Editor’s note: Well, I don’t know about your site but RINF certainly needed a redesign.
The thought of a website redesign sends shudders down the spines of many, however it is often a necessity. So what should you look out for and what are the signs of a site in need of redesign?
SEO & User Engagement Metrics
Sites often show their need for a redesign in the amount of people visiting, staying and engaging with it. This may not necessarily be a design issue, but often can be. Falling conversions, sales and other factors can show that a site has aged poorly and that it is tired, compared to your competitors. Try and get to grips with what has gone wrong and then adjust your page, or even consider a complete redesign if necessary. Tools like Google Analytics are great for showing how many people have visited, how long they’ve stayed and how many have ‘bounced’ off.
Tip: Always compare your data year on year if possible to account for any seasonal fluctuations in demand for your business.
Some sites just look out of date and need a rethink. The pace of website design is lightening quick and aesthetics change radically in a few years. The best way to decide whether a redesign is necessary is to look at other company’s sites, which seem to be doing well, and then assess how good your site is in comparison to them. Be objective, but fair and don’t slate your own site as you may just be personally bored with it, and it may still be excellent. Create a cross-section of things to look out for and then decide based on that for fairness.
Tip: Be aware you’re probably not the best judge of how good or bad your own site looks — always seek an objective opinion.
Customers are the best people to ask if you need a redesign. This is because they’re the people who matter, and are most likely to be objective about the site (whereas staff, friends or family are likely to be biased). Perform some usability tests with people and ask them what they think could be changed on a one-to one basis. Surveys have poor return rates and can also irritate customers. Talk to them directly and take it all in like a sponge.
Tip: Rocket Surgery Made Easy by usability expert Steve Krug is a great read for anyone looking to perform usability testing on their site without spending a fortune.
Sites gather a thing called Tech/ UX debt over time. Essentially time, and corner cutting cause this, though is very common on sites and can greatly affect usability. Upgrading does help with this Tech/UX debt, though in time there is only so much that can be done, and it eventually becomes costlier to keep upgrading rather than getting a new site. New clean sites, built on the latest technology and with streamlined code should fix these issues and ensure you have a fast, functional website. Think of it as similar to replacing an old unreliable car with a new one.
Tip: Sites that have been worked on by multiple developers over the years are likely to be ‘bloated’ when it comes to the code working the site behind the scenes — this can slow your site down and impair user experience
One Year On
Ideally you should look at refreshing or reevaluating your site every year. By refreshing, overhauling, or creating a new site, you breathe fresh air into your company and ensure your brand looks up to date and your customers know you’re still growing and improving. People are often very impressed with new, brighter sites but be sure not to “throw the baby out with the bathwater”, although your design may look tired, your websites visitors may love the content or the ease of navigation, so never sacrifice this in favour of design.
Tip: Get some quick feedback on your website using a service like usertesting.com — then repeat the process, asking respondents the same question in 12 months time.
So does your website need a redesign? Redesigns can be costly, especially for large or complex sites and the decision to start from scratch should not be taken lightly. There may be incremental improvements you can make to your existing design first to improve performance. But by contrast you shouldn’t delay the inevitable either — if your site is in dire need of an overhaul, every day you delay you could be losing business.