Posted on Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 No Comments
The internet, like everything, has trends that come and go. If you let your website go un-updated for even a year or two, it will quickly start to look out of date. A website that appears outdated makes potential customers wonder if your business is outdated as well.
And it’s not only an issue of looks. Poorly maintained websites can slip into disrepair like an old building, and begin to lose functionality as software isn’t updated. Users start to see error messages or run into other problems that will cause them to leave the site.
Here are 8 signs that your website is outdated, and what to do about it.
Flash was popular for a while because it allowed web developers to create animated and interactive websites. Unfortunately, Flash development is expensive, difficult to update, and complicated for users because it requires multiple browser plugins to work. After the iPhone and iPad became popular, Flash went from being annoying to being unusable for a large portion of users because Apple’s iOS doesn’t support it.
SEO is also a major problem with Flash. Since all of the content is wrapped up in a Flash applet, none of that content is available for search engines to crawl. If you don’t repeat that content elsewhere, it’s as if you’re presenting Google with a blank page.
Fix: It’s really not necessary to try and wow your readers with flashy material. Just present clean, useful content related to your business. If you’re really interested in interactive content, try HTML5, which is now mostly supported by major browsers.
I see this a lot, even on professional websites. It might seem like a minor detail, but if your footer says “Copyright © 2012” when it’s the year 2014, that makes it look like your website hasn’t been updated in two years. And that makes it look like whoever runs the business doesn’t pay much attention to detail.
Fix: Just update it once per year!
Web design and graphic design can quickly start to look outdated. The life cycle of a digital design goes much faster than print design because updates can be done more easily. New trends become popular, and before you know it everyone has moved onto the new thing and left you in the dust.
There’s no hard-and-fast rule, but my recommendation is to overhaul your web design every two years. Make smaller updates whenever you can, but do a whole site refresh about every other year.
Fix: If you use a CMS like WordPress that uses themes, it’s easy to update your design. You can purchase a professional, modern theme for around $60, which saves you hundreds or thousands that you’d spend on a designer. You also save a ton of time since most of your design will work right out of the box. You can customize any theme with your own logo, colors, fonts, and content. You’ll even have access to the CSS and PHP files to make more advanced customizations.
This is how footers were designed up until about 2009, when it became popular to use three or four vertical lists of links and other content like your contact information and social media buttons. Some web designers get really creative with footers. Check out this list of 40 examples for inspiration. Other websites like Pinterest scroll endlessly, eliminating the footer altogether.
Fix: If you get a new website theme it will have a modern footer.
Some studies are suggesting that 25% of website views are now coming from mobile devices, and that number is growing.
Over the past few years, the solution was to develop a mobile version of your website that would exist alongside the regular version. That’s no longer necessary. You can use a responsive website design or theme that will allow your website to adjust itself to different screen sizes, eliminating the need for multiple versions of the same site.
Fix: If you’re using WordPress and planning on updating your theme, look for responsive themes. Don’t buy a theme unless it says it’s responsive. Any good theme should have a demo available, and you can test that on your phone or simply adjust your browser size downwards and watch how the design behaves.
If you haven’t updated your website lately, it might have inaccurate information. Phone numbers, email addresses, and other important data might have changed but your website is still displaying the old info.
Fix: Just update the thing already.
You might think that social media is just for teenagers, mindless chatter, and sharing recipes, but it really is important for your business to have a presence on at least one or two social media platforms — if for no other reason than it looks weird for a business not to be on social media, as if the owners are purposefully hiding or deciding not to participate with the rest of the world.
Fix: Identify which social media platforms work best for your business. Join one or two. Put those icons on your website and link to your profiles.
If clicking on a link leads to an error page, images are missing, or there are blank areas where something used to be, you have problems that need to be fixed right away. Not only do these kinds of problems frustrate users, it also makes your business look sloppy.
Like typos, minor problems happen occasionally and one or two can be forgiven as human error. But the longer your website isn’t maintained, the more problems will crop up, leading to lost customers.
Fix: This is just a matter of keeping the website updated on a regular basis.