I first became involved in website and application development 17 years ago, when it was a fledgling concept with very few rules or established best practices. Back then, the only thing marketers felt they needed was an “online brochure” that covered who they were, what products and services they offered, and provided contact information just in case someone was interested in calling or emailing.

That was about it.  Nobody talked about showing up in the search results, whether they were going to run a PPC campaign, how many times they should consider blogging each month, or whether their site was going to be designed so it was responsive to whatever device people were viewing it from. 

The reason these things weren’t being discussed is because… 

  • PPC didn’t exist.
  • The search algorithms weren’t predictable and results often delivered links to porn (regardless of your search phrase).
  • The word “blog” hadn’t been created yet (I still don’t like the word).
  • The phrase “responsive” was thrown around only as it related to the un-responsive nature of the dialup Internet support departments who would place you in an endless music loop because the techs were so introverted they didn’t want to speak to humans. 

I kinda feel a little like my grandparents sharing the history of transportation improvements throughout their lives as I talk about this stuff, but as a marketer, I couldn’t be happier to have had a front row seat through all these exciting, world changing events. 

The Internet has played a role in freeing the oppressed, exposing evil and corrupt acts, providing small businesses with an equal playing field when it comes to competing against large corporations, and has essentially provided direct access to infinite knowledge when it comes to any question you’ve ever wondered about.

Over the past 17 years, best practices have been established as it relates to websites, but from my perspective, those best practices may have too closely mirrored trends within the marketing profession. Especially when it comes to the lifespan of a website.

So what has changed?

I was doing research just the other day, and I noticed there has been a shift from 2 years to 4 years when determining the average lifespan of a website.  Coincidentally (or not so much) the average lifespan of a marketing leader (director or c-level) has also shifted from 2 years to 4 years.

I understand this insight isn’t akin to solving the mystery of cold fusion, since it’s highly likely that a new marketing leader would certainly address the most prominent aspect of their new company’s digital presence.  Although I can get my head wrapped around “why” this would happen, I don’t necessarily agree with the strategy. 

I personally believe that throwing away your website and creating a new one every 2 or 4 years, simply because you’re “changing the guard,” puts you at a disadvantage.  A website is a living, breathing entity and should never be viewed as “complete.” Just like a human being goes through the process of learning and adapting based on the “data” they receive, your website should go through that same process.  If companies continue to “throw out the baby with the bathwater” simply because they are bringing in a new parental figure, I believe they are missing out on a huge opportunity to watch that “baby” develop and grow.

If you’d like to learn more about the most effective approach to website/application development I’ve come across in the 17 years I’ve been in the industry, check out our eBook on Growth Driven Design!  I promise you if you do, you’ll think twice the next time you’re considering throwing out your website with the bathwater.

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