While we would be the last ones to comment on someone’s age, we do comment on website age – all the time.
So why are web developers always yapping about website age? In the web world, things like web design, functionality, and SEO best practices change often. Here are a few reasons website age is important…
- SEO mandates
Some of our web clients care more about this than others. Like all things web-related, web design changes over time. Just three years ago, we were still building websites that had the page-on-a-background design! GASP. Can you imagine? That’s almost like wearing last year’s Prada on the red carpet!
Now you can spot new web design because it spans the entire width of the device it is displayed on. Now instead of homepages with long narratives, we have features and sections that break up the page and enable the user to find what they need quickly. We have parallax features that scroll with the webpage. Fancy!
What can you do to update your design? If you are a do-it-yourselfer, can log into your website and update the theme (if your website is using one). You can add fresh imagery. You can sometimes find plugins that will help with your site design. If you decide to give your website a bit of a facelift, just be sure you create a backup first in case the theme or plugins you choose don’t play nicely with your existing site.
Google estimates that about 63% of searches take place on a mobile device. How is your website’s user experience on a Smartphone? If the website is not responsive, you can almost hear the whoosh of visitors leaving your site. If your website is responsive but has a bad user experience, your visitors will also flock to a competitor with a better user experience.
What can you do to make your website mobile friendly? If you have a website that displays as a whole page on a mobile, and people have to increase the size of the page to read it, there isn’t much you can do but rebuild the website.
If you have a mobile-friendly design but it delivers a poor experience, you can play with the homepage configuration a bit so that it better aligns with your prospective clients’ buyer journey. Giving them the right message, at the right time, creates an updated user experience.
Functionality is at the root of most of the conversations we have with our clients when it comes to aging websites.
Websites are typically built with components (unless you are paying tens of thousands of dollars for a super custom website). These components (themes, plugins, widgets) are programmed by developers as the latest and greatest way to incorporate specific functionality and design into a website.
Over time, those components are sometimes abandoned by the developers who built them in the first place. When this happens, the parts start to create conflicts with the rest of the site. This can lead to mildly annoying glitches, or it can lead to full-on crashing of the site.
What can you do when this happens? There are several Band-Aid approaches you can take. You can disable the part that is causing the problem and try to find the new, shiny version. You can set up your website platform so that it doesn’t automatically update. You can try to back up to an older version of your website. Trouble-shooting can be a pain, it can be time-consuming, and it may or may not work. You may luck out and find a forum around the issue you are having with instructions on how to fix it.
Most of these measures do not allow for a sustainable fix. When the technology of a website starts to fall off, it may be time to consider building a new website or hiring someone to do it for you.
Many of us in the web development landscape are beholden to the mighty Google and its lengthy list of SEO best practices. There are technical, content, and the more ambiguous “user experience” practices that must be applied for organic ranking purposes.
Proper SEO is part art and part science. Load times and SSL Certificates are examples of technical SEO. Information architecture, keywords, blogs, and GDPR compliance are examples of content SEO. Now Google is placing more emphasis on “user experience” by updating machine learning to determine user intent.
What can you do to see if your website has old SEO practices? You can run an audit of your website. You can get a digital assessment. You can Google your specific question and find answers on how to best update your website’s SEO. If your website is otherwise in good shape, you can contract with an SEO specialist who can make suggestions toward improvement.
Sometimes these changes may be minor, like creating a new blog page. Maybe you just need to update or add to the content on your homepage. If your site is 3-5 years old, you may have such a spaghetti mess when it comes to best SEO practices that you may want to start from scratch.
We train our web clients to use the software that their site is built in, so they don’t have to spend time and money having us do it (although we’re happy to when called upon to do so). It’s why we use the most intuitive software and web builder on the market.
That said, I have been hearing a lot lately from potential new clients that updating their website is a complete pain in the neck. They can’t find where to make their updates, and if they do, performing updates is difficult. Once the update is made, oftentimes it doesn’t display correctly.
This often happens when the functionality we discussed earlier starts to fall off. Pieces and parts of the website are no longer supported and updated, so they don’t function properly. Nothing is more aggravating than just wanting to update one sentence on your website and not being able to!
So what’s to be done about it? In this instance, you don’t have a whole lot of options, unfortunately. You have to continue to suffer with what you have, or you can consult with a professional to see if they can help improve methods for updating your website. Just be sure if you do the latter, that you get an estimate of time and materials first. You don’t want to spend a pile of cash for a temporary workaround if a new website build is imminent.
Technology always ages
Technology ages – quickly. The good news is that technology is always developing and improving, the bad news is that newer technology can cause conflicts with older technology. If your website is glitching out, has an older design, doesn’t look right on a mobile, and is frustrating to update, it may be time to update or rebuild your website.