Story originally written by: Autumn Sullivan
A website has a lot in common with a brick and mortar location. It takes careful planning to design and build one, and its purpose is to entice customers to enter, browse, and eventually convert. And just like your IRL store, sometimes things get a little dusty or outdated. Web development experts recommend a website redesign every two to three years, but some sites may need to refresh more or less often.
So how do you know if it’s time for a website redesign?
To answer that, let’s first look at some bad reasons to dive headlong into a website redesign.
You want shiny new features.
There was a time when everyone wanted sliders. They were the hot new thing. Look at all the content I can get above the fold now! One little problem: data shows that people don’t engage with sliders — with as few as 1% of visitors clicking on even a single slide.
Then it was parallax scrolling. Look at how animated our site is now! Except, people now are starting to get tired of scrolling endlessly through a homepage. The bottom line is website styles go through phases, but you can’t (and shouldn’t) redesign your site every time a new trend drops.
Stick with that works for your audience, and change what doesn’t. Don’t guess. Run user tests with your current audience through software like HotJar and a fresh set of users with UsabilityHub. Pay attention to whether or not your audience engages with your navigation elements (and of course, whether or not they’re clicking on your sliders.)
Your site isn’t converting.
If the only metric you’re tracking on your site is conversions — specifically sales or new business contacts — then you may be tempted to redesign if the site isn’t pulling in big numbers. But depending on your industry, and your specific customer’s buying behavior, your site may not be where you get sales-related conversions. High-price industries and B2B companies may have a longer lead journey, and many customers still choose to pull the trigger on a sale with a good old-fashioned phone call.
That doesn’t mean your site isn’t working. In fact, it may be doing exactly what it was designed to do. Which is a good segue into the indicators that will tell you whether or not you do need a website redesign.
Before you commit to a redesign, it’s a good idea to identify what the site isn’t doing that you wish it did, how a site redesign will fix it, and what your intended goals for the redesign will be. If that sounds like a lot, don’t worry. A good agency will help you through that in the Discovery phase of the engagement.
And here are the good reasons to consider a website redesign.
Your site isn’t converting.
Confusing, right? This one depends on how you define conversions. Conversion doesn’t have to mean a sale; if your end goal is for users to register for a webinar, sign a petition, or simply click a button, then a conversion is when they do that.
Figure out which conversions matter in your customer’s buying journey. Is your demo the thing that always hooks them? Then make sure the conversion rate on Schedule a Demo is high.
Need a helpful benchmark? Every industry is different, and every site within an industry is different, but if your site is converting at less than 2%, consider that below average and start digging into what’s not working.
People are getting lost.
Labyrinths are cool (especially ones with David Bowie at their center), but nobody wants their users getting lost in a tangle of clicks, tabs and new pages.
How can you tell if your site is really an impenetrable maze? Start with the user testing software and dig even deeper with the Behavior Flow in Google Analytics. How many times does a user start a journey, then bounce back to the homepage? Is every click a “happy click” — a click that moves them through the funnel with useful content and features — or are people clicking around aimlessly and never getting where you want them to go?
Your website embarrasses you.
If you cringe every time someone asks if you have a website, it’s probably time for a redesign. When a site is clearly outdated, has the wrong information, or gives the wrong impression of your business, you’re going to lose customers. Your site should be an extension of your team. In the best case scenario, it should even be your star player.
A redesign may be less of a technical rebuild than refreshing visually outdated styles, images, and templates. Or, your website may genuinely be a hot mess that needs to be torn down and built back up from the ashes. A great digital marketing agency will use facts, not opinions, to determine how much has to go and how much — if anything — can stay.
Your website is saying all the wrong things.
When most people think website redesign, they think about the look and usability of the site. Here’s a little secret: content strategy is a huge part of a successful website redesign. If your site’s menu is confusing, if the CTAs aren’t actionable and specific, if the page titles are ambiguous, you may be losing valuable traffic. A content audit can tell you what pages are working, where the SEO opportunities are, and how you can reconfigure your site’s content to better suit your users.
Optimizing your website content for the search bots doesn’t mean you’re ignoring your CRO. In fact, the two should work hand in hand. Leverage your digital marketing agency to develop a user journey that effectively lifts your site’s SERP and persuades users to convert.
You’ve outgrown each other.
If your site’s interface can no longer accommodate the amount of content you’ve added in a pleasing and user-friendly way, you need to consider redesign. Or, if the templates or themes are too restrictive for the types of content you plan to create, you may want to explore a redesign with a more adaptable builder.
Many clients come to us with sites that started out elegant and clear at one point, but didn’t scale appropriately. When content is added without strategy or user experience in mind, a site slowly becomes Frankenstein’s monster. No good.
Your operations require different functions than what your website currently provides.
If you’re constantly saying, “Why can’t it just do XYZ?” it’s probably time for a redesign. This could mean added the ability to shop online, or it could mean a technical integration that supports your operation. We’ve built custom solutions for catering, party booking, online ticketing, product searches, and data visualization. Each of these solutions began with a problem that couldn’t be solved with basic website functionality.
People can’t use your website on mobile.
There are a lot of screen sizes out there, and your site needs to look good on all of them. Over 50 percent of global web traffic now originates from mobile devices. And while tablet traffic is still in its infancy, it’s safe to assume that number will grow as people ditch conventional computers for tablets that possess all the same functionality as a desktop or laptop.
Open up your phone and take a look at your site. Can you navigate using the menu? How big, or small, are the buttons? Does it take forever to load? Can users easily fill out forms? If your site only works on the 24″ PC monitor in your office, you’re definitely ready for a redesign.