Does my website need a redesign? I’ve been asked this question so many times. To help with answering the question I’ve come up with 5 signs that should help you with the answer.
Your website doesn’t portray a professional image
It was a kind offer. One you really couldn’t refuse. The CEO’s teenage son is ‘good’ with computers and he wants to try his hand at building websites. And so the nightmare begins. You quickly learn that being good with computers and designing a website that enhances your business is not necessarily the same thing. Some of the ugliest websites on the planet are ‘designed’ and built by people who are not only good with computers but actually have degrees in computer science.
Whether we like it or not people do judge books by their covers. Manufacturers know this, that’s why they spend time and money on packaging. How your website looks and feels makes a massive statement about your business. Your website probably makes more first impressions than anyone else connected with your business.
If you find yourself embarrassed or apologising for how your website looks it’s time for a redesign.
Your website is communicating the wrong message
It started so well. The content was clear and concise. The navigation options few. But slowly, over time, additions were made. And now your once slick website is cluttered. The navigation options are overwhelming. The poor website visitor doesn’t know what to do. Generally people have short attention spans. If they can’t find what they want quickly, chances are they’ll try another website.
Everything on your website should be there for a reason. If a piece of content doesn’t serve a purpose it shouldn’t be there. It’s a distraction. If a visitor to your website is unsure about what you can do for them, you’ve missed an opportunity. The message your website sends should be customer focussed. It’s not about you, it’s about them.
If it isn’t clear from a quick look at your website what you do it’s time for a redesign.
The content on your website is out to date
When was the last time your website was updated? Last week? Last month? Last year? Never? Are you still advertising services that you no longer provide? Or have you introduced new services that are not highlighted? Can you update it yourself or are you at the mercy of others to do it for you?
Do you go through the frustration of having to contact the freelancer who designed your website every time you want to update some text or change an image? When you phone them you’re invited to leave a message or your emails trigger an out-of-office reply. Maybe they no longer freelance but are working for an agency so can only make updates out of hours.
Or maybe your out-of-this-world website was put together by a swanky design studio at a heavily reduced rate. When you approach them about a content update you are presented with a price that is out-of-this-world!
Most websites are now built on content management systems (CMS) which give you the ability to edit and update content yourself. Personally all the websites I design and build utilise WordPress, an open source system that powers a vast number of websites worldwide. This allows my clients to take control of the content of their website. Should they need help I’m on hand to assist them.
If you can’t quickly and easily update content on your website it’s time for a redesign.
Your website takes an age to load
When it comes to technology no-one likes slow. The same is true on the web. When we click buttons or links we like to see things quickly. We don’t like progress bars or those spinning circles! We want content and we want it now. Your visitors aren’t going to hang around for long. There’s lots of other websites out there. How fast your website loads matters to search engines too – Google prefers fast websites over slower ones. There could be a number of reasons your website loads slowly: bad hosting, poor quality website build, images that are too large or poorly optimised.
A number of online tools exist to measure the efficiency of your site:
Google provides Page Insights. Simply enter your website address in the box and click the Anaylze button. Results will appear for mobile (more on this below) and desktop. Results are out of 100 and are colour coded. A green box is good. Yellow means there is room for improvement. Red is not good, not good at all!
Below is a screenshot of how my website did (happy with that!):
Another tool I use is the Pingdom Website Speed Test. Again you simply enter the website address and click Test Now button. Overview results will appear in the black box with more comprehensive data appearing below this. The overview results give you a Performance Grade out of 100, the number of Requests your website has to make, the Load Time and finally the Page Size. Apart from the first one the lower the number the better.
Below is a screenshot of how my website scores (I’m happy with that as well):
If your website scores badly on speed tests it could be time for a redesign.
Your website isn’t mobile friendly
You can’t go anywhere nowadays without seeing people walking along looking down at their hands while their thumbs dance across a screen. Viewing the web on mobile (and tablet) devices is growing and it’s not going to slow down. Whether you like it or not more and more people are looking at your website on a small screen. So the question is what are they seeing? A reduced down version of the desktop site that they’ll have to zoom in on to be able to read? If that’s the case then they won’t hang around for long.
Mobile friendly sites aren’t just essential for your visitors. Google have announced that from today (21 April 2015) they will be rewarding websites that are mobile friendly:
Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.
Google Webmaster Central Blog
They’ve even created a tool which determines if your site is mobile friendly or not: Mobile Friendly Test. As you can see from the screenshot below my website is mobile friendly. Which according to Goggle is ‘Awesome’!
If your website isn’t mobile friendly it’s definitely time for a redesign.
So what now
It’s true that some of the above signs are more crucial than others, but each of them are important. It’s probably not essential to spend money on a redesign if your website looks professional, is clear, up-to-date and mobile friendly but just a bit slow. On the other hand if your website performs well on all of the above but it’s not mobile friendly then that warrants immediate action.
If your existing website is displaying any of these signs don’t hesitate to get in touch.
You may also want to read Whose side is your website on? I wrote it in 2014 after visiting a computer shop website – one that displayed the first three signs (and probably the last two as well!).