Redesigning can be a tricky subject and a daunting task. Needless to say, it should be handled with great care. But, redesigning is hopelessly abused by organizations. Clients often end up spending thousands and thousands of dollars on redesign projects without applying any strategic thought. But, if you plunge into website design process for all the wrong reasons, you are bound to lose your hard earned dollars and subsequently hurt your branding effects and potential source of earning revenue. Whether government organizations, Fortune 500, academic institutions, or small businesses, website redesign fiasco seems to haunt each and every organization.
Very often redesigns fail to solve actual problems faced by users. Website redesign often becomes a battleground for different departments. It soon becomes a hotchpotch with too many people trying to implement new strategies without thinking about consequences. Remember, a redesign project should be done only for the right reason and at right time. Don’t embark on a website redesign project just to keep pace with your competitors or emulate trends. It could turn out to be a viscous trap. In this article, I will discuss common pitfalls that organizations can stay away from.
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#1 Blindfolded by beauty
It might sound ironic, but website redesign is not just about beauty, aesthetics, typography or flashy color scheme. Rather, redesigns are about striking balance between content, usability, and neat look. You need to connect with your target audience by providing relevant content. Jazzy and flashy design elements does not always add value to your site. Complex and heavy graphics end up slowing down your site performance. Just having cool design is not going to help users. Your site visitors are not visiting your site for breathtaking designs. Don’t forget flashy websites take excruciatingly long time to load on mobile phones or tablets and majority of users now browse websites from wireless devices. Show them the value. Simplicity often wins. Trust me it works.
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#2 It is not always about time-to-market
You don’t need to get bogged down by the fact that your website needs to be done as soon as possible. Instead, you need to shift your focus on researching your target audience and design your website to meet change in user’s behavior or expectations. Agility is the keyword to survive. Do your homework and try to find out as much as possible about the existing state of your website. It is important to analyze web traffic data and encourage user feedback. You can consider setting up online surveys, interviews, or conduct usability tests. This data could serve as goldmine of information that will help you make informed decisions regarding site’s information architecture and design.
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#3 Simply trying to ape
There is a not-so-thin line of difference between getting inspired and plain copying. If you try to gear your website redesign purely to implement design elements of other website, you are most likely to fall flat. What works for one company might not necessarily work for your company. Stay away from temptations. It might be a easy way out, but will harm your brand in an unimaginable way in the long run.
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#4 What does redesign have to do with content?
Post-Panda world has changed website designing phenomenally. It is no longer about stuffing keywords. Google algorithm places importance on not just high-quality, but unique content that will entice and engage users. Your website redesign gives you the chance to evaluate users’ needs, revamp your website content to bridge the gaps, and design information architecture that will serve your target audience.
Keeping your website content updated is not optional, but mandatory. Customers get pissed with outdated or incomplete information about your products and services. Your content must address the needs of your customers and constantly evolve.
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#5 Itching to create news
Your company has been out of news action recently. So why not create sensationalism? So go ahead and redesign your website. And make a lot of hullabaloo about the newly revamped website. Go all lengths to promote your site. How about a press release to make sure everyone in the industry knows about it. There is no denying that press release can serve as a great promotional tool. But a press release about your website redesign seems trivial and does not serve any purpose. If you think, it will make you look more authoritative, you will wake up to a rude shock.
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#6 I, me, myself route
Very often redesign project functions on the whims and fancies of the decision-maker. In some cases, CEO or a senior team member start to influence the strategy to a great extent. This is a very common scenario. But this calls for some introspection. Do you have experience in designing? If your answer is no, you can trust an expert website design company or hire designers and let them do their jobs. Remember in the website redesign, there is no next time and no second chance. Poorly designed website often make your business look unreliable. So just abandon the Do it Yourself mode and come out of the I, me, myself obsession. Make website redesign process more democratic and collaborative.
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#7 Call-to-action buttons
One of the most blatant blunders in website redesign project is ignoring the importance of call-to-action buttons. It is important to guide users to the next step on your website. Do you want them to sign up for your newsletter or buy your services? What next? Don’t leave your user confused. Make sure you have call to action buttons placed at strategic locations that inform visitors about the next step.
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#8 Think Responsive
With the number of visitors accessing websites from smartphones and tablets increasing, you may consider taking advantage of Responsive Web Design approach. This growing design feature allows optimum viewing across different devices and browsers. While responsive design is a little more expensive, it turns out be the most feasible option.
If responsive web design is beyond your budget, you can consider making your website mobile friendly. However, ignoring the power of mobile devices in a redesign project would be a cardinal sin.
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#9 Intuitive search function
In a bricks-and-mortar store, you would be be greeted by a helpful sales assistant with the sole mission of helping customers. Customers feel delighted by personalized service which helps them find exactly they are looking for. Well in the online world, it is the search box that helps customers to find exactly what they are looking for. Your website redesign stands no chance of survival if it does not explore innovative ways to make search function effective. Effective monitoring of search function also helps you anticipate user demand. Ensure that your search box is tactically placed and easy to find. Today’s savvy customers know what they are looking for and directly head to the search box. It is about time to adopt a hands-on approach that will help convert enough visitors into customers.
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Wrapping Up: Get your priorities right
Website redesign is about getting your priorities right. There should be a strong reason to validate your move. It is just not about looking better in front of your competitors. I often come across clients who simply want to redesign their websites because they are “bored” of the existing design. Many clients believe that website should be redesigned every 6 months or else visitors will get bored of the site. Well, as the legendary Steve Jobs said “Great design is not how it looks, but how it works.” Be clear what do you want to achieve with redesign. Never ever start a redesign project without clearly defining goals and measurable results.
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Sebastian Atwell works for PerceptiveWebDesign, a custom web design company that also provides comprehensive website redesign services for small business. He has worked on several freelance web design projects and believes that a well-drafted contract is a good foundation for a healthy designer-client relationship.