Nothing lasts forever, and that’s especially true for a website’s design. Not even fashion falls out of style as quickly as a website’s design. Browsing habits change rapidly, leaving once-cutting-edge websites looking woefully outdated after a handful of years, and sometimes even sooner than that. The biggest challenge is figuring out whether it’s time to redesign or not.
This is a difficult question, as it’s hard to judge for ourselves when we’re extremely familiar with our own sites. Everything seems fine when you’re using a site daily, but that familiarity might hide some fundamental problems that could be fixed with a redesign.
Change is difficult, yet sometimes it’s totally necessary. If you’re on the fence about whether you’re in need of a redesign or not, these five reasons might convince you it’s time.
Speed kills, as the saying goes. For websites, it’s slowness that kills. Loading times are one of the most important — and the most overlooked — aspects of a website.
Users have no patience for slow loading times and will quickly leave a site if its performance is subpar. As this infographic shows:
If your site doesn’t meet the high standards set by web users, then you’re turning off potential customers. An impeccably designed website with relevant content or products means nothing if the loading times are slow.
Does your site load at lightning fast speeds? If not, it’s time to optimize it. Sometimes all it takes is a minor retooling of elements — such as reconfiguring a slider of images. Other times, a full redesign might be needed.
This aspect of design is a challenge, as the need for compelling photos or videos is often at odds with desirable loading times. However, a perfect harmony of visuals and loading time can be achieved with enough work.
Thanks to the rise in search engine traffic and other forms of referral traffic, the home page isn’t what greets many visitors to your site. Social media now makes up about a third of all web traffic referrals, while search engines account for about the same percentage. This means that many users aren’t coming directly to your homepage but rather to another page on the site related to the content that interests them.
Despite the diminished importance, the home page is still a key piece of any website. If that front page isn’t looking too good, or if the design frustrates people looking for a specific thing, then odds are visitors won’t return to your site.
Design can be subjective, which is why you need cold, hard data to decide what your homepage needs. There are a variety of ways to test out what’s working — for example, A/B testing or utilizing a heat map. Implementing such tests will tell you how people are really interacting with your site. What you find might surprise you.
A curious thing happened back in 2014. For the first time ever, mobile traffic exceeded desktop traffic. Since then, mobile traffic has continued to grow quickly while desktop traffic leveled off.
What this means is your site has to be designed with both mobile and desktop users in mind. Responsive design — a type of design that intuitively conforms to phones, tablets and the desktop — is a must for websites these days. With mobile traffic growing, you don’t want to be left behind with a site that only looks good on desktops.
With all the behind-the-scenes stuff required to keep a website strong, from creating content to fulfilling orders, sometimes the branding falls to the wayside. If your marketing materials have changed, make sure that the site reflects these changes.
Having inconsistent materials is off-putting and looks unprofessional. Unifying your website to the rest of your branding makes for a much better user experience. It also helps build trust with users.
Sometimes there doesn’t have to be any big underlying problem with your site to usher in a redesign. After a while, it’s normal to just be sick of the site and ready for a new look. If you’re tired of the way your site looks, then you should definitely consider a redesign. Your site is something you want to be proud of, and feeling bored with the design might make you less likely to put in the effort needed to make the website grow.
A fresh design is like a fresh start. You can restart your efforts and work on something that you’re truly proud of. Just make sure you go about the redesign smartly and listen to input. Too radical of a redesign might turn off your existing customers.
Undertaking a redesign isn’t an easy process. If you’re doing the work yourself, then you can expect to spend a lot of time design and testing. If you outsource the work, then you might be spending a considerable amount of money to get it right. It’s an arduous process either way, so before a full redesign, you can experiment with some new elements on your existing site.
However, the end result can definitely be worth the effort. Attracting new customers and readers will be easier if you have a freshly designed site that gets everything right. Your job becomes a whole lot easier when all the elements of a great website are in place.
Lexie Lu is a designer and writer. She loves researching trends in the web and graphic design industry. She writes weekly on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.