10 Signs Your Website Needs an Update

Katharine Paljug - Small Business Writer

by Katharine Paljug - @kpaljug
on Mar 8, 2016 

If you have a business you -- hopefully! -- have a website to go with it.

And if you have a website, at some point you will find yourself wondering, is this site okay the way it is?

Is it doing its best work to support my business and grow my profits… or is it time for an update?

That question can be a hard one to answer if you don’t know where to start looking. That’s why we’ve rounded up ten of the telltale signs that your website is due -- or perhaps overdue -- for an update.

10. It takes too long to load

When you head to your website, how long does it take the page to load?

A couple seconds? Four seconds? Ten seconds?

Waiting a few seconds for your website to load may not seem like a big deal to you, especially if you’re used to it. But for first-time visitors, or those who have not yet developed any loyalty for your brand, slow load times are incredibly off-putting.

How off-putting? Well, at four seconds, about 25% of visitors will give up waiting and close your page. At six seconds, nearly 30% will. And at ten seconds, close to 40% of visitors will close your website and look for another company.

When visitors abandon your website because of slow load times, if affects your bottom line. Don’t lose sales that you don’t have to -- consider a redesign to improve the speed of your website.

9. It doesn’t work well on mobile

One of the biggest reasons that websites are slow to load is because visitors are looking at them on mobile devices -- and the websites are not optimized for mobile. Just as bad is when the page display is distorted or difficult to navigate when it loads on a mobile device.

If your website design doesn’t take mobile into account, you’re behind the times. In 2015, over 80% of web users owned a smartphone, and over 50% of web browsing was done on mobile devices.

And all those mobile users expect your site to work on their device. If it doesn’t -- either because of slow load times, distorted display, or non-responsive design -- you could be losing customers. To keep up with the times, and keep attracting customers, it’s important to invest in a website design that adapts for mobile users.

8. You’ve got a high bounce rate

Not every visitor that comes to your site will stick around to make a purchase. But if you are losing high numbers of visitors before they make their way through your sales funnel, that usually means that there’s something about your website that visitors don’t find helpful or engaging.

A typical bounce rate is around 60-70%. Under 50% is excellent. Over 80% is worrisome. If you notice a bounce rate of over 75%, it’s generally a good idea to think critically about updating your website.

It could be that the design isn’t visually appealing or that the layout is difficult to navigate. It could be that your copy fails to engage or is riddled with errors. It could be that your sales funnel isn’t clear and that visitors are getting bored and lost along the way.

Whatever the reason, if you have a higher than ideal bounce rate, it’s time to sit down, figure out where things are going wrong, and start making some changes to your website.

7. It still uses Flash

If your website still uses Flash, then it’s time to face the sad truth: it is severely outdated, frustrating to customers, and terrible for your SEO.

Search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing no longer read Flash, so using it on your website lowers your search engine rankings and cancels out much of the search optimization work you’ve done. Many mobile devices, such as iPhones and iPads, do not support Flash, so you’re losing out on all those mobile customers.

Even on desktops, having Flash on your website usually requires visitors to download a new plugin in order to read it properly, which slows down their experience and increases the likelihood that they’ll give up and head to another website. Not to mention, Flash is increasingly vulnerable to hackers and security breaches. If you’re website still relies on Flash, it’s time to consider and update, for you, your customers, and your bottom line.

6. You’re not ranking on search engines

Google, the standard around which all other search engines adapt, regularly adjusts its algorithm to change what gives the best results for organic (unpaid) search.

If your website is ranking lower than you would like on search engines, or if your rankings have changed drastically in the last year, it could be because your content follows old best-practice methods of SEO, such as using too many keywords or backlinks, or relying too heavily on meta-descriptions.

If you want to improve your search rankings and give your organic, on-page SEO a boost, it’s probably time for an update to your copy. Depending on the age of your content, this could mean a few strategic tweaks, adding in a blog, or doing a complete copy overhaul to get the best results.

5. The navigation is confusing or redundant

If your site has been around for a few years, chances are, you’ve made some changes to it.

Maybe you’ve added pages, or taken some away. Maybe you put in a sidebar, took it out, put it in again. Added a dropdown menu. Used tags on posts, then stopped using them.

All of these are perfectly normal things to happen in the course of growing a website and a business. But if you don’t keep an eye on them, they can begin to make your website navigation confusing, difficult to manage, or downright useless. And navigation that is difficult to use can drive visitors away -- while easy, clear navigation can dramatically lower your bounce rate.

Website navigation should be simple, understandable, easy to locate, easy to use, and a little bit intriguing. After all, you want visitors to keep exploring your site! If your navigation doesn’t draw them in and make using your website easy, it’s time to think about making some updates.

4. There’s no clear sales funnel

The purpose of your website shouldn’t just be for visitors to find and look at -- it should prompt action from them. It should pull them into your sales funnel.

A sales funnel is just like an ordinary funnel -- it guides visitors swiftly and clearly through your sales process, turning them from leads into customers into loyal users. If your website isn’t part of that process, then it’s not actively contributing to your business.

Does your website have dead pages with no links or buttons? Does it lack a call to action on every page? Does it guide visitors from one page to the next? Do you know what you want visitors to do when they land on your website?

If the answer to any of those questions is “no,” your sales funnel is suffering -- or potentially non-existent! It might be time for a few changes to make sure your website is supporting your business and driving up your revenues.

3. You’ve changed your brand, message, or audience

If there’s one thing that holds true about every business, no matter the industry, it’s that they are going to grow and change over the course of their lives.

A business that once worked directly with individual clients evolves into a source for courses and guides. A company that served a specific county expands to serve the whole state. A brand that only sold wholesale begins to sell directly to consumers.

There’s nothing wrong -- and in fact there’s everything right! -- with a business growing and changing. But if your website doesn’t change along with you, then you are losing business and revenue that you don’t have to lose.

Potential customers are going to come to your website, assume you can’t provide what they’re looking for, and go elsewhere. Or worse, they might not find you at all, because the search engine they’re using doesn’t know about your changes either.

If your business has undergone significant changes in the last few years, it’s time to take a critical look at your website. Does it reflect those changes? If not, you need an update ASAP.

2. It’s been more than 2 years since your last update

When you get caught up in the business of running a business, it can seem easiest to leave your website alone to do its thing.

But if it’s been more than two years since you last made any changes, it’s time to start paying attention again.

Search engines love new content. Websites that are regularly updated and have new content added frequently rank higher than static sites. (This is one of the best reasons to include a blog on your site!) And having new content doesn’t just make a good impression on search engines; it also shows visitors that your business is active, available, and ready to work with them.

Plus, if you’ve been neglecting your website, the odds that yo’ll see one of the first 8 signs listed here are high -- and that definitely means it’s time for an update. After all, your business hasn’t been stagnant for the last two years; your website shouldn’t have been either!

1. You’re not satisfied with the way it looks

But the biggest, most important sign that your website needs to be updated?

You aren’t happy with it.

If you don’t like how your website looks, or you feel embarrassed by it, you aren’t going to give out the URL when people ask you for it. If you like everyone else’s website more than yours, it’s going to start to impact the way you feel about your business as a whole.

When that happens, your website stops helping your business and starts hurting it. And when your website is working against you, that definitely means it’s time for an update.

Trust us -- your business will thank you for it.


Wondering if an update, or in some cases a full-scale redesign, is really worth it?

Wondering if your customers even care?

Then you should probably check out this study from CEI which shows that 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a better experience. That means that updating your website to make it cleaner, easier to use, and more intuitive, won’t just make your business look good -- it can actually increase your revenue!

That means you can’t afford to let a subpar website hold your business back.

It’s time to take action today. Spruce provides affordable website design for small businesses.

Affordable website design
Katharine Paljug

Katharine Paljug

Writer and blogger, helping you be online better. Morning person, tea enthusiast, and oxford comma supporter. Find her on Twitter as @kpaljug.


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