Not everyone wonders what is, in fact, the duration of a website. And they should. You should. Because the validity of your project resides, in great part, on the efficiency of your website in the long term.
Will it be up and running for how long? Does the site drive conversions? Also, does it address current audience in the present? And will it address audiences tomorrow? These are valuable questions that might drive your website (and business) to success, now and in the future.
Andy Crestodina gives an appropriate, facts-based answer to such questions regarding the life span of a website.
Why do some sites register short life spans?
- Business is out of the market, in part due to carelessness regarding their online presence and the online potential. This, in turn, reflects on the website decline.
- The site is simply out of trends, due to carelessness for design. And yes, trends change, according to evolutions in a broader context: access to website from all screen-size monitors, rise of mobile search, mobile-first approach, etc.
- Sometimes, there’s only a problem of adaptation to the latest business message/brand image/business communication type. If you leave it so, the website will soon get outdated.
However, you have the solution for any of these issues: redesign. In a previous article, we extensively wrote about website redesign. If you’re curious, visit the page and learn if you need to apply incremental or radical innovations to your website.
Besides design, consider pages content when planning to increase your website life span.
Also, to intervene in and extend the life span of your website, you need a good site management system. You can try Colibri, for free. Keep reading, to find out why Colibri is a good option for backing up a long website life span.
Tips on how to extend the life span of a website
Have a broader view of the diverse factors entering the equation
Current and future trends
Trends refer to consumption behavior, wellness level, general beliefs, competition, marketing, etc. It’s important to place your company/blog within a larger context, and see the big picture. You need to know the current trends and be able to make some predictions of future ones. For this doing, you need a sound routine of staying informed.
With as much data as possible, test your website validity against the above-mentioned factors and see if it resists all possible counterarguments.
Evolution of the industry you’re in
You need to focus on the specifics of the industry you’re in. Keep an eye on its evolution (where “evolution” doesn’t necessarily mean “increase”). You need to know the market well, who your potential customers are, if it’s a fragmented or monolithic industry, etc.
Here again, you have to stay informed. When it comes to data and information related to your industry, there’s never too much.
Remember two core directions: know your audience, and closely watch your competitors.
Mission and role that your company plays within the industry
Never lose track of your mission within the industry. You define a role that your company plays within the industry, and this should drive your activity over time.
Also, the mission shouldn’t drastically change over the years. That’s why one recommendation for websites content refers to clearly stating the company’s mission, in the About Us page.
The company role has to be:
- and provable through products/services.
In defining the mission, you need to be as specific as possible. Many companies have generic formulations that have lost their value, due to heavy overuse.
Company team profile
Some companies choose to dedicate a page in their website to the team presentation. Each team member has their name, their photo and a brief description. It’s an inspired way to introduce the company to its audience.
The team page contributes to creating a team profile, which in its turn, speaks volumes about the company type:
- young, innovative, agile
- well-established, reliable
- creative, risk-taking
- trustworthy, tradition backed, etc.
The team profile also opens up new communication possibilities, as people might directly contact a certain team member, or just get to know them better.
These are highly important for a company and have to be presented to users. The website is the main means to transmit that your company has the solution users want, and it’s worth choosing you instead of the competition.
They directly relate to your unique value proposition, and might be part of it, in the website message. It’s your competitive advantage, the strongest argument why people should choose you, instead of your competitors. In stating your pluses, strive to be persuading, and reflect authenticity through your message formulations.
The website validity “goes hand in hand” with the business validity into the market
Besides the assets you currently has, you should keep an eye on gathering new assets and secure your growth as a business. And this should reflect in the website pages. Every time something new has been added to the business, don’t hesitate to mention it in the website.
It’s incremental changes you need to make to it, and it might yield results: the results will be translated into more pageviews, more leads, trust and authority in front of your audience. An ever-developing company is a trusted source you can rely on to buy products/services from, right?
Continuously develop expertise
We know you started your website as a person with a solid expertise. But does your audience know it? They need to be convinced. So prove it through facts, figures, projects and past/current clients. These data might, even should change over time, so do your best to keep this information updated.
Moreover, as trends, industry, company profile are subject to change, you should consider developing your expertise. You need to add new valuable data and insights. And you should think and do this before reflecting it in the site. This way, your business growth is secure, which justifies the website presence and updates. Also, the website reflects some facts (you’ve already got engaged in continuously developing expertise) and ensure authenticity.
Watch online behaviour (your audience’s and others, at large)
To keep up with changes in the online, you have to keep an eye on the online behavior. It might be yours (as a testing method), it might be your audience’s (as Analytics data shows it), or it might be web surfers at large (as market research studies show it).
Then, you should adapt the website design, UX and communication to the online behavior of your main audience. No need to reinvent the wheel, or make faster improvements than audience wants it. Keep the pace with your target audience, and you’ll ensure users get your website message.
Continuously sustain strong relationships with your alpha audience
Either on the website or on additional channels (like social media), you need to maintain communication with your alpha audience.
The alpha audience are your strongest supporters, your fans. And you should keep communication with them “alive”. That is, communicate with them in real-time, giving all details they need to spread the word around about your business.
Address the current, real (not “created”) needs of the audience
To make sure your message makes people tick, it has to respond to some needs. It must be your audience needs. You cannot know these needs before you clearly define your target market and your audience.
Also, it must be real needs, not “created” ones, because your audience doesn’t need invented needs, beautifully crafted for them. They know well your product is good, or your service is trustworthy and solves their problems, without extra communication efforts. They’ll understand your message right away.
Make the website modular and easy to receive changes
Make it modular, to easily apply changes to it when needed
To make incremental changes or switch to a different design, you need to build your website on a modular structure. This way, when it’s time to redesign, you don’t have to change the platform or code the site was initially built with. Which takes us to the next point…
Choose a flexible platform
To make a website modular, you need to choose a flexible platform from the very start.
What exactly does that mean:
- You need a platform that has as many options as possible. You might want to choose red instead of black for the CTA buttons, or you might want to use a different shape divider, or a new typography for your text content.
- Likewise, you need a platform with many features. Even if you don’t need them all now, you might find them useful in the future, for changes to the initial design.
- Also, you need a platform that’s easy to learn. If it has plenty of features and many options for each of them, you also need to find a way to learn how to smoothly navigate the tool and put it at work. Better, instead of finding the way yourself, it might intuitively guide you to the appropriate features/options.
- Don’t neglect this: you should select a tool that’s in constant development. Make sure there’s a team behind the product, working for updates to the website builder and striving for the best.
Consider online behavior and analyse your website from a UX perspective
Something more about the above-mentioned online behavior: knowing the online behavior reflect (or should reflect) in the website design. Therefore, consider your website design from a user-experience (UX) perspective and make the necessary improvements, accordingly.
UX implies generally formed habits (such as clicking on the company logo in the right left corner of every page, to return to homepage, finding a menu in the right upper part of the pages) and intuitive navigation within the website, to name a few.
Don’t lose track of your website performance
Poor site performance might be a good indicator that your website needs redesign. Hence, it’s important not to lose track of the website performance on a monthly and yearly basis. You can make comparisons of present and past performance of the website, to identify decreases, hence flaws in your website design and website sales funnel.
Expect necessary changes oftener than in 2 years (to keep an agile approach)
To get the rapid pace at which the online medium changes, you’d better develop an agile approach: expect your website design need changes oftener than in 2 years. Thus, you’ll be prepared to change this or change that in the website, while things change, as your business grows.
Last, but not least:
… when you decide to create a website, expect it to be a long-time value for your company. Give your website the life span that you want. It depends on your vision for the company in the future, how you imagine its integration within the market, your industry and the overall trends. This is an important factor that drives success on the long term. And long-term business success triggers a long website life span.
You can adapt the website to new market realities by gauging the design, UX, message, communication style to the market audience and your market particularities.
The best approach is to first resort to incremental changes and update the site on the go, if no external factors impose a major shift. Only when minor additions and changes seem to affect the clear site structure, decide to completely change the design. This minimizes the costs of redesign.
After reading this article, you should be informed and ready to start/update your online website. In both cases, you should have found the vision and determination to confidently run your business and brilliantly reflect this in your website.
As the website consists of your company identity, your expertise and authority in the industry, as well as your company development course, you have to consider making it a point of strong communication with users. The users of now might be your leads, and clients of tomorrow, or fans in the long-term. And fans will support a long life span of your website, no matter how many changes it has to undergo.