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What You Need to Know Before Starting a Website Redesign

What-You-Need-To-Know-Before-Starting-A-Website-RedesignIn today’s fast-moving digital world, your company’s website can get out of date before you know it. The design and layout can start to look a little shop-worn. The site may contain non-standard coding practices that can hurt your SEO rankings. New technologies can make some features and functions on your site seem old-fashioned. And it simply may be time to add new features, functions or pages to keep up with new developments in your business.

There are no hard and fast rules for how frequently to redesign websites. But industry experts recommend revisiting your design every three to five years at minimum. If your industry experiences rapid changes in products, services or technologies, you may need to do it more often.

Redesigning a website can be a difficult, time-consuming task. Following these guidelines will simplify the process and help you complete the project on time and within budget:

Start with the basics. Find out where your website is hosted and where your domain name is registered, as your website developer will need this information in order to proceed. For companies that set up their websites several years ago, this can be a challenge. WhoIsHostingThis.com offers a useful tool for identifying where your website is hosted. If you decide to move to a different hosting company, let your designer and/or developer know upfront.

Redesign with your clients in mind. Make sure you understand what your clients want from your web site, then design it to fit their needs, not yours. For example, if you sell mostly to a young, hip demographic, your design should be sleek, modern and maybe even a bit edgy. The look and feel of your redesigned website may not appeal to your personal tastes, but the goal is to create a great online experience for your site visitors.

Get involved.  Even though you aren’t doing the redesign, you need to stay involved throughout the process. Clearly communicate to your designer why you’re doing the redesign and what you want to accomplish. Put the “deliverables” in writing so there can be no misunderstanding regarding what you expect from the design firm. And give the designer prompt feedback throughout the process.

Evaluate current and future website content. A website redesign should always include an assessment of your current content strategy. Is your current content and messaging still on target with your audience’s primary issues and concerns? Or have their needs changed to the point that you need fresh content with updated messaging?

Get clear on content creation. If you decide that new content is required, don’t automatically assume the designer will create it. Many design firms have in-house copywriters who can create the content for you. Or they can recommend an experienced outsourced copywriter. But you can also write it yourself if you have the time and internal resources. Either way, content creation should always be spelled out in the service agreement.

Set a realistic timeline. Recognize that redesigns take time, especially with larger, more complex websites. At Bop Design, our average website redesign project takes two to three months, and that’s with a team of experienced professionals who specialize in creating successful websites.

Finally, never redesign your web site just for the sake of change, as that can annoy and confuse your clients. Every new design element should have a reason and a purpose, and every redesign should result in a positive online experience that makes it easy for prospects and customers to buy.