22 Nov Elements of Great Website Redesign
The truism, “We don’t know what we don’t know,” definitely applies to the realm of website redesign. As a business owner, you’re too busy running your enterprise to learn about designing your website. And you really shouldn’t have to. But you should be able to recognize when it needs to be redesigned. Based upon our own experience and insights from some industry leaders, here’s an easy guide help you know what you may not have known.
First up – Why does a website need to be redesigned?
As we noted in our March 7, 2018 blog post – “How to Tell If Your Website Needs a Redesign” – your website is more than the face of your business online – it is your 24/7 salesperson. So imagine if your salesperson was poorly groomed, lacked the tools and technology to properly represent your company to prospects, and couldn’t answer relevant questions or easily conduct transactions. You’d be looking for a new salesperson, right?
According to Thomas Digital, website design issues can include technical limitations – such as a lack of mobile responsive design – or aesthetic issues “… such as the current site is plain old ugly and was never designed properly, to begin with. Or the business has grown and the site from 7 years ago that was designed by your neighbor’s son in college is no longer suitable for the business.”
Next up – How to tell if your website needs to be redesigned
Many business owners tend to think that there’s a timeframe for website updates, much like a maintenance schedule for your vehicle. Industry experts recommend every two to three years, but Thomas Digital states it succinctly: “As soon as it is profitable to do so. If you recently redesigned your website but it’s still not that great, then it really isn’t an issue of time. The question simply is, would your business be better served right now with a better website. If the answer is yes, then it’s time for a new website.”
Digital marketing maven Neil Patel – co-founder of Crazy Egg – advises asking yourself three questions:
- Does the design look outdated?
- Are my conversions/sales decreasing?
- Have I received complaints about user experience or design-related issues?
While this is a great starting point, we do take some exception with question number three. Most website visitors who have a poor user experience never let the business know about it. They just leave quickly – presumably to a competitor’s website. Better evidence of a negative user experience is a high bounce rate. Our May 24, 2019 blog post – “High Bounce Rates – Causes and Cures” – covers the reasons for a significant number of visitors leaving after viewing just one page without taking any action (such as clicking on a menu item).
However, not all bounces are bad. A visitor who is looking for your business hours or address and finds them on the home page may leave without clicking around. If that person returns to make a purchase, your website has still made a conversion.
While you can measure whether your conversions and/or sales are decreasing, answering the first question is more subjective. Not all websites with an outdated design are of the glaringly obvious sort called out by web designer Caitlyn Smith in her blog post for HIPB2B. Even if your website appears to be well-designed, it still may not result in the desired conversion rates (the sales funnel/customer journey from website visitor-to-lead-to customer). Take some time to read articles and blog posts on this topic, such as our September 13 blog post – “Does Your Website Need an Extreme Makeover?”
Where to get started with a redesign
Despite our looks-can-be-deceiving precaution, appearances really do count in encouraging visitors to stay on your site and look around – and eventually buy something. If you’ve been checking out the websites of your leading competitors or industry-leading companies, take notes on what you like about them. Chances are, you’ll see some common elements. For example:
A strong but simple color palette – Well-designed websites typically use a primary color and a secondary color (usually the same colors as the brand logo). The colors get attention, serve to establish brand identity and encourage the visitors’ eyes to follow the flow of information on the page. Thomas Digital recommends two to three primary colors, with two to three accent colors – and be sure the colors are highly contrasted. Contrast Checker is a free resource presented by WebAIM that makes it easy to do so.
High-quality graphics and photos – Poor-quality graphics and blurry, low-res photos can ruin your brand image. Fortunately, presenting a suitably professional image needn’t break the bank. And despite the widespread criticism of stock photography, Thomas Digital has a more realistic perspective.
“Most people think they hate stock imagery. The truth is, they just hate the clichéd stock imagery of two people in suits shaking hands. That type of thing. The main idea when it comes to imagery is that you want it to complement and help tell the story being conveyed in the text. Most people … can’t read for too long, so you want to help people along through compelling and unique imagery.”
Optimum amount of white space – Long, unbroken blocks of text and busy graphics encourage visitors to flee, not linger. White space serves to improve visual flow and “tell” people where on the page they should look, as well as indicate the information you want to emphasize.
A clear call-to-action (CTA) – Visitors to your site need to know what you want them to do next. Whether you convey the message through text or with a CTA button, your intention needs to be clear in order to get visitors to take the next step in the conversion process.
Clear navigation – Website navigation should be intuitive and uncomplicated. Visitors won’t stay if you make it a game of hide-and-seek, or get overly creative with page names – for example, naming a page Up-Close-and-Personal instead of About Us. If you’re not sure about your website’s ease of navigation, do an informal “focus group” and ask some people who have never visited your site before to look around, then tell you if they had problems finding what they wanted.
Why should my site be mobile-friendly?
If it has been a few years since your website was designed or redesigned, you may not have noticed the move to mobile. According to Google, in the United States, 94% of people with smartphones search for local information on their phones. Interestingly, 77% of mobile searches occur at home or at work, places where desktop computers are likely to be present.
A non-mobile-friendly site displays your desktop site in miniature, requiring visitors to pinch or zoom in order to read the content. “Users find this a frustrating experience and are likely to abandon the site,” says Google. “Alternatively, the mobile-friendly version is readable and immediately usable.”
For more detailed information about mobile optimization, visit Google Search. Our September 28, 2018 blog post – “What You Need to Know About Mobile-First Web Design” – delves deeper into designing to ensure the best user experience (UX) on mobile.
We’ve only just begun
Our humble blog post has addressed the most readily observable aspects of what goes into a good website redesign. Of course, much more is involved. But now that you have an idea of all there is to know, we hope we’ve given you some useful starting points to learn more. You’re welcome here any time!
If you want to do more, as well, just contact us! Virtual Stacks Systems is a full-service digital marketing agency offering website design and redesign, SEO marketing, social media marketing, PPC advertising, review management services, social media marketing and video production. There’s a place for you at our conference room table!