Is Your Website Over The Hill? How To Know When It’s Time For A Makeover.

Your website may not be sprouting gray hair but it could very well be showing its age in other obvious and not-so-obvious ways. It’s common for businesses to immerse themselves in building a website then “finish” the project and move onto other things.

Once upon a time when it was “cool” just to have a website, this might have been ok, but if you’re not keeping your site current with technology and customer needs then you’re losing a marketing opportunity.

It’s our philosophy that a website is never truly “done”, it’s just somewhere on a path that’s part of your overall marketing strategy and it should grow and evolve as your business does.

So what are some of the telltale signs that your site is starting to wither and could use a good update or even an overhaul? Here are a couple of good places to start looking.

Your Website Is Too Old If It’s Built In HTML 4 Or Any Other Dated Standard

Check the source code of your home page. The very first line of code is the <DOCTYPE> which will tell you what language your site is written in, whether that’s HTML 4, XHTML Transitional, Strict or something else. With HTML 5 on the horizon and soon to be the new accepted standard, anything pre-XHTML is simply too old. Why? Because browsers have changed, search engine standards have changed, technology has changed, and your site is still built on outdated code.

This can cause a loss of functionality, improper display in browsers and difficulty getting your site indexed properly by search engines. If your site is using old code, it’s time to update it and make sure it’s working properly on modern platforms and with modern technology.

Bonus tip: if you look at the source code of your site and the DOCTYPE is not in the first line, your site may or may not be old but it’s definitely built wrong.

Your Website Is Too Old If It’s Built In A Table-Based Layout

Ready to view your source code again? Scan it for a bunch of <td> tags. If you see line after line of <td>, <th> or <tr> tags and there is no price grid or comparison chart on the page to warrant a table, then you need a makeover.

Tables are meant to hold tabular data. That is, anything that must be displayed in rows or columns on a page. In dinosaur days tables were also used to create structure on a page. Your logo went into the top left cell, your navigation in individual cells beneath it and your content into a big cell in the middle. But CSS has long been the preferred, and correct, way of defining layout.

It not only gives you the ability to create a much more fluid and unique design but it defines the structural and semantic meaning of a page as read by browsers and search engines. If your site is built based on a table layout, it’s time to give it a CSS overhaul and make sure it’s both displaying properly and being consumed properly by search engines.

Your Website Is Too Old If It’s Designed To An 800 x 600 Resolution

Before widescreen monitors conventional wisdom instructed us to design sites to a screen resolution of 800 pixels wide by 600 pixels high. This guaranteed that anyone on any monitor would be able to see the full width of the site without scrolling right to left, and to see your key information “above the fold” without scrolling down.

That was then. Now, 800 x 600 is almost obsolete as a screen resolution. We bet if you look at your website analytics you’ll see only a tiny percentage of people viewing your site at that resolution, if any. What that means is that the rest of the population is seeing your site as a small rectangular block with a whole lot of empty white space around it.

Why does this matter? Because you could be taking advantage of all that space to showcase your products, advertise your services, incorporate a stand-out call-to-action, or engage customers with video or other interactivity.

Bonus tip: if you don’t have analytics on your website, it doesn’t matter whether your site is new or old because it’s just a waste of your time.

Your Website Is Too Old If It’s Built In Flash

Even if you built your site last week and it’s in Flash, it’s already too old. And by old, I mean incompatible with current technologies and standards. Flash was a great way to add motion and interactivity to a site when motion and interactivity were new and cool.

But with the advent of video, J Query, JavaScript, CSS and a ton of other options, Flash is unnecessary. And if you care about your search engine ranking, it’s detrimental. Plus it’s inaccessible on two of the most popular mobile devices in use today – the iPhone and iPad – and that can negatively affect your market presence.

Use Flash to create unique and specific effects if you must, but get your site out of it immediately if it’s your entire platform.

Your Website Is Too Old If It Looks And Works The Same As It Ever Did

Even if you don’t have any of the previous problems, if your site hasn’t been updated, upgraded or redesigned within the past 3 years or so, it might as well be granted historic preservation status. The internet moves at lightning speed.

The possibilities for marketing and growing your business today weren’t even a dream ten years ago yet so many business sites are exactly the same as they were built ten years ago.

At the most basic level, you should be updating your site to create the perception that your company is part of the modern world. A little rust is charming on an antique chair but not so much on your website. Dated graphics, old-school navigation and use of space, 1999-style glows and embosses – these things set an emotional tone and give customers either a conscious or subconscious impression that your business can’t meet their current needs.

Beyond the perception you create (and isn’t perception 90% of the battle?) if you haven’t updated your site recently then you’re not offering customers anything new, interesting or innovative to keep them coming back. If you want your website to be “sticky” you’ve got to give people incentives to stay, and a site that is old and stagnant is no incentive.

Your Website Is Too Old If You Haven’t Gotten A Contact Form Response In Six Months

If you have a contact form on your site and nobody has contacted you, this is a triple warning sign. No communication means your site is: (1) not inspiring people to contact you, (2) not showing up in search engines anywhere where people can find it to contact you or (3) not working and you’ve missed out on messages from people who have tried to contact you.

One way or another, if you want people to contact you and they’re not, it’s time to rethink your site and step up its marketing.

If your site is too old you could be losing customers or simply not growing your business the way you could be.

Take a good look at some of these warning signs and if you suspect that you’re not getting value out of your site, it’s probably time for a makeover.