Years ago I found best travel shoe ever. Black slip-on sneakers perfect for dealing with TSA lines.
But Puma stopped making them about 5 years ago. I’ve scoured ebay and hunted deadstock. Put my name on waitlists and searched sketchy random sites in vain.
Recently my final backup pair got a hole in the sole. It was way beyond time to let them go, but it pained me to throw them away. I had invested so much time, money and energy to find them – and I was worried that I’d never be able to replace them.
I know a lot of people feel the same way about their websites.
Maybe you spent months creating your site.
Maybe you paid someone a lot of money to create it (more than a new car in some cases!)
But you’re frustrated that you can’t update it.
It’s so out-of-date that you can’t change anything without breaking the site.
You can’t add the features that you know will propel your business.
Or maybe it just doesn’t represent who you are anymore.
That’s the sunk cost fallacy.
You’ve spent so much time and money on it – and you can’t get that back. And the more you invested, the harder it becomes to abandon it – so you don’t take any action to propel your business forward.
I hear this story all the time – and I’ve had it happen to me too.
I once paid a development team $10,000 to create something for me. And they ran away with my money (That’s a story for another day…) It depressed me for months. And I felt so stuck (and that I should have known better!) I let it get the better of me for way too long – and then I decided that I just needed to buck up and find a new way of doing things.
I’m in the midst of revamping a few sites that are 3-5 years old – and the contrast between what we could do then and what we can do now is staggering.
My rule of thumb? Every 18-24 months you’ll probably need to majorly re-work your site.
I know that seems crazy to change it up so often – but this industry moves fast. Browsers upgrade, code changes – the web is anything but static – and your site needs to keep up in order to work properly!
Think about it – how many clothes do you have from 3-5 years ago. More importantly, do they fit who you are today?
Here’s how to know when you’re ready to change – and how you can make your investment last longer:
- Keep it flexible. I love a great custom design, but it needs to be flexible. That’s why I love tools like Beaver Builder that allow you to create custom page layouts on the fly. You need to be able to change and update your content with little to no effort. A few years ago we didn’t have these easy layout options – so if you want to take advantage of these new tools, you might need to update the underlying theme of your site.
- Plan to upgrade every couple of years. If it’s not working, it’s time to change. If you’ve been fighting something for months (or years!) and it’s preventing you from making the changes you need to make to make your site and business profitable – it’s time to upgrade! – make sure to budget for this!
- Work with someone who knows what they’re doing. I used to manage a legacy site that was created by someone’s assistant…who had no idea what they were doing. Every time I would update their site I swear just a little – I never knew if that would be the day it was going to crash (I always keep backups and finally launched a new site). Ask your designer (or if you’re a designer think about) how the site will be used long-term – will it be flexible enough to make regular copy and image changes? If you’re using a template, is that template maintained and kept up-to-date by its creator?
- Just because it looks fancy now, doesn’t mean it’s going to work long-term. If you’re not doing a custom site, choose a theme that is simple and limit the extras you add. The fewer bells and whistles you start with, the more likely you won’t have issues down the line (all those animations and fancy features come at a hefty performance cost – and often conflict with plugins or other features).