Website Shelf-Life: How Often Should a Firm Update?
"A client asked me the following: 'How often should we be refreshing our web site?' How would you respond?"
A. The question actually has a multi-pronged answer...
To be most effective, a website's content should be added to or changed on a very frequent basis such as weekly or at least a couple times a month.
The intent being that continually renewed content gets a site indexed frequently by the search engines. Search engines also like information tagged with more recent dates versus older dates.
If search engines catalog content with the keywords users are likely to query on, the returned results that will come up highest are those with some combination of a) the most dead-on match, b) the most recently posted information, and/or c) the most popular (highly viewed) pages that contain the words.
A website's design should probably be revisited, at least a little bit, every 2 or 3 years. Design trends and technology change so fast that after about 2 to 2.5 years, sites begin looking dated. Sometimes the "dated" aspects have to do with navigation (next element to be discussed, below) but usually they are appearance-related. I was just thinking about the fact that my own site design just had its 2nd birthday and is in need of a refresher.
The good news is that it may not take much to update the look of a site if the site structure is really well-planned to begin with.
This is where good strategy comes in. If the site structure (the way all the pages interconnect) is really logical and well-thought through (and functioning intuitively!) then the navigation can remain the same even when a redesign is needed.
This requires the site to have been built in a good program, and not programmed by someone who did it in such a way that no one else can figure out what they did! When the navigation and programming are sound and follow web development standards, then a "refresh" can be likened to changing the clothes on a manikin, or putting new siding on a home. This enables a refresh to occur easily every few years.
An important consideration in navigation is to make your site scalable which means to set it up such that there is consideration for where new service lines (your products) or new niche areas will be added. Anticipating the need to do this makes it easier to launch these new things and promote them on the web quickly without an urgent redesign of your site.
So, as with most things, a good strategy initially will allow for more smoothly changing and growing in the future.