Web Design

13 Signs Your Business Might Need a New Website

Wondering if your website needs to be redesigned? Here are 13 signs that your business might need a new website.

An Asian woman gasping at her computer screen.

We don’t wash our cars if they’re not dirty. We don’t call a plumber if water isn’t leaking. We don’t change our diet if we look and feel great. We make changes when there’s a problem.

Unfortunately, many organizations don’t realize when they have a problem with their website.

While it’s easy to tell that your car’s dirty, that your pipes are broken or that you need to eat healthier — websites are more complicated. Most businesses don’t know what’s right, wrong or missing from their website. It’s usually not until customers start complaining or sales start falling that organizations begin to suspect there's a problem. Self-diagnosing that problem can be difficult.

In this post, I’m going to share 13 signs you might need a new website.

1. Your Website Contains Warnings

Example website that contains warnings.

Websites that contain warnings are the equivalent to a restaurant failing a health inspection — they can greatly impact your bottom line. Two site warnings that businesses should watch out for are SERP warnings and browser warnings.

SERP Warnings

SERP (search engine result pages) warnings appear on search engines like Google and inform users when a site has been hacked.

Browser Warnings

Web browsers like Chrome and Safari warn users if a website doesn't have an SSL certificate that encrypts the connection between browsers and websites to ensure the data is private. Sites that don’t have an SSL certificate use HTTP instead of HTTPS (see image).

Other browser warnings include expired certificates, malware, phishing, scams or outdated technology (e.g. Adobe Flash).

Action Step
Use Google Search Console to learn if your website has any security issues. Alternatively, open a browser like Chrome or Safari to see if it says "Not Secure" in the address bar. If your site isn't secure, you’ll need an SSL certificate. When I conduct website audits and find clients don’t have an SSL certificate, I recommend getting a free one when I redesign their website.

2. Your Website isn't Attractive

Just like readers judge books by their covers, users do the same with websites. Your logo, colors, fonts and photos should all appeal to your target market. Unattractive websites are often the result of DIY designers or from abandoned websites with outdated designs.

Action Step
Is your website attractive? Does the logo look cheap? Are the colors complimentary? Are the photos high quality? Does the website look modern? Will it satisfy your target market? If you're unsure, contact Bento Sites for a website audit.

3. Your Website isn’t Mobile-Friendly

Example website that fails Google's mobile-friendly test.

Websites that aren’t mobile-friendly don't resize for mobile devices and require pinching and zooming to read and interact with content. Mobile-friendly sites, however, resize for different screen sizes and devices.

In 2015, Google began penalizing sites that weren't mobile-friendly and in 2019, Google switched to a mobile-first index, which indexes mobile websites before desktop websites. Not having a mobile-friendly website will hurt your ranking on search engine result pages and annoy users.

Action Step
Ensure your site passes Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test and Bing’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

4. Your Website isn’t Optimized for Search Engines

If your website isn't optimized for search engines like Google and Bing, how are customers going to find your organization? You can’t always run a business on word of mouth and SEM (search engine marketing) can be costly. SEO (search engine optimization), on the other hand, is the organic (i.e. free) way to be found on search engines. The two ways that your website should be optimizing for search is through on-page SEO and off-page SEO.

On-Page SEO

On-page SEO consists of optimizing individual web pages to rank higher and earn relevant traffic through search engines.

On-Page SEO Examples

  • Keywords
  • Header tags
  • Meta descriptions
  • ALT tags

Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO consists of promotional methods to improve the position of individual web pages on the search engine result pages (SERPs). An authoritative website has many backlinks from other relevant and high-quality sites and ranks high in search engines. For example, if a customer is searching for “best sushi restaurants in Atlanta” on Google and your site doesn’t appear until the third page — you’re not an authority.

Off-Page SEO Examples

  • Backlinks
  • Social media marketing
  • Guest blogging
  • Linked and unlinked brand mentions
  • Influencer marketing

Action Step
Compare the authority of your website to a sample of the competition with Alexa Rank or Ahrefs Rank. If your authority is low, start improving your off-page SEO by increasing the number of high-quality links to your website.

5. Your Website isn't Fast

Example website that fails Google's PageSpeed test.

Page speed is the measurement of how fast the content on a web page loads and shouldn't be confused with site speed, which is the speed of a sample page on a site. Lightweight pages that load quickly result in better user experience, have lower bounce rates, higher conversion rates and rank higher in search engines. Page speed is also a ranking factor in Google's mobile-first index.

Pro Tips

  • Avoid redirect chains
  • Avoid blocked resources
  • Avoid too many plugins
  • Avoid too many third-party embeds
  • Avoid more than two typefaces or fonts
  • Minify HTML, CSS and JavaScript code
  • Resize and compress images
  • Use a CDN
  • Use a trusted hosting service
  • Use gZIP Compression
  • Use modern web browsers

Action Step
Test the speed of each web page with Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

6. Your Website isn't Optimized for Accessibility

Example website with average grade for accessibility from Google Lighthouse.

As ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) lawsuits increase and the retail and foodservice industries continue to be the most targeted businesses, addressing accessibility on your website is paramount to improve the usability and avoid preventive lawsuits.

Since ADA regulations were passed in 1990 and don't include websites, the U.S. Department of Justice often cites recommendations from the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) 2.0 and 2.1. These guidelines were created by the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) to create and promote web standards. Their goal is to provide a single standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of people with cognitive and vision disabilities.

Pro Tips

  • Allow keyboard navigation
  • Avoid PDFs (or offer them as an alternative to text-based information)
  • Ensure text can be resized
  • Use page titles
  • Use color contrast of at least 4.5 to 1
  • Use labels for forms
  • Use focus states
  • Use ALT tags (i.e. text that describes images)
  • Use play/pause buttons for videos
  • Use descriptive anchor text (e.g. Good: "Reserve Now" Bad: "Click Here")

Action Step
Audit each page of your website to ensure it's WCAG-compliant. Also, use automated auditing tools like Google Lighthouse or start with the W3C's recommended list of accessibility evaluation tools. In addition, consider inviting members of the disability community for testing your website's accessibility.

7. Your Website isn't Targeted to a Specific Market

A silhouette with the definition of a user persona.

While websites appear to be about businesses, they’re really about the users. How are you helping them solve their problem? In user centered-design, user personas are fictional characters that represent real segments of target markets. They help designers target designs around user behavior, goals, motivations, frustrations and other shared attributes. This information is used as the foundation for design decisions.

Action Step
Self-evaluate your website. Was it designed for a specific type of user? If not, learn more about user personas from Smashing Magazine.

8. Your Website isn't Intuitive

Websites that are easy to navigate simplify discoverability and lead to higher conversions. Conversely, websites that aren't easy to navigate are usually poorly structured, have broken links, lack descriptive labels in the navigation bar and footer, don't have effective calls to action, FAQs, search bars, directories, filters, etc.

Action Step
Conduct a task analysis for each task visitors are expected to perform on your site. A task analysis involves observing visitors in action to understand how they perform tasks and achieve the intended goals. Use User Testing and Usability Hub for conducting a task analysis or a non-technical friend or family member to complete specific tasks. Then, collect feedback and modify your site accordingly.

9. Your Copy isn't Compelling

While great aesthetics engross users, effective copy sells products and services. It combines the talent of a well-versed writer with the skills of a marketer and it's written at a ninth-grade reading level — free from spelling, grammatical and factual errors and uses empathy to communicate and scarcity and urgency to persuade.

Action Step
Ensure your copy is easy to read, scannable, compelling and free of errors. To learn about writing calls to action, read my post Where to Place Call to Action Buttons on Your Website.

10. Your Website doesn't Have a Strategy

I'm always surprised at the number of websites that I encounter that were built without any clear business and conversion goals. Business goals detail what an organization wants to achieve with its website and the conversion goal is what they want users to accomplish. If you’re not generating leads and converting a decent percentage of those leads into sales you probably don't have a website that was built with goals in mind. Consequently, you may also not have an effective marketing funnel that represents the buyer’s journey as users progress toward purchasing your products or services.

Strategic Questions to Ask

  • What's your business goal?
  • What are your conversion goals?
  • How do users become aware of their problem?
  • How do users become aware of a solution?
  • How do users become interested in your offer?
  • How do you move users along the funnel?
  • Why do users desire your product or service?
  • What motivates users to buy your product or service?

Action Step
Find out if your website was designed with the right business and conversion goals. Also, find out if your business focuses on full-funnel marketing to capture attention at the top of the funnel, answer objections and meet motivations and goals in the middle of the funnel and improve retention at the bottom of the funnel?

11. Your Website doesn't Appear Trustworthy

Example website that doesn't appear trustworthy.

An untrustworthy website is usually poorly designed (see image), contains warnings, doesn’t show any people or social proof and doesn’t update the website. You can start building online trust with honesty and empathy, you still need to show why your business is trustworthy. Telling isn't enough. Potential customers need proof if they're going to be converted into customers.

Pro Tips

  • Avoid stock photography of people
  • Avoid auto-playing music/videos
  • Avoid outdated technology (e.g. Flash, Google Plus)
  • Avoid free email addresses (e.g. name@gmail.com)
  • Avoid broken links
  • Include up-to-date business information
  • Include a copyright notice, terms of service nor privacy policy in the footer
  • Keep blog posts updated

Action Step
Evaluate your website to ensure it feels trustworthy. If you're unsure, read my post 17 Ways to Build Trust with Your Website or contact Bento Sites for a website audit.

12. Your Website doesn't Reflect Your Current Business

Do you remember when Starbucks removed their name from their logo? They had to update the logo on all of their cups, signage, and website and all other marketing materials. It’s taken them years to complete the transition, but it was a necessary step to keep the brand fresh and deliver a consistent message across all marketing channels. Naturally, business is going to evolve — your website needs to evolve with it.

Action Step
Review the content and messaging on your website. Has anything changed? Consistency is key. You want users to recognize your branding and remember your message.

13. Your Website Can’t be Updated

I've worked with some organizations where nobody could access their website because they didn't have the username and password. Websites aren’t a set-it and forget-it solution. You’re always competing. At Bento Sites, I build websites on Webflow and Squarespace — both of which make it easy for clients to update their website and invite collaborators.

Action Step
Ensure you're able to make updates to your website and can easily invite collaborators.

Wrap Up

You just learned 13 signs that your business may need a new website. While this list could go on and on, these are some of the most important signs that your website may need to be refreshed or redesigned.

13 Signs Your Business Might Need a New Website first appeared on the Bento Sites Blog by Jeff Shibasaki.

Close-up of Jeff Shibasaki wearing a black hat.

Jeff Shibasaki

I’m an Atlanta web designer that specializes in website design and development on Webflow and Squarespace.

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