In recent years it seems like almost everyone is redesigning their sites. Some of this results from the waxing and waning of design trends, or the continuous changes in technology. How sites are used is shifting and the look and function of sights are changing through the impact of social media and community.
In many cases, just adjusting the feel and look of a site is not adequate for re-design in today’s market. Taking into consideration shifting technology, functionality, presentation, loading efficiency and ease of updating creates the need for more comprehensive and consistent overhauls.
If you are feeling left behind as companies race past you with redesigns, ask yourself some questions that will help tell you if it’s time to join the pack.
Is your website as responsive as you would like it to be?
It is important in today’s market to make sure that your websites are device friendly. The web design community brings continuity between viewing sites past desktops and laptops. With endless consumers accessing the web on tablets, smartphones, televisions, music and gaming devices, proper design is a must. The growing need to make sites fully functional on a device wide basis without hindering user experience first became apparent in an article called “Responsive Web Design” by Ethan Marcotte back in May of 2010, and such need has been growing exponentially since that time. Reading this article may be invaluable to you to determine if your site follows the principles of a responsive design.
Can you confidently say that your current site can be viewed on all devices without hindering the consumers’ experience? If you cannot, than it may be time for redesign! Brushing up on the principles and concept of responsive design may be a good plan and as you move forward hiring a designer and/or developer that is up to speed on current responsive techniques can be invaluable with the multitude of devices in today’s world.
Is it difficult to keep your website updated?
If you shy away from updating your sight because it is a pain, it is time to identify the issues. Is it a lack of time or knowledge? Consistent site updates are paramount to attracting new visitors. So if it is a time issue, hire somebody. If you cannot identify the issue or just don’t feel comfortable handling scheduled updates, this is probably a sign that your site needs revamped.
You may need to start from scratch to create a site that offers update simplicity, or maybe as simple as hiring a developer to install a content management system (CMS) that will allow you to update the site yourself. Keeping your site fresh through proper updating is very important!
Are certain functions and features no longer being used?
A mature website often experiences outdated features that just stop working well. For instance, Facebook Fan boxes. Is there a facet of your site like this that is no longer working for your site’s purpose?
Many designers dispute the use of social media share buttons being as effective as they used to be and are removing them. Determine if you have similar items on your site that are just no longer functional; remove them or if they are a major part of your site, do some restructure or redesign so the underperforming feature no longer exists.
Speedy load time is the trend in today’s marketplace. Remember the consumer is impatient. Although this is closely related to responsiveness, it should be given some separate consideration. Many phone carriers and internet providers limit the amount of data allowed which can affect your loading time and site therefore your site presentation. So, if your site requires the downloading of extraneous information, images and scripts it would be a disservice to those visiting your site as you eat up precious and sometimes expensive data!
The general rule of thumb is that if loading your site takes longer than 5 seconds, it is time to optimize. On slower bandwidths, after about 5 seconds, consumers lose interest and often just leave. A web designer or developer can help in determining why you may be experiences long load times and give redesign considerations that will eliminate some elements like custom fonts, background images and textures that may be slowing you down.
Are visitors to your sight actually navigating past your home page?
Unless you engage in the use of special analytics software that lets you gauge the flow and of visitors, this may be hard for you to determine. An excellent free choice is to sign up for Google Analytics. If you use this type of software, your statistics will tell you if people are just skimming your site or moving in to a deeper level.
As you monitor your visitor activity (2 weeks can give you a quick view) you will be able to determine if your visitors are losing interest. If so, it is time to bring more spice to your homepage, or go for a complete redesign that will help lure your visitors to navigate deeper and actually see and read your message.
So, if you are trying to determine if a redesign of your site is necessary, and you have not used analytics software, it is time to. Sign up for Google Analytics or StatCounter and do some concrete research.
Is your visitor count slowly decreasing?
Similar to the importance of your visitors navigating past the home page, it is important to recognize if the volume of visitors to your site is on the decline. Have you noticed less and less site activity? It may be time to reconstruct your site, or at least its content, to attract more viewers.
A slight decline in visitors may not mean a total site revamp is in order, but it is a sign that your site may be becoming stale, or that your SEO is no longer functioning at a desirable level. Most likely, it is telling you that it is time to freshen up your site! When your site gives off the feel that it has not been updated in a while, visitors will go another direction to fill their needs. Also, if your site is stale, your ranking on search engines will not be as favorable, as they top rate sites that have new content and are constantly being updated.
When was your last overhaul to your site?
The industry standard on total overhaul is that a site needs a redesign at least every three years, with a hard look at functionality about every five years. Although technology is speeding forward it does not change as fast as design trends on the Web, so unfortunately these review times do not sync on a calendar, but yet are very important when keeping an updated fresh feel to your site.
If you can’t even remember when the last time was that you did an overhaul, that is a good indication that it’s time for redesign. There have most likely been significant changes in both technology and design trends. But keep in mind that sites have different purposes, so some need overhaul more often when others don’t.
Are there portions of the site not functioning properly?
How often does your site give you the dreaded “404 not found” message? Does your site simply have things that are broken and not functioning properly? Often it is fairly easy to fix broken elements on the surface but it may be indicate you have deeper site issues. Is your site disorganized or being mishandled? A content management system that manages content can often prevent or solve these types of issues, avoiding the loss of images, broken links or accidental or improper management of your site.
If you are experiencing missing images, an abundance of error messages or too many broken links to count, than you really should consider a full overhaul that includes the addition of a content management system. If there is only a broken link here or there fix them now and don’t let them lag. When visitors experience these they lose trust. It gives them the impression that if you don’t take care of your site, then you won’t take care of your customers.
Do you even exist on the search engines?
Optimizing your site on search engines doesn’t require as much effort as most people think, but favorable SEO is a pertinent factor. Sites that have constantly changing content, proper coding and aren’t too heavy on images are favored by search engines such as Yahoo, Bing and Google. You may be conscientious about keeping your site updated but engaging a developer with SEO experience to make sure your site is coded correctly will help ensure optimization.
If you are non-existent on search engines, then it may require a whole new design to boost your SEO and increase visits. Most visitors are driven through a Google search rather than directly typing in your URL, so strong SEO will undoubtedly result in a higher visitor count. But after you get them there, it is up to you to offer them a site that they will want to stay in!
Is the copyright year in your footer current to this year?
Your site immediately gives the impression that it is out-of-date if your copyright footer is not current. Last year’s copyrights means you have not updated your site consistently and many visitors will just plain leave. This is a good indicator that it is time for a redesign, especially if your copyright is older than 3 years.
Only you can decide its time . . .
Even if a few of the points reviewed are relevant to your website that does not mean a total overhaul is imminent. In other words, if your site is slow to load, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to dump it and start over. A web designer or developer can help identify the issues and possibly resolve them. If your visitor count is dropping, it may not be the current design, but maybe the content. A content overhaul may be enough without a complete redesign.
If several of the points mentioned above can be attributed to your site, then it may very well be time for you to do a revamp yourself (if you have the knowledge), or to hire a good web professional to overhaul your site so that you don’t continue to fall behind the pack.
Ultimately, it is you that has to make the final choice if it is time for a redesign or total overhaul. If you are getting a nagging feeling that this is in order, than contact a professional designer or developer and discuss what you are feeling about your site. They can often help in your decision to just make some tweaks, or to gut your site and create a fresh new image!