As customer expectations move at the pace of the web, letting a website linger way past its sell-by date will have a lasting, negative impact on your business. Deciding when to start again can be tricky, so we’ve put together a guide to summarise some of the signs that show it is time to invest in a brand-new website.
In 2023, we know it’s never “just a website”. In most cases, your website gives people the first impression of your business, so having an up-to-date, user-friendly and fast website gives you the best chance to generate more business.
Quick Check: Why might I need a new website?
You know it’s time for a new website when yours is:
- Difficult To Use
- Doesn’t Render Correctly
- Not Mobile Friendly
- Hard To Update
In this guide, we’ve put together 9 reasons businesses need a new website so that you can assess for yourself whether it’s time to get a redesign. Many of these are rooted in the expectations of potential customers searching online today.
Here, we’ll cover the 9 reasons to get a new website:
- Your website looks dated
- The site is no longer fit for purpose
- Your competitors are way ahead
- You’ve not updated your website for a long time
- Your website isn’t easy to use on mobile devices
- It’s slow to load
- Customers find it difficult to use
- Your Employees find it difficult to use
- Employees are spending a long time working on the website
1. The web has moved on, and your website looks out of date.
The online industry moves at an incredible pace. There are new web design trends, techniques and layout options almost daily, so it is inevitable that your website will be out of date to a degree, and there is no getting away from this. Sure, you can re-skin a site and patch it up, but you’re essentially putting a plaster on it until the next time, and it will cost you more in the long run.
While some website trends come and go, it’s clear when a website looks dated. Customers searching for the first time make huge assumptions based on the quality of a website, and one that looks more suited to 2013 than 2023 will turn people off, losing potential business. But how can you tell which website trends are worth pursuing, and which will simply date your website further in a few years’ time?
Rather than falling for the ‘wow’ factor, this checklist helps us identify the trends that are here to stay:
Does it improve the User Experience? If it helps people navigate your website better or have more enjoyment from using your site, it’s worthwhile.
Does it improve website performance? A new design could decrease loading times, or help the website function in a more integrated way.
Would the website be a success without it? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – there’s no point in adding superfluous trendy features to an already successful website. But if it could be the lynchpin that holds the whole user experience together, go for it!
Does it help the site achieve its goals? Bespoke website design rejects the idea that there’s a one-size-fits-all formula for every business’s website. Each design is grounded in the specific goals of the business, guiding us to choose only the features that will advance the site towards them.
Using this checklist, I have been able to utilise existing new trends which are of benefit to the site as a whole and understand which trends to dismiss.
2. The site is no longer fit for purpose.
Sometimes the lack of functionality of a website is affecting the day-to-day running of your business, or you can identify holes in the online ordering process. When this happens, the site is working against you, rather than attracting and converting customers.
Your website should work with your business, not produce problems and extra work for employees. It can often be frustrating if you are constantly working around your site or having to change your workflow because of it.
If your website no longer works for you but against you, it’s time for a redesign.
3. Your competitors are way ahead.
This is a particularly tricky arena. Sometimes following the trends of the market leaders can reap excellent rewards because your new client base will already be familiar with the look and feel of your website, and it will reflect a professional approach to your business.
On the other hand, trying to keep up with competitors can lead to looking the same as everyone else, which is just as unhelpful as having a dated site. Rather than simply copying your competitors, updating your website can help your brand to stand out from the crowd.
We achieve this with a Design-First approach, putting the needs of your customer and their journey through the site before aesthetic changes.
This is the same approach used by Apple in the 90s when they decided to produce desktop machines that looked totally different to the beige boxes that were on the market at the time. Apple pivoted to emphasise design-led products and reaps the rewards to this day.
The decision to update in line with competitors or innovate to stand out normally depends on what market sector your business is in, so consult a web design expert to find the best approach for your business.
4. You’ve not updated in ages
The average lifespan for a well-designed website is normally 3-5 years, depending on the sector and competitors. In all honesty, if you had a website built yesterday and it was built poorly, it’s already time for a redesign! The day-to-day operations of your business can take up a lot of time, but without showing your prospective customers a professional and usable interface, you will struggle to gain their trust and increase purchases.
Your website should be your statement: your first impression. If it’s dated or, worse still, broken or not rendering correctly in modern browsers, it will be harming your image and your reputation as a business.
As developments in website creation, browsing and hosting capabilities progress rapidly, the longer you leave it to update your website, the more problems will arise. For example, if your website is using a payment method that hasn’t been updated since 2019, most likely it is not compatible with SCA (Strong Customer Authentication) systems such as 3DS2.
Using an outdated, non-compliant payment method is problematic for your customers and your business, as customers will be unable to pay, get frustrated and leave. We recommend simply using up-to-date payment methods that allow quick checkout. The best of these are self-contained and protected under a green lock (HTTPS) SSL certificate.
5. Your website isn’t easy to use on mobile devices
Ensuring your site can adapt to mobile phone screens, accounting for the differences in dimensions and orientation, is particularly important in today’s mobile markets. Responsive web design is a standard these days because almost everyone searches for services and products on their mobile phones more frequently than on a desktop computer.
If your website is not responsive, users will need to scroll sideways or zoom in to read the text. But mobile users are all about convenience. Rather than going to the extra effort, people will simply move on to one of your competitors. It is absolutely paramount to have a website design that can provide a positive user experience on every device, using responsive design.
6. It’s slow to load
Websites that take more than 3 seconds to load lose potential customers quickly. With millions of search results, at least 53% of users will simply click on the next link instead of waiting for a slow website, so it’s important to get this fixed quickly.
However, it may not be as simple as patching or reducing the number of plugins. Your website might need an updated CMS or a full overhaul to get speeds up to scratch.
It’s easy to assess your website’s speed with tools such as PageSpeed Insights. If you find that things are taking a while to appear, it’s worth speaking to a web designer who can advise as to what is slowing your website down.
7. Customers find it difficult to use: You need UX Design
User Experience (UX) is important to factor in when deciding whether your website needs a redesign. If it’s too difficult for visitors to your website to find what they need, purchase products or understand what your services are, you are missing out on potential business. The journey from your homepage or landing page to the checkout or enquiry can be simplified and directed even if your offering has many complex layers, with some clever UX design.
This usually involves creating an easy-to-follow “navigation flow”. If the flow is interrupted or not fluid, visitors can be frustrated and have a tendency to leave. In certain situations, there are accepted standards and habits that customers follow which we can play into to create easy navigation. For example, an eCommerce platform usually shows the cart or basket icon visibly in the top right of the page.
If your eCommerce site makes the customer search for the basket or scroll a long way to add products to the basket, or if the information around product pricing, VAT or deliveries is difficult to find, then your customer will struggle to complete the purchase, and you lose the sale.
8. Your Employees find it difficult to use: You need an up-to-date CMS
Using a Content Management System (CMS) that is not intuitive can also lead to frustration, delays and damage to your visibility online. With a small amount of training, you should be able to manage content on your website yourself, adding blog posts and new product pages in a few easy clicks via the admin area.
But if your CMS is out of date, it may not be user-friendly and require a more specialised operation, costing you more in the long run and leading to struggles further down the line.
9. Employees are spending a long time working on the website
Even with a usable CMS and appropriate training, there may be long processes of updating the website which can now be solved. For example, your website may be requiring a lot of manual work from you and your team to process enquiries and orders.
New integrations and automation options are being released all the time, so it may be worth updating your website to make the most of these algorithms, APIs and widgets.
If you can relate to any parts of this post, then you already know whether or not to redesign.
Having a new website built begins with an aim: a purpose. One of the first questions we ask is: “What do you want your website to do for your business?” and we go from there.
A new website can be tailored specifically to your goals, whether it’s lead generation or helping customers find information easily. A website redesign can help with:
Improved Branding: An updated website with a modern design can promote trust and brand recognition among consumers and improve the overall design and quality of the website can help to evaluate the trustworthiness of the company, thus enhancing the brand image and keeping the business relevant.
Smooth information flow: The core goal of a website is to provide information that helps visitors learn more about the business, products/services, and ultimately close deals, by having an optimal information flow and a website redesign can help to structure and present the information in a way that all the important stuff is easy to find.
Reduced business costs: A complete website redesign allows for re-evaluation of hosting and CMS, can run more efficiently, save costs in the long run, and cut costs of missed opportunities and lost revenue caused by an outdated website.
More sales and business: A website redesign allows you to make conversions the primary focus by presenting a flow of information that guides visitors towards actions such as purchase, subscription, or request for more information, which is something that older websites often fail to do effectively.
If you’re hoping a new website will help you gain business via search inquiries or if you just want more traffic to your website, you may be looking in the wrong place. In this instance, I would advise you to read about Search Engine Optimisation first, before completely rebuilding a possibly perfectly good website.
To get the most out of your website design, make sure your designers understand your requirements, functionality and sitemaps. Be open and honest and set goals. Take advice and, if it is in line with your website’s goals, then go for it! Employ designers and developers that have a track record of delivering. For that reason alone, eSterling is a great place to start.