A web design firm, a creative agency and a software vendor walk into a client’s office. The client asks, “How often should we redesign our website?” The agency replies “every two years.” The software guy says “every five years” The web designer says…
This isn’t a joke. I was actually in this meeting. There were eight people from four companies in the room. My answer at the time was four years. My standard answer has always been 2-5 years, depending on the industry. But that’s a big range.
Since then, we’ve done some research to really answer the question…
We took the top 200 marketing websites according to Alexa and looked them up in the Wayback Machine. We looked at the design and structure of each site over many years, and we determined the interval between major website redesigns for each site.
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.
About this dataset: First, we were honored to find our own site on the list. You’re reading one of the top 200 marketing sites right now! Also, note that these sites tend to be medium to larger businesses with marketing-focused products and services.
Surprised? We were. I expected the timeframe to be in the three to four year range.
But ask any expert about website lifespan and I promise you they’ll all say the same thing: “it depends.” But what does it depend on? Let’s look at the reasons why a website lives a long happy life, or gets old fast.
These are the main factors that determine how fast your site ages. Some are related to changes in your business. Others are about changes to the web and in visitors’ expectations.
Ask yourself each of these questions counting yeses and nos. The more time you answered yes, the more likely your site is showing its age.
Try this: pretend you are a potential lead or customer. Search for your product or services. Seriously, press pause on this blog post and go take a look! What did you see?
Your potential customers see those rankings and those websites many times every day. While you are reading this, at this very moment, someone is looking at those search results and those websites.
Old and new in that context. It’s all relative.
There are ways to take months or years off the look of your website. Here are a few tricks to reversing the aging process:
Caution: If you’re planning a redesign within a year, don’t invest a lot in your current site. The value of any change is relative to the cost. See our Guide for Prioritizing Website Changes for more info.
Ever heard someone say this? They’re so embarrassed of their web design that they don’t want anyone to see it. They want to hide their most important marketing asset. At this stage, the website is actually hurting the business.
This is the end. It’s time to pull the plug.
When you, your business or your visitors change, your website ages. It’s old as soon as it’s out of sync with your business and is not getting you those measurable results. Keep it as young and fresh as possible, but be ready to make the tough decision to redesign. And when you do, think ahead as far as possible.