If your website is outdated, Google may push your website to the bottom of search rankings. It may also display incorrectly 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's over 5 years old can hurt your company in several ways:
- Very old, deprecated code may display incorrectly in some newer browsers.
- Outdated code can confuse search engines, wreaking havoc with your search ranking.
- Obsolete code can attract hackers, so you may find that your old website is getting hacked more often.
- Your website reflects on your company, so if it 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.
So how do you know if your website is outdated? In general, if your website contains any of the following elements, it's time for an update:
- Tiny Text - The most obvious sign of a very old website is tiny text. If the text on the website is very small, the website was probably designed before 2012. If the length of the page is unusually short as well, the website may even be older, perhaps pre-2009. Monitors were smaller years ago, and resolutions were also lower. This resulted in larger text, so standard screen text sizes were smaller by today's standards.
- 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. Since 2009 almost all monitors can display 16.8 million colors, but a website from 2009 is still going to look ancient and may behave erratically.
- 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 website may be older than 2007, although some current websites still use side menus.
- Links Page or Guestbook Page - Websites with a "links" page or a "guestbook" page are generally pre-2005.
- Flash websites - Websites built mostly with Adobe Flash are generally pre-2007, although some websites as recent as 2013 might still have some Flash elements in them. Adobe Flash has been discontinued as of the end of 2020, and browsers will no longer support Flash in websites, so any Flash elements on a website will simply show a blank space.
- 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 time to load.
- Visitor Counter - A visitor counter showing the number of people who have visited your website is generally pre-2005.
- Tables - When you view the source code of your website, if you see a lot of <tr> and <td> elements), that means the website was designed with tables and was probably built before 2006. Tables are still used in websites today, but not as a basis for the entire layout.
- Capitalized Coding Elements - Websites with lots of capitalized elements in the coding (i.e. <TR> instead of <tr> and <BODY> instead of <body> are generally older than 2005. (You have to view the website's source code to see the coding behind the website.)
- Missing Tags - Websites missing the "title" and "meta description" tags are generally very old, but unfortunately there are still many new websites out there that are missing these crucial SEO tags.
- Hard-To-Find Menu - The main navigational menu with links to other pages on the website should be easy to see, but some websites (especially older sites) 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 back seat to the bling.
If your website has any of these elements, it's time for an much-needed update!