Top 10 Ways to Tell If Your Website is Outdated

Your website is quite often your customer’s first impression and first point of contact for your business.  When searching for a product or service people will generally bypass the yellow pages and turn to the good ole WWW. When a potential customer gets to your website what do they see? Do they see an outdated website?

If you see anything on this list that describes your website then you may be losing potential customers and leaving money on the table.

10. Copyright Date is Outdated

If the footer of your site has ©1998 and it is now 2010 it shows that your site may not be updated often and possibly contain out of date information. This isn’t a huge ‘no-no’ but it is still something that should be fixed. There are some Javascripts available that will pull the year from the users computer, so provided the user has the correct year on their computer they will see an updated copyright date. You could of course just have your web designer update the date on a yearly basis.

9. You Have a Splash Page

If your site has a page before the home page (ie a page with a logo and an ‘enter website’ link) this is a sure sign that your site was created a long time ago, and most likely makes the end user feel that they are entering a site with outdated content.

8.Your Site is Built Entirely in Flash

A site that uses a few Flash elements here and there is fine, but to have your site built entirely in Flash is detrimental to the widespread exposure of your site for a few reasons:

  1. Search Engines have troubles reading text in Flash so your site will not be indexed as well as it could if it were in XHTML
  2. Cost of updating is increased.  It is much more time consuming to make a small text change in a Flash website then if it were an XHTML site. There are a lot more steps to cover.
  3. People on PDA’s or have Flash disable will miss out on your site entirely.

7. Graphics Instead of Text

As above with Flash search engines cannot read your site’s content if an image is used for text instead of actual text. Often this is done with headings where the designer has used a font that is not ‘web safe’ (usually for design aesthetics) and generally this is acceptable as long as alt tags are used to tell search engines what text is within the image. The problem is when the entire site’s content is within an image, it then becomes difficult to update the text (updates would need to be done to the image and the alt tags), and the images will slow down the load time of the website.

Here is an easy way to tell if your site text is an image. Try to highlight the text. If you can highlight then your text is fine, if you cannot then it is probably within an image

Another point is that most web enabled cell phones will give you the option to click any telephone number in the text to make a call, which they cannot do if the phone number is within an image.

6. Your Links all Say ‘Click here’

In the early days of the web this was done so that people understood that the purpose of a hyperlink was to click in order to be taken somewhere else. In general people are much more web savvy and recognize that if the text if different or underlined, it is probably a link. It is also better from a usability standpoint when the text used for the link describes the end location.

5. Blinking or Scrolling Text

If you go to your site and it has blinking text or graphics combined with scrolling text that seems like they may bring on a seizure then you need to update your site as it is using really outdated (and often considered Evil) HTML

4. Cereal Box Design

When the design of your website resembles the back of a cereal box it is time to think of a redesign.  Most web users recognize outdated design and will usually click the back button as your site lacks professionalism. In the physical world if your store was cluttered, dirty, smelled a bit like old cheese there is a really good chance that people would choose not to shop at your store.

It is said that good design is timeless, so if your site looks dated, it is probably not well designed.

3. Old Coding

If your site is table based, or has old HTML tags to display design elements (ie font tags) then your site is outdated. There are a lot of concerns with this scenario but the two situations that I consider the worst are:

  1. The code that displays your site is full of unneccessary tags which will slow down the load time of your site.  A slow loading site will cause the users to click the back button instead of waiting for the site to load, as well Google has announced that load time will now be used as an indicator of where your site is ranked within the search results.
  2. Making even the most minor of updates in old code is time consuming. Current web techniques  separate layout from design so the site can be updated much easier.

2. Old Content

Does your Staff page include people that no one remembers? Is your latest blog post from a few years ago? Is your most recent news item not so recent? If people are coming to your site for solid information this lack of current content will have them clicking that back button in the blink of an eye. Remember search engines are fond of updated content and some search engines now give you the option to search by most recent content. Keep that content updated in order to keep those visitors showing up.

1. Cousin Timmy Built Your Site

If a relative of yours (that is not a web designer) built your website there is a really good chance that your site is outdated. In the early days of the web everyone wanted the ability to build websites. It was new and was a potential career option for some.  What really happened though was probably more like: “Hey Timmy, I will pay you 20 bucks to mow my lawn and build a website for my Amway Business.”

If Timmy built your site it is probably not designed well, or converting like it should.

Did your website include any of these items?

Keep in mind that a website is not just about design, there is also usability, purpose, and many other details.  Your site has a purpose, and if it is not achieving its purpose (ie converting customers, making sales) then something is wrong.

If any of the above items can be said about your website it may be time to take a review of your site to see if it is indeed ‘doing it’s job’ or if it could be doing its job a little better. If you find that your site is not performing as it should then it is time to think about getting someone to look at your site.  If your car wasn’t running well you would have a mechanic look at it. Your website deserves the same treatment.  You may say that a redesign is not in your budget, but consider this: How much money are you losing because your site is not making enough sales, or conversions. Often times the increase in revenue from a (properly done) redesign will pay for itself. Take some time to think about it.

If you have any questions, need clarification about the items on the list or have any other outdated items to share please do so.