Steve Ohanians, Accidental Entrepreneur, Co-Founder, and CEO, WebEnertia
When you invest thousands of dollars (if not more) into a website design, you’re probably not thinking about when you’ll redesign it next. Well, you should be. A website is most effective when it is first launched. After the launch period, it begins losing its effectiveness. This quick turnover happens because culture, messaging, design and even digital strategy change at such a rapid pace. The internet evolves so quickly that digital strategies must be evaluated and reevaluated on a constant basis. Websites are the most critical component of any brand’s digital strategy, and marketers must consider the timeline of their website’s effectiveness.
I think about website effectiveness through the lens of science. Every website has a half-life. Think back to your high school chemistry class for a moment. A half-life refers to the time it takes for half of the atoms in a radioactive substance to disintegrate. A half-life in web design is the time it takes for a website to lose half of its effectiveness.
In my experience, the half-life of a website is about two years. Two years after you launch a newly designed website, it’s about 50% less effective than it was during the launch. Two years after that, it’s about 25% as effective, and it only decreases from there.
If you’re thinking to yourself that it’s too expensive or unreasonable to redesign your website every two years, let me change your mind. Here’s why a website is critical to the success of your digital strategy and what happens if you ignore it.
SEO efforts fall flat if a site isn’t optimized.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is one of the most important components of your website because it determines how people will find you. Optimizing your website for SEO starts at the beginning of the development process with the structure of web pages. From there, copy and design come together to communicate your core messages and values. Consistency across pages helps boost SEO, which in turn helps prospects find your brand.
But the SEO algorithm changes frequently, and you may need to change your strategy to keep up. If your site isn’t optimized for your most current SEO efforts, you’ll miss out on the opportunity to win attention from prospects and drive them to your website. SEO is both a long game and a short game. Successful SEO means that you plan for long-term growth, like with the development of your website, and you make small efforts each day to boost the effectiveness of your website, like the blogs you post on a regular basis. If you want your website to reach people, you have to be aligned with the current SEO algorithm, and that means adapting when it changes.
Outdated design impacts your brand image.
The life cycle of design is shorter now than ever before because the internet moves at a rapid rate. More people share more designs, which leads to more trends, which increases turnover.
If you haven’t updated your website in a few years, chances are the design is starting to look outdated. This can impact your brand image and convey the message that you aren’t current. Even further, if your website looks neglected, it demonstrates a lack of value for your customers’ digital experiences. The digital experience is everything in 2022 (and beyond), and every brand should prioritize their customers’ online experience.
Use the design of your website to bolster your goals for the company. Leaders know that goals change frequently—we adjust based on data, new ideas or learning something about our industry—and this must be communicated in your branding.
An updated website design can support your brand as you target specific audiences, convey a critical message or engage with your customers.
Content must be current.
When you think of content, do you think of social media or blog posts? These are part of the content equation, but your website content is just as important in your marketing strategy as social media and blogs. Here’s why: Content is the foundation of every digital strategy. It must be current.
If your website was designed three to five years ago, the copy and content on your site have likely lost their effectiveness. As I mentioned before, turnover on the internet is fast. You must constantly evaluate, add, subtract and rework your digital presence so that it reaches your target audience.
You could make small, constant fixes—update your design, sprinkle in some new copy, and implement a new strategy—to give your website longevity, but that’s going to be as effective as putting a Band-Aid on a broken arm. It’s a small solution for a big problem.
Instead of shuffling around design, content and copy to make things work, plan ahead for a redesign. Know that your website is a long-term investment and part of the ongoing process of cultivating a relevant, effective digital presence. Your website is critical to the success of your digital strategy. Don’t let it go stale.