A new shiny website is a thing of wonder. The bad news is that it won’t last forever. Over time the website will date and, if you leave it unloved for too long, become stale. How can you tell if your site is past its best before date and what should you do if it is?
There are three parts of a website that can mark it out as past its best; functionality, design and content.
Old fashioned functionality
Modern websites make use of a host of both custom and off-the-shelf functions. Navigation, dates and times, communication with other sites and pictures or video are examples of elements on a website that may make use of some functions that sit under the hood. Failure to keep this up-to-date can make the site seem out of touch or, worse, break altogether. An example here would be Adobe Flash. Once the go to tool for pretty much all sites, it’ll be phased out in 2020. If your site is still using this technology the functions that depend on it will stop working over time. While this is a pretty long term example it serves to show why you need to keep an eye on functionality.
An easy one to spot as soon as your site loads. This will have users running for the hills. Stale design is largely visual in nature but can extend to things like navigation as well. As new technologies emerge sites change and there is always a “must have” current look. While you don’t have to keep your site bang up-to-date, you can’t lag too far behind either. The good news is that a cosmetic overhaul of your site might not be too difficult as many CMS platforms allow you quick changes of theme. While it won’t be a single click neither will it be like starting afresh. Branding also needs a special mention here. Without over extending this post into the realm of marketing, you need to make sure your site stays on brand. If your brand is changing so must your website.
The day to day task of keeping your site fresh falls to content. All CMS platforms focus on allowing quick and easy addition and management of content. Generally content has a date attached so that visitors can see how active your site is. Users love fresh content and it’s also a really important part of your SEO strategy (Google search bots get bored reading the same articles over and over). While it may seem a drag to have to keep creating a wide range of mixed format content (words, audio, video and graphics) it’s one of the quickest and easiest ways to keep the site fresh, up to your next redesign cycle.
A lot of the work I do centres around maintaining sites so they remain a valuable asset to the owner. I’m always happy to take a look at an existing site and offer suggestions on how to revitalize it so please do get in touch if you’d like to make sure your site keeps its sparkle.