Helping Clients with Outdated Websites

One of the joys of being a freelancer is that, if you do your job, you’ll have clients who stay with you year after year. It really is nice to know that people appreciate your hard work and that you have built a trusting relationship.

After awhile, you might start to notice that some of those clients may be in desperate need of a site redesign. No, it’s not that the site you designed is that bad. But, after several years and several advancements in technology, a site may simply become outdated.

Personally, I feel like with each passing year I become better at what I do as both a designer and developer. A site I designed 5-10 years ago usually won’t measure up to the standards I have today.

Heck, there are times when I look at something I did one or two years ago and say "Wow, I wish I knew then what I know now. I may have added feature X or used script Y".

So, there are definitely selfish reasons for discussing a redesign. Both in terms of putting your best work out there and, of course, bringing in more revenue. That said, there are also times when outdated websites can have bad consequences for your clients.

Outdated websites leaves your client susceptible to:

  • Being bypassed by the competition.
  • Wasting precious time and money updating an old static HTML site or one with a clunky CMS from 2001.
  • SEO penalties from when "black hat" methods were used.
  • Possible security holes from outdated software or scripts.
  • Missing out on social media integration.
  • Failing to serve mobile visitors with a device-friendly version of their site.
  • Lack of browser compatibility.

What To Do About It

Perhaps the best way to approach your client on the subject of a redesign is to schedule some time to talk in person. You might even go that extra mile and buy them lunch.

When the subject of their website is brought up, tell them that you really believe they could benefit from a new website. List the benefits, including:

  • Save money and become more efficient with a new CMS such as WordPress.
  • The ability to create a custom template and functionality for mobile devices.
  • Take advantage of newer technologies like jQuery to add new features.
  • Social media usage to increase the awareness of their brand.

Of course, the list can go on and on. The idea is to whet their appetite for what they are missing out on. From there, show them examples of some of your recent work. Point out specific features or layouts that you think may truly benefit your client. Explain how your other clients are using new technologies and how it has helped their business.

Keeping Their Budget In Mind

Your client may just be thrilled to hear about the latest and greatest you have to offer. Selling them on your skills is essential. But even more important to your client is how much the project will cost. Convincing them to spend money is always the bigger challenge.

One of the ways I like to present the idea of a redesign is to think of it as an investment in my client’s business. The investment isn’t just about a fancy-looking new site, it’s also about functionality and how it can potentially increase sales and make life easier.

Particularly for clients who spend a good bit of resources updating their site (whether they do it or pay you to do it), it’s a good idea to point out the cost savings of using WordPress, etc. This may not be as relevant to a client who just redesigned their site a couple of years ago. But, if we’re talking about clients who have gone 5+ years without a redesign, the cost savings argument can really convince them to go ahead with the project.

Most everyone you deal with will eventually ask you "How much does this cost?". It may be a good idea to have a rough draft proposal on hand. That way, you can give them a ballpark figure and still give yourself wiggle room depending on what the client wants to do.

In Conclusion

When you have a free moment, take a look at your portfolio. Study some of your older work and pick out a client or two who you feel could really benefit from a redesign. Go over their sites with a fine-toothed comb and figure out what it is they’re missing out on. Then, schedule some time to chat.

If you’ve built a trusting relationship, then they are more likely to really listen and consider your proposal. Be confident in what you say and don’t make promises you know you can’t keep. Just give them your best, most honest pitch. You just may end up with more work than you know what to do with (which could always be the subject of another post). Good luck!

Author: (15 Posts)

Eric Karkovack is a web designer with well over a decade of experience. You can visit his business site here. In July 2013, Eric released his first eBook: Your Guide to Becoming a Freelance Web Designer. He also has an opinion on just about every subject. You can follow his rants on Twitter @karks88.

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