The average lifespan of a guppy is about 2 years. Surprisingly, perhaps, your website’s lifespan may not be much longer. Guppies are, well, guppies, and 2 years is more than enough time to accomplish all the regular guppy milestones: birth, eating, swimming, fish college, (I assume, unless the guppy has valuable trade skills), and eventually transitioning into the guppy afterlife.

In contrast to the robust guppy life experience, 2 years hardly seems like an adequate amount of time to squeeze all the value out of your website. Alas, web development is a rapidly evolving field, and web designers continue to antiquate design concepts at a break-neck pace. If you fail to maintain your site with necessary updates, the lifespan of your site may be even shorter.

Quick Editor’s Note: I’ve never owned a guppy, but I’d like to believe in my limited exposure to them that I’ve become a bit of an expert, perhaps even growing to become an accepted member of the guppy community, much like famed primatologist Jane Goodall and her gorillas.
- Accepted into a troop of lowland guppies after years of observation and study, Matt calmly stands nearby as mother and father guppies remain ever vigilant over their guppy young
Listen, if you’re wondering if your website is outdated, it likely is. However, site age is not always the best metric for assessing the need for a site redesign. It is a factor, sure, but there are better ways to assess your website’s status. Knowledge is power, and a more informed decision is within your reach. Read on to learn more.

The Down & Dirty (need the bullet points - here you go)

3 Things to Consider When Deciding if Your Website is at the End of Its Life

  1. As your business evolves, so too should your website.
  2. Content is king.
  3. Old design? Time to give your site a facelift.

6 Questions to Help You Determine if Your Website Needs a Revision

  1. Has my audience changed?
  2. Have my online rankings dropped? 
  3. Have I changed my company mission or added new services? 
  4. Has my business adjusted due to current market conditions or client demands?
  5. Does my current website look like other websites in my industry? 
  6. Can customers access my site on their phones and tablets?

Onward to the details…

The Average Lifespan of a Website is 2.7 Years - Let’s Dive Deeper

According to research published by OrbitMedia, the average lifespan of a website is 2 years and 7 months. They arrived at this figure via assessment of milestones identified in the Wayback Machine for Alexa’s list of the Top 200 Marketing Websites. Unfortunately, that list is no longer accessible as Alexa retired the Top Sites by Category lists in September of 2020.

You may be tempted to stop reading here. Now you know the average lifespan of a website is 2.7 years, and you can make an informed decision about the lifespan of your site with just that information, right? Unlikely.

Consider the quality of research performed by Orbit Media. An obvious question to ask is if the age of a website was solely responsible for decreased performance in Orbit Media’s research, or were there other potential factors at play? Due to various non-age related factors that influence site traffic, conversions, and performance, it’s unlikely the age of the websites was the only factor, and in many cases, was likely not the predominant factor.

You now know a website's lifespan functions as a loose guideline. Next, we provide a methodical approach to assess whether your website is modern and functional, or in need of work. Below, we identify 3 considerations and 6 questions to ask yourself when assessing the lifespan of your website.

Considerations For Assessing Website Lifespan

Having a robust online presence is a powerful key to ensuring the success of your business. If you need information or you’re looking for a service, I bet the first thing you do is grab your mobile device or hop on your laptop to browse the internet. So, when it comes to your website and its lifespan, what should you be on the lookout for? Here are some important things to consider:

#1: As your business evolves, so too should your website.

Most businesses undergo some form of evolution in parallel to changing markets and customer demands. As things in your business change, your website should change along with it. This not only serves to keep your prospective customer basis well-informed about the services you offer and how you conduct business, but it also affords you the opportunity to evolve your marketing strategy for optimal return in the modern business environment.

Consider this: There was a time where phone book advertising was rather lucrative. When you receive a phonebook today, do you use it or stuff it in a drawer until you receive next year’s book? If you’re like me, you build impenetrable battle armor with layered phone books for strength and mobility. But I digress. Realistically, that’s about the extent of interaction phone books receive these days.

With modern tech, your website serves as the launching pad for marketing opportunities organically, directly from social media and other referring sources, and via pay per click ads. It needs to reflect current and accurate data for your business, and be set up with modern marketing best-practices implemented.

#2: Content is king.

This could be it’s own blog article, but we’re coming at you with some simple considerations and not some in-depth guidance on building content, so I’ll refrain from presenting my 147 page dissertation on Why Content is King: A Detailed & Highly Analytical Assessment of the Impacts of Content on Internet Marketing, in General, and Search Engine Rankings, Specifically, Vol. 1 here. I’m still fleshing out the title as it’s not quite descriptive enough, but if you want to take a quick gander, feel free to check it out below:

Matt’s Dissertation on Content as King

Consider the following: if you have a blog, when was the last time it was updated? Is your homepage or are your services pages out of date? Does your content read like a technical manual interlaced with Edgar Poe prose?

Site users notice these things. Conveying your company’s message to your potential audience or current customer segment is crucial. Content functions both to capture your audience’s interest and in building trust and expertise.

Up-to-date messaging will keep site users engaged and help with search engine optimization (were the keywords you targeted tooled-in back in 2013 - could be that search trends have changed). Even further, adding new content is an easy and inexpensive way to revamp and modernize your site.

#3: Dated design? No thanks.

If the design of your website looks like the flame-gif laden sites I worked on in high school, you might be bouncing more visitors than you’re retaining.

A website design revamp is always a good way to modernize your site when your content is still solid and current, but the design elements have become outdated.

Whether it is new photography or eye-catching illustration that stands out to site visitors, a unique design keeps users interested in your online content, promotes engagement, and ultimately keeps them coming back for more. This may be where the two-year lifespan of a guppy most closely correlates with site age. Design trends are continuously evolving and it seems like anything over 3 years old looks antiquated these days. Show your customers that your investing in your company and keep visitors coming back with an engaging, modern, and simple site.

Wondering if your site has reached the end of its lifecycle? Ask yourself these 6 important questions and you should have a fairly good idea one way or the other:

  1. Has my industry changed?
    If you previously targeted commercial services, but now you’re providing residential services, are your website’s content and design reflective of that? Industry changes are seismic shifts for businesses. Your site needs to reflect that shift to facilitate the new business mission.
  2. Have my online rankings dropped?
    I’m not saying if you have an old site your rankings will drop. But a rankings drop should clue you in on a potential problem. Assess your site’s bounce rate, if the content is current, how fast or slow your site is, and if the site adheres to Google guidelines. If not, it’s time for a redev.
  3. Have I changed my company mission or added new services?
    Offering a new service? Your site should reflect that. Websites act as the central repository for information about your business across the internet. If your site doesn’t present an accurate reflection of your current services, where will prospective clients go to get that information? Likely straight over to a competitor’s site with modern, updated information.
  4. Has my business adjusted due to current market conditions or client demands?
    Covid-19 is here and we simply don’t know when it will go away. As such, many businesses have transitioned to digital marketing and e-commerce. Similarly, your site needs to match current client demands and expectations. As a business, your site needs to adapt to the modern business environment rather than dictate how users should behave. If your site does the latter, your site could benefit from a redesign.
  5. Does my current website look like other websites in my industry?
    If yes, great. If not, time for a redev. Don’t let your competitors outpace you. Your online presence is important, and at the very least your business should be keeping pace with the pack. If all your competitors have freshly built sites, don’t be the one bringing up the rear. It’s a good way to create a poor impression out of the gate, making it more difficult to turn your site into a marketing tool rather than an internet brochure.
  6. Can customers access my site on their phones and tablets?
    Google has transitioned to mobile first indexing and internet users are close to predominantly using mobile devices to access websites. If your site can be viewed and interacted with naturally on tablets and cell phones, you’re negating a significant chunk of web traffic. Make sure your site is mobile responsive. If it’s not, your site needs a redev. No ifs, ands, or buts.
These questions are meant to get you thinking about how your website is functioning in a cluttered online marketplace. Which questions did you answer yes and no to, and how does that fit in with your current site design? If any of the above six questions are cause for concern, you probably need a redev.

The bottom line: if you aren’t seeing results from your current site, your company has significantly changed, or customers simply can’t use the site in a functional way, the site may have reached the end of its lifespan and you might need to consider updating it regardless of how old or new it is.

Still Unsure if Your Site Needs a Redesign or Complete Redev? Don’t Panic

Take the time to look at the site from all angles with a team of design and SEO professionals. Getting expert advice will give you the information you need about current trends and how you can stay in the loop. Web designers and developers engage with current trends and best-practices as part of the job, and will be well familiar with modern dev. Speaking with an expert may also help you identify some of the most important issues affecting your site and give you a checklist of things to address first.

Your website is one of the most valuable marketing tools your business possesses. It’s how Google and prospective customers will vet your business, professionalism, and expertise. So, start thinking ahead about how you can handle the changes that will need to be made at the end of your site’s lifecycle. What will you need to do to infuse new life into it? After all, without a dynamic site, you may not just be missing potential traffic, but be hindering your business growth.

As the years go on, contemplate the role that your website has in drawing in new clientele. Keeping it fresh is the best way to ensure customers find you, engage with your brand, and ultimately, choose your business in a sea of options.