When to Quit Your Website

Let’s talk about the elephant in our community slack channel. Sometimes busy entrepreneurs, small business owners, and reticent marketing managers aren’t honest with themselves about when it’s time to quit their website. To be fair, sometimes they just get the message a bit too late. To be even more fair, websites usually represent a substantial investment and there can be a seemingly pragmatic drive to keep an existing website live as if its longevity somehow squeezes out every last ounce of value from every dollar spent on its creation.

That’s cool and all, until it ruins your search engine rankings, turns potential customers away from your business, and starts to look like the poor creation of someone in a basement with a coffee-stained Mac Powerbook (a what?!).

If we’ve said it once…. we’ve said it 500,000 times: your website is one of your most important brand assets. It’s your digital listing in our modern information landscape. It’s your piece of real estate in an expanding web. It’s the place where your content is on display every day of the year, all day long. It might also be where you sell goods or allow customers to reserve services. It’s wildly important and is worthy of your investment.

Like tossing out aged espresso beans, you have to know when to quit your website (yes, it’s just like that!). Here are some tell-tale signs things are at the end of the road:

  1. The visit duration on your website is 0:03 seconds because it looks like a timewarp back to 2002.
  2. Images are missing from the site, leaving those annoying frames with a broken image icon strewn across your site.
  3. The font is rough, pixelated, perhaps non-legible because you’re using a font that’s literally been retired from modern operating systems.
  4. Worse, the designer thought comic sans was an edgy font.
  5. Update: That designer is no longer a designer.
  6. You are literally the last customer of the hosting service your designer picked out for you. The provider wants you to give it up already so that they can move on.
  7. The homepage is a thin, central column of information in framed boxes on a black background with violet font.
  8. Information goes “missing” and fonts won’t “stay the way you left them” because the whole thing has become unstable.
  9. Google has no idea who you are (read: Google knows who you are, and you are on the “no show” list). (Such a list may or may not exist.)
  10. The form on your contact page is your greatest feat of technological triumph to date.
  11. Social media was just a spark in Zuckerberg’s eye when your website was celebrating its first year online.

It’s okay, you can stop cross checking your website with the list above. What’s important now is that you prioritize some much needed brand time. Keeping up with technology, design, and communication trends are about so much more than being in the now. It’s about maintaining robust brand performance so that you can market to an audience with ever-changing expectations.

To go one more step, here are some reasons why an old website needs the ax.

Inactive websites signal one thing to Google: You’ve closed up shop.

As noted above: an inactive website, which is usually paired with an inactive web presence, tells search engines such as Google one thing: you are no longer in operation. This, in turn, causes search engines to lower your ranking on search engine results pages, pushing you further and further away from the eyes of your potential customers.

Outdated design tells modern consumers that you aren’t keeping pace, in turn, that means that you, and whatever you offer might be subpar.

Really, though. Think about it. Have you ever visited a website (or a brick and mortar storefront) and thought: wow, they haven’t changed anything since 1920?! People have one of two reactions to outdated design and neither are good. One, they either write off the brand entirely and assume it’s not worth their time because it doesn’t appear relevant. The lack of care for their own brand, and physical store, signals that the product or service may be deficient in some way. Two, the outdated style signals to consumers that the brand is out of business, and clearly they’ve stumbled upon an old storefront or website. This is actually worse than the first reaction.

Internally, clunky old websites can cause more problems than they are worth, racking up thousands each year in maintenance and repair. Save some dough. Keep things smooth.

If you’ve ever had a website on WordPress you probably know all about this. You are familiar with dealing with a family of third-party plugs, annual subscription costs, and a platform that itself needs to be updated time and again. These things never work in sync with each other and end up pissing each other off. It’s no good. Older content management systems present another problem: feature envy. You browse the web and see features on competitor’s sites that you like, and then learn you can’t implement them on your own for one convoluted reason or another. In fact, you can’t even keep your fonts consistent because the platform is unstable to begin with.

Don’t live that life. Don’t let your outdated website continue to decay. It’s not good for your mental health or your brand’s reputation in the marketplace. Investing in your digital presence by way of your website is crucial to brand health, reputation management, sales, and customer service. Don’t keep a website that you know you should have let go of a while ago.

 

Work SmarterMichael Wagner