Your company’s website is the face of your brand online. It has to not only deliver a strong and favorable first impression, but also cater for and engage each of your unique user groups.
The combination of swiftly changing technology, design aesthetics, and user preferences means that even websites that were on the cutting edge a few years ago can become quickly outdated.
Still, a redesign is a major undertaking — one that needs to be approached thoughtfully and strategically. Below we’re delving into the when, why, and how of redesigning your brand’s website.
How do you know when it’s time for a redesign?
The most fundamental question you need to ask before diving headfirst into a redesign project is: why are we doing this? The most common signs your website is in need of an overhaul are:
The website isn’t generating leads or sales
There can be a lot of different reasons to explain a slip in website performance — from misfiring marketing to changing trends in your sector. However, if your site traffic volume isn’t falling, but conversion rates are declining, then a redesign is probably in order.
Customers complain the website is difficult to use
No matter how well-designed your website is, there will likely always be a small segment of users who complain it’s difficult to use because not everyone is web-savvy. However, a spike in complaints can indicate usability issues with your site. Keep user feedback in mind as you approach the website redesign process.
The website looks outdated compared to others
Sometimes it’s hard to see the flaws in a website you created or that you see day-in, day-out. That means company employees are sometimes the last ones to recognize when a website has become outdated.
If you want to quickly gauge whether your website is falling behind, try comparing its aesthetics and performance to that of the competition. Then try comparing it to one of your favorite websites, even if that site has nothing to do with your industry. What is it about that website that makes you enjoy using it? How can similar elements be used on your own site to make it more efficient or enjoyable to use?
What is the best way to approach a website redesign?
To get the best results from your website redesign, is to start with a formal discovery and strategy phase, and avoid taking anything for granted.
- Identify the biggest issues with the existing site – Start by pinpointing the aspects of the current website that are failing to meet the needs of your target user groups. These are the problems your new site needs to solve for.
- Develop an understanding of consumer intent – Do you have a clear understanding of what users come to your website to do? Different types of users will approach your website with different objectives in mind. You’ll need to be sure that you have a firm grasp on these objectives before you begin making design changes.
- Create a set of goals and objectives for the new site – In order to measure the success of the redesign, you should start the project with a set of website objectives that is agreed upon by all key stakeholders. These objectives should help inform the design of the new site.
- Evaluate the competition – You shouldn’t base your own efforts solely on what others are doing (what an old boss of mine used to call ‘rear-view marketing’), but evaluating the competitive landscape is an important step in the redesign process.
- Approach the project in phases – Rather than look at the redesign process as a single step from ideation to launch, approach the project in phases. Phase 1 is discovery, research, and strategy. Phase 2 is user experience design and wireframing, informed by Phase 1. Phase 2 informs Phase 3, and so on. This approach allows you to make adjustments along the way.
- Measure, test, and iterate – Don’t let all the hard work of your redesign go to waste by failing to track and measure the outcomes. Continually improve performance by running ongoing conversion rate optimization tests post-launch.
Inspiring website redesigns
The New York Times: The New York Times has a long history as one of the most respected newspapers in print. But the changing media landscape has meant that they also need to find ways to serve a huge digital audience.
In 2018 NYTimes. com was redesigned to meet the needs of an increasingly mobile audience. While they had been investing a lot of resources in their mobile app, the performance of the mobile version of their website was lagging. The redesign featured easier article navigation, deeper integration of commenting features, and an unimpeded story scroll. The new site offers a more immersive experience that is functional and beautiful across devices.
Because the digital landscape changes so rapidly, periodic site redesigns are essential to keep your brand on the cutting edge – as I tell clients, a website is never finished. However, website redesigns should not be taken lightly as they require a lot of time, planning, and patience to execute. Always approach a website redesign with clear objectives and a project plan to keep the whole team on track.