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Website Redesign? Or Are You Hopelessly Devoted to Your Old Flame?

By Walt WinchelSep 18, 2009

As a graphic designer, we all strive to provide our clients with the most effective and up-to-date website designs, but, over time, there is a need to come back and look at how we can change the elements, content and design to keep our clients’ online image from becoming stale.

dude, time for a website makeoverClients typically become attached to their current design (“if it’s not broke, don’t fix it”) and fail to grasp the importance of the benefits of a website re-design. It may look great to the client, but to the reader it may be overlooked when they revisit because everything looks the same as it did last year. Think of the website like an article of clothing. After a year it could be that your site looks like it is wearing the web design equivalent of a pair of legwarmers and stone washed jeans, i.e. completely out-of-date.

If you’re thinking about a re-design of your existing website, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Does the site do what I originally wanted it to do? And do I still want it to do that?
  • Has the audience for the site changed?
  • Does the site pass accessibility and usability checks at the W3.org site?
  • Do I still like the look?
  • Do I need a new logo?
  • Has my site that started with 3 pages become a large multi-tiered navigation site?
  • Do I need help maintaining it?

The answers to these questions can help you determine if your site needs a small update or a complete overhaul. If you designed your site just a few years ago, you may not have had the opportunity (or cash) to set up your site using a Content Management System (CMS). However, advances in technology and the evolution of off-the-shelf CMS products make it much more affordable for anyone to use today.

Here are four tips to keep in mind when planning your re-design.

  1. Simplicity = Good.
    Both in terms of functionality and design, it’s hard to go wrong with a clean and simple site that is easy to navigate.
  2. Know your audience.
    Use applications such as Google Analytics on your existing site to see where your visitors are coming from, what browsers they are using and where they go on your site. This can help you figure out exactly what they want.
  3. Build your brand.
    What are you telling your visitors about yourself? If the visitor can’t figure out what your site is about as soon as they land on the page, there is a strong chance you’ll lose them. People are always looking for something new when they log on. It visually tells the reader that the site is up-to-date, current, and that your company is still doing well enough for you to provide new information and/or products. Old, stagnant, and out-of-date sites say to the reader your company might not even still be in business.
  4. Improve functionality.
    It’s OK to try something different but don’t confuse or annoy users by creating a website that is so off-the-wall that it’s unusable. Stay within your brand, but freshen up the look to current design trends.

Moral of the story: Keep your site current but also make sure the design says, "Hey, were still in business, going strong, and looking to the future!"

It’s amazing what a simple website re-design can do for a company's image and business!

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The Author

Walt Winchel

Kickstarting his day with a cup of Jet Fuel coffee, Walt divides his time between client meetings and having his creative visions take flight in Adobe Creative Suite. Expect this senior designer to take your website to the next level using the latest in design trends, all while creating an aesthetic that is user-friendly for your buyers. If you’re looking for a good Netflix documentary, stop by Walt’s desk: You’ll get a handful of recommendations and share a few laughs with our office comedian.
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