bad-websiteYou’ve spent a lot of time and money getting your website to the place it is today. It’s years in the making and you’ve added all of these neat features, like a page view counter, and some fun clip art that you’ve spent a lot of time aligning with your content. Oh! Remember that animated GIF of a fish that’s on the about page? It’s so awesome! You spent a lot of time on that! Remember how much fun you had building it? And don’t forget the “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” MIDI you have auto-playing once you load the page.
To be honest, your site resembles that of the late 90’s era (yes, that’s a long time ago… I don’t want to say you’re old… but I don’t have a better word for it.) If there’s ever any question that your site needs an update, the answer is, “OMG, YES!.”
My reason for this post comes from a car accident I was recently in. No, it wasn’t a life’s revelation as I teetered on the edge of life and death. It was the fact that I took the driving school course to get out of the ticket. I used the online version, which I thought was going to be new and intuitive since, I thought, this was a relatively new thing.
I guess it was overall pretty easy, but I wanted to stab myself by the second exercise… not to mention I found an easy way to “cheat.” The first thing you should look at is the URL.
It’s true that websites become outdated pretty quickly these days and some delay with the times is expected. (I imagine that IE users have to be used to seeing some amount of messed up webpages… I didn’t say that.) But you have to realize at some point that this is your company’s image… probably in most cases, the main identity of your company. You can spend tens of thousands of dollars updating your office space and print material, but none of that’s going to matter unless you update that ancient website.

Why Should I Update My Site

Besides keeping up with the times, there are so many benefits to updating your website:

  1. Viewer retention and engagement: No one’s gonna want to spend any amount of time on your site if it looks ancient. Certain things were OK back when you started work on it, and maybe even cool, but a good clean site with a fresh feel is going to keep them engaged and coming back.
  2. Consistency in brand and content: Again, random “wow factors” may have been cool for your GeoCities page, but today you need your imagery to match your content. To take that a step further, you need your imagery to jive with your brand and you need your brand to be consistent with itself. Drop the cool random images and create an idea of imagery that can be carried out in a consistent manner. Maybe your brand has changed. I run into this a lot where there’s a complete disregard for updated branding and old logos or colors are tossed everywhere. It’s not OK!
  3. Use new technology: Trade in your “wow factors” that you were proud of 10 years ago for new and exciting technologies that not only give you that wow, but also comply with your brand, make things easier on you, and give your viewers that engagement that you should be looking for. There are so many new things out there and most are open source. A good example is a CMS (Content Management System) which allows you (or the people that give you content) to update your content without having to upload or do crazy developer stuff.
  4. Mobility: Mobile sites are what’s in, now. I guess it sorta depends on the nature of your site (not much, though), but if you don’t have a website that behaves nicely on both a desktop machine and a smartphone …and there’s no plan to have one, you might as well cash out your stock and start looking for another job because that business is going nowhere.
  5. What the Flash: Sorry Adobe, but Flash is not an optimal web plugin anymore. It was cool probably six years ago, and your site almost needed it. Flash eats your CPU and sits like a blob on a pedestal and watches the rest of your running apps suffer. The best thing now is the use of JavaScript animations and, if you can swing it, HTML5… Please don’t use Flash.
  6. Too much content: Yes, you can have both too much content and too little content. In the past one of the main problems was that people were tossing out sites that had almost no meat in them and it was embarrassing. Now, one of the main problems is the lack of control of your content. Just stop. If there’s something you want to add, rip something else out. Viewers will lose interest fast if they get intimidated by the amount of content. Simple is more attractive.

That’s only to name a few big ones. There are so many more reasons to update your site. But the answer is always yes. If it’s a complex web application, look into rebuilding it so that it can be easily reskinned when the time arises. If it’s a blog, get into the theming community. My point is, whatever type of site you have, and for whatever reason, it’s only going to benefit you to give it a refresh.

The Horse’s Head Concept

This is really just a thought that I passed on to my mom when she was complaining about people texting and smartphones. It’s a little out there, but I think it’s a very relevant concept. I believe I read it once in one of those encyclopedias (if you remember those) when I was in Jr. High. I can’t cite anything because I can’t remember exactly what it said or even where I read it. But this is my thought on how the story went:
redesign-your-site“In the early 1800’s when human innovation gave birth to the internal combustion engine, it was hard for people to accept this concept of a “horseless carriage” and the sales and advancement of such devices were struggling to take off. One of the main excuses was that, ‘if it’s doing this complex motion using forces that I don’t understand, it has to be the work of THE DEVIL.’ Soooooo, the solution for that was to start cutting the heads off of horses and mounting them on the front of these carriages to set peoples’ minds at ease.”
That was the last time my mom said anything about it and now she’s texting me. It’s awkward as all getout and it does kinda scare me that she’s talking about getting a Facebook… but she realized that change is inevitable and we’ll be left behind if we don’t accept and move with it.
Soooooo, don’t keep putting bandaids on your ugly site. Refresh it and give your users the experience they deserve. Think about what we’ll have to resort to if people won’t move forward with the times.
One last thought is that I recently saw quote from Rear Admiral Grace Hopper of the US Navy (who was a computer scientist): “The most damaging phrase in the language is: ‘It’s always been done that way.'”