Most websites, no matter how well designed or built, will need an upgrade or redesign at some point, to ensure their relevance and effectiveness as a marketing and sales tool. A lot of businesses that have been around for more than 5 years have probably experienced a website redesign and understand its impact. According to research the average lifespan of a website is 2 years and 7 months, which for most of us is surprisingly low. Particularly as it is a significant investment in terms of money, time, and effort.
At Forte, we like long-term relationships, and one of the things we do to make this happen is to design and develop quality websites with a longer lifespan, but more importantly, websites that evolve and grow with the business’ needs.
While good visual and technical design will set the foundation for a successful website, there are tools, techniques and other factors that help us prolong a website’s lifespan and go beyond the 2 year average.
Choosing the right framework
Selecting the appropriate framework is crucial for long-term success.
We have a long-term and open relationship with WordPress (we also work with Shopify, Webflow, Joomla, Umbraco and everything in between – that’s right, even Wix). With more than 20 years of experience with the platform, we know it from top to bottom. We understand the plugin and theme ecosystem, its capabilities, and its constraints.
We have a selection of premium plugins and libraries that allow us to build functional and solid websites, while also allowing us to easily evolve and extend a web platform’s functionality, without needing a full redesign. A solid and robust framework could help facilitate the decision between starting from scratch or just updating the front-end, back-end, navigation, or content structure.
Plan an intuitive navigation
We have said it many times: user experience plays a significant role in the success of a website. And we take navigation very seriously, defining it early in the web development process.
Planning a clear and intuitive navigation structure allow visitors to find the information they need quickly and effortlessly. You don’t want users to start clicking on pages or opening submenus trying to guess where the information is.
By setting up a well-structured and clear navigation system (header, footer, internal links, breadcrumbs, etc.) visitors receive the guidance and help needed to lead them towards creating sales or leads.
And while inconsistent navigation could be the reason to start a redesign, the good news is that in a lot of cases, it is an issue that is not difficult to resolve, which could extend the lifespan of a site.
Regular website maintenance
Regular website maintenance is essential for keeping a website functional, secure, and up-to-date.
This includes updating core files, plugins, and themes, fixing broken links, optimising images, and monitoring website performance.
It is not a secret that staying on top of plugin and theme updates seems like a never-ending task. There seem to be updates available almost every day, and while you don’t have to be running these constantly (we can do it for you), it is recommended to keep them up-to-date at least weekly or monthly.
By staying proactive with maintenance, businesses can prevent potential issues that could reduce the website’s longevity.
Plan for change
As Heraclitus said: the only constant in life is change.
One of the most common reasons for a website’s short lifespan, or failure, is a lack of planning. And while you can’t plan for everything, you should approach a website build strategically and be ready for change. Some features that might not be relevant for you today, could become a key tool in the near future.
You might not need a blog today, but perhaps it is something you may wish to enable in one year or so. Your sales strategy might not need a lead generation tool but could be needed for a future marketing campaign. Email marketing may not be the way you reach clients today, but it could be a new channel you use in the future.
While you don’t need to build a website that does it all today, you can definitely plan for the future and by using a modular CMS, you can facilitate these tools without needing a redesign.
Establish a content strategy
You can’t control the market or what users want, but you can certainly adapt to those external conditions. Visitors go to a website with the intent of completing a task and trying to find the right piece of content that convince them to convert.
Content freshness is a critical factor in website longevity. Keeping a website up-to-date by reviewing and updating existing content, removing outdated information, fixing broken links, and adding fresh content, will keep visitors engaged and encourage search engines to crawl the site frequently.
At Forte, we build websites with that in mind. We have encountered many businesses that can’t update their website’s content or create new pages, without the intervention of a technical user. Instead, we like to build sites that are not only friendly for visitors but also for content administrators.
Building a website is just the beginning; ensuring its longevity is an ongoing process. By following these key factors, including regular maintenance, updating plugins and themes, planning intuitive navigation, implementing content strategies, choosing the right framework or CMS, and planning for change, you can increase the lifespan and success of your website. Remember, a well-maintained and optimised website not only attracts visitors but also helps achieve your business goals in the long run.