Website Design Lexington, Kentucky

Website Life Expectancy

A common, perfectly logical question asked about blogs, informational, and eCommerce websites

Website Life Expectancy

Published July 4th, 2017

This is an all-too-common question we get asked almost daily. When does my website need to be redesigned? How old is too old for my website? It’s a reasonable and perfectly logical question to ask your website designer. As a businessperson, you want to know how long your investment will last before it loses its relevance as a marketing tool.

In order to answer this we need to determine the type of website you have… or will have. Is it informational? eCommerce? Is it built on a CMS platform? Or is it a static HTML website that’s rarely, if ever updated?

Website Redesigns & Refreshers

In a lot of situations, the overall design of a website just needs a refresher. A refresher isn’t a full-on redesign. Think of it like new paint on an old car. It’s not a new car, but it makes it look newer than it is. The refresher isn’t something you do once. It’s a process that happens on a continual basis with a few small updates here and a few there. Refreshers include small updates to content, typography, and small color changes that have a subtle impact on the website.

A website redesign is the complete modification of a website in its entirety. In a redesign, the website's code, architecture, front-end design, and possibly even the CMS platform are updated to create a completely different website than the predecessor.

Types of Websites & Descriptions

Blog Websites

A blog is often about a specific topic or a series of topics that are closely related and typically built using a CMS like WordPress or Squarespace. Blogs pages are usually listed chronologically to display the latest information at the top of a given page so users see them first. Websites like this are updated regularly with new posts, category updates, home page data, and are what we call dynamic websites - websites that change when new data is added or when a user interacts with it.

Informational Websites

Informational websites provide information about a small business and its products and services. This is the most common type of website in the world today. It’s also the simplest to create and, generally, the most cost-effective for marketing purposes. A lot of informational websites are built using a CMS that allows administrators to perform quick updates to content and images given the demands and expectations every small business experiences in the 21st century.

eCommerce Websites

eCommerce has become the definitive growth factor for the economic expansion of retailers of all sizes. Today, you can get a basic eCommerce website quickly and competitively priced. Online stores are usually built using some type of CMS-based platform like WordPress, Squarespace, Shopify, or BigCommerce.

Depending on the industry and the number of products, eCommerce websites are updated semi-regularly with new sales, coupons, some content, products, reviews, and images. 10 years ago, the same website you could get today would be tens of thousands of dollars, and the functionality and reliability probably wouldn’t have been available then. The ease of use certainly wouldn't have been available.

We really hope you’ve redesigned your eCommerce website before it reaches the gray, ripe, old age of 10.

Dead Websites & Small Business Impact

Potential Client: “All this sounds great! What’s your website URL? I’d like to find out more.“
Company Representative: “Uh, yeah… we have a website, but you REALLY don’t want to see it.”

If you’ve ever heard someone say this, the person saying it is more than just slightly little ashamed of their website’s design. They honestly don’t feel comfortable showing it to you because it’s not updated or its design is just that bad.

Given that the company is unwilling to show potential clients their most common outlet for marketing, the website has started negatively impacting business. This tells potential clients that the company isn’t taking their business or their clients seriously.

After a few days and some research on the client’s end, the representative reaches out, and it’s very likely that the following scenario happens:

Company Representative: “Hey, how are you doing? I wanted to check in to see where we are.”
Potential Client:
“Sorry I haven't returned your call yet. You guys aren’t the company we're looking for. It’s the right product, but you're not the right company. I wish it could’ve worked out.”
Company Representative: “…”

All things being equal, the company's lack of a professional website was the factor that contributed to them losing the client. Don't let this happen to your company.

Life Expectancy by Website Type

Life Expectancy for Blog Websites

As functionality, social, and design standards become better, it opens up new possibilities for websites. The pressure to redesign becomes greater. Even though your website is built on a CMS that offers unlimited, automatic updates and security patches, that’s only the back-end. The front-end is what users see and it’s what they really care about. Your average user isn't going to view your source code to see how well your website's built.

In simple terms, say a user finds your post titled "Cool Web Design Trends for 2017". Your website shouldn’t look like something designed in 2010. It needs to reflect what you’ve written about in the post. It needs to be indicated that you know what you’re talking about. For this reason, it’s my professional opinion that your blog be provided with some much needed design love every 2 years to keep up with current design trends and improving technology.

Life Expectancy for Informational Websites

Informational websites make up the majority of the websites in the world. They’re used for small businesses and big business alike, and a good majority of them are built on a CMS platform for ease of use.

Every industry changes periodically, and some change overnight. Your business needs to be ready to compete with other companies offering similar products and services. The absolute, maximum time period you should hold on to that fresh 2015 informational website is 2½ years. You should be redesigning right about now, actually.

Life Expectancy for eCommerce Websites

eCommerce websites are hard to nail down. Their content is updated occasionally as opposed to blogs that are updated constantly and consistently. Since eCommerce is such a large factor for buyers (and sellers), these websites can often be created on platforms by SaaS companies like Shopify or Squarespace. Entities like these host your website and provide all necessary updates and security for them for as long as you're a customer. They also have decent theme libraries that allow you to make a starter website product that’s very quick to launch. These website’s aren’t custom by any stretch of the word, but they’re built by highly functional service providers on precise, dedicated servers for speed, security, and reliability.

For eCommerce websites, design is very important and needs to be kept up to date. There needs to be an aesthetic that makes you want to just buy things. You can't really put your finger on it, but we’ve all seen websites like that. We’ve even found the same product slightly cheaper elsewhere but still purchased it through the better looking website simply because of it was designed to enhance the user's experience. That said, we believe an eCommerce website should be redesigned every 1½ to 2½ years.

About the Author

Tim Raymer is a professional designer with 10 years of experience in the design industry. He holds a BFA in Graphic Design from Eastern Kentucky University. He is a design and marketing consultant who enjoys spending time with his wife, Meagan, and two sons, Atticus and Gaius.