Signs It's Time To Redesign Your Website
By Erin Ferree (c) 2007
(reprinted from SitePro News, October 2007)
Designing your first website is a stressful undertaking. It
requires you to dig deep into your business in order to write
the copy for your site. You need to work with a designer and go
through the process of creating a site that looks unique and
works well. Plus you'll end up investing a lot of time, energy
and money. And finally, after all that, you're finished and it's
time for the site to go live. What a relief!
Many business owners go through this same process. By the time
the process is finished, many entrepreneurs are very glad that
it's over - and don't want to do it again anytime soon.
Unfortunately, websites don't last forever. Even if you plan
your site to work for the current vision for your business, you
can't accurately account for the entire future of your business.
Eventually you'll have to make some changes to your website.
Some of these changes can be accomplished with simple
maintenance, and by making updates to your site. But there's
only so far that patching and revising your current site can go.
If your site is particularly outdated, or if it's not working
well for you, it's probably time to consider a full-scale site
Some signs that it's time to redesign your site include:
Your Business Has Changed or Grown
If your business is no longer the same as it was when you
designed your site, chances are that you should redesign
your website to reflect that. If you've only had a few small
changes, you might be able to just update your current website.
But, if you've changed your business direction, decided to
offer new products or services, or if your company has grown
significantly, it will pay off to redesign your site. Reconsider
how the changes to your business should be reflected or
addressed in the structure, design and strategy behind your
Your Site Looks Like It Was Designed in 1995
Some signs of an outdated web site include: chunky, slow-loading
graphics, old-style "framed" coding, where the site is divided
up into panes that load separately, little animated cartoon
clip-art throughout the site, and text created as images instead
of in HTML. Having any of these on your site could reflect
poorly on your business, making you look 'behind the times'. It
can also make you look like you don't care enough about your
business or about technological advances to keep abreast of
them. Keeping your company's website looking modern will
increase its credibility.
The Information on Your Site Isn't User-Friendly
If you cringe when you read your site text, or if you regularly
get questions on your site text from visitors, re-structuring
your copy or rewriting it can help to fix these problems. If
you've been adding to your site over time and the navigation
has become unwieldy or confusing, restructuring your navigation
could be another pressing reason to redesign your site. You want
visitors to be able to easily find their way around your site
and to be able to access all the information you have within a
few clicks. Laying out your site to make that possible can make
your visitor's experience on your site a lot easier.
You Apologize for the Site When Referencing It or Handing Out Your Business Cards
Your site should be a source of pride. It should offer your
clients and prospects an easy way to get a lot of information
about your business. And, if you have to apologize for
out-of-date information, broken images, poor design, difficult
navigation or anything else on your site, it makes you look
unprepared and unprofessional. Make sure your site is in top
shape and looks impressive, so your clients believe your
business is in good shape too.
You're Not Getting Good Results in the Search Engines
Poor rankings in the Search Engines can be a result of not
optimizing your site well. Poor search engine ranking can also
be a result of bad design choices or coding on your site. Make
sure that your site isn't designed using frames and that the
text is coded in HTML. Flash sites are also more difficult to
optimize for Search Engines.
It's Not Bringing in inquiries and Helping You to Make Sales
If your site was designed long ago, then there's a good chance
that it was designed as "brochureware". This means that the site
was designed just to act as an online brochure. This was very
common a few years ago, when websites were new. But recently
businesses have realized that a website can do a lot more than
just impersonate your brochure - it can help you close sales,
bring in new prospects and make your business easier to run.
To bring in more inquiries and make more sales include the
following when you redesign your site:
- Calls to action to encourage your visitors to take specific
actions - like purchasing something, contacting you, or signing
up for a newsletter.
- Forms, scripts, or programs to make your business easier - like
contact forms, project estimating tools, and an autoresponder
email series that can help you keep in touch with your clients
and prospects. Including a shopping cart or Paypal buttons on
your site can also help you to make more sales without any
- Downloadable information packets, articles, questionnaires
and white papers can answer a prospect's questions about your
products or services and help them to move closer to buying.
And, if you require the prospect to enter their email address or
other contact information, it can help you to grow your prospect
list as well. These are just a few of the functions that your
site can perform for your business. To get ideas for other ways
that your site can help you increase your business, look at the
other sites that you visit and note the functions they perform.
Your Site is Costing You a Fortune to Update
If you're racking up huge bills because of changes and still
have a lot to go, it might be time to consider a whole site
redesign. Make a list of everything that you want to do on your
site and consult a web designer about redesigning your site with
those changes in mind. Often, if you have extensive changes to
make to your site, it can be less expensive to just start over.
If your site is designed in Flash or coded in such a way that
you can't maintain it yourself, redesigning and re-coding your
site could allow you to do so. Having the ability to make
changes and update your own text will let you make revisions
quickly, at no cost. And you can play with your site and make
revisions to see what will work best for your business and
If your site has any of the problems mentioned here, it's time
to redesign. The steps needed to update and revise will differ
depending on the problems and issues that your site has - you
may not have to start from scratch. But, do make sure that you
address all of the problems that your site has so that you won't
have to redesign again any time soon!
Erin Ferree is a brand identity designer who creates big
visibility for small businesses. Her workbook, "Design a Website
That Works", will walk you through all of the questions that you
need to answer in order to create the best possible website.