Having a functional website is a must for any business, whether you’re purely online or of the bricks-and-mortar variety.
As your business and user base grows, new products are released; or simply as time ticks on, you may believe that you need a significant upgrade or even a completely new website.
The time to upgrade your website shouldn’t be carried out by default after a certain number of months or years – it’s best done when you can capture an opportunity to either increase traffic, increase conversions, or better engage your users.
If an upgrade won’t achieve this then you’re wasting your time. If you’re building a new website and you’re trying to get more traffic but you’re going to lose conversion, then there’s no point. Your goal should be to keep each of these three metrics – conversions, traffic and user engagement – at the same level, or to get them to all move up, not down.
An upgrade or overhaul may be useful when your users start to grow out of your website. When you first build your site, you’ll eventually hit a point where you’re stuffing things in and hacking things together. This can translate to a website which is unwieldy and hard for users to find their way around, and may warrant a new template.
If you’re using a free blogging service for example, making the jump to your own hosting platform to enable you to better customise your site and serve your users may be a good idea.
Alternatively, if you’re using an out-of-the-box package and it’s no longer serving your needs, but there’s another out-of-the-box package that will, jumping ship might be the answer.
Once you’ve updated your website you can keep the template for as long as it meets the needs of your users. Potential reasons for upgrades after this might be to help automate some of your more time-intensive manual processes, to update any old technology you’re using that can’t be extended any further, or to gain a big speed improvement on your site.
If you’re continuously improving your website and rolling out new changes regularly then there’s little need for a complete overhaul. We’ve only overhauled our site, finder.com.au, three times in four years because of these incremental improvements.
Don’t fall into the trap of upgrading your site to match your competitors. Often businesses will introduce changes to their website which don’t actually have an impact. If you can prove a new addition they’ve made is having a measurable effect then you might consider taking it on board.
If you’ve decided an upgrade or a completely new website is the path you’ll be taking, you’ll need to decide if you’re going to outsource it or build it in-house. In order to make that decision you need to be clear on what the core competency of your business is. If a core part of your business is your website – in other words it’s the main revenue driver – then you should build it in house, if it’s not then outsource it.
You might have cases where it’s hybrid – where you might not have the money or resources to purchase a whole team to do everything in house. In that case I would bring the technology in house and outsource design. Technology will be something you should keep tweaking and improving, whereas the design can be maintained once implemented.