Your website is on life support and you either are unaware or do not care. Either way, it is time for you to review your website and update it. We are running into outdated websites on a regular basis, usually because these same websites start to experience declined measured performance and our clients want to know why. This peaked our interested, so we did a little research that led us to the terrific article by Andy Crestodina that sums up the life expectancy of a website and why? The article is a bit dated but the insights and recommendations still apply.
What is the average website lifespan? 10 Factors in Website Life Expectancy
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 at 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…
What is the average lifespan of a website?
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. It was 2.66 years which is 2 years, 6 months, and 27 days, but close enough.
About this dataset: 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.
The 10 Website Life Expectancy Factors
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.
- Has the main message of my business evolved?
- Has my content strategy changed? (I’m now doing more publishing, events, promotions, etc.)
- Has my industry evolved? Are people in my business talking about things differently these days?
- Am I in a design- or technology-related industry? Times change faster for these businesses
- Is my site keeping up with design trends? Modern sites tend to be streamlined into a single column layout. They present less information at each scroll depth, with larger images that often fill the screen. The trend is toward more video and more prominent calls to action.
- Does my site look great on phones and tablets? If your last redesign was 6 years ago, it’s possible that most of your visitors are using completely different devices today
- Is my site hard to update? Content management systems have improved. We should have higher expectations for easy updates. These days, it should be fast, free and easy to make most changes to the content on our websites.
- Have my rankings and search traffic declined? Unless you are actively promoting your website, rankings tend to decline over time. A redesign can reverse the trend of declining search traffic through a new key phrase focused sitemap, with new pages targeting new phrases.
- Is my conversion rate declining? Visitors’ expectations keep increasing, so unless your website keeps improving, conversion rates tend to decline. A redesign can reverse the aging process through a new, conversion-optimized design that exceeds visitor’s expectations.
- Have my competitors recently redesigned? This is the big question: What are your competitors doing? Let’s look…
Age is relative …to your competitors
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 look! What did you see?
- Who is ranking?
- Are their sites newer than yours?
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.
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.
We frequently write about the speed of change in business and, more specifically, marketing. We write about the change due to necessity in the posts about Lowe’s Home Improvement, QR codes, PR and so much more. The rate of change in marketing and the tools we use is remarkable. Now is the time for you and your business to review your digital strategies starting with your website.
There is a difference. Let us show you.