The Warning Signs of an Outdated Website
How can you tell when your company website isn’t cutting it anymore? It might not be as obvious as some of the examples we provide, but it is pretty easy to spot a tragically outdated website. And when a website is outdated, it can harm your business since it takes 1/10th of a second for users to decide if they want to visit your website.
Sometimes the warning signs of an outdated website are subtle, but most of the time they’re screaming in your face. Is your website guilty of any of the main 5 offenses?
- Bad Design or Layout
- Poorly written content
- Not responsive
- Broken links and pages
- Low search engine ranking
Bad Design or Layout
Website layout and design standards are always changing, but you can definitely recognize an old, oooold site (please see the blog image for a taste of an old Onsharp site—oofta). The first website ever was basic. Since then, website design has evolved through floating icons in the 90’s and weird mouseover effects in the early 2000’s to more professional, clean standards. Outdated websites are notorious for having bad layout and design choices, including:
- no white space or too much white space
- no logo
- no use of brand colors
- no padding
- no images or unprofessional images
- tiled images as backgrounds
- poor use of uncomplimentary colors, often as backgrounds
- photo collages
- floating text box modules
- feathered edges
- navigation issues
- auto-playing music
- animated gifs
- system-style buttons
This newspaper classifieds-looking website is no bueno. ARNGREN‘s website is outdated because the text runs into the outline of each module, the images don’t have a cohesive feel, there’s no branding, the text size and colors are inconsistent and seem to have no significance with hierarchy, and there’s no organization to their information besides having free-floating modules. It’s so hard to find any information here, especially if you find something you’re interested in and try to come back to it later.
Ling’s Cars is a hot mess of tiled backgrounds, multiple font use and text sizes, floating text boxes with feathered edges, and poor color use. Oh, and it’s animated. It’s easier to find information on this website than it is on ARNGREN, but it’s still a sloppy website.
You might be thinking, the University of Advancing Technology‘s website doesn’t look that bad. You’re right. It’s definitely not as bad as the previous two examples, but it is still outdated. You can tell by looking at the layout and design. If you visit the site, you’ll notice that the floating modules revolve around the young man’s head and the menu below him bounces open and closed from time to time. That being said, it has TWO navigations: one at the top and one below his shoulders.
Poorly Written Content
Content is the meat and potatoes of any website. If your layout and design is up to the internet’s standards, users will read your content. This is the next phase of recognizing outdated websites.
Outdated website often contain content that has:
- contextually old information
- inaccurate information
- keyword stuffing
- no or very little written content
- Microsoft word art
- inconsistent fonts and font sizes
- unreadable content (font size is too small)
- outdated social buttons
- text where there should be icons
- unrelated items in the same lists
- no sense of organization or information hierarchy
- no calls to action
Keyword stuffing happens when the same word or phrase is repeated on a web page with the hopes of increasing their search engine ranking. In 2003, Google made their Florida update, which changed their algorithm to recognize when websites were loading their websites with the same unnatural words and phrases (AKA keyword stuffing). Some companies would repeatedly use the same words and phrases in their content, and some were stuffing keywords into the footer of their pages and making the text invisible. That’s cheating!
You can recognize an outdated website when you see repeated phrases on the same page, like “auto shop,” “american made,” or “high-quality.” Sometimes, it’s necessary to use the same words to describe what you’re talking about; for example, we’ve used “website” in the blog quite a bit, but we need to because this blog is about them. This blog would not be considered an attempt of cramming keywords. Google uses this as an example for keyword stuffing.
“Repeating the same words or phrases so often that it sounds unnatural, for example:
- We sell custom cigar humidors. Our custom cigar humidors are handmade. If you’re thinking of buying a custom cigar humidor, please contact our custom cigar humidor specialists at firstname.lastname@example.org.“
An outdated website will not be optimized for mobile viewing. This basically means that what your website looks like on desktop is what it’ll look like on mobile, and that’s not good. It seems relatively harmless when stacked against design and layout issues mentioned above, but with 58% of people viewing websites on their phone in 2018, it’s important to have yours work with phones. Trying to view and navigate an outdated website on mobile devices is not fun for users, and it can deter mobile users from staying on your website.
ANGREN is a good example of not having a mobile-friendly site. The view of this site on an iPhone screen is the same way you’d see it on a desktop computer. Now, trying to read that tiny text is impossible, and it isn’t good for their user’s experience. PS: We tried Ling’s Cars first to see if it was responsive, and it was, which is mind-blowing.
Not only are non-responsive websites almost impossible to use, Google will also automatically give you a lower ranking, that means less traffic overall, yikes and YIKES!
Broken Links and Pages
A broken link can happen when someone clicks on linked text, button, or section in your navigation, and they receive a 404 error. A 404 error basically indicates that what the text, button, or navigation was linking to no longer exists. This can happen when you link to external sites or internal pages that have been deleted or archived. This isn’t as big of a deal if your website has major design issues because 38% of people will bounce from a website if the content or layout aren’t attractive. But Google always cares! When you have links that lead nowhere, Google uses that against you for search engine optimization (SEO), which can affect your position on Google results pages (AKA a SERP).
Low Search Engine Ranking
Google considers several factors when deciding where to rank websites during searches, including layout and design, keywords, responsiveness, load times, content relevancy to search terms, metadata, and so many other factors. To be honest, nobody really knows the secret sauce that Google uses to determine rank.
You should take your ranking seriously; 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results. To test your ranking, choose a product or service you provide and type it into the Google search bar. If you rank on the first page, that’s great! If you rank on the second page, that’s not as great, but you’re still on the radar. If you don’t rank on either the first page or second page, that’s not helpful to your business.
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