Website technologies are constantly changing. Design trends and functionality seem to have very short honeymoons and become Web standards in a matter of months. It’s not realistic or recommended to change a website every 10 months to simply keep pace with the latest trends. An investment in a smart, user-centered website should be able to carry a company for two to three years before a discussion of a new website needs to happen. If sites are properly designed and developed with the appropriate technologies, they should be able to stand a certain test of time regardless of your industry. That said, there are certain signs that indicate it’s time to take a hard look at your website and consider whether to embark on an updated website strategy.
Content management system (CMS) platforms have evolved over the past seven or eight years. Back in 2007, many websites were built on custom CMS platforms in-house or developed by marketing agencies. Two Rivers Marketing has a customer-built CMS that has been the base technology for dozens of websites and Web applications. However, in recent years many different CMS products have arrived on the market, positioning CMS as the foundation for millions of websites across the globe today.
A site that does not have a CMS as a management tool needs to be redeveloped. There is no reasonable explanation to have the need for a programmer/developer to make website content updates. Websites that do not have CMS framework are considered “hard coded,” and those became obsolete in the late 1990s and early 2000s. A CMS makes updates easier, saves money and has dozens of other associated benefits that contribute to online marketing success. If your site is not on a CMS, it needs to be.
Even if your website is on a CMS, it may not be the right one. CMS platforms need to be “right-sized” for the technology needs of the business. We see sites that are pushing the CMS beyond its capabilities, and the result is poor performance and recurring issues and breaks that won’t end until the site is deployed on an appropriate platform. On the flip side, we encounter sites that are fairly simple but have been built on an expensive, robust CMS that is overkill for the Web application it is supporting.
For the last few years, any Web development should have been programmed with responsive design. This approach reformats your website to accommodate for mobile devices, so the user can maintain a good user experience regardless of how they visit a website. Shrinking down the desktop version of the site is not good enough.
Responsive design has eliminated the need to develop a secondary mobile site on an independent “m.” URL. Proliferation of smartphones and mobile surfing makes a responsive website a must-have. Our agency is heavily involved in business-to-business (B2B) industries; our clients’ site analytics prove that on average, site traffic via mobile is a significant percentage of the user base. Additionally, there is not one client we have come across that has not seen significant year-over-year percentage growth of mobile traffic versus desktop. Regardless of your industry or market, it is imperative to have a website with a responsive design.
This is a subjective but important aspect of ensuring the website is performing to its potential. In the hallways and around the water cooler, is the website a topic of conversation? Is there recurring chatter such as “I wish our website did this,” or “I wish our website did that” or “Our competitor’s website blows ours away”?
People inside your organization are very good barometers of your own website. Employees tend to be very honest about the company website, and oftentimes the website is not protected under the guise of political correctness. Employees visit competitor sites. Employees see things on websites that they identify are missing or are poorly executed on their own company’s website. Oftentimes the newest employees are the best sources for feedback because they have likely taken a deep dive through the website and can give a true user perspective on the experience.
There are many areas that could trigger a discussion about a new website, but these three are the most basic, fundamental signs to consider. You don’t need to redo your company website every six months. But if you don’t have a CMS, responsive design and general acceptance within the organization, the time to evaluate plans for a new website is today.