How do you know when you need to redesign and/or re-develop your website? That’s a tough question, and there isn’t a clear answer. Sometimes you know you need an upgrade simply because you want to update the design. Sometimes it’s because the current site can’t handle new features you want to employ.
But most often, the “time” to rebuild your website is much more vague. In fact, you may need a new website 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 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 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 newer technologies 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.
You Know You Need a New Website When…
Your SEO team tells you it will cost you four times as much to fix your existing site than you paid for it to begin with.
We get this a lot. Prospects come to us looking to help improve their web presence and ask for a quote. After a quick review, we realize that starting any web marketing will be fruitless until the structural site issues are fixed. Usually they are pretty significant.
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 times than not, that same prospect turned down many more expensive web development quotes in favor of the 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 after the fact.
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 an 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 always be lacking.
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 re-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.
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 re-design was 2010.
Every year, there are new trends and new technologies that effect web design and development. Failure to update your website with a new occasionally 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, the less confidence and trust visitors will have in doing business with you.
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 that are and will become increasingly more important if you want your website to rank on mobile device searches.
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 online.
Many times over my 17 years in this business I have run into a prospect that is in desperate need of a new website. 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 realize 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 to 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.
More times 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 only takes you so far. At some point you have to look to see if there are greater reasons pushing you toward a new website. Perhaps there are issues there that you hadn’t even realized.
Hopefully this little guide will help. These are just a few examples, but use them to get your mind thinking through other ramifications of your existing site that might be signaling you that you need a new one.