When can you just make a few fixes to keep your website up to date, and when is it time to throw it out in favor of a serious redesign? Here are ten signs you may need a redesign. Any one might not offer enough of a reason by itself, but if you answer “yes” to three or more, give some thought to overhauling it.
- It looks old-fashioned. A site that contains a text block stretched across the whole page, one with bordered tables, or one with web counters looks ancient. A flat color scheme, long bullet lists, and blinking text are some more indicators of outdated design. If your site looks old, people will subconsciously wonder how up to date your business is. A design with a modern look will create a more positive impression.
- It isn’t mobile-friendly. Most Web accesses today come from mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. If the content doesn’t fit well on a small screen, you’ll lose a large part of your audience. The modern paradigm is responsive design, meaning a design that adapts to the environment where it’s being displayed. The layout will change depending on whether it has a small screen or a big one to work with, and maybe even on whether the user is holding the device in portrait or landscape orientation. It’s also possible to have separate desktop and mobile websites, though this can take more work to maintain.
- It doesn’t perform well on search engines. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a tricky art, and just adding some keywords may not suffice to improve your search rank. Methods that once worked well are now out of favor. Reworking the site, keeping the latest SEO principles in mind, can give a site a boost in Web searches and bring in more traffic.
- It’s badly organized. If it’s hard for people to find what they’re looking for on the site, they won’t stay around for long. Your site may have grown over time from a simple design, and what started out as a clean design may have grown clumsy with the addition of more features and pages. Or perhaps the original site was the result of do-it-yourself work from the days when your business operated in a garage. Rethinking the whole design may be what’s necessary to fix the problem.
- It’s slow to load. If a page takes more than a second or two to load, some readers will give up on it. The longer it takes, the more readers you’ll lose. The order in which things load is important too. It’s better to have the text appear quickly and the menus take a bit longer than for the main content to appear only after everything else is there.
- Your business has rebranded. This might just be a matter of changing logos and titles, but it doesn’t hurt to have a new look to go with a new brand. Brands include color schemes and fonts, not just images. If the rebranding includes a domain name change, you’ll want the old site to redirect people to the new site, and it shouldn’t look basically like the old one.
- Your business has undergone major changes. Even if the brand is the same, your market may have significantly changed or grown into other areas. If your existing design works well, adding new material to it may do the job, but you should consider whether it will scale up to a broader range. If your market has shifted, a change in the site’s design may do a better job of reaching people.
- You need major new features. If you want to add online ordering, for example, your existing software base might not provide a way to connect to the payment platform of your choice. It can be valuable to embed social media features in your website, so that you can better connect with your customers. That might be difficult to do without reworking the site design.
- The competition is outshining you. If your site looks great, but your competitor’s looks even better, you’ve still got a problem. When the competition is fierce, you have to make your site the best it can be, and that could mean bringing in expert designers to give it a complete facelift. You may need some new features to match what the other site is offering.
- It’s based on old technology and is hard to maintain. A site that requires Adobe Flash and doesn’t provide an alternative simply won’t work on a lot of devices. One that loads a new page for every interaction, instead of updating in place when only a small change is needed, is slow and clumsy. If you created your site with FrontPage, it’s really time to rework the whole thing.
Redesigning a website is a significant task, but it doesn’t have to be a painful one. Start by defining your goals and expectations. You’ve got a clean slate; don’t let the existing site limit your thinking. Once you’ve discovered enough reasons to change the site, you’ll undoubtedly find there are even more things you can improve in the process. Assemble a checklist of all the improvements that you’d like to make, and discuss them with your designer.
If you retain qualified designers and plan on working with them through each stage of the development process, you can move to a new site without a panicked transition. We build sites that look up to date, are responsive, have good SEO performance, and will boost your business. Please contact us to learn more.