For many businesses who’s predominant face is online, the website is often the most costly element of setting up their business. Like anything in the technology industry, it also can date very quickly.
In my experience with the way things move so quickly in the web design and development industry a website generally has a shelf life of 2 years before it looks old and outdated.
When you drop a wad of cash on a custom web design this can seem a little bit outrageous – but if you compare it to the costs of an offline business eg. having your own shopfront, office space etc it doesn’t seem so bad.
Here are a few tips on future proofing your website.
Know where you’re heading
Before you get your website designed and developed have a 2 year plan for the future of your online presence. Obviously things change and this needs to be fluid, but if you definitely know in 2 years time you are going to add a shop to your blog, or a learning management system to your website flag it with your web designer. This may help with finding the best solution for not only now, but in the future and could potentially prevent excessive re-development costs.
Invest in relationships
It’s really important that you invest in your relationships with your web design service providers. Having a great reliable web designer who you can return to for updates and upgrades will save you a lot of money in the long run. Jumping from service provider to service provider will end up costing you a lot of money as most often you will find that not many web designers will want to pick up where somewhere left off. It’s likely you’ll be starting over every single time. Find someone who you like working with, who returns your emails or calls. Who is brilliant at what they do. Get on a service agreement with them and keep them happy, because good ones are hard to find.
Stay up to date
A website is a lot like a car, it needs regular servicing to keep it on the road. Make sure you invest in regular backups and upgrades of your website system. A neglected back end website is much easier to toss aside and start again than one that is up to date. One that’s kept up to date will be easier to make minor tweaks to bring it up with the times. Most web designers will have service agreements in place to take the pain away in this area.
Keep it simple
For a work horse website, one that is used as a informational tool or an online store, try to stay away from the gimmicks unless it’s a short lived campaign. The parallaxes, the animations, the fancy stuff. Those jaw dropping effects may be impressive now, but can potentially end up looking dated very quickly. Think animated gifs, sound on menu items when you hover… you get my gist, if you don’t this might refresh your memory. Whilst the cool stuff is great for short run campaigns, if you’re looking for longevity it’s not the best solution for you.
Be prepared for technology advancements
One of the big things that occurred in the web design industry in the last 6 years was the advent of the smart phones, at first this was great – websites were looking as they were on the desktop computers. More people started using smart phones and suddenly everyone wanted responsive websites. This was a tricky one, not many sites were easily converted to mobile responsive and had to be started from scratch. This was something no one would have seen coming (except for perhaps Steve Jobs).
Whilst we cannot predict the future of web design trends and technology (as much as many people try) it’s good to be armed with the knowledge, that just like a car, a website will eventually need to go to the scrap heap.
To get the most out of your website, you need to invest in it, keep it updated and continually maintain it.