When to Know it’s Time for a New Website

By Tom Conlon, Founder + CEO

Your website is often times the first time a prospective client or hire is interacting with your brand. Will it be their last? Well, how long ago you redesigned your site has a lot to do with that. An out-of-date website can do more damage than having no website at all. Here are some indicators that it’s time for an overhaul.

Does your site take a long time to load pages?

If you’re able to brew a fresh cup of coffee in the same amount of time it takes to load your website’s home page, duct-taping some fixes into place isn’t going to cut it — it’s time to consider a complete overhaul. Poorly optimized images and video, bloated code, loading unnecessary resources, and unsatisfactory server performance are just a few of the usual culprits that bog down your site speed. It’s also worth noting that site speed is now factored into Google’s algorithm for search ranking (see: Core Web Vitals article).

Does it look like garbage on a cell phone?

If your website was designed prior to the invention of the iPhone, then you already know it’s non-functional on mobile devices, which now account for 55% of all web traffic globally. While a poorly-optimized mobile website may have been acceptable in the heyday of the Nokia flip, disregarding the mobile user experience in 2021 can be catastrophic to your bottom line: you’re alienating more than half of your potential audience and telling them that you’re way behind the times.

Are you embarrassed to send people to your website?

We hear this time and time again: clients know that their website is their biggest sales and marketing tool, and yet they’re too embarrassed to send people to it. A recent Stanford study found that 75% of people base the credibility of a business on how their website looks. If that isn’t enough to make you fall out of your seat, a staggering 94% of users say poor web design fosters feelings of mistrust. If your audience kinda maybe doesn’t trust you, you’ve already lost all hopes of a conversion.

Do you feel a pit in your stomach when you see a competitor’s recently redesigned website?

Look at the websites of your closest competitors, but through the lens of a prospective user, customer, or employee. Are there any that make you say to yourself, “Dang, those guys look like they know what they’re doing,” or “Wow, that looks like a cool place to work”? Now look at your site through the same lens. Are you getting good vibes or the heebie jeebies? If it’s the latter, think about how much opportunity you’re squandering.

Does your website tell people what you do, or what you did six years ago?

On average, companies redesign their websites every 3 years. Not only do trends, technologies, and best practices change, but so does your business! Does your website accurately describe the goods or services you offer today? Does it use business language from this decade? Is the copyright year in your website footer the present year? If not, it’s time to start thinking about the image and messaging you’re putting out there. Is your website attracting the right kind of clients, or the clients you serviced when you were a fledgling startup?

Are there photos of people on your website that no longer work there? And if they do still work there, are they significantly grayer and balder than when the photos were taken?

We see this all the time and it’s almost always one of the many concerns our clients have when we begin discussing a website redesign. The images of people on your site are definitely a part of your branding, and so it’s important that they remain contemporary just like the site’s design and functionality need to. How do you do that without needing a whole new photoshoot every time someone leaves or joins? Headshots should be styled and framed consistently and in an easily repeatable manner. For lifestyle shots and candids, we use focus, blur, and framing to obscure the faces of the people in the shots as best we can. We also try to capture moments, like a closeup of someone writing on a whiteboard or grabbing a branded coffee mug. These can be images or video, like what we did for this page on the Assured Investment Management site.

Do users need a tour guide to find what they are looking for on your website?

A recent study found that the average human attention span has dropped from 12 seconds (2000) to eight seconds (2021) as a result of our increasingly digitized lifestyles. (For reference, a goldfish’s attention span averages around 9 seconds.)

If people can’t readily find what they are looking for when they land on your website, you’re going to lose them. Make sure your navigation is descriptive and concise (so as not to overwhelm). Make sure each page leads off with a description of what information will be found on it. If you’re going to have on-site search, consider using filters so that users can painlessly zero in on the type of content they are interested in (i.e., press release, commentary, bio, webinar, etc.).

Do you need the patience of a saint (or a computer science degree) to make updates to your website’s backend? Can you even make updates at all?

Keeping your site’s content fresh and up to date should be easy peasy through a content management system such as WordPress. You probably didn’t go to school for coding, and so you shouldn’t need hacker skills to be able to change text, update photos, add news, etc. And you definitely don’t have the time. A cumbersome or non-existent content management system will quickly lead to an out-of-date website, which is bad news for reasons described above. Unfortunately, plugging an existing site into a new content management system isn’t as simple as it may seem. More often than not, it’s more expensive and time consuming than a total tear down / rebuild.

Are you invisible to Google?

If the codebase of your website is “vintage” for lack of a better word, then there’s no possible way it adheres to the best practices Google rewards for—best practices that are also always evolving, by the way. Even if your last redesign was relatively recent, we still see mistakes and oversights in code that don’t win favor with (or can even be penalized by) Google. Check out our articles on SEO best practices and recent additions to Google’s search algorithm for more info.

Are you ignoring people with disabilities?

Making your organization’s website ADA accessible isn’t just about avoiding a lawsuit. Think of the millions of potential customers who are going elsewhere because they can’t use your site. Need another reason to do the right thing when it comes to accessibility? Google’s search bot basically works like a screen reader (a device used by the visually impaired to navigate websites), which means that better accessibility equals better search ranking. Following ADA best practices isn’t just about your site’s codebase—accessibility considerations also need to be a part of your site’s design. If your site was never built with accessibility in mind, then it’s time to consider a re-do.

About north street

We engineer the thoughtful transformation of great organizations. Our proven process helps us understand what your competitors are doing right — and wrong. Want to learn more? Let’s chat.

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