cheap-looking old website that your friend’s teenager built for you back in 2009. It’s hurting your image. Upgrade it today.
On the other hand, if your business currently brings in less than $20,000 a year, then you may need to examine other aspects of your business plan before investing in a new website. A marketing consultant can help you to redefine your target market, examine your pricing structure, and determine whether your growth plan is viable. Most importantly, if you are just starting a brand-new company, think carefully before you invest heavily in cutting-edge technology, unless it is absolutely essential to your business model. Dream the dream, but be willing to recognize which dreams will lead directly to profits.
Have you decided?
When considering whether now is the time for you to update your website, start by considering these six essential factors: your existing site’s age, its content, the software it is built on, its success with SEO, its usability for your customers and staff, and your budget. Considering these factors will help you decide if your website is continuing to perform adequately, or if you need a new one, stat.
When you’re ready to update that website, call Mardesco. As a local web design company, we’re able to provide a level of personalized service and support that the national companies can’t match.
If you’re not sure, call us anyway! We’d be glad to talk over your business strategy with you. Even if now is not yet the time for you to upgrade your website, based on your business situation, we may be able to suggest marketing strategies that will get you on the path to rapid growth.