[tweetmeme]What is website “redesign” and why is it necessary?
Re-designing a website is often considered to be more of a graphic design process—simply taking an older website and give it a totally new look so visitors and customers will take notice, or perhaps adding more content to the website so information is readily available to existing or potential customers.
This approach to website redesign has resulted in many websites which are often more informational, overly complex and often confusing for the website visitor. Many outdated or poorly designed websites fail to capture any information about the visitor, and often contribute little to the qualification of potential customers or assisting with the pre-sales process.
Another reason why redesigning websites is necessary is that the Internet has evolved. Overall bandwidth has increased for both companies and the public, new technologies have emerged, and website users’ expectations have changed.
Because the Internet is evolving so quickly, less sophisticated websites tend to age more quickly than interactive websites, especially as today’s Internet users expect more from a website.
Website redesign considerations
While it is true that your website may be the first contact a prospective client has with your company or organization, and the look and feel is definitely important in making a great first impression, there are many reasons to consider redesigning your website, such as:
- Are new website capabilities needed?
- Are the major search engines finding your website?
- Has your marketing goals changed and does this impact your website?
- Can your website’s navigation be improved?
- Is it difficult, costly or time-consuming to make simple text changes to your website?
- How are website visitors currently using your website?
- What is your website conversion rate?
Evaluate your website
Start with a list of what your website does, and how well it does it.
Your list should include typical website functions like providing general information for customers, company background for new customers and a rating of how well you think it performs that task.
Next create a list of of what your web site does not do, either because of outdated design, or capabilities it does not have, that you would like the website to have.
You can use web site statistics and feedback from your staff and from customers as you determine how well your current web site is working—or not.
Lastly, create one sentence which describes the primary purpose of your website and one secondary purpose for your website.
Everything on your list should support your primary and secondary purpose. If not, your website may have unnecessary content or features which are not needed.
Website redesign will usually include the following:
- Improving overall page redesign to make the site more up to date
- Using a Content Management System (CMS) so content can be easily managed
- Applications for specific tasks (customer chat, email marketing, customer login)
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Increasing the amount of relevant content for higher Google rankings
Setting Realistic Goals
While it is important to develop a list of new features, content or capabilities you want your website to have, it’s more important to first identify one or two very specific, realistic goals for your website redesign effort. Goals such as “getting more customers,” is too vague. Focus instead on goals that are more specific, such as, “convert more direct mail
Even if you have an unlimited website budget, by focusing on adding one or two capabilities to your website which can in turn generate more qualified leads may yield more return on your investment in the short run, than spending six to eight months totally redesigning the website with lots of new features.
Establish a budget
It is important to establish a realistic budget, or a budget range for your website redesign.
Even if you don’t know what all the website design requests will cost, it is good to know before you start the process of hiring a web designer or web development company what you can spend on the project or at least on the first phase of the project.
While it is a common practice to get several bids or proposals on a website project, everyone involved will be disappointed when website proposals are based on unrealistic expectations or budgets that just don’t allow you to do everything you want to do.
By letting a potential website vendor know up front that you can spend a certain amount and that you are looking to get as many features for that price range as possible is a reasonable approach.
Group website features into phases
If you are considering a complete redesign with many new features for your website, consider grouping your requests into two or three phases and having your website developer estimate each phase of the project.
This approach will at least allow you to have the highest priority website requests in the initial redesign, with less urgent website needs to be created in a later phase. Also, this will mean a faster process for relaunching your website.
Write down your website requirements
It is important that your website requirements into a document. This document should list the goals you have for the redesign, as well as specific website features or changes you need made.
Often I am contacted by businesses who have some general ideas about what they want to do with their website, but nothing in writing. Several vendors will be contacted, and similar information is given verbally to each, but with vastly different proposals resulting because many different assumptions are made by each website designer.
Also, detail in your requirements how you plan to measure the success of the redesign project.
Get several proposals and review each proposal in detail
By having a formal requirements document, you can easily get several proposals based on the same requirements and get more accurate pricing.
Before you decide on a particular website designer, thoroughly review all proposals to make sure you understand how each will approach the project, what technology they will be using, the time line needed.
Be sure you get references for anyone you are considering for your project, and speak to their references to make sure the designer can deliver.
Lastly, while price is important, make sure that you are getting a good value, and that whoever you choose to redesign your website can manage the project and stand behind their work.
About the Author
Vann Baker, President of Design-First is a graphic designer who has been creating websites for small businesses since 1995, from small corporate websites to large ecommerce, social network and informational websites using content management systems. For more information on creating a successful website and more, go to Design-First.com/website