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How frequently should you update your website design?
We’re often asked by clients; how frequently should they overhaul their website’s design? And they don’t mean a subtle refresh or simple changes in content, but a complete redesign. Our answer… the average is 2-3 years.
Perhaps that’s an overly-simplified answer.
The real answer is probably more like…it depends. Many factors will shorten or lengthen the lifespan of your web design: The technical savvy of your audience, the frequency with which they visit, the complexity of your site, the amount of content that would need to be retooled, etc. Also, your site may not be the hub of your marketing efforts (though most websites are today). So the time frame of 2-3 years is only an average - but it is fairly common.
Sites today often employ content management systems (CMS), which allow content to be updated frequently, keeping the site fresh and current. This can lengthen the viability of your site design.
Web designs can also pull from or link to external resources to augment their content and further user interaction. Sites can contain blogs or discussion forums or even build self-contained social networks through sites like Ning. Or you can deploy sourced video or link out to branded sections on such sites as YouTube, Vimeo, or Revver. Interactive content like this can also extend the time your site design remains viable.
And of course, if your site has been designed recently, it probably relies on CSS to stylize its content and structure. This can allow quick “mini-refreshes” to the overall look and feel of your site. And these quick site enhancements and updates can keep the site looking new and current for quite a while.
But more often than not, in 2-3 years you’ll be looking to redesign your website.
It’s a fast-paced world, and rebranding offline and online happens at a more frenetic pace than in decades prior. Attention spans are shortening and media options fragment each and every year. So it’s often required to retool a site design even before it’s desired to keep your customers feeling you’re keeping pace with the industry and your competitors. In today’s connected world, the mere appearance that you’re not moving forward can become an online rumor and propagate rapidly, tainting your brand image. Forcing you to expend energy countering the misconception that you’re stagnating.
So when asked, “how long will this new site be viable?” Two to three years is our answer. Then when our client recollects themselves, we go on to to explain in more detail, that it could be longer….but that it could also be shorter. And it’s better to be prepared than to be taken by surprise. Needless to say, they appreciate our candor, but they don’t always accept the reality. But in 2-3 years they usually do.
May 17, 2009
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