How often should you redesign your website, and why?
There is no clear-cut answer to the question of how often a website should be redesigned, but there are some clues that can help you decide if your existing site could clearly benefit from being redone to maximize conversion, accessibility and user experience and engagement.
If your website was built several years ago, it’s very likely it might not be optimized for mobile browsing. If it was made cheaply, it’s also possible it doesn’t convey your brand and/or your core offer very well. If it was created mindlessly, it may be difficult to browse and find information on it, your home page and content being cluttered, sprinkled inefficiently and without purpose, leaving your visitors confused and less likely to stay on your website. Because that’s what you want, in the end: a good website, regardless of when it was built, will take your visitor on a guided tour and lead them exactly where they need to be. For you, that might be having them contact you, signing up to your newsletter, or purchasing your products if you have an e-commerce (or all three!)
And therefore, while many ask “when”, the proper question is not “how often” a website should be redesigned, but WHY?
Below are 4 reasons why a website needs a redesign.
Reason #1: Your website is not responsive
Responsive web design cannot be ignored anymore as mobile and tablet devices account for more than half of internet usage worldwide, meaning 1 in 2 visitors will be browsing your website from a mobile device.
A responsive website is a website whose design and content will render seamlessly on a variety of devices and screen sizes. It means that whether someone visits your website from a smartphone, tablet or laptop, your website will look great on all devices, its design adapting to each format for maximum legibility and impact. The process of making a website responsive is called mobile optimization.
While it is less and less common to find websites that are not responsive in 2018, it is entirely possible that if you had your website built a few years ago, the web designer and/or developer you hired did not bother to make it mobile-friendly. Websites that are only partially mobile-friendly are also as terrible as they are abundant; picture a site site where the information fits on your smartphone’s screen, but where you have to scroll infinitely through text to access meaningful links and the information you’re looking for. A well optimized site will avoid such pitfalls.
The consequences of such an omission are serious and numerous, ranging from mobile visitors abandoning your website upon landing because of slow loading times or tiny and illegible text, to Google Search discriminating against your website because it is not suited for today’s web browsing standards. If your business is at least partially dependent on organic Google Search, slow and badly designed mobile sites will negatively impact your company and hit you where it hurts the most – your wallet.
If your website is not responsive and you’ve noticed its design is dated and funky-looking on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, it’s definitely worth working with a creative firm to build you a new and improved website that will reflect today’s best web standards.
Reason #2: Your website is not conducive to sales and conversions
Having a website is one thing, but not all websites are created equal. What I mean by that is that the way your content is strategically displayed on the page may increase or decrease your chances of creating leads and/or making a sale. The process of transforming visitors into potential customers is called conversion.
Building a beautiful website that does not translate into conversions is THE most common rookie mistake web designers and developers commit. This happens because a web designer is not necessarily well-versed in digital marketing and online sales. A common misconception is to think that because a website exists and looks cute, it will be successful. That is unfortunately not so.
Converting visitors into customers usually involves guiding your visitors to make a purchase or to inquire about your services. Where and how you display your content on the page will impact your chances of succeeding at that. A clear navigation, brief introduction to your business and a short list of your most prominent services is a sure way to boost your chances of getting more leads; a visitor who isn’t clear about what site they’ve landed on is about and how they should navigate it will almost always leave the site, resulting in a high bounce rate.
Having clear calls to action on your site is another way to increase conversion. If you want your visitors to contact you, or if you want them to buy your product, you must make it an easy and clear process. Using buttons and concise statements can help you achieve the results you want and need for your website to succeed.
A great website will always be built with conversion in mind.
Reason #3: Your website doesn’t convey your brand and company very well
I was recently on a conference call with a client whose website needed a redesign. Their current website was arguably better than most, and it even had some calls to action sprinkled throughout the home page, yet it completely failed to convey the company’s core message and failed to clarify what makes them different from their competitors. It was a nice and generic website, but the business’ amazing concept and offer, something the owners spent considerable energy and money building, was completely missing from the site’s design and content. Their visitors, therefore, only saw a fraction of their truly unique offer. It was a missed opportunity. Thankfully, the business owners realized their brand deserved better.
To save time (and money), companies sometimes employ generic website templates with minimal content to quickly launch their first website online and begin building an audience. While a minimal online presence is always better than no online presence the next steps to take should be to create a platform that clearly features the business’ offer while leveraging the company’s existing branding, crafting a website that will reach its full potential and, as a result, produce an engaged audience.
Reason #4: Your website was badly designed
Last but not least, it is entirely possible that a website, in spite of featuring professionally written content, effective calls to action and good SEO, might just be badly designed. Your site might be difficult to navigate and it might be nearly impossible for your visitors to find the information they’re looking for.
I will be frank; having graduated with a BFA in Design, I have a strong bias towards recognizing and promoting good design practices. Poorly designed products and sometimes ugly products, whether real or virtual, are all the more obvious and impossible for me to ignore. That being said, having an ugly website, while unfortunate, is not such a big deal per se. Now, why would an Art Director be saying such a thing, you might ask?
Well, for one thing, design isn’t just “looks”. Some people associate design with the appearance of things, but it’s much more than that, and that’s what I want to clarify before we go any further. Design isn’t just what’s pretty and visually compelling – although, it certainly is at least a part of it. Good design is functionality and efficiency. It’s building a product that works well and that solves a problem. A website is no exception.
What cripples a website most often is not (just) bad “visual” design, but a combination of lack of mobile optimization, poorly written content (and therefore poor SEO), counter intuitive navigation, unclear or no calls to action, slow loading speeds, and poorly structured content and navigation. Remember the last time you looked for a specific page or tidbit of information on a website and couldn’t find it? How long did it take before you gave up? That’s bad navigation at work right there on a website that was not designed with the user in mind.
Maybe your website is badly designed because it’s difficult to navigate and flooded with randomly positioned images, text blocks and unclear buttons. Maybe your website is badly designed because your previous web designer added so many bells and whistles that it made the whole browsing experience slow and painful, resulting in a high bounce rate and little to no engagement. Or maybe your website just looks like it was made by a twelve-year-old who pirated Photoshop and called himself a web designer slash developer (I’ve seen many things during my career…)
Whichever the reason, a new website must be built to repair those mistakes that cost you visits and sales.
If you think your website suffers from one of the ailments described above, we invite you to reach out to us and ask for assistance. We help companies improve their branding and their web presence every day. That’s just what we do!