So you just published your brand-new website and you’re beyond excited. It’s fresh, modern, and you’ve already received compliments from some of your customers. But… how long should you go before updating it again to maintain this momentum?
This question comes up fairly often, and we love to hear it because it shows you’re dedicated to maintaining your website and keeping a competitive edge in the digital world. The answer, however, will vary depending on what you’re updating. Because of this, it’s helpful to map out each component of your website’s design so you can plan out your update schedule:
Full Design Refresh: Every 2-3 Years
Most web design experts agree that you can go 2-3 years before doing a full design refresh to stay competitive in the market. This depends on the maintenance schedule of your website, as some websites still look up-to-date 5 years after the initial design because the company did smaller, more frequent updates. Whether you would prefer to do smaller, more frequent design updates or a bigger refresh every 2-3 years is totally up to you and what works best for your budget and schedule.
There are some situations where you might want to update your design sooner:
- Has your branding changed, like a new logo or color scheme?
- You will want to make sure your website is always consistent with your other branding materials.
- Are your users reporting issues or confusion with the current website?
- Definitely time to update, or you may risk losing customers.
- Making a major change or restructuring your company?
- Your website may need to be restructured, too.
- Hoping to add an eCommerce store or a membership system?
- Wonderful! This may also require some bigger website updates to integrate these new features.
- Outdated technology?
- If you’re on an older CMS, we highly recommend considering a WordPress redesign.
Curious if your design is up-to-date? Our team is happy to do an audit for you anytime.
Navigation/Structure Updates: Every 1-2 Years
It’s always a good idea to go through your website’s navigation structure every year or two. Sometimes your most popular pages will change from when you first published your website, which means you should rearrange your navigation to match. For example, let’s say your Careers page was only linked at the bottom of your website since you weren’t actively hiring when you published your website. A year later, business is booming and you need to hire more people ASAP! You’re going to want to make the Careers page link more visible.
You may also realize you’re missing a page on your website that would be helpful for your users, like an FAQ page or a new service you’ve just added.
Caution: Make sure that if you’re rearranging your website’s navigation, you’re doing so very purposefully. Your frequent users will develop a muscle-memory of where things are on your website, so if you rearrange everything without warning, they may feel confused and frustrated.
You will also want to make sure that your navigation adjustments are clear, not clever. This means that you don’t rename your “Careers” page “Searching for Rockstars” even though it sounds cool.
Images: Every Year
Every year, set aside some time to look through the images on your website. Whether you have stock photos, pictures of your location, products, or employee headshots- you’ll want to make sure you’re showcasing your best and most updated photography. This also includes videos and interactive elements like maps or statistics.
Not sure what to replace your current stock photos with? We’re happy to provide suggestions and ideas.
Content: Every Month (at least)
Content is by far the most important regular update you can make to your website for two reasons:
- More than ever, users are going directly to company websites for important information like hours and service offerings. If your website content is outdated, you’ll risk misleading your users and potentially losing their business.
- Google pays attention to how frequently websites update their content and ranks websites that update their content more frequently higher in search results. This means the more you keep your website content updated, the more likely users will see your website in their search results.
Quick Tip: Having trouble thinking of new content to add to your website? Think about questions you receive from your customers! Every question you get asked is a great opportunity to add an answer to your website.
SEO: Every Month
Search Engine Optimization is most effective as a monthly strategy rather than a one-time “optimization refresh”. This is because SEO standards tend to evolve frequently, so checking in on how you’re ranking every month and setting specific goals for the next month keeps your digital presence competitive.
Did you know we offer monthly customized SEO reports in-house?
Plugin Updates: Bi-Monthly
Your website probably has a variety of WordPress plugins running on it, especially if you have things like image galleries, forms, pdfs or other interactive elements. Developers release plugin updates fairly frequently, so keeping your plugins up to date ensures that your website stays secure and functional We recommend not just updating plugins as soon as a new version is released, though, but rather waiting and updating plugins every few weeks to ensure any unexpected bugs in the release code are caught and fixed before you add them to your website.
If you’re hosting your website with us, we’ll manage your plugin updates for you so you don’t have to worry about this step.
Blogs: Every 2 Weeks… Ideally
The final item on our update list is a classic WordPress feature that can require an unexpected amount of work to maintain. The blog. Blogs are an excellent SEO tool (remember how we mentioned updated content is great for higher SEO rankings? New blog posts count as updated content!). They can also be a great way to keep your users informed on the latest company news.
But be warned… a stagnant blog can look worse on your website than not having one! Your company may look outdated or not well-maintained if the only post on your blog is from 2015. To avoid this, either plan out how frequently you will update your blog and try your best to stick with the schedule, or find an alternative place to update content on your website like an FAQ page.
Now that we’ve gone through each element of your website and when to update it, I would recommend setting reminders in your calendar to ensure you’re staying on top of these updates.