In the world of web design, there’s one fact that all designers know to be true: clients often have very different ideas of what qualifies as “good” than the designers who create their websites.
Some clients love their pre-existing design so much that they’ll staunchly refuse to change it, even in the face of burgeoning industry trends. Still others simply don’t know the difference.
Either way, the result is the same: outdated websites simply don’t perform as well as they possibly can. And that’s an absolute shame.
Why Modernizing Matters
Modern websites compete against some of the most popular website designs in the world; they need to be faster, easier to navigate, and better suited to the needs of their visitors in order to win. The wrong web design not only drags down those performance points, but may even result in delisting or sandboxing on Google search altogether.
That’s much easier to prevent than it is to fix!
Truthfully, neglecting to update your website every so often to keep up with trends is the equivalent of driving a car without ever changing the oil, adding coolant, or topping up your tires.
Sure, it’ll work.
But your performance will suffer, and worse yet, you’re likely to experience an outright failure or expensive maintenance issue at any time.
Your website, of course, doesn’t have an engine, doesn’t require oil, and won’t make loud noises to let you know there’s a problem. Instead, look for symptoms just like these.
Outdated Business or Personal Info
Whether it’s your professional website or business website, information usually changes over time. Your address, your professional portfolio, your telephone number — all of these should be updated to be current every three to five months at minimum.
Failing to keep these areas updated doesn’t just make your website look unprofessional; it will cost you cold, hard cash in lost sales and misdirected contacts.
Bad or Subpar Written Content
Bad or subpar content is a true website killer, but even the world’s strongest content can’t shine unless you present it in a way that’s easy to digest. And there’s just so many ways you can go wrong with your written content:
- Poor grammar.
- Bad writing.
- Inappropriate font size.
- Using scripts/decorative fonts.
- Huge text blocks without breaks.
- Failing to include plenty of whitespace.
- Burying content behind obtrusive ads/divs.
- Writing for ads and/or search rankings.
Understand that text content and web design may not be exactly the same, but they are intimately connected. Although your web designer probably won’t write for you, they do need to work with whoever does write for you to find a layout and style that makes your content digestible, easy to read, and easy to follow.
Without that, your content won’t convert or even feel engaging.
Outdated Web Technologies
All three of these technologies, while still in existence today, are heavily limited across the web by many browsers due to serious and legitimate security risks.
If your website still relies on outdated web technologies to manage visitors or present information, it’s time to step into the future. Not only are you not doing yourself any favors by keeping the status quo — you may even gain yourself a reputation for having an unsecure site from either Google or your visitors.
There’s nothing like a big, red warning in Chrome browser telling your visitors the site contains an unsupported plugin to dissuade people from taking action.
“Retro” Designs That Go Too Far
Retro is in! It’s true. Certain flat color palettes and styles do seem to pay homage to years gone by, and we’re seeing a return to simpler, minimal design trends. But “retro” isn’t the same thing as “just old,” and it’s important that you make the distinction between those two points if you’re going to utilize a retro design.
In: “Modern” retro. Minimalist web designs. Flat colors and elements, clean illustrations, simple animations, geometric shapes, subtle neon highlights, and occasional ‘90s video game/early computer tech references.
Wrong: Overly complex and confusing. Bright, clashing neons over most of your page, overly contrasted colors in even proportions, large swaths of HTML text and little else, glittery/multicolor gifs, aggressively bold animations.
No Mobile Optimization
Haven’t optimized your website for mobile yet? This is really no longer an option. More people now use mobile devices than those that use computers, and a lack of optimization makes it significantly harder for those people to navigate or interact with your site.
Worse yet, you’re significantly cutting down on the likelihood of organic social shares, as the biggest chunk of shares now occur through smartphones, tablets, and other devices.
The news isn’t all bad; it’s fairly affordable and easy to get the job done. Most web hosts integrate automatic customization into website builders. A web designer can whip up an optimized port for most websites, sometimes in only a few hours.
Contains Black/Grey Hat SEO
Just 10 years go, black and grey hat SEO was much more effective. Website owners could effectively shove a high density of keywords into their content and receive at least semi-reliable benefits. Link farms worked, link directories worked, and all you had to do to get noticed was set up your metas with keywords and you were done. Website owners used tiny text, hidden text, invisible text, and other unscrupulous methods to outlast and outperform the competition.
If you’re still relying on these or any other form of black/grey hat SEO strategies, stop now. Even if you’ve managed to escape the long arm of Google until now, you can (and will) eventually find yourself delisted for it.
Delisting is the website equivalent of deleting a saved game: you lose your progress, you lose your ranking, and you effectively have to start from scratch all over again. Depending on where you started, that could spell a significant amount of money down the drain.
Whether or not you need a full redesign to correct these issues will depend on how deep you were involved. Often, slight adjustments to your design or content is all you need that said, if a website still contains these strategies, it often still has other issues, too, and if you’re in deep, it’s best to start fresh.
Incredibly High Bounce Rates
You have plenty of visitors — great stuff!
But wait…there’s a catch. Your visitors seem to come by, then leave after just four or five seconds without ever clicking anything else. What gives?
This phenomena is referred to as “bounce rate.” When it’s excessively high, it means that your website and/or its design just isn’t providing your visitors what they need. Such a fact could be a result of poor design elements, bad navigation, confusing layouts, or even just not having the right information in the first place.
Consider this: you have about 10 seconds to grab interest when someone visits your website. That means the second they land on your .com, something on the page needs to encourage them deeper into the site without being pushy.
A bad website design certainly will cause high bounce rates, as will bad content, too many ads, aggressive anti-adblockers, NSFW content (unless that’s your purpose, and even then, it’s best to use a warning splash screen).The best way to lower that bounce rate is to determine what it is your target audience wants and then redesign your site to better provide it in the first place.
Forward-thinking web designers know just how important it is to have the right content, the right strategies, and the right web design all at once. If you can relate to any of the entries on this list, take action. Partner with someone who has the experience to lift your website up and make it successful once again. Whether you’re selling charcuterie meats or running a pet shop online, you’ll reap the benefits again and again.