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 Browsing habits change rapidly, leaving once-cutting-edge websites looking woefully outdated after a handful of years, and sometimes even sooner than that.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.
It is necessary for companies to go for a website redesign every now and then. Websites and their designs have a habit of going obsolete in a rapidly changing technological environment. However, companies also put in a lot of effort into optimizing their sites. The last thing they want is to lose their high rankings because they inadvertently ruined the SEO work on their site during the redesigning process. That is why it is essential that they follow certain steps to safeguard their website.
1. One of the first steps to take is what many experts in the SEO industry refer to as a site audit. When the format of a site is being altered, a golden opportunity presents itself to the webmasters to review their site from the point of view of SEO. In fact on many occasions new ideas were developed during the redevelopment process for improving the quality of SEO on the site. Some of the queries that can be examined by the auditors are, if the Meta tags are being used effectively, whether the inbound links have the right anchor text and whether each page has been optimized for search engines. The auditors can also use Google to create a list of all the pages it has indexed. Evaluations can be done if the number of indexed pages is enough or if measures should be taken to get more pages indexed.
2. When a site is being redeveloped it stands to reason that some pages will be discarded and some pages will be rewritten. This naturally means that certain keywords will either no longer have any value, or care needs to be taken to see that they find their way into the new content. It is commonly noticed that some web pages are rendered obsolete. However, it will be a mistake to simply remove them. Outdated pages have their own worth. Prudence demands that Google Analytics is used by the webmaster to establish the amount of traffic that these pages generate. There will be times that it is simply not possible to accommodate a certain page within the new design. On the other hand it might be generating a lot of traffic, which no webmaster wants to lose. Using a 301 Redirect is a good way of solving this problem. This is also a good time to write new content keeping in mind all the algorithm updates.
3. One of the major problems that webmasters have to deal with is the change in URLs. The search engines have to be informed where the old URLs have been shifted. Webmasters have put a lot of effort into optimizing their URLs. The last thing they want is for all that good work to be undone. It is a good idea for developers to crawl their own site and understand the nature of the URLs that they are currently using. The results of the crawl should be documented in the form of reports and shared with the entire team so that they understand which links need to be migrated and where. It is also essential to perform an inbound link analysis, and understand the nature of the links and the websites they are connected to.
4. One of the best parts about website redesign is the opportunity that it offers to developers to actually improve their rankings by using new SEO techniques. Google is now looking at many new factors when it comes to ranking websites. Many of the old websites are not optimized using these latest requirements and consequently suffer from low rankings. Page speed is something that is being looked at quite keenly by Google. Websites with slow page speeds are prone to low rankings. When websites are being reformatted initiatives can be taken to speed up the pages on the site. Some pages also have too much unnecessary clutter on them. This can be removed to make the site more browser-friendly. If the site is not compatible across browsers then it can be rectified to make it so. Often it has been discovered that sites get higher rankings after a clever combination of old SEO work and new SEO techniques.
This article has been written by Gops. Gops is the head of his own SEO Company. He is also a passionate writer having many publications and columns to his name.