November 7, 2017

Lifespan of a Website

Some things never change. But that doesn’t apply to technology, and it certainly doesn’t apply to  websites. Websites created today look nothing like those created 5 years ago. The landscape of technology and websites has changed, rendering many older website designs obsolete.

When asked about the typical lifespan of a website, you’ll likely hear us say, “Well, it depends.” We’ve found the typical website lifespan is 2-4 years. According to a recent study of marketing websites, the average website lifespan is 2 years 7 months. While this study was focused on websites of medium and larger businesses, considering the lifespan of a website (specifically, yours) is good for a business of any size.

Multiple factors contribute to your website’s life expectancy. Some are related to changes in web technologies and visitors’ expectations or perceptions.  Others have to do with changes in your business or industry.  Here are some things to consider for a business of any size; in any industry or market.

Design standards

Fonts – Web-safe fonts used to be very limited. Now, thanks to platforms like Google Fonts, designers have more typography options to make a website unique and current.

Elements – Websites have cycled through various standards such as gradients, drop-shadows, and beveled buttons. Now flat design is “in”. Other design elements such as footer size, menus, page layouts, imagery, video integration and prominent Calls-to-Action have also changed.

Current 'best practices'

Fast loading – Google seems to have a hand in everything related to the web. They say, “Jump!”, and we all ask, “How high?”. In an effort to improve user experience, Google has speed requirements and penalizes sites that don’t load quickly. So, Google says, “Load quickly!”, and we ask, “How fast?”. A fast-loading website is a current best practice and you should take note of the load-time of your website.

Functionality – Updated programming can increase functionality, affect usability and accessibility, and enhance the user experience with your website. Changes in technology or a substantial shift in ‘best-practices’ are also markers that an upgrade or redesign is in order.

User devices change

Monitors – Remember the days of using a single, CRT (cathode ray tube) monitor? (If you’re too young to remember those…….well….I just don’t know what to say.) We know those days are long gone. Users now have large, touch screen, high-resolution LCD (liquid crystal display) monitors. As these devices improve, it may negatively impact an outdated website.

Mobile devices - Having a mobile-friendly website is not an option; it is a necessity. Responsive design displays your website based on the size of the user’s device. If your site isn’t responsive, it’s like a dinosaur – it not only looks old, it’s harder to use on a wide range of devices. Also, Google ranks websites using their Mobile Index. So, if your site is not mobile-friendly, it won’t rank well in search results.

Your business changes

Growth/Change – Businesses are like living organisms, growing or changing. If the main message of your business has changed, it should be reflected on your website. It’s also important to consider your industry. If your industry is talking about things differently today than they were 3 or 4 years ago, you may need to adjust your message; and that means keeping your website current.

Competition – What are your competitors doing? If they have recently redesigned their website, they may have an advantage over your business. Potential customers may view those businesses as more qualified, experienced or dependable. A redesigned site may also offer more convenience – it may be easier for a potential customer to do business with someone else.

Here’s the bottom line

If your website is outdated, the perception of your clients may be that your ideas and business practices are outdated, too.

Your website needs to be:
  • fast
  • mobile-friendly
  • user-friendly
  • search optimized
  • content-rich
  • and, it needs to look good
Your website ages when technology, your business or your visitors change. Keeping your site current and relevant is important and sometimes that means making the decision for a redesign.

Encore Web Works provides custom website design & development, web application and online business system programming. We design, develop and manage all of the components for custom web systems for organizations of all sizes.