If one phrase could combine dread and hope in equal measures, it would be “Redo Our Website.” I go through periods where every potential client I talk to has either just launched a new site, wants a new site or is unhappy with their site but hopes to get just one more year out of it before tackling a replacement.
So how often should you redo your website? If you look around the internet, estimates range from every 1.5 years to every five years. One survey even found that 50% of nonprofits intended to rebuild their websites or launch a new site this year!
But asking how often you should redo a website is the wrong question. The question needs to be why you need a new site. That will tell you when the time is right and what you need to focus on.
So here are a few things to consider.
1. It hasn’t aged well. Face it…trucker caps looked cool in 2003 and then POOF! Suddenly they looked goofy. I’m talking to you Ashton Kutcher.
Websites are the same way. They follow trends and what looked cool the last time you redid your site just looks dated. The key is to recognize that a certain look served its purpose and it's time to move on. The hardest part is being objective when you look at your site.
Yes, parachute pants looked cool on MC Hammer in 1990.
No, don’t wear them today.
2. It doesn’t tell your story on the small screen. Think of the quote in Sunset Boulevard when William Holden says to Gloria Swanson, “You used to be big” and she replies, “I am big. It's the pictures that got small.”
We design websites for computer monitors, but increasingly people look at them on their phone or tablet. In fact, last year we crossed a threshold and more than half of the people who looked at nonprofit websites did so on a mobile device. So, all those beautiful landscapes and interactive features you built into your site are wonderful, but does your story still have impact if someone views it on a cracked six-inch iPhone screen?
3. Your story has changed. Like that biker tattoo that Gramma tries to keep covered, some websites don’t really represent who you are anymore.
Organizations evolve and it is necessary to refresh your brand. You may have a new program. You may have a different story to tell. Sometimes you just come up with a better way to explain your mission.
If you find yourself having to explain the differences between your website and your operations, it's time to hit “refresh.”
4. Your site makes it hard to make a donation. This is critical. If your last update was three or four years ago, the philanthropic world has changed since then. The pandemic sped up the trend towards online giving and now somewhere around 54% of donors worldwide prefer to give online.
Donation pages operate on two fairly simple principles:
Anything that motivates them to donate is a plus. If they found your donation page, it means they are interested. Now your “point of sale” messaging, graphics and design need to reinforce their desire to support you.
Anything that makes it difficult to give you money is a negative. The user experience needs to be seamless. People aren’t comparing you to another nonprofit across the street; they are comparing you to Amazon and Lyft.
Funfact: Churches that are set up to accept online tithing increase their overall donations by more than 30%.
5. Your site isn’t working for you. In a perfect world you can make minor updates to your website on your own without having to keep going back to your web designer. That’s in a perfect world. In the real world:
The person you made the Administrator of the site moved to an ashram in Oregon and isn’t checking his email anymore.
Your chairman shaved off his beard, wants to use a new picture and the intern who was doing your updates just left for her semester abroad in Vanuatu.
The password that lets you connect your online donation page to your site is written on a piece of paper that is “around here somewhere.”
So many links lead to “HTTP 404 Not Found” that you thought that was one of the pages your web designer placed on the site.
Your web traffic is down. It has been said that 75% of people judge you by your website. It is your calling card, your billboard, and your storefront window all wrapped up in one. On average, people only spend about 52 seconds on a webpage, but a study by Microsoft indicated that the first 10 seconds will tell the viewer, in the words of the old British punk band, the Clash: Should I stay or should I go?
That’s where metrics become important. Where do people go once they find your website? How long do they stay? Are they interacting with the site?
One of the most valuable uses of metrics is to see if your assumptions match people’s actual behavior on your site. Nonprofits create a lot of special pages and links to documents because we think it's important to people who come to the page just because it was important to us. We’re all guilty of that. But if the site history tells us those sections hardly ever get visitors, it may be time to get rid of them.
Unsure about whether your website needs an upgrade or how to achieve that change? Let’s talk! You can reach us at info@storyboardHTX.com.