Most of us have taken at least a second to be amazed at how fast modern technology, design — and our own tastes — change. We might feel like we spend as much time updating our computer software as using it. Didn’t we just get that small silver smart phone, and now there’s a must-have new big gold one?
Dr. Steven Pearlman made this point especially relevant at the Global Aesthetics meeting in South Beach, Florida, last month. Dr. Pearlman, a New York facial plastic surgeon, discussed websites and how he uses them to support and grow his practice. But he also gave his honest perspective of a website’s useful life span.
“A website is only good for four years.”
Dr. Pearlman believes that it takes two years to perfect a website, leaving only another two years for functioning at its most effective level. Then it’s time to change it up! We may all think that websites should last a lot longer, but Perlman knows the truth.
The reasons that websites have such a short life-span are numerous. Here are just a few things that have recently caused many sites to age poorly:
- Massive, wide-screen, high definition desktop monitors require bigger images and full width backgrounds
- Small smart phone screens (~60% of all traffic now) require smaller, highly optimized images and content presentation.
- Tablets often require entirely different content presentation (do you hold yours in portrait or landscape mode?)
- Responsive design (for easy reading and navigation across a full range of devices)
- Google guidelines (constantly changing!)
- The extinction of flash animation (thanks to iPhones).
- Ever-changing consumer aesthetic tastes
- New technologies (e.g., parallax scrolling, where background images move more slowly than foreground images, creating the illusion of depth and immersion)
None of these changes are brought about by the website owner or developer
So how do we manage our frustration and deal with technology changes that affect our businesses, yet are out of our control?
Dr. Pearlman was correct — in most instances
At Advice Media, we agree that a website can last about four years, with proper upgrades and maintenance. However, if you want your website to stand out among your competitors (or use it as the central marketing hub for your business), upgrading at the three-year mark is advisable. If you use your website strictly as a referral confirmation device (instead of as a true marketing engine), you might be able get a five-year lifespan — as long as those pesky changes in technology don’t make it obsolete, without asking you.