When To Redesign A Website
There are certain realities to owning a website just as there are certain realities to being alive. As sure as we are all bound to grow old and die, so it is with websites. Sooner or later a website will have to be redesigned.
You might own a website, or are even intending to in the future. Even if it seems these two situations don’t apply to you right now, you never know when they might. Life is unpredictable, right? But that’s what makes it so exciting.
So, whether or not you own a website or have intentions of doing so in the future, even if you might not be aware of it right now, it is good to get resigned to the fact that website redesign is a fact of owning one.
But then things don’t just end at knowing this fact. When do you do it? Do you do it just because your competitor is doing it? Redesigning a website because a competitor is doing it is not necessarily a solid reason to carry out site redesign, but it still is a reason. There are however more solid reasons why you might decide to do a website redesign.
A Long Time Since The Last Design
Time is the enemy of everything and everyone. No one and nothing is safe from the ravages of time. The moment a website is published is the moment it has already started to become old. Because change is always working against an existing design, it is bound to be scrapped, sooner or later.
The age of a website is perhaps the strongest reason to redesign, once the time comes. For all the factors I will subsequently discuss, the age of a website is what primarily brings them into effect. The technology changes with time, so does strategy as well as trends.
The tricky part comes in when you needed to decide how old is too old. I mean, you can’t be redesigning your website every year because you think the design is too old. Too frequent designs are confusing to your target audience. A realistic amount of time needs to pass between redesigns and there has to be some level of consistency.
You are right, if you are, to point out that I am making very subjective statements here but that is only because the decision of how old is too old is totally subjective. It depends on the specific website, the industry and the target audience.
The Technology Has Aged
There are two faces to the web design coin. There is the visual design itself; the look and feel and there is also the back-end; the guts of the website. Depending on whether your website is, see the blog post , static or dynamic, a redesign in front-end also reverberates in the back-end.
As such when some time has passed since the last design or redesign, it is likely that the ravages of time will manifest not only in how the website looks, but also how it functions.
This is particularly true with information technology where developments and changes are always ongoing. Over time the technology would have evolved so much that a website owner cannot afford to stay too far behind.
Of course, there are updates and patches that are typically applied to a website over the course of its life that ensure it stays current, but the truth of the matter is that eventually the changes will be so radical that a do-over is the best approach.
One of the main reason for a do-over for a website is security. In the blog Prioritizing Website Security, I go into detail about why it is important to place website security in the forefront.
Like I discussed above this is usually done on an ongoing basis as part of website maintenance but there comes a time when an overhaul is necessary. This typically happens when there has been an upgrade of the underlying software.
When this happens, it usually means that the old way of doing things is out because it is considered insecure and a new approach is adopted. At this point the website owner can choose to keep the same visual design but it is more appropriate to redesign even the user interface after a major upgrade so that the entire site is current instead of maintaining old paradigms.
Changing Industry Trends
A certain level of conformance to the norms is expected even from the staunchest independents out there who like to do things their own way. There are unique ways businesses can choose to implement their website but there are some industry norms that are non-negotiable.
For example, take responsive design. Responsive design as I advocate in the blog post Your Website Should Be Responsive, is one of those non-negotiable industry trends. Responsive design enables a website to dynamically respond to precisely display on each device being used to render it.
Obviously for an industry trend such as this, any website that does not implement this feature automatically loses out. According to Statista dot Com, the number of mobile phone users is projected to grow to 4.93 Billion in 2018. Obviously this a trend not to be ignored if a website is to do well. Trends such as responsive design are a strong motivator for considering a website redesign if that trend is not already expressed in a website.
Changing Business Strategy
Many people build a website just out of the blue without factoring in a strategy. The flaw in this approach should be obvious. If you are going to build a website, you have to factor in the business strategy to maximise the return on that website.
Therefore, if a website is built with a certain strategy which then changes in the future, this is cause for a redesign. When a business strategy changes, so should the website design which in turn triggers a site redesign.
Before the website is redesigned, or even if it is being built for the first time, a comprehensive website strategy has to be developed. The comprehensive website strategy should be designed to incorporate sub-strategies that include content, social, marketing, customer, human resources and security strategies.
You Are Re-branding
A brand should ideally be at the centre of design- The premise being cultivating brand identity. It is what the business cultivates in the minds of customers and is a strong symbol of the business’ identity.
It is therefore only fitting that when a brand changes, either visually or in its aspirations, the changes should adequately be anchored on the business’ website. It is important to present a consistent message and image of the brand across all platforms and media.
Inconsistencies in brand messaging can be confusing to customers and will ultimately put a dent on the bottom line. Hence if the brand image of the business changes, the change should be reflected on social media, in print as well as on the business’ website.
Embrace Change and Not For The Sake Of It
Whatever the reason for the change. Change is to be expected and welcomed in the design of a website. When a website is being redesigned, it is a chance to start anew on all fronts. Content can be revised, the design tweaked, state of the art software and infrastructure incorporated and the user experience vastly improved.
Despite welcoming change, we should call on the winds of caution when it comes to change. Sometimes people make changes for the sake of change or maybe because they are copying a competitor. It is said if it ain't broke, don't try to fix it. Change, therefore should always arise from an existing need and most importantly be driven by a higher purpose.