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What is the typical website lifespan and how long should they last?

We are often asked “how long should my website last?” this can be a difficult question, with many factors to consider.

Every business or organization wants to get the most value out of their website investment and we consider it our responsibility as your partner to help you consider all of the options. When it comes down to it, there are two different approaches to maintaining your website: ongoing iterative changes or the complete overhaul/redesign of the entire site. Which is right for you?

Iterative enhancements

A website is never finished. As with anything, your website needs care and maintenance, but iterative enhancements goes beyond updating your ExpressionEngine, CraftCMS, or WordPress content management system. Making iterative enhancements to the user experience requires focus on your strategic goals, informed by your analytics, and balanced by user input. Technology and web standards move quickly; an agile, iterative approach to enhancing your website allows you to stay current over time. As these changes are ongoing, the design gradually evolves instead of a massive rework of the user interface. This approach spreads your web maintenance cost out over several years and also allows you to introduce new advances in web standards more often which can be a major bonus for user engagement.

Complete redesign

The complete website redesign or overhaul is the most common approach. Companies or organizations often make a big investment up front and utilize the website until they feel the design is out-of-date, hard to use, or their traffic has dropped. While this approach is great for most small businesses, portfolio and brochure websites, it doesn’t allow for the flexibility or advancements needed by most larger organizations. This approach typically has a one-time cost up-front with minor maintenance over time. Compared to a website that has had multiple iterations and revisons, the overall maintenance cost is lower, however sometimes the up-front cost can be hard for small businesses or non-profits.

Combining both approaches

These two approaches do not have to be exclusive. Most of our clients combine them to some degree as we add new features over time or refresh their design while not completely overhauling the back-end. In doing so, we are able to improve your ROI and keep your budget manageable. As to the original question of how long should your website last, we typically see our client’s utilize a website anywhere from 5-8 years before a complete redesign or rebuild but this will vary depending on your own goals and needs.

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