Is It Time? Website Redesign
There are more challenges in redesigning a website than there are in hosting a completely new one. Determining the when and how of a website redesign would swing the pendulum towards either increased business or losing out on the existing one! It is an imperative exercise that requires detailed planning and accurate execution.
Although there are no fixed rules for redesigning a website, a company/small enterprise or an individual must know it’s time to give the web designer a call, when:
- The website looks very outdated and does not reflect the changing trends
- The business has scaled up, but the website lags behind
- The competitor has a complete makeover
- The functionality or usability is a problem area
- Traffic Conversion Rate is abysmal resulting in it being unprofitable
- There is a mismatch between the visitor expectations and site information (mismatched brand image)
- The website does not support the latest plug-ins
It’s Time To Redesign The Website When
Redesigning is a huge decision as it entails the optimum utilization of time and financial resources. Ideally it should be an ongoing exercise to be carried out at regular intervals. However major changes need to be made in spite of all the year round efforts.
Initially it might seem like a daunting task. Nevertheless when designers arrive at the decision, they can begin by researching on parameters such as review the website analytics & performance metrics and setting benchmarks to take the website to the next polished level.
Therefore, it is time for an overhaul when:
A Website is Prehistoric
Internet is a dynamic place where changes are the norm. Trends change with season. Although it is impossible to keep track of all trends, a website that does not catch up with the latest is bound to tank. There is a huge difference between sporting a bell bottom of the sixties for a retro look and sticking to the trend just for the sake of comfort. Websites need to come out of their comfort zone and adapt to the changing times. The web 2.0 platform is completely different from the one that pre dates the social networking age. Hence, come out of the history pages and make your own (history).
A Business Scales Up
A business is bound to either scale up over a period of time or mature. Thus a website has to reflect the stage at which a business is. Today’s small enterprises might be tomorrow’s conglomerates. A website has to match steps and grow from being the part of local search to figuring in the top ten list of most visited sites (due to business volume or popularity or both). It makes sense by figuring out that when businesses grow the profile of their customers and clientele also improves. Stakeholders need an assurance that what they believe in is reflected in the website as they are a major draw in today’s competitive environment.
The Competitor Went For A Makeover
Like it or not, a competitor with a brand new website stands a better chance of attracting visitors and improving the traffic conversion rate. And there is always an opportunity in adversity. The distinct advantage of redesigning after a competitor does is that your designer will know where not to take a fall and learn from the competitor’s mistakes!
The Functionality Or Usability Is A Problem Area
A user friendly website ensures better traffic conversion ratio. The matter of the fact is that a reader just skims the information he requires and on finding it moves to the next stage. A website that has easy navigability will guide the reader to the next step within minimum time. A research supports this by indicating that the first to last step should be as good as 1-2-3 i.e. the user should be able to get what he wants within three clicks!
There Is A Mismatch Between Brand Image And Visitor Expectation
If visitors find that the site does not reflect the kind of brand image it has over the years, they might decide not to proceed with the next transaction. For instance if a brand is popular among children but its website makes use of graphics which could not be approved by parents, the website loses out on their potential customer base even in the real brick and mortar world.
The Website Does Not Support Latest Plug-Ins
Often visitors have to deal with a website that loads slowly, has broken images and the content is distorted. This puts them off. They would rather not take the risk of navigating a website with such distorted images and content. It might be misconstrued as a virus attack by them!
Here a point worth mentioning is that when websites use Content Management System (CMS), it becomes easier for them to transit to the next level.
Traffic Conversion Ratio Is Abysmal
A website becomes unprofitable if the conversion ratio drops. This happens due to many reasons. It could be because of the navigational problem as discussed before or it could be due to improper SEO techniques adapted by the company. Zeroing in on the real culprit and fixing the problem would ensure that the website becomes profitable enough for hosting.
Points To Ponder Before The Haul Up
The rationale of redesign will chart the way forward. A website designer determines whether a website begs a complete makeover or only a few touch ups will do the job.
Realign or Redesign
Few designers are of the opinion that a complete makeover is akin to realigning the website to make it more functional and user friendly. Redesigning on the other hand is the change made in the aesthetics such as images, graphics, color schemes, typography etc. Some believe that redesign is an integral part of realignment as designers have to focus on functionality aspects of the website as well as aesthetics while they are making the changes. All designer are of the consensus though that realignment is a part of the customary maintenance exercise as it offers insights into the possible problem areas of the existing website.
Redesigning decision is based on the hard core data that a designer collects from the website. For instance a web designer has to be able to convert a data into a creative design that has to find acceptance among clients and visitors. Therefore the designers determine whether the client requires a brand new form of website or whether only a few changes would suffice.
The designer studies the old website, takes note of the required changes and proceeds on improvisation. It is imperative at this stage to keep back up to track changes as well as to revert in case of any issue that might crop up at a later stage.
The designer might want to go slow – a step at a time if the website caters to regular customers, such as an e-commerce site. An out and out restructuring would mean learning a new method of navigation and letting go of the familiar to adapt new habits which might not go down well with the customers. A resultant drop in conversion would be triggered thereby affecting profitability.
Nevertheless, this does not entail only a slow launch as certain businesses thrive on being trendy. For instance websites that went for a brand remake would want it to reflect in the website. Such websites can announce that there will be a change in the website and host a brand new one. Similarly a website can be redesigned during the off season of a business so that it does not interfere with the regular business cycle. Businesses that insist on making changes during the peak might end up with a website that has no visitors due to the continuous changes that are happening on their website.
Yet another important point to note while redesigning is that the designer has to test the website for cross browser compatibility at all times – during pre – launch, launch and post – launch.
While redesigning the designer has to ensure that the client has quite a few options to choose from so that a consensus can be obtained as to the best design for hosting purposes.
The focus of a designer should be on resolving the existing issues. A website may have a strong visual presence but if it’s is weak in the content section, it may not go down well with the readers and the search engines as updates ensure that the reader is hooked to the site and search robots find the updates relevant enough to rank the website higher among SERPs.