Establishing a web presence online can be a long and extensive process, so there is a tendency for many to leave their website untouched after its initial completion. Not only is neglecting a website an unwise decision from a business perspective, there can also be serious technical hurdles to overcome if a website doesn’t stay up to date.
One of the most common issues that outdated websites face is browser compatibility. Web browsers are constantly changing their standards; meaning that just because a website functioned in a browser a few years ago does not necessarily mean it will function now. Maintaining universality among different types of browsers, whether that be Safari, Chrome, Explorer or any other type of browser, is best achieved when a website is up to date and complying with the most current standards.
Even if a website is compatible with every browser imaginable, there is no guarantee that everyone who visits the site will have the same user experience if it is outdated. Outdated websites can have excess HTML code that slows down browsers and makes accessing them frustrating for users. Likewise, older images or other media may be so memory intensive that browsers simply can’t display them.
At the same time, it is important to consider the wide variety of web enabled devices that someone may using when viewing a site. In the past, most people may have only visited a site via a computer. With the rise of smartphones, tablets, and other devices, it is critical to ensure that websites can be accessed on every platform. This means not only updating a site to make it mobile friendly, but also completely retooling the user interface as well. Mobile web design has undergone drastic style changes over the years, and keeping up with the visual trends is just as important as getting the “.com” in the web address.
Let’s not forget about SEO, either. Google ranks websites with the recent content as more relevant to web users. Updating content keeps search engines crawling back frequently which can boost website visibility. Conversely, sites with static, unchanging content can drop in page ranking.
Last but not least are the serious security concerns that can arise if a website is left untouched for long periods of time. While it may seem unfathomable as to why someone would try to exploit a small business website over a larger one, the reality is that most outdated websites are softer targets with holes in their code that can be exploited by more sophisticated hackers. Part of the solution to this includes staying up to date with browser standards, but even maintaining a site that has been updated fairly recently can be enough to deter potential hackers. (We’ve written about security concerns several times before!)
While it may seem like a hassle to keep a website up to date after it’s completed, the benefits far outweigh the temporary inconvenience. In order to consistently provide the best experience to site visitors, a site should be updated every year or two. This guarantees that not only will the site be visually appealing, but that it will function across all browsers and devices, as well as being secure enough to grant the site owner peace of mind.