The new year is just around the corner, and many entrepreneurs like to use this time of year to perk up any elements of their business that are getting stale or outdated. This is especially true among e-commerce businesses, which must keep up with the latest web design and user experience trends to attract customers and boost sales.

Of course, you don't want to pour time, energy and resources into a website overhaul if you don't truly need one. If you're not sure whether your online storefront needs a refresh, take a look at how these eight entrepreneurs made the decision. It's time to upgrade your site if the following signs sound familiar.

Your company is growing and evolving.

If you've experienced growth or entered a new market recently, it's a good opportunity to revisit your digital presence.

"When we introduce new products or services and our audience changes, we change the site's imagery, layout, copy, branding and messaging to ensure it resonates with our audiences," says Kristin Kimberly Marquet, founder and creative director of Creative Development Agency, LLC.

Your website doesn't match the quality of your product or service.

Similarly, your website must speak to your current quality and level of service, according to Joel Mathew, CEO and founder of Fortress Consulting.

"We recently overhauled our own site because it didn't do justice to the work we were producing," Mathew explains. "When a large gap emerges between how you look online and offline, it's time."

Your mobile UX and site speed are lacking.

By now, most business owners know that a top-notch website experience is essential. However, some still haven't invested in upgrading their mobile UX, despite a growing number of customers making mobile purchases.

"Take a look at your analytics and compare sales coming from desktop versus sales coming from mobile devices," says Amine Rahal, founder of IronMonk. "As consumers are increasingly shopping online through mobile devices, business owners can no longer ignore their mobile speed and UX."

Conversion rates are low.

Syed Balkhi, founder of WPBeginner, believes a clear indicator that your website needs help is a low sales conversion rate. "If you are spending a decent amount of marketing dollars, but not enough users are converting into customers when they land on your page, it's time to reevaluate," he says.

He recommends using Google Analytics to see where your users are dropping off the most and improving those pages first.

Your analytics are showing issues and declining traffic.

As you explore your website analytics, you may find there are other issues that need your attention. Declining traffic, outdated content and low speeds are just a few red flags to look for, according to Brandon Stapper, CEO of Nonstop Signs.

"Google Analytics and Insights will show you what you need to know," he says. "It's important to monitor this continuously to determine when changes need to be made."

Your site is simply an imitation of your competitors' pages.

According to Nicole Munoz of Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc., being another cookie-cutter e-commerce website won't do you any favors. New startups, she says, are especially prone to the idea that imitation will lead to success.

"As a result of that mentality, their own brand becomes highly diluted and lacks the unique value that will resonate with an audience," Munoz explains. "To push past this, seek out a deeper understanding of symbolic messages and how to convey them through your brand."

Customers are asking you how to navigate or use your website.

Andrew Schrage, CEO of Money Crashers Personal Finance, reveals that you'll know your customers need a better UX when you get a lot of questions regarding navigational issues, such as where to go to perform a particular action.

"Make sure the paths to certain actions are clear and easy to understand," says Schrage. "To build a stronger e-commerce presence, use multiple and high-quality images of your products and include in-depth and comprehensive descriptions."

Your site is more about your company than your customer.

One important sign that it's time to refresh your retail site is that it's focused on your company as opposed to the customer, according to Antonio Neves of THINQACTION Inc.

"If your business, product or service is positioned as the hero, it creates a disconnect between you and your customer," he says. "Make the narrative about them and the results or promise you're making to them."

Published on: Dec 11, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.