As a fast growing web design company in Michigan, clients ask us regularly how often they should update their website. The canned response they might receive from other web development companies might be “You should update your website every 2-3 years”. Well, like my father used to say “Never ask a barber if you need a haircut”! For us to give a conscientious, thoughtful response to that question, we dig a little deeper. We conduct a deep dive into these three categories to see if a website redesign is justified:
- Technical updates
- Layout and Design
In this informative article, we will address each of these categories, with some more detail and some questions for you to ponder to help you determine if you need an update.
Sometimes there are technical issues that might warrant a website update from a professional web design company. Here is a quick test to see if you need your website updated for technical reasons. Ask yourself:
“Does everything work perfectly on your website?” If the answer is “Yes”, you are good to go. To be thorough, here are a few things that you may want to check out.
- Do you have an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) installed on your website?
I am surprised how often this is an issue. An SSL certificate helps protect your sensitive information on the internet, including login credentials and personal information such as your name, address and telephone number. You must have an SSL certificate if you are intending to process credit cards through your website. Even if you don’t process credit cards on your website, you should still have an SSL certificate installed on your website.
It’s easy to find out if you have an SSL certificate on your website. Just look at your URL in the address bar at the top of your website home page. At the very beginning of the line, is there an icon of a lock? Then you are all set. If there is an icon of a lock that is open and the words “not secure”, you need to have an SSL certificate installed. If you are hosting with a reputable web design company like 212 Creative, LLC, they should install one for you free of charge.
- Are all plugins up to date?
If you have noticed some functionality in your website isn’t working, you may have a couple, or maybe several, plugins that are out of date. Plugins are a great feature in WordPress, but they are constantly getting updated. Again, if you host your website with a reputable company like 212 Creative, LLC, they should regularly check for plugin updates and do the updates free of charge.
It’s easy to check by yourself if your plugins are updated, but plugins are constantly evolving. If you get your website updated, the latest versions of all plugins will be installed.
- Do all links work?
There are few things more disappointing to a potential client than being on your website and clicking on a “Contact Us” CTA (Call To Action) button, only to discover it doesn’t go anywhere, or is no longer connected to an active email address.
- Security Updates
Security is paramount for any website, and security vulnerabilities can be a nightmare for both site owners and users. To mitigate these risks, it’s essential to stay vigilant and apply security updates promptly. Major CMS platforms, plugins, and server software are frequently updated to patch vulnerabilities. As a rule of thumb, security updates should be applied as soon as they become available. A reputable web hosting should perform manual checks and updates at least once a month. If you get your website updated, all security updates will be brought up to date.
- Performance Optimization
Web users have little patience for slow-loading websites. Regularly optimizing your website’s performance by compressing images, reducing server response times, and implementing efficient coding practices is vital. One important aspect of performance optimization is page load speed. You can check your load speed with free tools such as GT Metrix. The average load speed currently is 2.3 seconds. Check to see how your website holds up. Best practice is to perform performance audits and optimizations at least once a quarter to maintain a seamless, user-friendly experience.
Layout and Design:
Besides technical aspects of your website, there are other things to look at with a critical eye to see if investing in a website update is worthwhile. One of the most important is the look and functionality of your current website.
For many people, your website is the first and most important interaction they have with your company. Have you ever gone on a website that is obviously very old? It looks kind of weird and out of place, and not at all contemporary. Many people would see an outdated looking website and automatically think that the company that website represents is also outdated and out of touch. The visual aspect of your website, including layout and design, is what captures the attention of your visitors. A visually appealing and user-friendly website is essential for retaining your audience and leaving a lasting impression.
Here is a quick test to see if you need your website updated for design reasons. Ask yourself: “When I look at the websites of my competition, do I like their website more than mine”? Hmmm, that should tell you that perhaps the design and look of your website should be updated. Visual trends evolve over time, and an outdated design can make your website look unprofessional. A full visual refresh, including updated colors, typography, and imagery, can be a breath of fresh air for your site. We suggest planning for a visual overhaul every 2-3 years to keep your website looking contemporary.
Make sure you check your layout as well. Is it easy for a visitor to find what they are looking for on your website? Is everything logical and well-thought out? Think about the following before you answer:
- Bad UX
UX stands for User Experience. When someone visits your website, is the navigation clear? Is the menu clear and well-defined? Do all of the links work and go to where they are supposed to go?
- Does the site reflect your brand?
Consistent branding is so important. We recently worked with a company that had two owners. One liked the horizontal logo with their tag line underneath. The other only used the logo itself, which had a more vertical orientation, and no tag line. Both versions were used throughout their website, their social media, their print ads, etc. Over time, their branding had become eroded and inconsistent. If your brand has evolved, those changes should be consistently reflected in the website
Are all CTA (Call To Action) buttons logically placed throughout the design, and clearly labeled as to their purpose?
- Responsive Design
When we do a website redesign, this is often an area with which we spend a lot of time. In a world dominated by mobile devices, having a responsive design is no longer optional. More than 69% of mobile users research a product or service on their mobile device before they purchase, and well over half of all online purchases are done on a mobile device. Your website must look good and be perfectly responsive across various screen sizes and devices. With new devices continually hitting the market, it’s a good practice to perform responsive design tests at least every six months and make adjustments as needed.
Technical aspects and layout/design are a few things to consider when looking at your website with a cold, calculating eye. The website content is also something to consider when thinking about a website upgrade.
web design company recommendation: Content
Your website’s content is the heart and soul of your online presence. Any great web design company would advise you that regular content updates not only keep your audience engaged but also can contribute to improved SEO and search engine rankings. Google “spiders” every page of every website regularly. If there is no new content or activity, Google might assume that the website is not performing well, does not have authority or does not have useful content, products or services for the intended clients, and therefore drops it in the search rankings.
Here is a quick test to see if you need your website updated for content reasons. Ask yourself: “Since the website has launched, have I changed, edited or added any content at all on the website”? If you haven’t, it might be time to take a look at this aspect of your website.
Here are some specific things to consider when you are thinking about investing in a website redesign:
- Evergreen Content
Evergreen content, which remains relevant over time, forms the foundation of your website’s authority. While you may not need to update evergreen content as frequently as news articles, it is still best practice to perform yearly content audits to ensure that this content is still accurate and valuable. Take some time and go over every page. For example, are your “About Us” content and team pictures and bios current and up to date? What about your services or products? Are they all still current and up-to-date?
- SEO Optimizations
While there are many things a good web design company should automatically do when updating a website, such as making sure the content is written to optimize your keywords, creating a site map, meta tags and other behind-the-scenes operations, search engine algorithms change, and your content should adapt to these shifts. A good strategy is to regularly review and update your SEO efforts, including keyword research and on-page SEO, to ensure your content remains optimized for search engines. For optimum results however, a great practice is to hire an SEO company to continually monitor and expanse your SEO campaign. We suggest making SEO a regular, ongoing part of your marketing strategy, and budget accordingly.
As a web design company, we keep up with all of the trends. Increasingly the trends have videos or 2D animations on websites. Have you considered looking into adding some multimedia to your website to keep it contemporary and relevant?
- Social media
We recently created a the social media presence for a multi-national company with 18 North American locations. This company does billions of dollars of business world-wide, but had absolutely no social media presence. These days, having a social media presence is not just a frill, it is a necessity. Updating the website could also include creating or updating your companies social media presence.
In the ever-evolving digital landscape, the frequency of website updates plays a pivotal role in its success. Technical updates, layout and design changes, and content updates are the three pillars of a well-maintained website. To maintain a healthy and engaging online presence, it’s essential to address each of these aspects with a specific frequency in mind. Regularly attending to security and technical updates, keeping your design fresh and user-friendly, and providing valuable and up-to-date content will help you stay ahead in the competitive online world and keep your audience coming back for more. Remember, your website is a reflection of your brand, and keeping it current is a commitment to providing the best possible experience for your users.
If you think your website may need facelift and are looking for a web design company, check out 212 Creative, LLC for a free consultation. As always, we suggest hiring an expert in the field for the best results. And we are experts in the field! Call us. Let’s begin.