How to Know When It’s Time to Redesign Your Website
In the past, we’ve written about The 7 UX Rules for Small Business Websites after talking with a number of clients and potential clients about improving the overall experience for visitors. Ultimately, however you go about it, the goal is to have a site that provides engaging content and ultimately encourages purchases or conversions of some kind. But the question remains: How do you know when to it’s time to do a full redesign versus simply doing tweaks to improve your website? Here are six indicators that hopefully can help you make a decision.
Indicator No. 1: Your site looks outdated and/or the mobile experience is bad.
Yes, you have a lot of information on your website but your potential (and even current customers) have come to expect a modern-looking website experience. Over the last 15 years or so, great strides have been made in the UX aspects of site design, in particular with the introduction of responsive/adaptive design and other ways to help you efficiently create a great experience for website visitors who come from any device. But just because a site is responsive (it pours the same site content into different layouts specific to the device accessing it), doesn’t mean it’s a great design out of the box. Some best practices to consider as you evaluate your site:
- An ‘airy design’ with space between different sections so users’ eyes can focus on one thing at a time.
- No more than 4-to-5 separate items in any given viewing window. Similar to the above, cramming information into any given viewing area can create a chaotic experience. (The one exception to this is probably a news site, given the way people scan for news items.)
- A skinny navigation that folds into an easy-to-use hamburger menu.
- Modern colors and fonts that accurately reflect the audience and the brand.
And even if you do all these things right in a desktop, that doesn’t always translate to the experience on a mobile device (even with a responsive design) because many sites are designed with a desktop-first focus. Given mobile’s increasing share of overall site visits – for many businesses, 50 percent of all visitors already come via phone – it’s critical you begin thinking of a mobile-first experience.
If you have Google Analytics, take a look at the data about your current visitors. If it’s creeping up above 35 percent mobile, it’s probably time to think of a redesign if your user experience is lacking. (And if it’s not creeping up to that level yet, you might also want to ask yourself if you’re attracting the right audiences.)
Indicator No. 2: You’re already moving to a new CMS.
Many organizations decide to redesign when they move to a new CMS, as your organization’s developers will have to build new templates anyway that work in the new platform. A few bits of advice as you consider a new CMS in the redesign process:
- Make sure to choose a CMS that fits best the skills of your developers. For example, some enterprise platforms are built in Java (Adobe Experience Manager) while others are .Net (Sitecore). Typically, you’ll want to choose the programming language that best fits your team’s ability.
- Think about the connections you want to have between systems, in other words, how your CMS connects to your CRM or to your marketing automation or marketing attribution platform. (Remember, redesigns aren’t just about look and feel. A lot of backend considerations should go into the process of an effective redesign.)
- Reconsider and solidify your taxonomy. Oftentimes, when organizations do a redesign, they rethink their existing taxonomy and re-tag a lot of the content to make sure it’s consistent and not duplicated. Moving that new taxonomy into the CMS so it’s applied in workflows is a key aspect of ensuring visitors will find all the content your site has.
- Depending on the CMS platform you’ve chosen, you might want to also select an agency that can help you implement your templates and designs on that platform. At Marketing Nice Guys, we’ve worked in a number of different CMS platforms, including: WordPress, Sitecore, and Brightspot.
Indicator No. 3: You’re getting traffic but not engaging or converting it.
A few key metrics to look at here, especially from Google Analytics, include your bounce rate, time on site, and conversions. Bounce rate (which tells you the percentage of individuals that come to the site and then immediately leave after visiting) is critical as you think about how engaging your content is. Typically, blog pages will have higher bounce rates – up to 75 or 80 percent – simply because individuals come to read the post and then nothing else. But other pages should be a lot lower – your home page or other landing pages, for example. If you find visitors are also escaping these pages, it’s probably time to rethink the experience.
Your “time on site” metric, similarly, allows you to understand your site’s stickiness. The more the time spent reading blogs, going to other pages and browsing your offerings, the better in many cases. (That said, it may also indicate that people can’t necessarily find what they’re looking for, so just be aware.)
Finally, with conversions, much depends on the type of business you have (B2B or a B2C e-commerce store, as an example). A few areas we’d take a look at:
- Conversion percentage of product pages. If you have an e-commerce site, what percentage of customers view a product page and then purchase? The average conversion rate is about 3 to 4 percent of all visits to an ecommerce experience.
- Abandoned cart percentage. Similar to the above, the checkout process of any ecommerce site is critical to helping you convert the greatest percentage of interested visitors. Take a look at the abandoned cart percentage. Usually, it hovers around 69 percent on average. Yes, only 1 in 3 people who put something in a cart convert. It might be time to redesign or revamp the checkout if you see a high abandoned rate.
- Conversion percentage of landing pages (for lead generation). One metric to look at here is certainly form fills as a percentage of visits. This is especially critical if you run lead-generation type advertising to the page. What we often see is that ads can drive relevant traffic to a page but if no one is converting, it’s likely that your landing pages need an upgrade.
Indicator No. 4: Your competitors are eating your lunch. Literally.
One thing we at Marketing Nice Guys recommend any business do is to run a competitive analysis in any marketing channel area. We’ve provided a free downloadable guide, How to Analyze a Competitor’s Digital Marketing Presence, that can walk you through several different areas, one of which is a competitor’s website. We outline ways you can analyze seven website areas including:
- Mobile experience
- Visual design
- Colors and fonts
In the guide, we also cover how to use SEO / Paid Media research platforms such as SEMRush, SimilarWeb, Moz, and SpyFu to help you uncover competitors’ traffic for search, paid media spend and traffic other key areas of intelligence.
Indicator No. 5: You’re doing a rebranding.
Rebranding isn’t just changing a logo. In most cases, it’s a complete overhaul of how you are representing your company in the marketplace, and often includes a name change. With a new name, companies will typically need a new domain, which means an entire revamp of your current website. A few things to think about as you redesign with a rebranding in mind:
- Transferring SEO equity from the old site to the new site. Typically, you can do this through 301 redirects.
- Updating colors and fonts to reflect the new brand. Whether you work with an agency or do it internally, it’s like you’ll produce a new style guide which you’ll want to apply to the new site.
- Updating images, videos, iconography, and other visual elements. It won’t help your rebranding efforts if you update your logo but then don’t take care of all the supporting visual elements that have to work with your new style and approach (often to attract new audiences).
Indicator No. 6: You need to tell a better story.
As our friends at The Narrative Playbook understand, how you communicate your story everywhere, matters, including the website. Many website design templates aren’t structured to help you tell that story, even if it’s as simple as highlighting for customers how you understand their issues/challenges, how you help solve those challenges, and why you, in particular (based on the narrative of who you are and what you stand for), remain best positioned to help them. Doing a redesign with just some of these things in mind, can help put you on the way to better converting customers.
As always, we hope this article has been helpful as you think about your small or midsize business’ website. Our goal at Marketing Nice Guys is to help you excel at digital marketing. If you need help on doing a redesign, we offer affordable services, particularly if you’re thinking about WordPress, or other CMS platforms. Contact us for a free consultation.