When and how often should start-ups rebuild their websites?

There are three factors that determine when and how often you should update:

First: Update the website if you update the brand
Unless a start-up is well funded, it typically focuses on product design before brand design. While one can argue whether this is the right approach, the norm still remains. So, when the company sees some early success, it will invest time and effort into branding. At this time, it is a good idea for the company to also update its website and portray the new brand identity.

Second: Is the product also the website? Then change often
Websites, especially e-commerce sites that are essentially the primary product offering from a company needs to change often. There is no such thing as a set of golden rules when it comes to user experience design, just a set of things not to do. One needs to keep analysing their data and keep an eye on user behaviour and constantly learning about them. It consequently means that the company needs to keep introducing, testing and tweaking new interactions until the desired effect is achieved.

But user behaviour keeps changing also, so this optimum will soon be challenged again and the cycle repeats. In our experience, we have seen that a feature, once it reaches its optimum user experience, will last about a year before it becomes necessary to change and optimise again.

Third: Update once every three years anyway
Design trends, be it fashion, product or web design, tends to update itself radically every so often. In fashion, this timeline may be about eighteen months, but with web design, it is about every three years. This means that a website built using design principles of three years ago will start to feel dated to viewers who are inundated with lots of new websites and trends constantly.

Take for instance, the idea of a multi-page website that was standard about three years ago. This framework of thinking was challenged and the single-page website with in-page scrolling became the norm. Start-ups adopted this at such a pace that if you have a multi-page website and you’re a start-up, it feels like you’re disconnected from the world and don’t know what’s current. Today, this idea is being challenged again.

Another reason to update every three years is to communicate that you are alive and kicking to your users. People keep checking in with websites that they are interested in to see what’s the latest that the company has been up to. While content goes a distance in communicating these developments to users, the design of the site itself communicates this idea far more effectively.

Read the article as published in Entrepreneur Magazine.

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