This seems to be the year of the website redesign. So many companies and startups are relaunching new websites and with good reason. Technology is always changing, design trends come and go, how sites are used (eg – mobile and responsive design) are changing and even things like social media and community interaction are changing the way websites function.
Redesigning websites today isn’t just about changing the look and feel. It has to serve a purpose. Staying on top of technology changes problems needing to be solved. Redesign and overhauling websites goes much deeper than just the way they look. Usability, presentation, how they load, how well they capture prospective leads and how quickly they can be updated are all things that are prompting website redesigns on the daily basis.
So you own a website which is supposed to generate leads. Is it working? If the answer is “Yes” that is awesome, but if the answer is “No” then its time to give your website some immediate love and attention. Want to know how you can decide by yourself whether or not your website needs a website redesign?
Here are some questions that you can quickly answer to decide if it is time for a website redesign:
- Take a close look at your website as a visitor instead of an owner. How do you feel?
- Does the design of your website appeal to you?
- Can the navigation menus and the various links on your website be easily located?
- Does your website meet current functionality and have a contemporary design?
- Does it contain dated photos, color schemes or layout design?
- Is your website successfully portraying a proficient illustration of your brand image and position?
- Is your website compatible with all modern browsers and mobile devices?
- Does the design of your website compete equally well or better than your competitor’s website?
Is your website responsive?
There has been a very big push in the last couple of years for websites to be more mobile device friendly. With a multitude of various mobile devices able to access the Internet now, the web design community and consumers have made it clear that it is time to rethink the way we design websites. Consumers are there because mobile has become a commodity, but many brands are still catching up. It is no longer good enough to design a website for a desktop or laptop computer, especially with millions of people accessing the Internet on their smartphones, tablets, TVs, gaming, and music devices.
Does your current website follow the principles of responsive web design? Can it be easily viewed on all devices, from large desktops to smartphones, without hindering the experience? Again, think bounce rate. If you cannot confidently say “yes,” then it may be time to review how your website is working and considering at least changing your current website to be responsive. Hiring a good web designer and/or developer, or brushing up on the ideas and principles of responsive web design may be needed to help bring your website up to par with the multitude of mobile devices available.
Is it hard to keep updated?
When was the last time you updated your site? Why? If the answer is because it is hard to update, then determine why this is. Is it because you just don’t have time, knowledge or the right tools? If you just don’t have the time then you should look to find time to help keep your site updated (because an updated site keeps visitors coming back). If you find that you just don’t have the right tools or know how, then this could be a sign that your site needs a revamp.
It could be as simple as hiring a Sigma Creative to install a content management system (CMS) so that you can update the site yourself, or as large as needing to completely start from scratch and create a new website that will allow for easy updating. A CMS is often the default reaction for new websites being developed today as it does allow for easy updating and it also has other benefits as well. You will want to keep your site updated and fresh and if that is difficult to do now, then take some time to evaluate why. Google loves new and updated content. This is why blogging and content marketing are so popular.
Are there functions and features that are no longer used?
As websites mature and grow, it often becomes apparent that certain parts just aren’t working well anymore and are becoming outdated. A good example is what we call the shiny object syndrome. You have to ask yourself if it serves a purpose in helping create new leads or is it a distraction. It is ok to have what creatives call whitespace or negative space. It aligns with the the Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) method of which we are big fans of. Do you have something similar on your site that isn’t working anymore for your site’s purpose?
Social media share buttons have been getting a lot of slack recently for becoming exactly that. Some web designers argue that they are not as effective as they once were and are swearing to remove them from their sites. Is there something similar on your site that isn’t working? If so then it may be time to either remove it, or if it is a major part of your site, restructure or redesign your site so that the underperforming feature is long gone.
Does your website take a long time to load?
Closely related to responsive web design, the trend now is to make sites load faster and not download so much information. This happens for a couple of reasons; First, Internet providers and smartphone carriers limit the amount of data we are allowed. With these limits on usage in place, it takes your visitors a ton of time to download tons of information, imagery, and scripts just to view your website. Second, fast loading websites factor into Google’s algorithm for SERP results.
Most web developers agree that if your site takes longer than five seconds to load, then you should look into optimizing your site. After about five seconds on slower bandwidths, people become disinterested and will leave your website. Again, think bounce rates.
Are visitors navigating past your home page?
This may be hard for you to gauge unless you have special analytics software running on your site that lets you see what visitors are doing. Google Analytics is excellent and it’s free to sign up and put on your site. If you have Google Analytics or another service, look through your stats to see if people are navigating deeper into your site. Often, there are metrics and things already calculated for you to tell you this, but if not then take a look at the last couple of weeks worth of visitors.
If you are starting to lose visitors, then you should either take a look at your homepage to see if you can make it more enticing, or consider a complete redesign of your site to make visitors want to navigate further into your site and read what you have to say.
If you don’t have such a service running on your site, then sign up for Google Analytics or a third party service.
Is your site slowly losing visitors over time?
Very closely related to finding out if visitors are navigating past your homepage is to see if there is a slowing trend in visitors coming to your site at all. Are you finding that visitors are not coming as often as before? If so you may want to consider revamping your content strategy or the appearance of your site to encourage repeat visitors.
While having a slowing trend in visitors may not mean a complete redesign is necessary, it is often a good indicator that either your SEO campaigns are not working for you or your site is becoming stale due to lack of new content. When your site starts looking like it hasn’t been updated in a while, visitors will be turned off and will go elsewhere for their needs. Search engines will also not rank you favorably in this case either, as they like sites that are constantly being updated with new content. Did we mention Google craves new content? Reason to blog #586.
When was the last time you completely overhauled your site?
It seems like such an obvious question, but many small and even some large companies don’t put this at top of their list. Mainly because this is not a very strong indicator of needing a new website. Our general rule of thumb is you should completely revamp at least the look of your site every three years, and possibly the functionality every five years. Those years don’t sync up together when you put it on a calendar because even though technology is changing really fast, it isn’t changing as fast as design trends on the Internet. For instance, we have had smartphones for years, but we are just now starting to look at website design in terms of responsive and the mobile device we are using.
If you can’t remember when the last time you completely revamped your website was, then that is a good indication that it may be time for a redo, simply because technology and design trends have probably changed significantly since then.
Are parts of your site not functioning properly?
Does your website have things that are broken or constantly giving you errors like the dreaded “404 not found” message because there isn’t a 301 redirect? While it is often a simple fix to correct these broken elements, it could indicate a bigger problem: your site is disorganized or is being mishandled. This is often solved and prevented by using a content management system that can manage your content so that you are not losing pictures or broken links to improper or accidental management of your website.
If you have tons of broken links, error messages, and missing images, then you should consider a complete website redesign that will include the installation and use of a content management system. If you only have one or two broken links here or there, then take some time to fix those as soon as you can.
Do search engines even know you exist?
Much can be said about good SEO in terms of getting your site on search engines, but you would be surprised that it actually doesn’t require a lot of work for you to make certain things happen that are favorable for SEO. Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo like sites that have content that is constantly changing, coded properly, and isn’t heavily based on images. While you can often help by keeping your site updated yourself, things like making sure the site is coded properly may need to be investigated by a web developer with SEO experience who can look to see if there are any coding elements that could be causing problems for you where it comes to search engine optimization.
*Hint: Sigma Creative knows SEO.
If you are virtually nowhere on search engines, then it may be time for a new website to help boost your SEO and search engine visits. Since most people will find you through a Google search rather than directly typing in your URL (for most websites), playing nice with search engines so that they will find you and put you in their results will go a long way with getting visitors to come to your site. It is up to you to make your visitors stay, however, through fresh content and a nice looking site.
Is the copyright year in your footer any other year than the current one?
If the copyright statement in your footer has a year that is anything other than the current one, chances are you haven’t updated your site for at least 10 months. Your site is pretty stale at that point. If it says 2011 or earlier, then you are signaling to your clients that you haven’t updated the site, and they will leave. This is a good signal of needing a website redesign, especially if that year is 2007 or earlier.
If you have answered “No” to all or most of the questions above, then an effective website redesign is the answer.
Things You Will Want To Consider For Your Next Website
Manageable links on your website –The main navigation menus should be located in such a way that it is easily visible to the visitor. If these links are hard to find on the website, it tends to irritate a visitor who is more likely to move on to a competitor’s website to find the information they are looking for. This equates to a lost opportunity to convert a prospective lead or sale. Whereas, the ease of locating links will provide the visitor with the desired information he seeks. If the current website has the necessary message buried and irritates the visitor in finding information, then a website redesign is a turnkey or bespoke solution to draw more visitors to your website.
Developing the proper style for your website – The style of your website is another very important factor. It sets the tone for what visitors can expect when navigating through your website. There may be and are several what we call “shiny objects” that you look for and wish to put on your website, but at the same time you must keep in mind that the style should closely match your brand guidelines, messaging and lead generation sales strategies. We call it the balance of form and function. If the website you have does not suitably target on your business requirements or if you have promoted your service or have added new products, website redesign should be thought of to reorganize the usable information on the website in order to carry this message accurately and efficiently to your visitors.
Establishing your website in an appropriate manner – Creating a sitemap helps formulate how information on your website is organized. If the information is not properly organized throughout the website, it becomes difficult for a visitor to quickly navigate to the information they are looking for. If a visitor is having difficulty of finding this information on your website, the ideal option for you would be to opt for an overall website redesign.
Take into account your competitor’s website – The industry is constantly changing. If your website is more than three to five years old, it is more than likely using obsolete technologically and it won’t be able to compete with competitor websites that are more current. Getting your website redesigned can prove to be the right solution and become enormously successful.
Ultimately, You Have To Make The Decision On A Redesign
Many a redesign means revamping the look of a website in the hope that it will increase conversions and attract new customers. In fact, some projects are often seen as counterproductive as user feedback on numerous redesigns can result in users unhappy with the change, even if the new design is clearly superior to the original.
For a redesign (or realign) to be effective, it must stem from the understanding of what does and what doesn’t work on the current website, and how user needs have changed since the last redesign. In most cases, it is sufficient to make minor changes in the user interface. Google, Yahoo, Amazon and a bunch of others follow this strategy with great success: you can hardly see significant changes on their websites though they’re perfecting their design constantly. This requires constant research and staying up to date with trends in digital strategy.
Just because your website only meets some of the points discussed above doesn’t necessarily indicate that your website needs an overhaul. For instance, just because your site takes a long time to load doesn’t mean that it is time to start from scratch and create a new one. This could easily be solved by having us take a look at your site to see what is slowing it down, and working with them to resolve that. Also, if your site is losing visitors, it may not be because of the site design, but rather the content on the site. A revamp in content strategy and content marketing only could help improve this without completely gutting what you already have.
We feel that a website redesign is always beneficial if you want to upgrade your chances of improved business and expectant sales. Getting the website redesigned graphically offers you great precedence, not only in updating it look alluring to your visitors, but also add style to your website that can be immensely successful. Moreover, the sum of all parts will create consistency in overall brand guidelines and marketing message to your website which happens to be the core spokesperson of your business to the multitude of visitors. In the end, you have to make the decision on whether your website needs a redesign or not.
So visit your website, visit it as a potential buyer, take notes and send yourself an email. Title it “WEBSITE TO DO LIST.” In the body write down all the things you think you need in order to make your website more effective and profitable. Hit send. Give it a couple days and read what you wrote. If you are starting to get the feeling that maybe it is time to redesign your site, then email us or give us a call when you think you are ready for help. We love talking shop. We will help you determine if you think your site just needs some TLC or if it is truly time for a website redesign refresh.
If you’re interested in learning more about our website redesign services, call 614-285-7565. Contact Sigma Creative today!