Redesigning a website is probably harder to do than designing the initial or previous version of the website, because a lot of stats, feedback and facts are known about the current website. As web designer you’ll have to think intelligently and strategically in order to incorporate new changes in the existing website.
If you want to achieve success and attract more visitors with the help of the redesigned website, you need to follow certain steps. First of all, you should evaluate where the current website stands; review your site’s current strengths and weaknesses, brainstorm and write ideas down. But also take a closer look at your web statistics (via online tools like Google analytics) to see how the behaviour of your visitors can be measured and analysed.
A good research on your competitors can help you to find out the drifts and trends they are following. Once you are aware of their situation, you’ll have a better idea of the market and you can work hard to make your website even better.
Secondly, define what exactly are you trying to achieve, establish your target audience (current and future), do some more research and plan accordingly to meet your goals. You’ll need to develop ideas in your head first and then work on them practically. Also, ideas can come up easily but proper execution of those ideas is way too important. Things may not turn out the way you wanted them to be and it can be really problematic for you and your website. So, before working on your ideas, make sure you have a proper and solid plan.
Reasons/Needs to Redesign
Websites have become an important aspect of promoting your services or products, giving them a redesign is very important to keep it fresh and alive for your visitors. At the moment I’m redesigning my corporate website and I wrote down a couple of general points to help me to evaluate if my website needed the redesign. Today I’d like to share these points with you, so let’s get rocking here ..
1. Search Engine Rankings
Does your website rank good enough in the search engine? Do you need to include new keywords? Is your website buggy and loading too slow? Does your website have a high bounce rate? Does your website contain unstructured links or even broken links?
A site redesign can help you attract more visitors in a number of ways. Apply modern SEO techniques to rank your site higher in the search engine result pages. Building search engine ‘findability’ into a new site is much more effective than trying to increase your findability once a site has been built.
2. New Company Strategy or Target Group
Does your website compete with your competitor’s websites? Does your website provide a strong brand image? Is your website able to grow with your business? Do you want to attract a new audience? Are you going to re-brand your products or the company as a whole? Planning a repositioning of your company in the online market place?
With clear and firm goals and an understanding of your visitors, you can make well-informed decisions on how the site should look, work and feel.
Note: If you already have an existing audience, making dramatic changes to the design to attract a new audience can mean risking to loose your ‘old’ readers.
Has your content become outdated? Is your content readable? Does your website have social media integration? Does your website reflect where you’re heading, not where you’ve been?
The first impression of your website would obviously be the overall layout, but a reader is visiting your website because he/she is looking for useful information. The content of a website should be considered to be the most important thing, as it helps in determining how effective a website is. Fresh and unique website content is an very important factor in encouraging people to revisit your site more often.
If your site’s content is out-of-date, it’s certainly worth having your site redesigned to enable people in your organization to update content themselves (CMS). A site redesign can also give you the opportunity to re-address how you communicate with all your visitors and to write copy that is simple, on target and more effective.
Note: content/text should be readable and the alignment should be well executed.
4. Technique / Coding
Is your website browser compatible? Is your source code valide (HTML and CSS)? Does your website meet the web standards? Is the technique and/or (version) programming language outdated? Is your website build with frames or is it table-dependent HTML? Is you website easy accessible for other (mobile) devices? Is your HTML code semantic and well-structured?
An important factor you should consider is the increase of usability in web design. Every year web standards change radically and techniques to build websites become more advanced in order to comply with the latest standards. If your site was developed several years ago, it probably has a lot of unnecessary HTML code, not letting your web pages load fast.
Modern techniques of CSS coding (e.g. responsive web design) allow to make web pages adaptable on every mobile device, so getting yourself a new custom responsive redesign might be a great idea if you want to increase the accessibility of your site.
5. Visual Appeal
Can’t your readers find the information they are looking for (e.g. poor navigation)? Is your layout cluttered and confusing? Is your website attractive and eye-catching for visitors (target groups)? Does your site look a little old and tired?
First of all, a website should be easy to use and easy to navigate. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, if the site navigation drives you bezerk, the website is not doing it’s job. When people visit your site, they see it as a reflection of your organization. If your site looks professional and is loaded with useful information readers will see you as an authority and expert, .. likewise, if the site looks poorly designed and structured and/or out-of-date they’ll make the same assumptions about your company.
The website should highlight your product and/or service, also the layout should look harmonious and consistent. You must be aware of wire framing, to make sure that everything is falling to places.
6. Extra Features / CMS Platform
Using free or basic templates for your CMS? Does your website underperform? Do you need a new-to-make webshop? Can you change the content of your website by yourself? Is social media integrated into your website? Does your website need extra features; e.g. a newsletter with single or double opt-in subscription process?
A Content Management System (CMS) is another reason to justify the creation of a new redesign for your website. The only ‘programming’ skill you’ll need to change texts, images and other media files, or to add new pages and/or articles to your web site is knowing how to work with a simple text editor. A website is no longer just static words and graphics. A great website is also designed to hold tools like blogs, photo galleries and social media integration.
Always keep visitors in mind because eventually you are designing the website for them and not for yourself. Redesign your website according to the needs and wants of your visitors. Keep things simple and make little changes every now and then to keep your site fresh and better than the rest.
Do not think that your website is perfect and would not require any change in years, there is always room for improvement. If your visitors’ goals – and your organizations’ objectives – are not the focus of your website, it’s time to think about a redesign.