What is the life expectancy of a website?

May 03, 2018

Funnily enough this is a question we don’t actually get asked much at the start of a new web build, but like any tool, a website’s design and function can and do become outdated and dysfunctional over time.

There are a number of factors to consider when planning for life expectancy and it is something that should be thought about at the very beginning of a web design project.

Web content

Website content is an ever growing process including new blog posts, new page content, newsletters, and imagery. Content drives most interactions on a website, it is what engages people, sends them further into your site, to become more emotionally attached to your brand.

Considerations for page content include SEO, as well as the process of your business, and perhaps even your business model and these may well change over time. Page content should not be a set and forget. Depending on how your page content is structured this may well be useful well into the future, and on building a new design and if your services and business structure remain the same you may well be able to pull your content across.

Historic content such as blogs and newsletters serve a number of purposes, they create engagement, they drive users to your site, and they can support your SEO efforts by targeting keywords. Content of this type has a long life and the value it has gained over the years can be transferred easily to your new design.

Content changes depending on your business and brand. Have you recently had a re-brand? Does you tone of voice need to change across your entire website? Has your business model changed? Has your broad focus now become more narrow? Does you content need to change within the framework of your current website?

Content needs to be as relevant as design when it comes to your website.

Web design

New web design is the driver behind most new web builds. Just like the clothes you wear, or your current hairstyle, web design changes over time and what was once cutting edge can become dated and old school relatively quickly.

Web design is driven by trends across other communications but is also fast becoming the trend setter rather than the follower. Magazine style layouts that were popular a few years ago have now given way to very big design.

Take for example Zara’s new website, it’s all about big. It is neat clean with large compelling imagery that has taken the lead from fashion mags but managed to successfully transfer the idea into a retail environment that would not be economical in print. Check it out: www.zara.com/au

Your web design is an interactive part of your brand. User experience (UX) and user interface (UI) are what make a web experience good or bad. Outdated UX and UI can severely hamper your brand ability to grow.

Your web design and how it affects your business will also be driven by what your industry as a whole is doing. This shift in a category is driven by incremental changes that become a trend. If your competitors are very forward in their design and you are not, what does is say about your brand?

Web design can be subjective but data (analytics) does allow you to compare user interactions and see whether the elements that worked 3 years ago is still working now.

Technology and mobile

A web design may still work years into the future but will it still work with technology? Mobile has completely changed the way web design is approached. Google penalises websites that are not mobile friendly, if you don’t provide a good experience you will lose pagerank.

If your website is not mobile friendly then you need to talk to a web developer immediately. Mobile friendly means a great user experience, not that it can be just seen on mobile. Changes in technology and how users interact with your website drives change more than most factors. If your website doesn’t work, and users can’t interact with it, then it needs fixing.

Changes in how search engines classify your website can severely affect its performance. Do you have an SSL? Google is looking to create a more secure internet and part of that is penalising sites that they deem not secure. After July 2018, your site may be marked as not secure, you can all about it here.

Design and content mean nothing if you are not keeping up with technology.

Actual data on when you need to redesign your website

Orbit Media came up with some compelling figures. After using the wayback machine and Alexa, they concluded:

“The average website lifespan is 2 years 7 months. Actually it was 2.66 years which is 2 years, 6 months and 27 days, but close enough.”

So what does this all mean?

There is no definitive answer, there are a lot of factors that determine the shelf life of a website but there are a few questions you can ask yourself about your website

Generally if you are thinking you need to redesign or re-develop your website there is a  good reason behind it. We hope that this brief overview gives you a clearer idea of the longevity of a website and when it may be time to look at a new one.

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