Businesses often make changes to their website regularly, to update their product offering, update photos or graphics, or update the content, but in some instances, a complete redesign is necessary and even profitable.
For example, older sites were sometimes designed by a close friend or a family member, perhaps, or someone a trusted person knew. At the time it may have seemed like the economical thing to do, but today the site languishes with older technology and slower performance, not to mention the security vulnerabilities, and the more expensive hosting and other things that add costs to a business’s website operation.
Are you growing your website or restarting it? This article helps to differentiate a refresh (making a few updates) from a redesign, where a major overhaul is needed for optimum performance, speed, and ease of use.
You’re Not Seeing the Expected Business Results
It may be your site, or it may be what is on it, or, what is missing from it. Is your content relevant and does it reflect the needs of your current target market? Either way, you have a problem and it needs to be addressed.
What’s most important to you customer?
Today’s emphasis on what is being talked about through various social media and forum sites will impact your website’s dominance on search engines. Maintain a blog on your site that answers customers’ concerns and post your comments on other sites with a link back to your blog, offering value to the customers.
Chances are that your website has some of the ingredients for informing your customers as to why your business is just what the customer needs. But your old meta data and the content may not be written to be found by search engines like Google. SEO (search engine optimization) is still alive and well despite what some people would have you believe.
Done well, your site’s SEO will help more customers find your business online and get your phone ringing from customers who know what they want and need, or from people who need solutions that they believe you may help them with.
With time, continuous content additions to your site with optimized copy will generate the kinds of customers you want and produce the brand image you work for.
Your Site Has an Outdated Look
The aesthetics of your website heavily influence a user’s initial impressions. Aside from the load speed, if your website is difficult to navigate or read (unorganized menu/sitemap structure, way too much information in a confined page space, old or small fonts), you are losing the communication battle before it begins.
If your website has an outdated look, it’s probably diminishing your authority and causing users to abandon the page.
Visit an older, established grocery store, for example. Are the shelves clean and well stocked, yet worn and well-used looking? Is the lighting and ambiance as fresh and clean-appearing as the newer modern stores? Are the floors clean but lacking the polish of newer floors, or showing much more wear than the floors of the competition? The same types of comparisons can be made of any company’s website to their competitors.
Be aware that all too often designers get creative-itis. Many times designers get caught up in what is trendy or supposedly “in,” instead of what helps convey a message or entice the emotion for a sale.
Designers should be concerned with the site’s ability to encourage sales first and foremost; otherwise, what good is it? If it isn’t being read or shared on social media it is probably not relevant to the target audience.
Design your site to be added to and easily maintained and updated (and upgraded) for optimum results. Optimize each page and use advanced plugins to simplify the site’s ability to be efficiently crawled by the search engines.
Think about it, would you buy and own a granite dining room table and chairs because it was supposedly trendy? Or would you rather own an attractive, comfortable table and chairs that were made from quality wood and crafted to last?
Visitors Quickly Leave the Site
Bounce Rate is the term used to describe when a user visits a page on your site and doesn’t visit other pages. Your bounce rate is the number of bounces divided by the number of sessions on your site.
A number of things can influence the bounce rate of your website, including things like broken links, poor load speed, spelling errors, old copyright date, missing content due to out of date plugins or the website not working correctly, or a dreadful design.
Familiarize yourself with Google analytics and evaluate the factors that influence bounce rate. Maintaining an enticing website that is inviting, optimized, and easy for users to browse through can keep your bounce rate low. Note in particular:
Pages per Session: This is the average number of pages that users view per session. The higher this number, the more pages your users view when at your site. That’s a good thing.
Behavior Flow: This can give you a good idea about how thoroughly users penetrate your website, especially if the above metrics aren’t as relevant to your needs. Use this to see the trend of the most popular pages and concentrate your marketing efforts accordingly.
Make analytics-friendly website design decisions to make your website work with your analytics.
Your Website Isn’t Mobile Friendly
More searches are being conducted from mobile devices than desktops today, and a huge number of those searches result in a purchase or information sharing.
What a pain it is going to a website on your phone or tablet, only to find that the site is not “responsive,” meaning it has not been optimized for your device. Visitors are forced to zoom in or zoom out just to navigate the site. It is complicated and is a sure-fire way to get a user to leave your site.
Bottom line: Having a website design that’s responsive to different devices encourages traffic.
People Can’t Find What They Are Looking For
When potential customers visit your site, they should be able to quickly figure out what to do. If they’re looking for specific information, they must be able to find what they’re looking for in a couple of minutes. If they are trying to buy, subscribe, or inquire, they should be able to do it without outside help. Otherwise, you need a navigation overhaul to make your user experience easier.
To optimize results you need optimized copy and content. Copy needs to be written to help search engines like Google find information important to visitors—your customers. And it isn’t just sales copy that you need optimized. In fact, you will benefit more from, and spend more energy on optimized Content Marketing (writing meant to inform and educate rather than to sell) than on most other types of marketing efforts.
Helping to target the right messages to the right audience with excellent, optimized content will ensure lower bounce rate while improving the experience for the users trying to find out more about a specific topic.
Do you get many calls or emails about information that is already on the website? If so, this is a sign that people are having difficulty finding what they need on your site.
Optimizing each page with unique Title, Description, and Headline copy will further reduce bounce rate of people trying to easily locate the information they seek.
Make your site’s user experience easier, and the site will be used and shared with many more customers.
Your Brand, Products, or Services Have Changed
Branding is what makes buyers relate to you and your company by inspiring, persuading, and motivating customers to buy your product or use your service.
If your information is out of date it looks like you don’t care about your website or your online marketing. When people see a dead website they think the business has closed or at the least stopped caring.
Take steps to associate your brand with the thing(s) your business is known for; your trademark in the industry, for example.
If your brand changes, make sure it is reflected in your advertising, marketing, public relations, and your website. Your entire corporate communications should exude your brand from your invoices and estimates to your employment application forms. Your website can most easily and affordably present your brand in the identity you intend.
Your Site Isn’t Secure
It is more important than ever to make it known to your customers that they are secure in visiting your site and that any information shared is confidential.
A security license for your site establishes site security. So does a declaration notice somewhere on the site through a link to a dedicated page. Once this license is obtained, the URL in the site will change from HTTP to HTTPS; the S meaning the connection to the website is encrypted—the site is security-protected.
If you do business directly with buyers as so many e-commerce businesses do, having your site secure is paramount.
How Often Should You Redesign Your Website?
There’s no rule for when redesigns should happen. It depends on your existing sites as much as if your industry changes, the number of pages on your site, the features on your site, and what your site’s intention is.
For basic websites, a routine refresh every six to twelve months could be adequate. A more advanced site with e-commerce features, or frequently updated blog posts, or thousands of visitors per month could benefit from a monthly update.
With a regular review of your site design, determine whether a major change is necessary or just need a few modifications.
If you can’t afford a complete redesign it’s still worth fixing one issue at a time, but don’t hunt for the cheapest possible solution. The more you correct what needs correcting, the more likely you’ll see an increase in leads and sales. Redesigns can pay for themselves many times over.