Just as clothing styles and trends change from year to year, so do website designs. If you don’t refresh or redesign your website every once in a while, it will become horribly dated and far less functional than if you stay on top of the trends and elements that make the user experience the best it can be.
Your website is a chance to make a great first impression on potential customers. Of course, it is also a chance to make a horrible first impression. About 94% of people say that their first impression of a website makes a difference as to whether they stay on that website or go to a competitor’s site.
But does your website need a refresh or a redesign? They’re not the same thing, and here are some ways you can use to decide which would be best for your site.
You Might Need a Refresh If…
A refresh is simply changing some of the elements on your website. Many people prefer to change one or two things at a time and do some A/B testing to see how users respond to those changes. This allows you to keep your finger on the pulse of site visitors and make sure you aren’t driving loyal customers away.
You might need a refresh if:
- You have a limited budget. A refresh doesn’t cost as much money as a redesign because elements can be added over time.
- Your content management system (CMS) works well but you just want a new look and feel to your site.
- Some elements don’t work well, but the majority work just fine.
- Your colors are not coordinating with your overall design. For example, if your logo is red and your website is purple, you aren’t being consistent in your branding. A few tweaks can make a huge difference in how site visitors perceive your brand. Using specific colors can increase recognition as much as 80%.
- You want to interact more with your site visitors.
A website refresh can be as simple as adding a contact form or as advanced as changing the colors and logo on your website. Even though you might add a number of elements in a refresh, it isn’t a completely new design.
You Might Need a Redesign If…
There are times when it is just best to start over from scratch and come up with a completely different concept. If your website isn’t consistent with your brand or your goals for your company, then this might be the option for you. Years ago, designing a complete website was a costly endeavor.
However, with the popularity of CMS platforms, such as WordPress, these redesigns have become much more cost effective for website owners.
You might need a redesign if:
- Your design is dated. Designers are always trying new things. Sometimes a design takes hold and becomes a trend. When this happens, leaving old graphics or flat colors on your site can make it look extremely dated.
- Your site is not mobile ready. In today’s mobile-device-driven world, a responsive website is vital to the success of your website. About one out of every five millennials doesn’t even own a desktop computer. Instead, they use their mobile devices to go online.
- Your site doesn’t load quickly. Around 40% of your site visitors will bounce away from your website if it takes a page longer than three seconds to load. Get rid of bulky images and elements that slow down your load times. You may also want to consider a faster web hosting service.
A complete redesign is a much larger project than simply refreshing a few elements on your page. However, you can redesign via wireframe, a mock environment, and take your site live once it is ready to launch.
How Do You Know When It’s Time?
There are some key indicators that can signal it is time for at a minimum a refresh, but possibly a complete redesign:
- If your site metrics are down, it is time to do something. There is a reason visitors aren’t coming to your page the way they once were. It might be due to lack of content, but it could also be your design — or lack of it.
- If your site is impersonal, it may be time to do some research into user personas and figure out how to add a personal touch to your website.
- When site visitors tell you they aren’t happy with your site, you should listen. They may leave comments or even contact you to let you know they are having issues with the site.
- Your site is dated and hasn’t been refreshed in a long time. The focus should always be on “brand improvement.”
- You notice your SEO ranking has dropped and you aren’t sure why.
Once you’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time to refresh or redesign, you’ll want to take some specific steps to accomplish this task:
- Plan the changes and see how they stack up against competitors’ sites.
- Create the changes in a wireframe to make sure the skeletons of the new design work correctly.
- Conduct some A/B testing to see which elements work best, especially in a refresh versus redesign.
- Never use an “under construction” page while changing your website. Your loyal followers won’t appreciate landing on a page without any content and you’ll risk losing them forever. It is so much better to work on the backend or on a dummy site and then take it live when you are ready.
Revamping your website is smart business sense. You wouldn’t wear the same outfit for ten years, and your website shouldn’t wear the same outfit for that length of time, either.