By Steve LawJune 17, 2021

When Is It Time To Rebuild My Website?

I often get asked how long a website should last.  There is, of course, no definite answer to this question, but it can depend on several different factors.  I usually tell people to think of it as a computer.  How often do you need to replace your laptop?  If you’re someone who counts on the computer for your everyday business needs, you would consider replacing it more often than a casual user whose needs for reliability and performance are less mission-critical. 

If we say that the arbitrary lifespan of a website is five years, we can then look to see what has changed in the last five years to know if our site is getting dated or whether it still has some life left in it.  Let’s look at what changes in web design writ large have happened since 2016.

Aesthetic Changes

Web design can be a lot like fashion in that the styles change over the seasons.  While some of those changes are purely esthetic, many of them come from emerging research into user experience and user interface.  That is to say that with every passing year, we get a better understanding of how to optimize websites to better drive conversions, and ultimately business.

An excellent example of esthetic changes would be website navigation.  The number of top-level items in website navigation menus has trended downward to create a streamlined browsing experience.  At the same time, the use of richer sub-navigation is more widely employed to compensate for the reduction in the top-level navigation.  The overall result is a simple and intuitive yet powerful navigation system, allowing users to quickly find the information they are looking for, even when there are dozens (or hundreds) of pages on a site.

Web Technology Changes

The essential technologies of the web are constantly evolving.  This evolution makes new features available, patches bugs and security flaws in old versions, and speeds up your overall web browsing experience.  Years ago, we used flash for all kinds of web animation.  Flash was later replaced by HTML 5 animations, which were faster, less resource-hungry, and didn’t keep search engines from indexing your pages.

While flash was already well on its way out by 2016, other technologies have continued to evolve.  PHP is the underlying technology in most websites.  In 2016 the latest and greatest version was v7.0, but widespread adoption of PHP7 was still far from universal.  Most websites ran version 5.6, which came out in 2015.  At the time of this writing, most applications require a minimum of version 7, with version 8 phasing in at present.

WordPress is the most popular web publishing platform on the market today.  The WordPress core has had several major updates in the past five years, including a major overhaul for the release of WordPress v5.0 in 2018.  Version 5 introduced a brand-new editor, which caused many compatibility issues with older themes and plugins.  If themes or plugins that you are using are not being actively developed, you may find yourself with features that break or potential security vulnerabilities which remain unpatched.

Device Changes

The way that we consume websites has changed substantially since 2016 as well.  In 2018, mobile traffic surpassed desktop browser traffic for the first time. As of this writing, more than 60% of North American web traffic is from mobile devices.  In 2020, Google announced that it would be indexing websites using a mobile-first approach.  Certainly, five years ago, most websites were being designed with mobile in mind, but ensuring that they run fast on mobile and that the user has a great mobile user experience has become even more critical.

While the proliferation of small screens has changed web design, so has the adoption of larger screens.  In the past several years, we’ve seen the resolution of desktop computer screens increase significantly. Also, with high pixel density (retina) displays becoming more popular, the trend will continue.  In 2016 most websites displayed desktop content with a width of around 1,000 pixels, with many moving to widths of about 1400 in 2021.

Legal Requirements

There are specific legal standards that have been put forward in recent years.  Enforcement of compliance with these standards is far from universal, but it is a good idea to be ahead of the curve on meeting your regulatory obligations.

Privacy has become a big concern in recent years.  There are now requirements for privacy policies, cookie notifications, etc., on your website to make your use of your visitors’ data more transparent.  2018 saw the introduction of the GDPR (General Data Privacy Regulation) out of the European Union, which made it a requirement of any website doing business with a European citizen to allow for a complete record of their user data or to request the complete erasure of their personally identifiable information.  While the regulation is from Europe, their requirements make it nearly impossible for any website not to implement the changes.

Accessibility is quickly becoming a primary consideration, with legislation requiring websites to comply with WCAG 2.0 standards at the beginning of 2021.  Compliance aside, it is just good practice to make sure that your website is accessible to individuals with disabilities. As more companies make this a priority, you will be placed at a competitive disadvantage if you fail to adapt.

Changes in Your Business

Have you ever seen a build years ago that has had several additions put onto it after the fact?  Sometimes a website needs to adapt to market conditions not originally anticipated.  The COVID-19 pandemic, for example, forced many businesses to shift to online-only business models very suddenly. While the beauty of digital publishing is that we can make changes as needed, if your overall business objectives have changed, you might be better served by a website designed with those objectives in mind.  Things like site structure might need to change dramatically.

If you’re undertaking a rebranding process, it also may make sense to rebuild your site.  If your branding is more than just a logo to you but includes fonts, colors, etc., and maybe even design philosophy, the website may need rebuilding as part of the rebranding process.


All too often, crisis dictates a website redesign for you.  It could be that your website was hacked and irreparably damaged because of outdated software.  It could be that your site looks so dated that you feel embarrassed to send customers to it.  It could be that you’ve fallen into search engine oblivion because your site is not mobile responsive, or your site structure is unclear to web crawlers.  The common thread is that a crisis all too often brings it about, leading to a hasty process to replace it and potentially lose revenue during the transition.

A smart business owner needs to be looking ahead and (as best as any of us can) anticipate the problem before it becomes a crisis.  It’s better to ask yourself if your website will serve your business six months or a year from now, rather than asking if an old website is currently hamstringing your business.

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Aidina Bellomy
Aidina Bellomy
21:03 29 Oct 21
Steve and his team have been absolutely amazing to work with. They are very responsive, talented, creative and... extremely professional. We loved their work so much we are having them work on another website for us, we trust them BLINDLY. Best decision for our businesses was to go with Mission Bell for all of web and logo development more
19:00 28 May 21
Steve at Mission Bell is great! Very creative and efficient. Everything gets done in a very timely manner and he is... very easy to work with. We were thrilled with our website! Thank you!read more
17:57 23 Feb 21
I highly recommend Mission Bell Communications to anyone who is the market for web development, hosting, and all around... professionalism. These guys go the extra mile to understand our company's needs, and the results are amazing!read more
Hatfield House On Hibernia
Hatfield House On Hibernia
00:51 17 Dec 20
Can’t say enough about our satisfaction with Mission Bell Communications. We would highly recommend them to anyone... who’s looking for someone who takes the time to understand the client’s needs, offer suggestions, develop and communicate a strategy and implement a solution with tremendous attention to detail. Ours is a Bed and Breakfast business and we’ve definitely found the right web support. Thanks to Steve and his more
Sid Feagin
Sid Feagin
12:41 25 Aug 20
Steve Law and Mission Bell Communications are one of the best web services companies I've ever used. They are... responsive, professional, and provide excellent quality across all of the service lines we have used. It's rare to find a company that provides the value they deliver which is why I consider them an integral part of my more
Darrell Bankes
Darrell Bankes
12:41 24 Aug 20
Mission Bell continues to impress me with the quality and attention to detail. Appreciate their attentiveness and... ability to get work done efficiently, and help quick when really more
Ryan McDougall
Ryan McDougall
18:45 04 May 20
Steve helped our business at a very critical time while pivoting to e-commerce in the midst of the COVID 19 crisis and... it was seamless and we are now able to continue to do business. Very more
Fons Van Geleen
Fons Van Geleen
16:17 12 Dec 19
Steve has helped me setting up a great website for my organization. Being a newbie in Canada i 'm busy with a lot of... stuff and the website had never been live without the help of Mission Bell Communications. Thankyou very much Steve!read more
Debra Signorello
Debra Signorello
14:28 23 Oct 19
Great job on my website. I enjoyed working with youTurned out excellent. Thank you. Rich
Bob Rohfritsch
Bob Rohfritsch
13:16 18 Sep 19
Steve has done an awesome job on my website.I needed his experience to do what I am not into and he took the... information I gave him and ran with it.Great job!Very professional website!Thanks Steve.Bobread more
Michael O'Callaghan
Michael O'Callaghan
23:54 25 Mar 19
"Steve has extraordinary vision, experience, and most of all... he is delightful to work with. Mission Bell exceeded... expectations- met every deadline, and were extremely flexible. His professionalism, integrity and the ability to translate & implement our ideas to help re-brand & deliver our product to marketplace was an awesome experience. Steve & the resources Mission Bell Communications bring to the table are truly WORLD CLASS." - Highly Recommended on all fronts! - Mike more
Tristin Burns
Tristin Burns
05:06 04 Dec 18
Fantastic work! Professional, experienced, fast and reliable. Mission Bell did a fabulous job on my site. Incredibly... personable and patient. Everything you want when going through the process of re-branding and creating a new more
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