A business website that never changes its look and feel has a tendency to grow stale – not only do existing customers stop coming by, but new prospects visit and are unimpressed by the out-of-date design and obsolete elements. Web design is an ever evolving field, and every year brings major changes; that site design that looked crisp and elegant in 2007 now looks like it was created by a 10 year old in a middle-school Web class.
It’s not just evolving aesthetics, either. The Web is a never-ending series of incremental technologies. New plug-ins, tools, coding techniques, and browser extensions provide a constant stream of innovation, and if your business site doesn’t keep up with the times it will look as if you just don’t care about your online presence. At the same time, unless you’re a web design company (or Facebook), it’s unlikely you have the resources or the time to engage in constant site redesign. (And aside from the resource question, constant redesigns are just as aggravating to your regular users as sites that never change at all.)
So when is it time to redesign? Here are three signs it’s time – and two signs that it isn’t.
JUST DO IT:
1. When Your SEO Becomes Obsolete
Obviously, SEO and site design aren’t the same thing. But many companies that start an SEO strategy don’t get it all right the first time – and when they analyze their performance, they discover that structural features of the site are presenting obstacles to search engines. Kill two birds with one stone – streamline the structure and fix the optimization at the same time.
2. When Your Existing Design Stops Working
You built your site intending to have a blog, a description of your main product line, and an offer-of-the-month blurb. Now your site has seventeen major areas, five sub-sites, and a navigational interface that would confuse Einstein. It’s time to reorganize the site and beef the design up to handle the load you’re now putting on it.
3. When Your Business, Industry, or Customer Base Changes
If you change what you do or how you do it, if your industry is undergoing major innovation, or your find your customer base shifting in an unexpected direction, the odds are high that your site is no longer suited to your mission.
BUT STOP AND THINK:
- If your customers are happy but your marketing people want changes, query those changes good and hard. Do they reflect a genuine change in the business, or in how your site operates? Or is it that your creative staff is tired of looking at the same banner every day? If it’s the latter, hold off. Your customers are the important ones and they like things to stay the same unless the change is a HUGE improvement. (And even then they’re unhappy until the change becomes the New Normal.)
- Is there a feeling that despite the lack of any obvious compelling reason to change, “its just time”? A certain number of months have passed? The calendar on the wall has puppies this year instead of hot-air balloons? Those aren’t reasons for a redesign. Redesign can be painful, and it’s not something that you do on a schedule – it’s something you do for a reason. No reason, no redesign.