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What is the lifespan of your website?

September 14, 2015Payman Taei

website_age_tutrle Average lifespan of:

  • – American Box Turtles: 120-125 years
  • – Humans: 67.5 (World Average)
  • – Wild Tiger: 10-15 years
  • – Car: 10-12 years

A common question I get asked from time to time is “What is the lifespan of my website?” The answer is fairly relative and depends on a number of factors. There are, however, guidelines you can follow to establish a timeline for when a site becomes outdated and requires full redesign (or at times, shutting down the website altogether). Let’s first take a look at lifespan from another angle Animal, humans or even mechanical systems such as cars have a lifespan that is based on various organic or industrial factors. Living organisms rely on the continual birth and death of cells, and the oxidation that is the byproduct of cellular metabolism. Cars and other mechanical objects are also on a constant state of degeneration or wear and tear. As a result, aging occurs where decomposition and death of small parts succumb to the eventual death of the structure as a whole. But when it comes to a website, its lifespan is based on a very different set of factors, because it’s not a living or breathing organism, it is virtual. Of course a website’s data — such as its files, images, and databases — reside at a physical level on web servers; but the actual website which itself is a virtual presence. It has no physical parts, and no matter how many visitors access it and navigate through its pages, it will have no wear and tear and therefore no physical deterioration. So how do you measure the lifespan of your website? To determine this, we need to dig a bit deeper and establish the purpose of your website. Why was it created in the first place? Is it an online brochure meant to inform users, spark their interest and generate leads for your service? An educational tool to provide academic content, or an e-commerce presence to sell products online? One approach we like to provide our clients at HindSite Interactive is to think of your website as a living organism in an ever-evolving ecosystem. To succeed, every successful organism has to be in a constant state of change to cope with the changes taking place around it. This has been proven time and time again from microorganisms to the largest animals roaming the earth: Bacteria that is exposed to antibiotics after a period of time become resistant; elephants living Africa have different characteristics than those living in Asia, and have evolved different characteristics to fit their respective habitats. There are hundreds of examples, and the same actually applies to your web presence. The Internet too is an ever-evolving ecosystem. Every day new sites are launched, expanding the size of this ecosystem, and are new trends are deployed, triggering a response from a site level to accommodate these changes. For example, Google, the current leader of online search engines, changes its algorithm dozens of time per year, which in turn affects search results. Often these algorithm changes are in response to negative illegitimate behavior of some sites trying to improve their search positioning through subversive techniques. In turn, Search Engine Optimization-savvy websites adjust to the changes Google has made to its algorithm. And so the circle goes around and around, in what we like to call the “evolution of the internet.” Let’s take a closer look at your current website. Given the degree of changes on the web over the last few years, how much has your web presence evolved in the same period of time? For most site owners, the answer is not much. Unfortunately, a static website is a dying website. Beyond the first couple of visits, your audience will have no reason to come back if you have the same content with no noticeable updates and little engagement. Think about it this way: How often have you read that magazine from six months ago sitting on your shelf? Obviously if you read it once or twice, the content and design are the same, so you have no reason to read it again. The same holds true of your website. If you’re not adjusting to the constant changes in the internet, you’re not evolving your business. How do you keep your online presence alive? 1). Maintenance First, make sure your website performs well. Is it void of grammar mistakes, dead links, or performance errors? For visitors skimming through your pages, technical issues will be a sore point, and they will take your site less seriously. Take care of these performance maintenance issues, and your visitors will become more engaged on your site. 2). Fresh content Content is king. A professional website interface will attracts users, but once the visitors gets past visual appeal, your content will need to engage them. Keep your content fresh and updated by adding new content on a regular basis (e.g., news items, blog posts, videos, etc..). Even if you have a small informational site, should consider blogging to provide updates and information about subjects of interest. Not only will this give visitors a reason to come back, but it may convert them to recurring visitors, and better, they may begin sharing your content with others. 3). Facelift Design trends are changing and improving every few years. New versions of HTML attributes are approved on a regular basis, and since 1990, we have gone from a very basic form of HTML (the code that stitches your web pages together) to HTML5.0, which is quickly becoming the new standard for building websites and applications. Even in just the last five years, there have been dramatic changes to website design. Five years ago, we were designing layouts for an 800 pixels screen width. Today, with the majority of users viewing pages in higher resolutions, we are designing wider layouts to take advantage of the added “real estate” on most user’s screens. And What is the lifespan of your website? Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience and view your site from their eyes, because ultimately, they will decide your lifespan. Remember to keep your site flexible to the changing “ecosystem” of the internet, and when the time comes, consider a redesign. No matter what, keep things fresh and ever-evolving to avoid letting your site “collect dust.” Not sure if it’s time to revamp your online presence? Contact us for a free evaluation on your website.

Payman Taei
Payman Taei is the Founder of HindSite Interactive (he doesn't like using the word "CEO" it's way too Formal), an award winning web design and web development company. He's also the Founder of Easy WebContent, Do It Yourself platform allowing everyone to easily create, manage professional websites, presentations & infographics.

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