You probably know an outdated website when you see it. What is the first thing that comes to mind if you come across one? Does it make you wonder if the business is reliable? Do you wonder if the company represented is still in business?
We frequently see websites that look like they were built in the 1990s even if they are only five years old. But what makes an outdated website look outdated? More importantly, does your site look outdated?
People can’t always tell when their own website is outdated. You spent good money for it! The design should be timeless, right? Unfortunately this is rarely the case. Styles change. Technology changes. And people tend to hold onto things they like. This is why we occasionally keep outdated clothes in our closet. We hold onto the hope they will come back into style or look good again. But when somebody says something, you start doubting your choices.
With websites, however, keeping things up to date isn’t just a matter of personal taste. Being outdated can actually harm your bottom line. So how can you tell you have an outdated website before it starts hurting your business? Here are some tips to help you determine that. Take an unbiased look at your own site and see if it might be time for a website redesign.
1. Does your site look good on your mobile device?
This should be the very first thing you ask. If your site isn’t mobile responsive, then it’s time for a new one. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way around this.
About three years ago, Google officially told us that mobile is king when it comes to search results. Even more recently, Google has been giving strong preference to mobile responsive sites–purposely downgrading sites that aren’t. The reason for this is clear: If Google stops giving relevant results, people will stop using Google. In order to have a hope of having your website found, you must have a mobile responsive website.
Beyond search results, a mobile responsive website contributes to a more positive user experience. Websites that cater to mobile users have higher retention rates and convert more visitors.
2. Is your website integrated with your social media platforms?
The most frequently-visited websites are social media sites. Whether it’s a common site like Facebook or a specialty site like DeviantArt, you probably have potential customers and clients who would love to follow you and interact with you. When you connect your site to these social media channels—by embedding them into your site or linking to them—you’re expanding your reach beyond a basic web search. An outdated website lacks this simple feature.
3. Are you using Flash?
Flash was created to give websites visual punch. With animation, unique interfaces, and a general “wow” factor, Flash used to be the way to go. Unfortunately, Flash is now considered obsolete in terms of design and function. With new changes to CSS and HTML coding, Flash has become completely unnecessary. Even worse, most mobile devices ignore it. Flash also increases the amount of time it takes for a website to load. This lowers your search rankings and provides a poor user experience.
4. Did your developer design a site with a trendy design?
Everybody wants their website to look current, and being trendy is definitely one way to be current. But unless you plan to endure the expense of redesigning your site every year, it’s best to steer clear of trends.
Trends not only consist of the hottest photos, colors, and fonts, but also function. Do you remember skeuomorphism? That was a trend to make the design mimic an item’s real-world function. Buttons looked like 3D buttons. Backgrounds were made to look like actual desks. While it looked great at first, those ideas went away a few years ago.
5. Does your website use generic colors and fonts?
Years ago, there was a very limited color palette available for websites. The choices for fonts were even more limited. You probably remember when links were always blue underlined text. Websites today can use thousands of fonts and millions of colors. If you still have Times New Roman or Arial text, your site automatically looks outdated.
An outdated website frequently uses to use too many different colors in one space. Where bright reds and yellows were once the norm, the modern solution is to use a more neutral color palette…preferably one that matches your brand’s design.
6. Is “white space” used effectively?
Outdated websites frequently tried to stuff every available pixel with images or text. This caused them to look very crowded and noisy. They were also very difficult to navigate.
In a world where users want information quickly and easily, it’s important to give your content breathing room. “White space” doesn’t have to be white, but important content shouldn’t be crowded next to other content. Proper use of white space makes sites feel more pleasant and professional. It also allows your true message to stand out.
7. Do your images look like clip art or Word art?
Generic clipart images and pictures make your site look like a cheap or outdated website. Because of this, they greatly diminish your site’s overall credibility. If you don’t have a budget for custom photography, stock images are perfectly acceptable if they’re high-quality images. Just make sure you use properly licensed images that are the proper size and formatting for your site. Try to avoid pictures you see other places like superhero boy and generic business people. They tend to be more cliché than appropriate.
If you’re promoting a unique product or location then you really should consider having a budget for professional photography. If your site is an e-commerce site, professional photos are a must.
8. Does your content and navigation plan still make sense?
Over the past few years, you’ve probably added and deleted pages on your website. Maybe your business model shifted. Maybe old employees left and new ones joined your team. Over time, edits like these can wreak havoc on your site’s navigation. If there’s only one option in a menu drop-down, you don’t need that drop-down. Find a friend who hasn’t used your site in a while to take a critical look at your overall content and navigation. If they can’t find what you’re expecting them to find quickly and easily, neither can new visitors. It’s probably time to take it all down and sort it all out.
9. Can you update your content without calling a developer?
Modern websites are built on a content management system (CMS) like WordPress. A good CMS allows anybody with access to make these changes. You don’t need to be a server administrator or have any special coding skills to do this. WordPress allows anybody familiar with basic text editing to change content easily and quickly. Not only does this put content creation into the hands of the people who know your business best, it can save you hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars in developer costs.
Time to Level Up
When the internet was new, just having a website gave you credibility. But now every legitimate business has one. Taking a look at your website with fresh eyes will help you determine how your business stacks up against the competition. Your site should have accurate content, visual appeal, and be able to reach your target audience where they are. If any of the above items sounded like a familiar issue to you, then it might be time to think about a new website.