Every now and then, you hear some folks comparing websites to cars – they can cost a good bit to develop, need regular maintenance, and eventually need to be replaced with a newer model. There may be some truth to the comparison, though of course a car is a depreciating asset that costs you money in the long run, while your site should be making your business money.
So how do you know when it’s time to trade in your existing site for a newer model? After all, it’s not going to leave you stranded on the side of the road or have a “Check Engine” light come on. Instead, here are some objective and subjective factors to review before deciding to sign off on a redesign.
1. Your design feels dated – This is usually the most obvious sign that it’s time for a website redo. 81% of people in a recent study of 1,013 US adults think less of a brand with an outdated site, and 39% think twice about buying when a site looks dated. While some sites designed 5 or 7 years ago may still look professional, new design trends and consumer preferences have probably conspired to make your site look its age. Funny what we thought looked good in 2011, huh?
2. Your content is old – While it may be pretty easy to take time and refresh the text on your site, if you haven’t touched it in years, chances are very good that you haven’t freshened up your site design either. Older plastic surgery websites tend to have longer paragraphs of text and not enough feature blocks, white space, and interactive elements to help users easily find what they need.
3. User interaction is down – A dated design won’t immediately affect your site traffic, but poor engagement stats could eventually lead to Google rankings declines, which definitely will affect your traffic. Heed the early warning signs by keeping an eye on key interaction statistics in Google Analytics, such as pages per visit and % exit rate. If users are leaving your site and not engaging with it like they used to, they’re sending the signal that it’s not a place they want to be. An improved design with richer content can change that.
4. Search engines ignore you – Google’s in the business of delivering its users exactly what they want. If your site looks outdated, the navigation is hard to use, and the content is boring, people who visit won’t stay long. And Google will take that into account as one of many factors in its ranking algorithm. It turns out that doing right by your site visitors can keep you in Google’s good graces – who would have thought!?
5. You dread making updates – Just because your site is built in WordPress or a similar user-friendly CMS, that doesn’t mean it will be easy to update. Additional plugins or features may have been added over time, requiring more steps to accomplish simple text or image edits. If your site is in a one-off CMS, that tool may not have been regularly updated over time, and creaky, old code may be making your job of web updates a real nightmare.
6. Your images feel outdated – Using stock photos is a necessary evil for most plastic surgery websites – you’re unlikely to have enough real patients willing to be photographed to show on your service and procedure pages. Your photo selections may have felt a little cheesy when you first made them, but they can be downright embarrassing now. New imagery that looks more real/natural, use of high-quality video for features and backgrounds, and fresh before/after cases will encourage users to stay on your site longer, giving you a better chance at lead conversion.
7. Your website isn’t responsive – Hard to believe, but even today with 60+% of traffic coming from mobile devices, we still come across sites that don’t display well in mobile or that have a very dated mobile interface with limited functionality. In 2019 it’s just not acceptable to force visitors to go to your “desktop site” for a full experience. Plus, Google has implemented “mobile-first” indexing so if you don’t have a stylish and easy to use mobile experience, you are falling way behind the curve.
8. Load times aren’t instantaneous – Many older designs, if they’ve been maintained and updated regularly, will still be able to load quickly to meet user expectations. But in some cases, a slow site indicates outdated or poorly written code, and may be an indicator that you need a more comprehensive refresh.
9. Your site is “static” – No, we’re not talking about the fuzz you’d see on an old TV when the cable went out. By static, we mean not interactive. Your pages load with images and text, but there are no animated design elements as users scroll the page, interactive features encouraging a consultation, or (tasteful) pop overs that offer something valuable for users.
10. Your branding has changed – Your site has to embody your brand. If you’ve remodeled the office, changed your logo, or freshened up your offline marketing materials, make sure your online presence (both your website and other platforms like social media) stays in sync.