Redesign? No — Something Better
This article was originally written for ArrowQuick Solutions, a technology consultancy for small businesses.
Often when a company approaches us for website development, they fall into one of two camps: the business either does not have a website, or they want to redesign their existing site.
In the latter situation, the website has typically been languishing for a while. It hasn’t been updated. It isn’t generating sales. The site’s look hasn’t changed for a few years. So the client decides to start over.
It’s easy to see why. As humans, we thrive on renewal. We feel it’s easier to dump the old stuff. It’s exciting to be able to start with a clean slate.
But rebuilding from scratch is usually not necessary, and might actually hurt the site. Any brand that customers may perceive, or ranking in the search engines, could be negatively affected. And it might be missing the real root of the problem.
Print marketing, such as brochures and business cards, doesn’t change after it has been printed and distributed. Your website is a living document. It continually serves existing customers and receives new customers. It can constantly evolve with your business.
Most website owners fail to understand that a site is an ongoing commitment. Doing a lengthy, costly redesign every few years is not the way to go. Websites should be actively managed from week to week. Here are some small, incremental improvements that ArrowQuick provides to our website clients.
It’s surprising how many decisions are made without any evidence to back them up. Sweeping changes are often made based on a gut feeling by the owners, or a remark from a single customer. It doesn’t have to be that way.
First, what are the site objectives? Have they changed since the site was launched? Has the target audience changed?
Once these questions are answered, there are many methods to measure if the site is meeting its success criteria:
- Stats, stats, stats. Information is collected every time someone visits your site, and being able to interpret the data is important to understanding what’s going on.
- User testing & feedback. Watching customers use the site is one of the best ways to find out what’s working (or not).
- Competitor analysis. It’s always good to know what your competitors are doing on the web.
Once the opportunities for improvement are identified, they can be prioritized and addressed. Here are the most common changes.
- As I’ve mentioned before, frequently updating your site with new and exciting content is almost always critical to its success.
- Want to add new functionality to your site? Introducing features one at a time is easier than all at once.
- Are customers having trouble using the site, or finding information? Tweaks to the navigation, and other architecture changes, can make a big difference.
- You can still make visual design changes, but it needn’t be an entire overhaul. An updated image here, a streamlined layout there, and customers are more likely to be pleased rather than jarred.
- Minor tune-ups. Broken link fixes, software upgrades, and speed optimizations all help the site’s overall performance.
Making incremental improvements helps in other ways. It’s faster to roll out small changes than a huge monolithic site. It’s easier to estimate what the cost will be for smaller changes. It’s less risky.
Finally, I left out one big aspect of website management: promotion. If you’ve got a great site, why not show it off? Promote the changes in your paper collateral and signs, your advertising, public relations, and other marketing efforts.