How do you know when you need a website upgrade or redesign? That's a tough question, and there isn't a clear answer. Sometimes you know you need a website upgrade simply because you want to update the design. Sometimes a website upgrade is required because the current site can't handle new features you want to employ.
But most often, knowing that it is time for a website upgrade is quite difficult. In fact, you may need a website upgrade and not even really know it. For all you know, the current site is doing just fine . . . but that's because you just are not aware of today's visitor expectations. Or there may be specific issues keeping your site from performing at optimum levels.
Have you ever been in a room and found yourself growing increasingly frustrated and you don't know why? And then suddenly you realize what it is. Your boss is playing the bagpipes on his iPod loud enough for everyone to hear! There it was in the background growing in annoyance until suddenly it came into your conscious mind.
That's what happens on many websites as they age. They lack new technologies that other sites are using, or are slower than the average, and visitors slowly become more and more annoyed by it though they may not know why. Some may figure it out and tell you. Most won't because they don't know themselves, and they won't stick around long enough to find out.
You can have that website playing the bagpipes to your remaining visitors, or you can be the guy who starts looking for the signs that your site is annoying your visitors.
But before we get into identifying the right time for a website upgrade, let’s take a look at why it is important.
Why Spend Money on a Website Upgrade?
Your SEO team tells you it will cost you four times more to fix your existing site than you paid for it to begin with.
We get this a lot. Prospects come to us for a website upgrade and ask for a quote. After a quick review, we realize that there are structural site issues and usually, they are pretty significant. We recommend a website upgrade and give them a quote.
After seeing the quote, the prospect is aghast at the cost. “That's more than I paid for the entire site!”
Unfortunately, that is often the case on websites that were built on the cheap. More often than not, that same prospect turned down many more expensive web development quotes in favour of a cheap one. That may work in the short run, but money saved in web development is never money saved in web marketing and quite often leads to more costly fixes later on.
You can still only take orders over the phone
Ecommerce is huge. If you sell product or services but you're not set up to sell them—start to finish—on the website, you're in desperate need of a website upgrade.
Many web users do their shopping outside of regular business hours or at times that placing an order over the phone just isn't convenient. If that's your only way to take orders, you are missing out on a huge opportunity. Until you implement an ecommerce solution your business growth will be hindered.
You're Killing It With Top Search Rankings But Getting Killed By a Lack of Conversions
Many sites do quite well with top search engine rankings. Because their rankings are so good, they feel like there is no need for web marketing. But the problems they face aren't about exposure but rather what happens after that.
If you're doing well ranking-wise but not so hot on the conversions once people land on your site, it might be time to assess your website design. Having a great looking website simply isn't enough anymore. Failure to generate conversions means that somewhere along the line, the entire website is failing.
Of course, in many cases, you can do some conversion optimization on the new site and make some fixes that will have a drastic impact. But that's not always—or even regularly—the case. The fixes necessary to improve conversion can often cost more than developing a new site entirely.
Your Order Line is Ringing Off the Hook, While Your Web-Based Conversions Suffer
The incoming phone calls for orders may be giving you a false impression that you're doing things right. I'm a firm proponent of making it easy for visitors to contact you via phone, but that should never be the primary avenue for generating sales.
If your phone rings more than the number of conversions you get on the web, you know there is a problem. In fact, your web-based conversions should be at least five to one over your phone orders. Anything less than that is a clear indication there is a problem with your website and you need a website upgrade.
Again, if you can find and fix the problem on the existing site, do it. But just make sure that the fix isn't more than the cost to rebuild the site correctly. A good rebuild can fix a number of issues where otherwise you can only fix one problem at a time. Take a look at the number of issues you have and determine if collectively those fixes will cost more than rebuilding. If it's close, you might want to rebuild.
Your Last Redesign Was 2010
Every year, there are new trends and new technologies that affect web design and development. Failure to update your website and remove outdated features will begin to have an effect on your visitors' perceptions of your business.
Usually, it's subtle, but the longer your website goes without a redesign, the more “out of date” it will feel. Customers don't have to feel like you're on the cutting edge, but as your site gets more and more outdated, you will lose your customers’ trust in your business.
So, if you haven’t had a website upgrade in years, it is time that you get it done right now.
Your site wasn't made for mobile devices.
Many developers deploy mobile solutions on a site that was never intentionally made for mobile. Mobile-friendly plugins and add-ons are better than nothing at all but don't be fooled, these are merely stop-gap measures.
Today's mobile algorithms are looking for hundreds of mobile-friendly factors. Plugins, add-ons or other temporary measures may fix some of the most obvious problems, but they won't fix many of the underlying core issues.
If your site wasn't built specifically for mobile devices, it may be time to rebuild it from the ground up from a mobile-first perspective. Desktop is still important and may, for a while, hold its predominance over mobile, but that won't hold long. The time is fast approaching when mobile will matter more.
The people calling to tell you how great your website is also want to place an order because they can't figure out how to do that online.
In my 17 years of experience, I have often run into a prospect that is in desperate need of a website upgrade. The current design is old, the site is hard to use and just everything about it reeks of “amateur.” But when I talk to the prospects about the possibility of redesigning their website they tell me that they get compliments on it all the time.
Some of the worst sites imaginable are getting compliments on how great they are? I never could figure this out but then I realized that there are always those who have somehow found their way far, far outside of the norm of web users. Yet, somehow these are often the most vocal.
So how do you suss out these people? How are you able to determine that a compliment from one of these earnest and sincere individuals isn't representative of the majority?
Simply put, if you're getting a lot of calls from shoppers who tell you how great your site is, those shoppers should not also be calling to place orders. Thanks for the compliment, but you might want to take it with a grain of salt. Why is that shopper not ordering online? Chances are is because they can't really figure out how. But hey, they love the site!
Roughly translated, that means they think they love the site but they don't realize that their inability to go through the conversion process is a problem. And they are more than happy to place a call. But that's not the majority.
So be aware of these false positives. Appreciate the feedback, but look for the deeper issue among the compliments, because those frustrated by those issues are likely not telling you and not even bothering to pick up the phone to place an order.
Your Website Has a High Bounce Rate
Having a high bounce rate means there’s something wrong with either the content or website design and navigation.
All of your SEO efforts are wasted if your hard-earned leads leave your website without engaging further or taking an action.
One of the reasons for this could be that the site navigation is not easy and your site visitors are not able to figure out where to go next or how.
Another factor could be a lack of enough calls-to-action to guide your site visitors to engage with more content, sign-up for newsletters, download resources or take any desired action.
So, the next time your site audit report shows a high bounce rate know that it is time for a website upgrade.
Search Engine Algorithms Have Changed
The ultimate goal for any website is to get traffic and convert those leads into customers. And you can do that by optimizing your website so that search engine crawlers can correctly index and rank your website.
But, what if search engines change the rules?
That is exactly what happens, every time there is an algorithm change for Google or other search engines.
You need to stay aware of any such algorithm changes and keep your website updated to incorporate these changes. You do not need to completely rebuild your website after every algorithm change. But you do need a website upgrade to keep up with the changes.
Whenever Google or other search engines come up with an algorithm change. that is the time that you need a website upgrade.
More often than not, a website can be improved to fix any usability and conversion issues. If your site is fixable, it's almost always better to do that than to pay the cost of redevelopment.
But that can only take you so far. At some point, you have to check if there are other reasons pushing you toward a new website. Perhaps there are issues there that you hadn't even realized.
Hopefully, this little guide will help you identify if and when you need to do a website upgrade.
If you have any questions or thoughts on when to do a website upgrade, do let me know in the comments below.