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Websites don’t last forever. Even the most expensive, best thought-out sites eventually need to be refreshed or rebuilt. Here are five signs it’s time to rebuild your website.

Keep reading (or jump to the infographic at the bottom)

1. Website isn’t mobile-friendly

This is arguably the number one reason to rebuild your website. Simply put, your audience is looking at your website on their phones. It doesn’t matter if your target is high-income men in their 70s or tween girls. Believe me, they’re using they’re phones to access your website. No one wants to pinch and zoom to read tiny text or be sent to the wrong page because the links are all smooshed together. Most users will just leave the site and head to one of your competitors.

Being responsive, aka mobile-friendly, aka mobile-optimized, will improve your search rankings on Google as well. Ever since Mobilegeddon of 2015, Google has favored sites that are mobile-optimized in its search algorithim. The impact on search was increased in 2016 and now Google uses mobile-first indexing, listing the mobile version of a site before its desktop counterpart. Responsive design isn’t just essential for engaging mobile users, it’s essential for SEO.

Older sites that aren’t optimized may also appear poorly on standard desktops. Sites built before responsive coding came about can appear as a long skinny column down the center of the browser. They may have a full-width background but all the desirable content is shoved in the center. It’s 2018. There’s no excuse for a site that doesn’t automatically adjust its layout for each device. Find a web developer who understands responsive design and rebuild your website.

Ask yourself:

Does my website look as good on a phone or tablet as it does on a desktop?
Does my site fill the full width of the browser on a desktop?
Am I risking my Google page rank by not optimizing for mobile?

2. Can’t make updates

Whether you’re changing your store hours, adding a new product, or posting a blog, at some point you’ll need to update the content on your website. For most sites, updates are made through the content management system (CMS), a well-organized interface that allows you to access the back end of a website and make changes without entering new code.

Unfortunately, if your website was built without a CMS, it will be very difficult to make such updates. Many sites built in the late 1990s and early 2000s were coded directly in HTML and don’t have a CMS. That means all updates have to be coded and simple changes require technical expertise.

We’ve also seen cases where the website owner never received login credentials to their site. Since they couldn’t track down the original web developer, they ended up locked out and unable to make any updates. In that situation, there’s not much you can do but rebuild your website from scratch.

Ask yourself:

Do I have login credentials for my website?
Do I know how to have changes made to my content?

3. Site is too old

Symptoms of an aging site include poor search rankings, slow loading speeds, and compromised security. Older sites often include deprecated code that’s outdated and possibly vulnerable to security threats. Old code can also affect the quality of images displayed. Plus, Google favors newer, cleaner coding when ranking sites.

If you’re site is built on Adobe Flash, users have to have a current Flash Player to view your site. Adobe doesn’t really support this technology anymore, so it has a lot of security holes. Plus, Flash doesn’t display on mobile devices. If your site still uses Flash technology, stop reading right now and make a plan to rebuild your website.

We recently had a client whose six-year-old WordPress theme was no longer being supported by the developer. This meant updates were no longer available and the site was becoming incompatible with its own plugins and vulnerable to threats. The theme also lacked a convenient way to enter meta-data essential to improving SEO. While there’s no official expiration date for a website, a good rule of thumb is five years.

Ask yourself:

When was my site originally built?
Can I enter pertinent SEO information?
Is my site using out-of-date technology?

4. Poor user experience

User experience, called UX in the industry, encompasses all the ways users enter, move through, and respond to your website. Engaging visuals, compelling calls to action, and easy navigation are all essential to converting visitors to customers, clients, or donors. Poor user experience results in a high bounce rate, meaning people leave your site within a few seconds. That alone is a good reason to rebuild your website.

As your business grows, you’ll probably find yourself demanding more from your website. Free platforms like Wix or Weebly are appealing to startups with low initial budgets but have limited functionality. These sites have limited layout and styling options and typically don’t support e-commerce, integrations, or plugins. To break out of this box, talk a web developer about rebuilding your website on a more sophisticated platform. WordPress, for example, is highly customizable and used by 29% of websites worldwide. If your needs surpass even WordPress’s functionality, it’s time to call a developer who specializes in custom-coded websites.

Ask yourself:

Does my site have the capabilities I need?
Can users easily navigate through my website?
Do I have a clear call to action on every page?
Do I have a high bounce rate?

5. Doesn’t reflect your brand

Your website is probably your most used piece of brand collateral. It needs to be consistent with your brand in look, voice, and message. People expect consistent experiences when dealing with brands online, in-store, or by phone. It’s jarring to a user when a website doesn’t look and sound like the rest of the brand.

Furthermore, the site itself needs to have a unified style. Headings should be handled in the same way on every page. Typography and colors need to be logical and legible. The tone of voice shouldn’t shift drastically. Photos and graphics should be cohesive. If things look cluttered or confused, it’s time to rebuild your website.

Ask yourself:

Is my brand message consistent across web and print?
Does my website connect with my brand visually?
Is there a unified style throughout my website?

Is it time to rebuild your website?

If one or more of these signs apply to you, plan to rebuild your website this year. Keep in mind the hidden costs of web development and budget accordingly. A new website is a major investment with a great potential return. Do the math. Think about how many more houses you need to sell, clients you need to book, or donors you need to secure to balance out the cost. Then, talk to a web developer and get started.

Click infographic to enlarge.

Ready to rebuild your website? Share any questions you have before getting started.

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