I want to offer some things to consider when redesigning your website. Most clients that come to me want an updated look and feel to gain more traction on the web and increase their customer base. All of these goals can be attained, and are realistic, but there are some things that need to be considered before redesigning your website.
Can your server handle the update?
People come to me with different hosts providing hosting services for their websites. However, not all hosts are the same. We build sites at Element 502 on WordPress. We do this because we believe specializing in WordPress puts us in a niche market, and makes us the best at what we do, rather than being all over the place being really good at a few things.
Minimum requirements for WordPress are PHP 5.2 and MySQL 5. Most hosts will run the latest versions or close enough, so it’s not really a problem. Though it can be surprising to find that some are not up to speed on the latest technology.
Is there anything from the old design salvageable?
While design trends can change drastically, sometimes your content can be salvageable if it is well-written first place. Looking at your content, or copy, can be a requirement when considering a website redesign project because poor copy can create a poor user experience or lead to poor SEO.
While web design trends can change dramatically, Google as we have known by reading articles, can change even more so and what they value content to be in giving a website a good rank can affect a website’s performance online. This can make having a newly polished web sight pointless if not taken into consideration.
Should the user interface change?
I’ve illustrated before how when shopping at a store for several years, you know where things are on each aisle. Then one day a new manager takes over the store and changes all the inventory around and frustration ensues. Now the peanut butter is not on aisle four, rather on some other. Now you have to hunt for was once easy to find.
It’s no different with the website when you have visitors come to it for several years and now you’ve changed everything and things are more difficult to find. Your new design should improve that, not make it more difficult. So the site architecture needs to be considered, as well as the user interface. Making sure your navigation is plainly seen and easily accessible.
Don’t overstuff content into your navigation either. One thing I have noticed is the use of Mega menus. While they can help you sort multiple options in your menu when necessary, if you only have a few things and you’re trying to sort them into columns in your menu, you can actually overwhelm the user and cause decision shock.
You have to consider keeping things recognizable. Though a new website redesign may be necessary, careful not to deviate too much from the brand and its original look. Otherwise people may think they have visited a completely different site and company.
If colors have changed or are becoming richer than originally they were before then make sure the transition is smooth and the logo is the same or its tweaks are just enough that people still recognize you.
Also make sure that all marketing materials now lineup and match the new site. Nothing is worse than passing out business cards or brochures, and then the website is a completely different experience or colorization.