How to redesign your business' website

Back in days when text-based websites made our eyes water and flashing gifs gave us all headaches, a website was only as good as its content. These days, though, a website's design and accessibility is just as important as the information it provides to its user. Keep your website's design fresh and interesting to prevent your customers from getting bored.

Why do a redesign?

  • Stay up-to-date. Remember when the coolest websites had trails of little sparkles or flowers which followed your cursor around? The web is a fast-moving industry, which means designs date very rapidly. What was a flashy, interesting feature two years ago may be little more than an irritation now.
  • When a prospective customer comes to your website, you have a fraction of a second to convince them to buy from you, rather than your competitor. Keep your website's design current to stay ahead of the competition.
  • If your website no longer reflects your business or the aspirations of its customers, it's time to do a redesign. Think about what your customers want and how you can mirror that with your website - is it an interesting design? An easy user journey? Or perhaps it's just a simplification of your content.
  • 70-80% of all internet traffic should be coming from a search engine, so if your site doesn't appear in search results, now is the time to redesign it to take into account search engine optimisation techniques.
  • Ensure your website is accessible: the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1994 gives a three-tiered rating to websites' accessibility levels. Make sure yours complies with one of these to avoid prosecution.
  • Relaunching a website will give you a great excuse for a PR campaign. Tie the launch in with a big party or an interesting study to generate press coverage.

How to redesign your website

  • At the very beginning of the design process, work out why you are redesigning your website. If your decision has been motivated purely by the fact that your competitor's site has an interesting feature you want, try to work out what your return on investment (ROI) on the redesign will be - will it be cost effective?
  • Before you start, make a list of strategic goals. Having a list of clear, well thought-out goals will give you and your designer something to work off, and will help you determine exactly what you want your website to accomplish.
  • Decide whether you want your redesign to be comprehensive or gradual. A sudden, comprehensive overhaul can be jarring to users, whereas gradually introducing new features and designs will give you a chance to test the waters.  Evaluate your users' habits: how would they feel about an abrupt change?
  • Make a list of the effective and ineffective aspects of your current site. This could be anything, from its font to your colour scheme or even the images you have used. Once you've identified what works and what doesn't, find ways to improve on its ineffective sides. Use Google Analytics to help you determine the most popular parts of your current site.
  • Feel free to take inspiration from competitors, but don't copy them outright, or you risk losing credibility among your customers. Instead, list what works about their websites and attempt to emulate that. Remember the Picasso quote: 'good artists copy, great artists steal'.
  • Don't automatically follow trends. Instead, analyse which new developments could be beneficial and which are best left out. If in doubt, keep things simple: you don't want to be accused of trying too hard.
  • Although some of the most popular websites ignore it, there are moral and legal imperatives to ensure your site is DDA compliant. For more information on making your site accessible, see the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines document.
  • Add a blog to your site to give you a simple way to keep content fresh and up-to-date.

Checklist

  • Remember, website designs date very rapidly
  • Take SEO into account
  • Work out why you are redesigning your website
  • Make a list of clear, strategic goals for the redesign
  • Decide whether you want your redesign to be comprehensive or gradual
  • Make a list of the effective and ineffective aspects of your current site
  • Take inspiration from competitors and other websites
  • Don't automatically follow trends.
  • There are moral and legal imperatives to ensure your site is DDA compliant

FAQ

How often should I update my website?
Reassess your website's design every now and then to keep it looking fresh. You don't need to do a dramatic overhaul - but casting a critical eye over it roughly once every two years should be enough.

Examples

Resources

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