As user preferences change from desktop viewing to smartphones and tablets, and technology advances – where websites now use tons of different styles and formats for sharing and displaying information – business owners are concerned that their websites may become quickly outdated.
To help business owners, designers, and marketers like you, below, we discuss ways you can future-proof your website.
Make room in your long-term budget for improvement costs
One of the best ways to avoid getting into trouble with woefully outdated web design in the future is to create a website now that could easily be improved later. In other words, you want to lay a solid foundation you can consistently build upon. Additionally, you will want to allocate funds for future website upgrades. However, business leaders often erroneously assume that if they make an investment in quality web design early in the process, then they can avoid putting more money into updates for a very long time.
You have to anticipate that, no matter how well your website works at the moment, there is going to come a time when certain changes need to be made. By structuring website maintenance and improvement costs into your future budget plan, you can minimize the chances of getting blindsided by expensive redesigns or a wholesale overhaul of elements such as security protocols or hosting requirements.
Keep an eye on the relevance of your content
Almost every organization now strives to set the pace in content marketing, as companies who excel at the practice benefit from a marketing contribution to revenue that is six times greater than those who lag behind. Hopefully you know the feeling of creating an exceptional story or video: you know you have extended value both for your audience and the company, and you feel like it can live forever on your website and continue to be shared across numerous platforms for years to come.
The fallacy with this attitude is that even great content sometimes becomes outdated. Economic and political realities shift and often affect great change in certain industries, the evolution of technology renders advice obsolete, and statistical information can rapidly shift. In order to combat these effects and build a website that remains value-added long into the future, pre-existing content needs to be regularly examined for continued efficacy, including the quality of links and the accuracy of all data and claims shared within.
Work within a tried-and-true content management system
When choosing a content management system (CMS) for your website, you want to find a solution that has the capacity and ability to evolve along with your needs, as well as one that will remain a reliable partner many years into the future.
Some unproven CMS providers promise loads of extras at rock bottom prices in order to entice new companies to utilize their platform. Be wary of such options; not only may you find that a software update in the near future leaves your systems unsupported, but such new entrants also often lack the robust security mechanisms employed by the established platforms.
WordPress, which is far and away the most employed CMS platform in the world – used in over 60 million websites – is a worthy choice for almost any company. Not only is the platform supported by numerous third-party developers and bestowed with frequent updates, but add-ons and a suite of features make it easy to scale with your business as you grow.
Always build pages on a foundation of responsive design
Few factors have upended the world of web design quite as significantly as the explosion of mobile devices as a primary browsing option for buyers. Forrester research anticipates ecommerce revenue from mobile devices will exceed $140 billion in 2016, meaning that no company can ignore the importance of the mobile website design experience in the present or the future, regardless of size or industry.
Building pages with responsive design results in interfaces that intuitively adapt and format depending upon the screen size of the user. The result is a cohesive and well-designed UX, even if they frequently interact with your site by switching back and forth between devices of different sizes.
Implement code that can be easily maintained and updated
If you want your website to be nimble and easily tweaked to respond more effectively to future audiences, then it needs to be built on a codebase that can be maintained with minimal effort and changed just as easily.
It is also critical to think about who will be in charge of updating your site design years from now: the answer is you do not know. If the design is based on a platform that one person who is no longer with the company is fluent in, you may find yourself having to start from scratch when adaptable code would facilitate simple updates.
Alternatively, you may want to work with a web design agency that has years of history helping other businesses in your niche so that they can continue to provide expert support for your website over the years to come.
In terms of aging, simple and minimal is almost always preferable
There is a reason most of us cringe when we look at fashion or furniture design from even as recently as 15 to 20 years ago: designers like to take advantage of bold trends in order to stand out from their competitors. It often works in the short-term, but future audiences often banish these designs to the memories of history in favor of more classical styles.
In web design, as well, centering your site around a simple and more minimal theme is generally the better strategy if you want it to age with dignity. By avoiding succumbing to trends of the moment, you can maintain the overall look of your website for far longer and still feature an engaging experience that will spark interest in your audience and increase conversions.
Understand that you cannot reliably predict the future
Part of the process of future-proofing your website is understanding that it is impossible to account for every development that will affect the worlds of commerce and design in the coming years. Even the most famous technological prognosticators have histories of hits and misses throughout their careers.
In this regard, it is not wise to spend too much time trying to design a website filled with elements that you think are far ahead of the curve and will resonate in the future. You may occasionally find something that does work, but the benefits will be outweighed by the resources exhausted in constant pursuit of future trends. Elegant, highly-functional web design that is based on currently sound principles will persist over something flashy and new almost every time.