It may surprise you to hear me say this, but redesigning a website is often overrated. While it can seem like a quick and relatively easy way to get rid of all your problems, this is far from the truth. Over the years we’ve helped many businesses and organizations create new sites and redesign old ones, and we’ve learned a thing or two.
Identify Your Problems First
If you just start redesigning your website without identifying what problems you’re currently experiencing with it might look good, but in the end, you’ll be just as frustrated with the new design as you were with the old one. Don’t just push your problems further down the line, solve them before you even get started. If you had your site built five years ago and haven’t touched it since the fact that it’s now outdated and utilizing old technology could be your problem. Maybe your website isn’t included in your marketing strategy and hasn’t attracted any new customers in a while. That’s a valid problem too.
Once you know what problems you're trying to correct you can ask yourself these questions to see if a redesign is truly the best course of action.
Is your current design flexible enough?
Unlike print, websites are fluid and dynamic. They’re able to be updated with relative ease and can even be tailored to the particular likes and interests of individual visitors. Technology and the visual elements of your design should work together not against each other. A good design will speed up a customer’s decision making and be easy to update and maintain. Don’t focus solely on the features you want your site to have instead, think about the purpose behind the site. What action do you want the visitor to take? A visually pleasing website that doesn’t prompt people to take action is pointless and expensive.
Did the web change before you did?
Maybe you missed the boat on responsive web design thinking that it was just a fad that would just go away. The reality is that change happens and we’ve all missed out on something at one point or another. Redesigning a website gives you a great opportunity to improve more than just the visuals design of your site. What are the current trends in web design? How do you know what is a safe bet to invest in for your new site? Ask yourself:
- Does it improve accessibility?
- Does it improve performance?
- Does it make maintenance easier?
Improving the loading times and accessibility of your website on visitor’s devices will not only improve your conversion rate, but will also help your search engine rankings. Google’s algorithms reward sites that are mobile friendly with higher rankings and will soon be adding page loading speeds to the mix.
Have any of your products or services changed?
If you’ve made any major changes to your product offerings or have pivoted your business to a new type of service, now might be a good time to look into redesigning your website. But it’s possible that the biggest change you need to make is in your messaging and content. If you change the focus of your business but your website is otherwise solid, it makes no sense to spend the money to come up with a fresh look if only the content needs updating. So when do you know if you need to update your site if your products or services have changed? Ask yourself:
- Do existing customers love the product but new ones aren’t buying?
- Are customers buying from other channels except for your website?
- Do people say that yours is the great product with the terrible website?
Have you forgotten when you last updated your site?
We’ve all had this happen before. You get busy running your business and the next thing you know years have passed. If your website isn’t a critical part of your business then it can be easy to forget about it. In this case, a site redesign could be exactly what your business needs to let people know you’re still around and have exactly what they need.
So when is a redesign not the right solution?
A new beginning or a freshly redesigned website can be an alluring thing, but if it’s not done for the right reasons it can actually hurt your brand and your credibility. Here are a few instances where a redesign is not the right solution.
- The site feels outdated to you
You’re on your site far more than any of your customers. Just because it feels old and outdated to you doesn’t mean that it feels that way to your customers. If your website is doing its job and bringing you customers there isn’t a good reason to change it.
- A competitor just updated their website
Just because a competitor has changed their website doesn’t automatically mean that you have to follow their example. Do a little investigative work and find out why they felt that a redesign was needed. Were they solving a problem? If so do you have the same problem? If not, then there is no reason just to make a change for the sake of change.
- A few people don’t like it
Opinions are everywhere. If you don’t believe me just take a look at Facebook. Just because you have a few people complaining about your website doesn’t mean it needs a change. If you find a majority of customers are frustrated with your site, then maybe you should consider a change, but you need to identify what the problem is first.
If in the end, you do decide that it’s time for a site redesign it’s important to keep in mind that you need to set aside enough resources for the project. It will take time to define the problem and come up with the right solution. Be prepared to give the time necessary to put the solution in place, measure the results and make adjustments as necessary.