Just because your website was great five years ago – or even a year ago – doesn’t mean it still is. More often than not now, your website – not your physical place of business – forms your customer’s first impression of you, so it’s absolutely essential that it’s the best it can be. If your website is outdated, you’re almost certainly losing business.

Here are six surefire signs your website needs an update:

It’s not mobile-friendly

The data is in, and mobile is the way of the world. 60% of all searches are now done on mobile devices.

Over half of all web traffic is mobile. Nearly 70% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company with a useful mobile website. And believe it or not, worldwide, more people own a cellphone than a toothbrush.

Mobile-friendly websites are built to fit on – you guessed it – mobile devices. If your site doesn’t fit on a smartphone screen and you have to zoom in to read the page, that’s a good sign your website isn’t mobile-friendly. If you’re not sure, Google has a quick test that will tell you. If your website is hard to use on a mobile device, potential customers are far more likely to not even bother, and instead look elsewhere.

Customers aren’t the only ones you have to worry about. Ever wonder why you’re not showing up in Google searches? Not being mobile-friendly could be a factor. Google harshly penalizes websites that aren’t mobile-friendly, and makes them much harder to find in search results. Mobile-friendliness is the bare minimum for a modern website.

It’s not responsive

Responsiveness is the next step up from mobile-friendliness. Quick rule: Responsive websites are essentially mobile-friendly, but not all mobile-friendly websites are responsive. A responsive website automatically rearranges itself to fit on any screen, meaning that you don’t have to make two or more versions of your site (one for computers, one for mobile, etc.). Responsive websites are usually even easier to use than simple mobile-friendly websites. They don’t just fit the screen, they rearrange themselves in the most efficient way for that individual screen. This also means that desktop users with different size screens get an equally useful layout.

The easier your website is to use, the more likely a customer is to stick around and eventually buy. And again, Google rewards up-to-date websites and punishes outdated ones, putting responsive websites above non-responsive ones.

It’s inconvenient to use

Sometimes, a website being annoying to use has nothing to do with its mobile-friendliness. There are a lot of features that can frustrate a user and drive them away from your website. As a general rule, any inconvenience – no matter how brief – is a potential point for a customer to drop off. You need to minimize those inconveniences as much as possible.

There are a ton of potential ways to annoy your user, but here are a few:

  • Using email links that open a separate email program instead of contact forms on the website
  • Content that has to be downloaded instead of just read on the website
  • Broken links
  • Hard to read or poorly organized text
  • Slow loading pages
  • Too many navigation options
If links on your website are turning up errors like this, you've got some updates to make.

Its design is dated

First impressions are important. You wouldn’t wear a t-shirt and shorts to a job interview, would you? People are more likely to trust and respect a website that looks appealing.

The unfortunate fact is that tastes change. Some design choices that were in vogue five years ago might as well be cave paintings. Busy websites with lots of colors, flashing animations, and fonts like Comic Sans might have been fine in 1999 (actually, they never were, but you get the point), but people expect more out of a legitimate, high-quality business now.

I've dug up this ancient relic to illustrate my point.

Of course, aesthetics are subjective to some extent, so there’s no test like there is for mobile-friendliness. But take a quick jaunt through the internet, look at some big brands, then compare them to your website. Do they look like they were made in the same year

It’s unsecure

This is a complicated topic, but here’s the short version: If your website isn’t secure, it’s easier for information to be stolen from it. This is especially important if you handle sensitive information like credit card numbers.

It’s pretty easy to figure out if your website is secure. Start by looking in the address bar. If your web address says HTTP instead of HTTPS, your site isn’t secure. If you’re using Google Chrome, there will also be a message next to the address bar that tells you if the site is secure or not. Google now warns users if they’re on a website that isn’t secure, to help them keep their information safe.

You can imagine how potential customers may feel if they think your business isn’t putting in the effort to keep their information safe.

It doesn’t represent the brand

A mismatch between your website and your brand is a problem that can sometimes go unnoticed internally, but it presents a real danger of misleading your potential customers. Remember, your website is usually the basis of their first impression of your business.

Just like design tastes, brands change. Your business’ brand is essentially a promise to the customer, and that promise can expand, simplify, or refocus over the years. If your website is outdated, it might be promising your customers something that isn’t true anymore.

Maybe your brand hasn’t changed, but your website never really fit. Miscommunications between you and your web developer can just as easily lead to a website that doesn’t truly communicate the unique value of your brand.

Pop culture GIFS? On-brand for Buzzfeed, not so much for the House Judiciary Committee.

Someone who looks at your website should know within seconds exactly what you do and what makes you different. Is your website telling people what they need to know?

If any of these signs sound familiar, you might be losing business due to an outdated website. So, is it time for an update?

Article Written By:

Nick Riley

Digital Strategist/Always Talking About that “One time, in Japan…”