You’d think as a web design company we would be able to create timeless designs for ourselves and manage to only make small tweaks to our site here and there to stay relevant. That is not the case–not with the ever-advancing technology of the internet.
There is a large number of signs that your website may be outdated. Some can be temporarily dismissed, as these lack of developments may only be caught by the keenest of internet browsers. However, whether you are a SEO mogul trying to keep your organic search rank from falling below the first result, or a small business that is using their website as only a billboard for your company, there are some red flags that must be addressed. If not addressed, these factors can hurt your business in many ways.
This article will guide you through these problems and – hopefully – inspire you to keep improving your site.
#1: Poor/Outdated Design
There are three things that get better with age: denim, fancy cheese and expensive wines. Websites are not on this list. An outdated website is first noticed due to the design. As technology progresses, design changes along with it. Although this is a subjective factor, it is among the most important because it faces the most unforgiving beast of them all: a human’s first impression. A study of Facial First Impressions, authorized by Jennifer K. South Palomares found that when participants rated opposite-sex faces based on a number of factors, they discovered that:
Trustworthiness, status, and attractiveness judgments were all reliable at above-chance levels even at 33 ms presentation, and extra time (100 or 500 ms) only led to modest improvement in the correspondence with an independent set of time-unconstrained judgments.
It takes only a third of a second for someone to look at a face, make a judgement, come to a conclusion, and stick to that judgement until proven otherwise. That explains why you can have such a strong gut feeling about somebody when first meeting them.
Now think of your front page as your brand’s face, ready to be judged by your potential customers. Wouldn’t you want to reduce any chance of that first impression being negative? How can you tell that your site needs a design overhaul? If you have to ask, it probably does. The internet judges an outdated website the way Supreme Court judge Justice Potter Stewart defines obscenity:
“I know it when i see it.”
So now you know that your site should be constantly updated to today’s design standards, and you try your best to fix what you can as often as you can. This can go on for years until you realize that every time you updated the look of a certain page or added a new feature, it’s design or contribution to the overall feel of the site slightly differ from the previous iteration and the one before that, and the one before that – much like a broken telephone of website maintenance.
You don’t notice until you step back and realize that your site is an amalgamation of inconsistencies, from design, colour scheme, font size and spacing, to information that is valid on one page, while incorrect and outdated on another. This inconsistency leads to uncertainty in the visitor’s experience, which will lead to users leaving your site to visit a competitor’s.
Companies face this same problem often, because small changes are more valuable in the short term. However, if you are on the fence about finally committing to full re-imagination of your site, think of it this way:
You are not saving money by holding off on the redesign. You are losing money in the form of potential customers who would have done business with you, had your site not been outdated.
#3: Non-Responsive Website
According to Stone Temple’s study of Mobile vs Desktop Usage in 2018, 63% of all website visits were from a mobile device.
Let it sink in – over half of the online world uses their phone to visit websites. If your website cannot provide the information they want in the resolutions that smartphones require, those users will dismiss your site as quickly as they found it and move onto the next.
This can also prove to be detrimental to your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Google, which can be seen as the backbone of all sources of online information, has optimized their search results to make sure that responsive websites are rewarded, and non-responsive websites are penalized. In other words, as of April 21st, 2015, which is when the algorithm update was released, you might see responsive websites low in Google’s results page, but you will no longer see non-responsive websites at the top of the first page.
#4: Slow Site Speed
Advancements of technology in the information era have spoiled us internet users.
We want everything, and we want it now.
A mixture of saturation of information with fast loading times has led us to believe that any content that takes longer to reach us loses value. What’s even worse is that the technology required to implement these advancements have bogged down our site to a over-encumbered snail-mail of online content delivery. The only reason for an outdated website to load quickly is because there is barely any content to load in the first place, which is a whole other problem.
Studies from DotCom Monitor have outlined that 75% of online users will bounce off a page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to fully load. Internet users 15 years ago would be looking at us in disbelief.
This is an unfortunate situation when sometimes it takes two to tango. On one hand, you can have a slow load time due to your excessive code, poor hosting services or large files, causing your user to receive the content at a constant delay and therefore, have a negative experience associated with your business forever. Or, you can do everything you can to make sure your website is as fast as can be, using resources like GTmetrix or Google’s very own Page Speed Calculator as indicators of your performance–all for the visitor to have a poor internet connection and have your business negatively impacted anyway.
That doesn’t mean you should give up and stop trying to decrease load time. It means you should be working your hardest to make sure that if someone ever has a negative experience on your site, it is not your fault.
You Can Only Go Up From Here
If these factors can be noticed throughout your website, I’ve got some good news and some bad news… and some good news. The good news is that you’ve learned how to better take care of your online presence and therefore, the overall branding of your business. The bad news is that it will take some capital to do this redesign. But the overall good news is that your brand will not only recover from obsolescence, it will flourish and reap many benefits, from site traffic to increased conversions.