If your company has an outdated website, it may display incorrectly, could hurt your search engine rankings, and can drive off prospective customers.
Website technologies are always changing, but that doesn't mean you have to keep up-to-date with every changing trend. However, a website that was designed five or more years ago can hurt your company in several ways:
- Very old, deprecated code may display incorrectly on some newer browsers.
- Obsolete code can confuse search engines, wreaking havoc with your search engine ranking.
- If your website looks stale and behaves oddly, or worse, doesn't display correctly, prospective customers may assume that you don't pay attention to detail and may be reluctant to hire you to do their own work. Remember, your website reflects on your company!
So how do you know if your website is outdated? In general, if your site contains any of the following elements, it's time for an update:
- Tiny Text - The most obvious sign of a very old site is tiny text. If the text on the site is very small, much smaller than text you see on most other sites, the site was probably designed before 2006. If the length of the page is unusually short as well, the site may even be older, perhaps pre-2004. Monitors were smaller years ago, and resolutions were also lower. This resulted in larger text, so standard screen text sizes were smaller.
- Jagged Images - "Bitmappy" images with rough, jagged looking edges, or pixellated colors and gradients, were typical prior to 2004. Again, this is due to monitor resolutions. In 2002 half of all monitors still displayed only 65,000 colors. But since 2009 almost all monitors can display 16.8 million colors.
- Angular Design - Angular, squarish, and "futuristic" design elements are pre-2002. See an example HERE (I can't believe these are still available).
- Animated gif's - Animated gif's (small animated images), "mouse trails" (stars or sparkles or anything else that follows your mouse), scrolling text, and falling snow were considered progressive until about 2004.
- Music - Music and audio, especially if it starts automatically, is generally pre-2006.
- Underlined Menu Link Text - Navigation menu links made up of only underlined text is pre-2003.
- 3-D Buttons - Individual navigation menu 3-D "buttons" were standard before 2006 (see example HERE). Buttons that look like colored glass are from 2006-2008, but chunky buttons with a "stone" or "marble" texture are much older.
- Menu on Side Instead of Top - If the main navigational menu is on the left or the right side of the page instead of at the top, the site may be older than 2007, although some current sites still use side menus.
- Links Page or Guestbook Page - Websites with a "links" page or a "guestbook" page are generally pre-2005.
- Flash Sites - Websites built mostly with Adobe Flash are generally pre-2007, but unfortunately some sites are still being built with Flash because that's the only code the web designer knows. Flash is passé as a web development tool, some newer browsers and smart devices don't support it by default, and search engines cannot index Flash content (read more about Flash and SEO.)
- Gaudy Backgrounds and Fonts - Gaudy decorative backgrounds were trendy from 2002 to 2005, but some newer websites unfortunately still use them. Same with lots of different font styles and colors.
- "Intro" Pages - "Intro" pages (a page that appears while the actual website is loading) were necessary before 2005 due to slower computers, slower internet connections, and heavily animated or Flash websites that took a long time to load.
- Visitor Counter - A visitor counter showing the number of people who have visited your site is generally pre-2005. If you want to see detailed information about your website's visitors, and not just a visitor count, use Google Analytics.
- Tables - When you right-click on a website and select "View source", you can view the website's source code. Websites that have been designed and laid out primarily with tables (you'll see a lot of <tr> and <td> elements) were generally designed prior to 2006. However, many newer websites are still designed with tables because the designer is not familiar with current coding standards. These sites may look inconsistent in different browsers and may have rendering issues. They may also look rather plain and generic, since tables allow very few formatting options.
- Capitalized Coding Elements - Sites with lots of capitalized elements in the coding (i.e. <TR> instead of <tr> and <BODY> instead of <body> are generally older than 2005.
- Missing Tags - Websites missing the "title" and "meta description" tags are generally very old, but unfortunately there are still many new sites out there missing these crucial SEO tags.
- Dropdown Menus - Menu dropdowns or flyouts, where hovering over a menu item brings up a sub-menu, cannot phase out fast enough! Dropdowns have been around since 2002, and are still showing up on current websites. However, since the advent of smart phones, sub-menus have gone out of favor. Have you ever tried to "hover" over a menu item on a smart device? Newer mobile devices translate a light touch as a hover and a heavier touch as a click, but trying to get the pressure just right can be frustrating.
- Search Bar - A search bar on your website may be okay for very large sites, but a site under 10 pages does not need one.
- Tag Cloud - A tag cloud is a bunch of keywords in various sizes that appear on the side of a website. These were common around 2009, but quickly went out of style. An example is HERE.
- Hard-To-Find Menu - Tiny hard-to-find navigation menu. The main navigational menu should be easy to see, but many websites have so much content on them that the only space for a menu is all the way at the top or bottom of the page, and in a small font. When web designers started stuffing websites full of unnecessary content in 2007, essential elements like the navigational menu took a backseat to the bling.