Often, clients want a fresh web site re-design, when what they really need is additional quality content, published regularly, and effective distribution and promotion of that content.
Having a few friends and business colleagues ooh and aah over a shiny new design can be a lot more exciting than well-managed AdWords, great landing page metrics, publishing more blog posts and engaging in social media... and I get that. But what's best for the balance sheet?
When should you consider a website re-design, and when is it just a waste of money?
1. A technology update is overdue. If server software updates have crippled your site, or you hear that a new update of PHP may cause some issues with your CMS version, an upgrade of the core software is probably a high priority item; and while you're at it, you might as well freshen up the design.
2. There are significant SEO advantages. CMS platforms are constantly evolving. The ability to improve on-page optimization, or dramatically reduce page load speeds, are reasons to seriously consider a redesign. Check your website for speed on GTmetrix. You're looking for A's and B's from Google and Yahoo!
3. The current design doesn't support your target audience or keywords. One of the most common problems with under-performing websites is that they were built to client design tastes and often include the list of resource-hogging features handed to the developer. The owner is an expert in their product or service field, but not in internet marketing, and that now shows on the bottom line.
Another factor that can necessitate a redesign is a change in your focus, marketing direction, or branding. A site can become "all wrong" almost overnight.
4. The navigation sucks. If visitors have complained that they are having problems finding what they're looking for, or the bounce rate is high, your navigation may be suspect, and require an upgrade.
It's possible, however, that the home page is just poorly designed, without enticing information that verifies that the visitor has found the "right site", or calls to action that pull them deeper into the content. It's possible that only the home page needs a revamp.
5. Changes in the internet and web standards have dated your site. Your website should run on one of the most up-to-date CMS's (content management systems), use HTML5 and CSS3. Depreciated HTML tags (like tables) should be updated.
6. Your site looks really old. At some point, websites will have evolved so much that your site just looks archaic. If your site still has a Flash intro, blinking animated GIFs, or is configured for 760 pixel monitors, your visitors may be receiving the message that your site has been neglected for some time, or that you don't take your online presence seriously. They may question your commitment or ability to serve their needs. As a general rule of thumb, websites look behind the tims in 2 to 4 years.
7. No return on investment. If your site cost more to build and maintain, than it's brought in through new business, something's wrong. An evaluation by an ROI specialist or may help pinpoint why your project is hemorrhaging red ink.
A question I like to ask is, "If your site was generating a hundred qualified leads a week, would you be considering a website redesign?
8. It doesn't support mobile. Most real estate websites today receive more than 70% of their traffic from mobile devices. If your website is not responsive, or at least serves up several mobile-specific versions, it does not accommodate the majority of your audience, and you can expect Google to rank it accordingly.
1. You're bored with the design. If you have set your website as the home page in your browser, it's easy to become sick of it quickly. Here's the thing; if it's working for you — and by that I mean it delivers a return on investment, and is growing your business — invest your marketing dollars somewhere where they will do some good instead.
2. You want to believe that a sexy new look will increase conversions. All things being equal, it won't. There are design factors that influence conversion, but the site's look and feel isn't one of them. Google doesn't care if your site sports the latest "flat" design and neither do your visitors. Flashy or gimmicky features usually just slow the site down and harm performance. To boost your conversions, consider having your content rewritten by a professional conversion copywriter.
Website re-designs are somewhat costly and time consuming. If your site is an "expense" on the balance sheet, failing to grow your business or sales, consider increasing your content marketing, before doing a re-design.
If you do decide to move ahead with a website re-design, make sure the designer/developer you're considering has a lot of experience in preserving your hard-won search engine rankings on the short term, and increasing them over the longer term as a result of the planned upgrade. In many cases, if you're on a quality CMS platform like WordPress or Joomla!, the re-design can usually be completed at a 'skin' level, without actually altering the URLs, building the pages and menus again or tampering with the meta and schema information. If you have good search engine rankings, they won't be put at risk that way.
In the wrong hands, you could lose the rankings and traffic you already have, and potential leads and sales, as a result of a website redesign. In other words, a re-design could be the best marketing decision you make this year, or quite possibly one of the worst.
Cole Wiebe helps brands and professionals grow their influence and value online; so they can “out content”™ their competition. Cole is a content strategist, content writer, conversion copywriter and online marketing coach.