Getting a new website made about every 3-5 years in basically inevitable for any business staying ahead of the curve. Technology moves on extremely fast, design and UX trends change, marketing strategies evolve. Particularly for smaller business, the general expectation is that you'll get about 5 years out a website, but in our experience, most people are shopping for the next website after about 3-4years - often sooner. And that means a new initial outlay, new expectations, part of your team focusing outside of your regular business, and often looking at new providers.
If you could extend the life of your existing website, then you could save a lot of money and hassle, right?
So what can you do to add the 20-40% (or more) to the longevity of your website? How can you ensure your considerable upfront cost isn't going to be redundant before you want to afford a new one?
We have some ideas on this, because at Kindleman we focus on having less clients, but keeping them longer. That way we can give better value for money (and spend less time networking!!)
Go back to the beginning of your relationship with your web agency.....Do you remember how much time was spent understanding your business?
in my opinion, this is where the longevity starts. Putting your business specifics in the mind of the right digital strategist means your initial plan is going to be more thought through. That planning phase is where the nuts and bolts of your business are turned into the reality of features and structure in your website. If those aren't right, you WILL be chasing your tail or remaking aspects further down the track.
Plan it right upfront, and you'll save money and have a tool that will last the distance.
Know what's important, and innovate that.
We've recently worked with an ASX-listed company. Their company has a cool but small product-range, and their business is strong. We've put all the bits and pieces for a great website in place, structured well for their business and with some innovations that will help them sell more product.
But there's some web basics that they've decided they should change or remove - against what we recommended - and it will likely have to be changed back later.
The point is - you don't need to innovate everything. Unless you're a cool new blogging platform, you don't need to re-invent blogging. You're better to spend your budget on the things that make your business unique because that's why people will choose you over your competition.
Don't bite off too much too soon.
Particularly with very unique offerings, you should start somewhere small and focused, and then grow.
We started off our good friends at FlexCareers with a considered Minimum Viable Product (MVP). After testing the waters, they realised some of their assumptions were incorrect, and that their clients and users had their own requirements of what Flex should be. Their clients needs guided their decisions - which made them more relevant - and they were able to offer those services to all their clients. That's well-spent money which frees up budget that could've been wasted on assumptions. Which means your website is focused and specific - and why change something that's working?.
Almost any website consists of a visual layer and a functional layer. If you've done steps the above well, then the business and subsequent technical function of your website is probably outlasting the more cosmetic visual design aspect.
Re-skinning is changing the visual layer - so the website looks different with the same functionality. And in many cases and reskin is a far more budget-oriented approach, particularly with eCommerce and more-specific functional website.
We recently re-skinned TAFE NSW eCommerce bookshop. The remake of that website would go easily into 6-figures, but a mobile-responsive reskin was perhaps a tenth of the price and has breathed another 3-4 years of new life into the website.
Some very popular technology platforms are going to hinder the life of your website. Much of the problem is their popularity in that they attract easy-implementation tactics so people can DIY. This also attracts hackers and makes the websites hard to manage.
You should ask questions about why a particular technology stack has been chosen - such as the main coding languages, the CMS, front-end framework. Do some research on the different aspects - such as how active its community is, how long the CMS has been around, and what big websites have used the platforms. If in doubt - give us a call - happy to give some advice.
Maintain it, and it will last forever.
The most important aspect we've found is that the websites that are kept maintained don't really need to have a use-by date.
Most CMS and framework platforms maintain a code-base that you can upgrade to, you can incrementally improve user experience - visual aspects and usability.
Maintaining like this, you make incremental spends managed by someone internal in a portion of the their week.. They don't need to be removed from their day-job for the big rebuild.
Don't get me wrong, we love a new website, but it's a big undertaking for everyone. You CAN extend the life of your existing website, and when you do, you're saving time, effort and $$$.
Give us a shout if you'd like to have a chat about it.