Many website owners wonder how often they should redesign their site to stay current. There’s no hard and fast answer. Although many have tried to convince people that there is.
With the rapid changes in the technology space, you may be feeling a bit paralyzed when it comes to deciding whether or not to redesign your website. Should you do it now, in three years, maybe five? Don’t worry, you are not alone. Most business owners don’t know and even many designers simply pull a number out of a hat, unfortunately.
So, exactly how often do you need to redesign—it depends.
How often you redesign depends on your users’ expectations
If you have a site that is geared towards the elderly, the frequency of redesign would be rather minimal. The reason is that this particular demographic is just now getting used to being online. Their expectations are quite low.
In fact, if you redesign too often you may alienate users in the older demographic as they tend to value consistency and predicability more than other demographics.
If your site is geared towards a younger, more web-savvy demographic you may want to consider redesigning your site more often. How often? A good rule of thumb is 3-5 years.
However, there are some other considerations you should take into account.
Low conversion rate
If you are not tracking your conversions on your website, get started today! This is key information that will give you insight to how well your website is performing. Without trackable conversions, you really don’t have any idea about your site’s performance.
If you are tracking your conversions and see that you could use some (or a lot of) improvement, plan on redesigning soon. And here is a tip: don’t look at your competitor’s websites for inspiration, they’re probably not getting any better conversion rate than you! Hire a web design studio that understands conversion optimization and lead generation. That way, you not only will have an attractive site, but one that builds your business while you sleep!
This is a tricky one, because many people view design as a subjective discipline. But, go with your gut and the reactions of others. Get together with some people who you know will be brutally honest with you. Ask them what they think of your website. Hopefully they won’t just flatter you and say that your animated gifs and comic sans font are great. Get them to tell the truth.
A better way, however, is to benchmark your site with a more successful company (not nessesarily in your industry).
Look and see if there site is:
- Easier to use than yours
- More aesthetically pleasing
- More professional
- Mobile friendly
- Constant with other marketing messages and materials
If the answer is ‘yes’ to one or more of these attributes, then you may want to consider a redesign.
Get a website evaluation
Having your site evaluated by a professional is probably the best way to know wether or not you need to redesign your site. They can go over key points including: design, usability, brand messaging, mobile optimization and conversion optimization.
If you’re not sure if you need to redesign, but feel that you might, get in touch and we’ll give you a free 15 point website evaluation.
In a recent statistic around 75% of small businesses do not have a website. On the one hand, this is a tragedy. These small businesses could be missing out on a substantial amount of leads and new business.
On the other hand, this is a good opportunity for those small businesses to get online the right way. If you are thinking of getting your first website up, or if you already have one, here are some things to avoid when designing your website. Unless you want to annoy your users and lower your conversion rate!
Have a “Splash” or “Intro” Page
Ok, so you’ve got this amazing flash video presentation that you paid thousands for showing your products and services saving the world. It’s stunning, it’s entertaining, it’s dynamic and it’s going to annoy the pants off your users. Literally, the only people who care about this are YOU (and maybe your mother).
Your website users don’t want to see a fancy video presentation, usually. If they do, they want to have the control to start and stop it. Waiting 2 minutes for your splash page intro to finish is just making people angry and they will most likely leave your site. You may think it’s cool, but just don’t do it!
Have Auto-play Music or Video
It’s tempting, I know. You want to “set the mood” when people arrive. But, think about it. Many people listen to their own music while online. Now, when they visit your site, they hear your song clashing with their music causing a super-annoying soup of sound—not what you were going for.
What about the user who has their speakers or headphones up REALLY LOUD and forgot that they were on. All of a sudden your awesome music comes on and scares the daylights out of them! Again, probably not the impression you were going for.
Music is great to have on a website, just let your users control how and when they listen to it!
Have An All-Flash Website
Sorry to all the flash developers out there, but, flash is simply unnecessary these days. It adds no value to a website, and the few instances that flash would be semi-appropriate (like content sliders and image galleries), jQuery does a fine job.
If you are thinking of having your whole website built-in flash, just don’t do it. No one will be able to see anything on your site using an iPhone or iPad, your site will load slower, and Goggle won’t index your content. Just not a good idea and a great way to annoy your users.
At the end of the day, it’s best to stick with conventions. Don’t try and reinvent the wheel. Give your users control over their experience and you will have much more success online.
What else annoys you when visiting a website?
Many business owners know about blogging. They know that it can help their business. However, there is an apprehension to actually getting down to business and writing out a post.
This is completely understandable. Not everyone is excited about writing. Especially for business! It can be difficult to know what to write about and what content would be useful to users.
Here are a few things to help you get started
Write Posts That Help
Before you start a post, think, “How is this going to add value to my readers?”. This will prevent you from writing just about your business and your accomplishments. Not that it’s bad to write about those things, just keep those posts in moderation.
Try and write helpful posts that give some sort of value to your readers.
Break Up The Content
People scan web pages, and rarely read long paragraphs. Break up your content with headings and/or images. Write short, easily digestible paragraphs that deliver quick information. Read the rest of this entry »
Taking up a website redesign project can be a daunting task for a business owner or marketing manager. There is a lot of complexity and discussions that have to be made in order to have a successful outcome. I’ve recently come across a few business people who have told me how they have been burned by their web designer when redesigning their website.
Weather it’s unmet expectations, poor quality work or unmet deadlines, too often people are left disappointed by the end result of their redesign project.
Here’s how not to get burned by your web designer.
You don’t need to be an expert, but having a grasp on where the web, social media and the internet in general is going is a good idea. Before you hire someone, give yourself a good 3-4 hours of study. Do this by reading top technology blogs like Mashable, and design blogs like Smashing Magazine. This will help you become prepared for hiring the right designer or firm.
Expect Good Communication
In any project, on the web or off, good communication is key to success. Be sure that when you are talking with your web designer that you have a good chemistry and communicate easily. This can save you from a ton of huge headaches in the future.
Expect A Thorough Quote
When getting quotes, expect a detailed one—not an email. There are some designers who, when asked for a quote, simply shoot off an email saying something like, “That would be around $xx,xxx”. This is a red flag, in my opinion. A designer who isn’t willing to put in the time to have a chat with you and write out a detailed quote on exactly what you are asking for, is more than likely not a professional. The communication will probably be poor and your expectations not met. Be sure to get a detailed quote that breaks dow exactly what you are getting, why you are getting it and the total investment involved.
Don’t Assume, Ask
If you are not sure if a certain feature is included in the quote, don’t just assume that it is. Ask your designer if that feature is going to end up in the final project. A good designer will gather the majority of the details of your project in the pre-bid discussions. Look over the features that are listed in the proposal/quote that is sent to you and ask questions if you are not sure if something is included. By default, extra features are not included, so be upfront and ask. This way you will get an accurate quote and wont be burned in the end.
Check The Portfolio
Look at previous work of the designer/studio to make sure that they have the experience necessary to bring your project from concept to reality. I’ve seen too many businesses hire “designers” with no portfolio or experience and regret it in the end. Even though the inexperienced designer may cost less, you need to see that they can deliver up-to or beyond your expectations. Many times, unfortunately, they cannot.
Overall, Expect Professionalism
Let’s face it, there is no shortage of people who can build a website for you. The question is, how are they going to do it, and how is the process going to be? Will you be pleased with the results? Are you going to enjoy the experience? If you do your due diligence and expect a friendly, professional experience, you will most likely get it and save yourself from getting burned.
As we all know by now, mobile is the new black, pink and whatever other color you can think of. Mobile is not going away anytime soon and it is increasingly becoming integrated into our lives. In fact, studies show that mobile web browsing will outpace traditional desktop browsing within 2-3 years. Some studies say even sooner.
For business owners and marketers, this shift can seem daunting as it ads in a huge layer of complexity and perceived cost. What approach do you take? Where do you start, and when?
The when part is really up to you, but for the how piece of the puzzle, I would look no further than Responsive Design.
Here are 6.5 reasons why you should consider updating your company site to utilize Responsive Design.
1. You Will Save Money
Before the practice of Responsive Design was widely adopted (it still isn’t, really), if companies wanted to have an optimal mobile experience of their website a separate set of templates or a device-specific app had to be designed and developed.
As you might guess, this can get quite costly. One site for iPhone, one site for iPad, another for Android etc. Then, what happens when a new device comes out? Make another website or app specific to that device? I’m guessing most business owners don’t want to spend that kind of cash just to keep up.
The beauty of Responsive Design is in the fact that it enables your site to fit perfectly in any screen size. One website, all devices. That means that your website only has to be developed once, significantly reducing the cost. Read the rest of this entry »
When I meet with clients for the first time, they are often very excited about starting or revamping their web presence. Many times, in the excitement, they haven’t given thought to what types of content/pages they want to have on their site.
While every business is different, these five pages are essential to a business website. The titles could change a little and maybe one or two top-level pages could be added, but generally, users want to see this info about your business. This list is a good starting point for most businesses out there.
Ok, pretty obvious, I know. But it’s worth mentioning. Your homepage should be unique to all your other pages. It should be simple, clear and provide essential information to the user in a short amount of time.
Here’s a list of effective homepage elements:
- Unique Value Proposition
- Attention grabbing images/graphics
- Clear Call to Actioin Read the rest of this entry »
Most everyone interacts with some form of web design in one way or another throughout the day. For the most part, though, we as consumers of online content, don’t appreciate what good web design does for us. Design usually takes a back seat in the minds of users, as it rightfully should. However, sometimes it’s good to review why design is so essential to our daily lives online.
1. Good Web Design Keeps Things Organized
Our world is full of chaos. In our personal and professional lives. Events, products, relationships, people, papers and all sorts of things are constantly flying in and out of our lives. The same is true with a website or app. Data is flying all over the place. Design helps to take the chaos and make sense of it—make it useable. Read the rest of this entry »
If you are in the professional services industry, you know that there are a million firms out there that basically do the same thing as you. You may be the best at your business, or at least one aspect of your business, but there are many other firms who claim to do the exact same thing that you do just as well. Some of these firms even have the audacity to offer the same service for lower fees. How dare they!
How can firms keep their head above water in a sea of competition?
The key is differentiation. And one great way to do this is via your website. The web is an excellent medium to define exactly what it is that you are all about. You’re able to speak with clarity and engage your potential clients on a deeper level than through any other medium.
Sadly, most professional service firms don’t take advantage of their #1 marketing tool. Many of them settle for off-the-shelf solutions with boilerplate copy. These sites all look and sound the same. They have the same calculators and tools.
They say nothing original or unique. This is a real shame.
Give people a reason to care
Another sad point is that visitors really don’t care all that much. At least, they don’t care about what you think they care about.
Here’s a list of what they don’t care about:
- Your dedication to customer service
- Your credentials
- Your awards
- Your technical resume
- Anything that they cannot understand
- Anything that confuses them
- Anything that does not relate directly to their problem Read the rest of this entry »
In business, you’re concerned mainly with one thing: make money. That’s pretty much it. Of course, there are other things, like developing relationships, a sense of accomplishment and charting your own course. But, at the end of the day, you just want to make money. The more, the better!
How can design help us do just that—make more money?
Design can and does help businesses around the world make MUCH more money than they might have otherwise. Apple is a great example. It’s an overused example, but still a great one. What Apple did by focusing on design revolutionized not only their company, but the world. Steve Jobs is famous for saying,
“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
That phrase sums it up nicely. Weather it’s a website, a car or an iMac, design helps to engage the user, create an emotional response, and guide the user as to what to do.
What does this mean for business on the web? It means that paying attention to the design of your site or app can be a tremendous help in your quest for profitability. The truth is, attractive people sell more, so do attractive websites. Attractive is just the start though. Design facilitates the user in taking an action after first convincing them that the site is trustworthy and relevant.
- Design can communicate directly to the needs and desires of your audience.
- Design can connect them to the products and services that you provide them.
- Design can build trust.
- Design can increase the number of clicks you get on your web ad
- Design can increase the number of subscribers you have
- Design can keep people on your page for a longer period of time
Now take this list and switch it to negatives. Bad design, or not enough attention to design, can have a negative impact on all of these things. There’s a good example here. They redesigned the web ads and got 35% more traffic. That’s a big deal.
Design is more than making things look pretty, although that’s part of it. Design makes things work, and work well. Investing in design is always a good decision. When your product, website, marketing materials or even your business card work well, you can make more money.
Search Engine Optimizations is very important for a business if they want their website to be a success. There is no doubt about that. Getting found in the search engines is one of, if not the most effective way to get targeted, qualified traffic to your site. There’s a problem, though. It’s only half the battle.
I’ve noticed recently that many sites out there are obviously focusing on Search Engine Optimization. Just Google something like “Seattle Plumber” and you will see what I mean.
- Home pages crammed with content
- Keyword stuffing everywhere
- Keyword links galore all over every page and footer
- Copy that sounds like a robot wrote it for another robot to read
- A complete lack of attention to user experience or conversions
You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all been to those sites. The ones where you just get mad and click the back button. Hopefully this is not your site.
Humans come to your site, not just Google
I feel like we’ve been duped by Google. We know that it’s important, but we’ve put Google at such a high level of importance that we’ve forgotten about our customers/clients. We’ve done everything in our power to get our sites higher in the search engines at all cost. But, I believe that the cost is way to high in many cases.
What’s the use of getting traffic when no one is staying on your site? When no one is signing up for you newsletter, or calling your office? Isn’t that the main point of a website—to get people to take action?
It’s a little like having a brick and mortar storefront jammed with advertisements and cluttered with newspaper clippings. People would wonder what you are doing and would question the quality of your business and product. Not to mention the trust factor.
High quality brick and mortar businesses use layout and space wisely. They don’t over-saturate the space. Same is true with a website.
All in all, I, personally, think the SEO thing has gotten lopsided.
Time for balance
Don’t get me wrong. SEO plays an important role. You need traffic to your site, or your site is worthless. At the same time, your site needs to be a joy for your users to interact with. They need to feel in control, and not like they just entered a hurricane of keywords.
There’s also a huge benefit for businesses who try and find the balance. When you put more focus on getting your site to have a quality user experience, your conversion rate will go up. People respond more positively to attractive things. A cluttered, keyword stuffed site is not attractive in the least.
There are ways to have the best of both worlds. This is not an either/or scenario. We would be wise to put equal time into both sides of the website coin: traffic and conversions. Get a steady stream of visitors and knock their socks off by providing a great experience. Give them a reason to fill out your form or call your office. Don’t make it harder than it has to be. Google will understand.
- Whitespace: The Underutilized Design Element
- Does SEO Conflict with User-Friendly Websites?
- SEO + User Experience