The magic thing about websites is that they can adapt, they can continually grow and be improved upon over time. Unlike a physical print piece such as a brochure, a website can and often should be an ongoing creative endeavor. As time goes on, your business evolves, your industry evolves, and your customers evolve. Your website should always be updated to reflect those changes; it’s a dynamic marketing and sales tool improving on both its past failures and successes.
Things to Consider for a Website Redesign
Does your site look like a mutant monster compared to when the last web design iteration was launched?
The greatest thing about websites is that they can be changed, but the hardest part of maintaining a website is managing that change. Over time, small changes like content edits and security updates can start to add up to a lot of change and even change the look and feel of a site in a negative way, losing that strong sense of professionalism that the site may have once had. You can even see it for yourself. Check out the Way Back Machine: Enter your domain name and see what your website looked like 1, 2 or 5 years ago. It is quite possible that over time your website has devolved into a mess of unorganized information because of many small changes over time. It’s important to be aware of this and know when it’s time to start fresh.
If your site is in a state of disorganization because of many small changes over time, it is probably time to redesign your website and start fresh.
Does your website reflect your current business model?
We have worked with many companies whose business model required a complete overhaul after their initial debut. Case study #1 is Spec Sensors. Originally, we designed their site to simply explain their products and their purpose. Customers could contact the company if they were interested in more details or making a purchase. After a while, Spec Sensors decided they wanted to sell directly online. We tried just adding an e-commerce component to the existing site. Some headlines were reworded and other content added, and voilà! Their products were then available for purchase online. However, there was a small problem: nobody was really purchasing from the website – customers continued to call in because they were unsure if they could buy from the website, since the e-commerce component was originally added as an afterthought.
Our solution was an full website re-design. We approached it with the intention of ensuring this was an e-commerce website and not simply an informational website with an “Add to cart” button slapped on top. The result – a dramatic increase in the number of online sales compared to the previous version of the site.
If you have changed your business objectives, target audience or marketing strategy, it is time to redesign your website.
Are you offering the same products and/or services?
Most businesses change and evolve over time. Your industry changes with new technology, your customers become more savvy, or you create a revolutionary new product or service in your own industry. Change is the most reliable constant in business world. Enter Case Study #2 …
We have been working with a client on their site since February of 2012. He created a brand new product that was trying to be significantly better than all others currently on the market. He knew the website would be important and decided to engage with us early in the product development process. But over time and after many iterations of his product, it became clear that he may have engaged us too early. As he went through the process of fine tuning his product, he was also updating the original website design to try and make it work with the product changes before it launched. Before we knew it, years had gone by and we all realized that the original design we were working with was no longer an accurate portrayal of how far his product had progressed. Solution? We decided to start fresh. We created a new look and feel based on the new direction the product had taken. The general response to the new re-designed site was much more positive than the one that had been worked and re-worked over and over to try and accomplish the same result.
If you have changed what your business makes or the exact services you provide, it is definitely time to redesign your website.
Have you tested the effectiveness of your site?
Just because you have a website up and some traffic coming in doesn’t mean it is working well for you. If you have an e-commerce site with a .5% conversion rate, there might be something not quite working with the design of your site. However, it’s near impossible to how effective a new design will be until it is launched. In reality the best way to know what is truly successful is to test it. In the case of website design, the best way to do this is to create multiple versions and run A/B tests. Case Study #3: ourselves.
Several years ago, I decided I wanted to re-design ashwebstudio.com. I had come up with some fresh ideas for a new version of our site, built it, and was about to launch it … but then I paused. I decided to first test it against the current version of our site since the site was already performing decently. That meant we had two completely different designs with nearly identical content; half of the visitors were directed to new version and the other half were directed to the original. We tracked the number of people who submitted our contact form. As it turned out, the new design was actually not outperforming the original like I had hoped. In the end, I scrapped that new version and went back to the drawing board, but it wasn’t all for naught. Each test provided valuable data on what was and wasn’t working that I was able to use in my future designs. Since then, I am happy to say that we have been able to create more and more effective iterations of the website and have a strong baseline of data to work from going forward.
If you have only ever had one version of your website, it might be time to test out a redesign of your site.
Has it simply been a while?
Like many things, aesthetic preferences change over time. My wife and I have been looking at houses recently, and we toured quite a few homes built in the ‘80s. After a good share of them, we became rather adept at identifying when a house was built based on the layout and design elements within the home. Unfortunately a lot of those “trendy” design styles from back in the ‘80s can make a house look completely unappealing in 2016.
The same goes for many kinds of design, and web design is no exception. You only need a quick look at a website to know that it is dated. Remember, first impressions are everything. While a website may be very well-organized with great information and excellent calls-to-action, people can interpret the dated look as a suggestion that your business is outdated and decide not to contact you. Don’t lose a potential customer because your website looks like it has one foot stuck in the past.
Design experts often estimate that four to five years is the typical lifespan of a website before it runs the risk of looking or feeling outdated. Of course, if you are in a fast paced industry, that process could go a lot faster. For example, tech companies may want to consider a shorter lifespan to reflect their highly innovative industry. On the other hand, a company that sells artisan goods or craft supplies could potentially afford to wait the standard lifespan, or maybe even longer.
If you haven’t considered a site redesign in several years, it might be time to start planning a redesign of your site.
So what to do about your website?
Well, you can always just contact us and we can discuss it with you. We will give you an honest assessment of your site and if you could really benefit from a redesign.