What to Do with an Aging Website?

Posted by on September 25, 2017

What to Do with an Aging Website

Do websites come with built-in expiration dates? Maybe so. While it can vary from site to site—and brand to brand—the reality is that consumers are always changing, and so are their expectations. Your company website has to stay on pace with those expectations if you wish to remain competitive. Sooner or later, then, all companies have to face the reality of a site that’s past its prime.

So how long can you expect a website to last? Do you need to be updating your site every year? Every couple of years? Every decade? Again, there’s not necessarily one right answer, but the average lifespan of a website is roughly two and a half years. So, if your company website is past the three-year marker, it’s basically a senior citizen.

Even that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to junk your site or invest in a big revamp, though. There’s a bit more to it than that. Allow us to explain.

A Data-Driven Approach

The first thing to do is look closely at the data. Trust us: If your website doesn’t offer a satisfactory user experience, there will be numbers to prove as much.

For example, you can look at both mobile use and conversion rates, which are tied to audience expectations. These are the kind of metrics that will only erode bit by bit over time, so looking at data from the last week or even the last month won’t tell the full story. If there’s been an erosion of these metrics over the course of many months, though, that’s pretty telling.

Not all metrics requite such an extended timeline. Changes in rank and in search traffic can happen abruptly, and that’s revealing as well.

And then there are some important gauges that can’t really be quantified. Do you have the sense that your competitors are leaving you in the dust? That they’re all benefitting from sleek new redesigns? That your site just feels stale or dated by comparison? Those metrics may be a little nebulous, but they are by no means insignificant.

What’s Next for Your Site?

If any of that data points you to the need for an overhauled website, consider two basic options for moving forward—either via evolution, or revolution.

An evolutionary change to your site may tweak the aesthetics and the content, but not the framework of the site itself; this is the cheaper and less time-consuming option. Some basic steps to take include:

1. Rewrite the content for your top-level pages—the ones that get the most traffic and represent the core of your site.
2. Remove the design elements that aren’t getting much engagement; these are just clutter.
3. Engage with new formats; if you’ve been meaning to get involved in video marketing, now’s the time to do so and to integrate it with your website.

And then there is the revolutionary approach, wherein you scrap your site altogether and build a new one from the ground up. This is obviously a little more complicated and pricey, but it can also yield stronger results—and sooner or later, every site will need a rebuild.

Again, some basic steps:

1. Consider a whole new platform. Content management systems are evolving all the time. You should test drive a few, and consider a whole new way of managing your website.
2. You may also need to change your URL structures, though we recommend proceeding with caution here; doing so can throw a wrench into your current rankings. Look to the data for guidance!
3. Pay special attention to the flow of your site, ensuring that the navigation is clear and leads the visitor on a well-defined journey—complete with the proper calls to action.

Rethinking Your Website

It is inevitable that websites get old and out of date. This will happen to some sites sooner than others, but the fact remains: All CMOs should be vigilant, always examining website performance and considering whether the time is right to either tweak the site or redesign it from the ground up. Always look to the data to back these decisions, but trust your intuition as well. And when the time comes for you to take action, make sure you understand what the two basic options (evolution and revolution) really entail.

EverythingOnline takes a data-backed approach to all things marketing-related. We’d love to help you through our effective Orange County website design solutions. Reach out to our team today to learn more about how to handle an aging website.