Eight Reasons Why Websites Are Retired Early
We redesign a lot of sites here at Monkee-Boy. Shoot, we love making the internet a better place and stamping all of the crappy websites out, one at a time - it’s what we do. With each inquiry, however, we learn about the reasons why a business is looking for a reboot and, sadly, most are not happy stories.
The good news is that there are lessons to be learned here, so we've captured the top reasons websites' lives are cut short, and in most cases, ROI is unreached. Hopefully, these lessons learned can help you get a little bit more out of your investment.
1. Compliance problems
With 2015’s ”Mobilegeddon,” the foundation of website development was shaken, and those stragglers who had not upgraded their site to have a mobile-friendly counterpart started to suffer the consequences of being shunned in mobile search results. ~60% of our current projects (as of 2018) are prompted by a lack of a mobile experience and a growing decline in traffic, conversions, and possibilities.
A lack of quality mobile experience is not the only "compliance" issue that is justifying redesigns, however. In specific industries like finance, non-profits, and government, we have seen a sharp uptick in the number of clients seeking redesigns. Due to a lack of security, Section 508, and the new GDPR compliance regulations in the EU, organizations are getting pushed to meet the grade before getting penalized.
Helpful Hint: Remember to bring any compliance requirements to the attention of your digital partner as early as possible. This will allow them to make recommendations each step of the way without having to backtrack or impact budgets and timelines. Also, make sure you fully understand what is truly required for your business. As an example, there are many levels of accessibility compliance. Which one are you required to have? Should you do more? Do you fully understand the difference and value of each? If you have the right partner, they will help you navigate the different options.
2. Business needs and goals are not being met
Businesses change for many reasons, and sometimes a company’s website cannot pivot as far as it's needed to execute the desired plan or meet the specified goals fully. Sometimes a proper digital strategy was missed or ignored and future needs of the company were included when building out the systems. Regardless of the reason, when a website isn’t nimble enough to support a growing business, it is due to a shortsighted build stemming from unexplored future needs.
Helpful Hint: Strategy first. Find a digital partner with a process that makes sense to you and can help clearly define business goals, future needs and build a site that is flexible and can scale with our business.
We have a lot of clients whose business have recently completed a rebrand, and they needed a new website to officially launch that brand to the world. In times like this, we feel it makes a lot of sense to upgrade your digital properties as well to ensure the brand is consistent across all properties (traditional and digital). Luckily, rebranding doesn’t happen very often.
Helpful Hint: Have documented ground rules between your branding company and your digital partner as there can be some overlap between them. Each partner should respect the other's territory to do their best work and not interfere with the process you have selected to guarantee results.
4. The site is not maintained or is too far out of synch with CMS/plugin updates
As we’ve said in many of our articles, especially those related to ongoing growth and maintenance programs, websites (like cars) can take you a lot farther if you’re regularly changing the oil, brake pads, wheels and taking care of the ongoing upkeep of your investment to ensure it runs smoothly. With most open source CMS’s these days, if your site is not receiving regular updates to both its core and related plugins, it can get so far behind that the overall integrity and forward compliance quickly degrades. At some point, there is no upgrade path available and a full overhaul and re-platforming is required.
Helpful Hint: Subscribe to a plan and budget for ongoing upkeep each year. It is a cost of doing business these days.
5. The dreaded, inherited system
Let’s face it, some inheritances like bags full of sweet ca$h are great, but others like inheriting a lackluster website from a predecessor are, well… not so much. If your company is quickly growing or experiencing high turnover, it can be difficult to extend the life of a site when your staff doesn’t know what decisions were made (and why) to get to your current state.
"Who can tell me how we got here?... Anyone? Anyone?"
In cases like this, starting fresh and incorporating a new perspective that includes your future needs can make a lot of sense.
Helpful Hint: Keep in mind that pretty much all sites these days are "custom built" even if standard open source tools like WordPress and Drupal were used. Also, re-platforming is very common, so be open to other CMS's, even fully custom options that can accomplish your business needs and include tools the reduce the amount of reliance on internal development teams.
Also, have your development team keep historical documentation and notes on critical decisions, like a diary of sorts, to help any new resources get up to speed as quickly as possible. File repositories also typically allow for notes on code submits, so ensure your developers are actively providing documentation here as well. This documentation process can potentially help extend the life of your current site a little bit longer while your new staff gets up to speed on future business needs.
6. Loss of internal resources
In the same spirit of #5 above, most agencies find it very hard to inherit another developer’s code and supporting digital marketing plans where considerations for SEO were ignored, shortchanged, or just never considered. In times like this and when internal team resources decrease (for whatever reason), we see a lot of companies moving to find a new digital partner who can rethink what exists and support it long term with both marketing, design and development experts at the table.
Helpful Hint: Avoid using contractors, or you may quickly find yourself back in the same boat of having trouble tracking down the resources when you need them. Find a team that can be accountable for your needs and is known for being professionals. The right partner can jump in to help supplement your needs as you rebuild your team and quickly transition both in (and out) as your internal resources change. It is true that you may pay more for them vs. a group of single-service tacticians, but the investment is worth it if you can spend your time rebuilding the team and not painfully hunting for flakey part-timers.
7. Wrong choice of a digital partner
There is nothing that breaks our hearts more (besides cute puppy pictures) than hearing how much a business has spent on a site that is poorly planned, is hard to maintain, and is not showing the client some form of ROI. In most cases, these issues arise from investing too little into your digital project. Examples here include a lack of a digital strategy, an over-reliance on contractors and single tacticians, trusting OTS (off-the-shelf) templates, cobbling together free/unsupported plugins, and cutting too many corners to save a couple of dollars. In the immortal words of John Ruskin,
"It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money — that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot — it can’t be done."
Cases like this happen more often than we would like to admit and underscore the value of finding a trusted digital partner who can guarantee results through a trusted, stategic approach.
Helpful Hint: If your website is essential to your business, invest in it. Spend a little bit more time and money on a proper digital strategy with a professional digital partner — join the evolution! It's worth it and will both make AND save you money in the long run.
8. Keeping up with the Joneses
Yes, it is true — keeping up with the Joneses extends beyond your driveway and cul de sac. Even in the digital world, a competitive and jealous nature exists that drives businesses to (over)react to keep things on par with other players. A healthy landscape of competitors who are being innovative (or just spending a little bit of time nurturing their site each month) will continuously keep you looking at greener pastures and seeking for digital reinvention to one-up your industry competitors.
Helpful Hint: In times like this, it is essential to look at how well your site is performing because, though we love a great looking website and winning awards, generating new leads/business/sales is what helps you grow. If you're actively looking at your metrics and your site is performing well, your money might be better spent on a data-driven digital marketing plan than starting over.
If any of these apply to your current situation, you're not alone. Hopefully, the hints will help you squeeze a little bit more out of your current website and avoid some bad investments in the future.
Interested in learning more?
If you’re looking for a trusted digital partner, we suggest checking out our “Before you start your project” blog category to view some helpful articles that will help guide you on your journey. If you think it would be worth a conversation to see if we might be a good fit, great! We'd love to chat!
If not, that’s ok too. We're not right for everyone. Please just make sure to avoid #7 above.