The world of online business has changed dramatically in the past three to five years. For example, you must see the value in a mobile website design and if you don’t then by today’s standards you’ve lost. As a user experience expert, I recommend that you update your website every two to three years. In this post, I will describe why that’s the best lifespan for your website and how you can be most effective with the money you invest in an Agency or Freelancer.

Why should you update or redesign every two to three years?

Like technology, businesses evolve and change as well. If you are not keeping up with your audience your audience will leave you behind. There are a variety of factors that make a redesign for your website worth considering, here are some that almost always demand an update in my experience. The bounce rate on your website is high, meaning your website isn’t performing well or helping users convert; redesigning your website could turn that around. You’ve for whatever reason gone through a new branding overhaul and have new guidelines that need to extend throughout your website. You have new business goals because you have grown or pivoted your focus; redesigning the user flow of your site will help make that shift. Lastly and most urgently, you have received feedback from actual customers that your site looks outdated or that they can’t do something they want to do.

Through the years there have been some positive developments in user experience but those developments may require you to repurpose the valuable content you do have and redevelop everything from scratch. The really big one is a mobile first design for your business’s website. Let me describe what I mean, mobile first is exactly how it sounds, your website is designed with mobile experience first in mind. Why would you ever what to do this? Well, according to Zenith’s Media Consumption Forecasts mobile overtook desktop computers as people’s preferred device to access the internet last year, and that trend is forecasted to jump by 28 percent this year. “Seventy percent of internet use is now on a mobile, and the use of a desktop for internet will fall by almost 16 percent, this year,” says Bernard, Zenith’s head of forecasting.

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On average, people around the world will spend 86 minutes a day using the internet on their phones, compared to 36 minutes on a desktop, this year. Responsive mobile experiences are not new, it’s been around for 15 years now.

Yes, is really didn’t start making big waves until around late 2008 but in 2001 the digital agency Razorfish launched audi.com which used an adaptive layout that adjusted to the screen size the user was viewing the website on. When other businesses and designers caught wind of the difference this made in a user’s experience, a shift away from desktop e-commerce started happening more and more. If your site was built using Flash you need to rebuild your whole website because it isn’t mobile-friendly and Apple won’t allow it to be compatible with their devices. Just discontinue the use of any software that most mobile devices can’t render. Today, Google penalizes any website that isn’t mobile-friendly, which means any pages that are not mobile-friendly on your website get pushed down in their search results. Any competitors you have that do give a mobile-friendly experience to your users get a boost in their search results. This tells your users that they are more credible and are more likely to choose them over you. Don’t give your competitors an advantage, find a professional to update your website, now!

Don’t hire a developer to make changes to your website, your whole entire team should be able to easily make changes on the CMS or (content management system) you’re on. I highly recommend WordPress for this exact reason. WordPress is an open source CMS, which means it’s constantly being updated and refined. WordPress accounts for 18.9% of all websites in the world today and unless you have thousands of products in your inventory it would serve any needs you have well. If you do have a large inventory and you are looking to expand, I would suggest looking into Magento 2.

If your website is slow to load, that needs to be fixed immediately, people don’t wait online anymore. Site speed is one of the most important experiences you can give your users. Nothing personal but people have stuff going on and there are plenty of other websites that will give them a faster experience. Slow site speed can almost always be traced back to these four main reasons, large images, unnecessary code, flash, and embedded code. All are heavy for your site to digest if your website has a mixture of this, it’s probably time to consider a redesign.

You don’t have to spend the same amount of money every two to three years.

I know a lot of my clients hear me talk about a redesign every two to three years and feel overwhelmed at the cost. Initially yes, the investment should be priced at the value it is going to generate for the business in a year. If the website is maintained and consistently updated with new valuable content and user interface tweaks it can last for up to five years. The website should pay for itself within the first year it is launched, so an investment again in five years shouldn’t be that big of an issue from a business perspective. You should see the cost of the website be a third of the cost in the third year. It’s for that reason why I love this industry so much, it moves fast but it provides big results.

Five years is the maximum I suggest having your site up before you go through another redesign. The reason for that is simply that technology changes so much within that timeframe. Every year past the two to three-year mark (depending on your industry) is another year behind what your users have had a couple of years to get used to. A webmaster retainer with a professional will bridge the gap in technology but I would say that can only be done for so long until a redesign is necessary again.

Don’t get taken advantage of by an “Agency” or “Freelancer.”

I know that sounds obvious, nobody wants to be taken advantage of but just like other industries this one can be tricky to separate the pros from the cons. Some things for you to look out for include:

  1. Do they have a consistently updated blog?
  2. Do they have a discovery process?
  3. Are they making a good effort to communicate with you?
  4. Do they make suggestions and give detailed explanations as to why it’s best for your business specifically?
  5. Do you personally like the people that are working on your project?

A consistent blog is important because it shows you how up to date they are about their industry. This means that they genuinely care about their craft and want to establish themselves as a thought leader in their own industry. That matters to you because that means they will produce a website that is well thought out and most likely current.A discovery process is after the initial get to know you questions, it’s a consultative session that shows research about your industry, where you can start making an impact online today, and how your business goals will be brought up to date in web design. This discovery demonstrates how detailed the agency or freelancer actually is and how knowledgeable they are. If you don’t like the way the discovery was presented to you, don’t commit to the project, it’s the first demonstration of their work ethic and professionalism and if they don’t knock it out of the park they are not the right fit. A discovery process is after the initial get to know you questions, it’s a consultative session that shows research about your industry, where you can start making an impact online today, and how your business goals will be brought up to date in web design. This discovery demonstrates how detailed the agency or freelancer actually is and how knowledgeable they are. If you don’t like the way the discovery was presented to you, don’t commit to the project, it’s the first demonstration of their work ethic and professionalism and if they don’t knock it out of the park they are not the right fit.

A discovery process is after the initial get to know you questions, it’s a consultative session that shows research about your industry, where you can start making an impact online today, and how your business goals will be brought up to date in web design. This discovery demonstrates how detailed the agency or freelancer actually is and how knowledgeable they are. If you don’t like the way the discovery was presented to you, don’t commit to the project, it’s the first demonstration of their work ethic and professionalism and if they don’t knock it out of the park they are not the right fit.

Are they making a good effort to communicate with you? You want people who are great communicators because you want to know what is happening with your project’s progress, don’t you? It makes the process so much more simple if you can actually have a conversation with people and know that they are going to reach out and let you know when things will be completed.

Can they give you consultative advice and also execute their suggestions? I have worked with many clients who had been burned by agencies that didn’t really know what they were doing. The main reason why this happens is because those agencies/freelancers see an opportunity to make money by simply making a website and calling it a day. It’s much more than execution by today’s standards. If you are working with someone who makes you ever feel like it is just a website do yourself a favor and choose Squarespace or Wix they will probably be easier to communicate with and you can rely on it being tried and true. What makes User Experience Designers, SEO Strategists, and Marketing Masterminds different to work with is their ability to deliver consultation and execution that’s specifically tailored to your business goals. Those are the true professionals you want to work with!

Last but most importantly, do you like the people that you are going to be working with? Do they make you feel comfortable giving them your 100% honest feedback or do they have an ego about their work? Are they willing to bend but not break, meaning will they provide push back on any suggestions you make that won’t serve your business best or will they make a change to their work if you suggest something that would work better? The most important question to ask is, am I working with professionals that want to build a relationship with me because they truly care about my success?

It’s important to stay up to date.

Today, users can customize any experience they choose to receive for pretty much anything. Staying up to date should be an important factor in the equation of your success. Depending on your industry you should look into an update every two to three years. If you are working with professionals that you like, consider a webmaster retainer with them to maximize the profit of your website. Make sure you do your research on the people that will be working on your project, chances are if they have an updated blog and communicate well they will be great to work with. Creating a website isn’t simple there are a lot of moving parts to get it to perform the way you want, professionals make the process simple and easy to follow.

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