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Should You Update Your Website? Look for These Signs.

Many companies update their websites to accommodate a new look, revisit messaging, or upgrade functionality. But even great-looking websites eventually need a tune-up, an overhaul, or a complete rebuild. That's because even the best websites can eventually develop many hidden problems.

Websites are online technologies; like all technologies, they have many evolving components. Those components must integrate with search engines, social media, plug-ins, email, and other digital properties. That requires a lot of continual updates. Just as smartphones eventually become outdated and slow, websites also age.

Sometimes, a simple tune-up or minor update can fix the issues. In other cases, a complete overhaul or rebuild may be necessary to meet changing user needs and technology advancements. Whatever the case, investing in website maintenance and improvements is critical to ensuring the long-term success and sustainability of any online business or organization.

Even with a talented team of web programmers working on your site, some elements can eventually transform into insurmountable obstacles that require a do-over. Here are a few common reasons to rebuild from scratch.

Slow Site Speed

Site speed is a core ranking factor, meaning search engines monitor how fast each page on your website loads. They rank fast sites higher and slow sites lower. Unfortunately, slow site speed also results in a poor user experience and makes accessing your site via mobile less enjoyable.

Some speed issues can be addressed with maintenance. For example, suppose your website's PageSpeed Insights score is below average. In that case, it's sometimes possible to improve website speed and performance by optimizing images and videos, reducing server response time, minimizing HTTP requests, enabling caching, and compressing files. Other times, the only effective way to improve site speed is to rebuild.

Wonder how fast your site is? Check out Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. If your score is below average, it's time to start working on your site.

Incompatible Programming

Many websites combine programming, CMS formats, hosting platforms, add-ins, and plug-ins. Most of those elements are continually updated to keep working. But sometimes, one or more details are not updated. Depending on how important that element is to your site, it could mandate a rebuild.

Often a business wants to add specific functionality to the site, but if the format or plug-ins are dated, they may not integrate with new tech. All sites eventually suffer from dated technology. That's why it's reasonable to plan to rebuild a new website every three to five years.

When planning a website update or rebuild, evaluate the website's current strengths and weaknesses, user feedback, and the latest web design and development trends. These analyses will help a new or updated website meet marketing and functional needs while delivering a satisfying user experience.

Poor User Experience

A bounce rate reports the percentage of site visitors who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page. Often those visitors are on the site for mere seconds. When a site's bounce rate is consistently high, it's time to reevaluate the user experience. Why are customers leaving so quickly?

Sometimes slow site speeds are to blame. Other times, dated design, confusing navigation, or outdated information cause the user to leave. Sometimes, just too many clicks are needed to get the customer where they want to be. An updated or new site should make getting to the good stuff fast and easy.

User experience can be improved by providing an intuitive navigation structure, optimizing page loading speeds, reducing the number of clicks required to complete actions, providing relevant and up-to-date content, and using modern and responsive design.

Lack of Responsiveness

Responsive design, the ability of a website to format onto a desktop, mobile, or tablet, is a critical element of modern website development. All good websites must seamlessly resize and adjust to fit different screen sizes and resolutions.

Responsive design eliminates the need for separate mobile and desktop versions of the website and provides a consistent and optimized user experience across all devices. However, older websites may not be programmed with responsive design in mind and, as a result, may be difficult to read or navigate on different platforms.

In such cases, updating or rebuilding the website may be necessary. A website’s responsiveness is a significant component of user satisfaction and affects search rankings. So, if your outdated site is not responsive, it may be time for a rebuild.

Incompatible Code

Over time, as more and more changes are made to your site, old code builds up. Sometimes this code stays neatly in the background. Other times, it gets in the way and confuses programming. As updates are made, and new features are added, a site can accumulate a trail of inconsistencies in the underlying code. Eventually, programmers find that making changes is complex, costly, and a little bit risky. As a result, the site doesn't always react as intended.

Sometimes, it's possible to eliminate incompatible code. More often, it gets archived, where it may eventually become an issue. Of course, every web developer will deal with some degree of incompatible code during web development. Still, if it's a constant problem with consequences for the user experience, it's time to rethink the site's format.

Plug-In Overload

Plug-ins are a common source of incompatible code. Most CMS platforms, such as WordPress or Shopify, support the use of third-party plugins. However, not all plug-ins are entirely compatible. Sometimes they work well together initially, but updates or upgrades cause compatibility issues over time.

When a site uses more than seven or eight plug-ins at once, it becomes less stable, and it may be time to think about rebuilding.

Google’s Core Web Vitals

Core Web Vitals are Google's listing of the elements most important to user experience. They quantify key aspects of site quality, including load time, interactivity, and content stability as the site loads. The Core Web Vitals report also checks mobile-friendliness, HTTPS security, and intrusive interstitial guidelines.

If your site is not ranking highly against these measurements, it's often possible to fix them. However, sometimes repairs require a more comprehensive approach, and it makes more sense to rebuild with all of Google's preferred parameters in mind.

Rebuild or Reprogram?

User-friendly websites are critical to business success. A good website can improve user experience, increase website traffic, and enhance the overall performance and effectiveness of the website. If you're considering reprogramming, redesigning, or rebuilding your website, contact Cup O Content to learn how we can help you build a site that people and search engines love.

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