It seems that everyone out there has made a policy of redesigning their website at least once a year.
You end up wondering if they did it because they wanted to present a new image, or did they do it just to confuse you? Here we come to the basic rules you must follow when you decide to redesign your website. Not anything will go.
If you like this article you might be interested in some of our older articles on Mobile Web Design Tutorials, Tips for Writing CSS, Improve the Conversion Rate, AIDA In Website Designing and Progressive Enhancement.
You must redesign your site for the right reasons. Will the site be any better as a result of the changes? Why are you really redesigning it? If you want to attract a new audience, do you risk losing the old one? Will your loyal readers or clients feel like they are entering a new and strange site when they see the new design? Will the changes affect the search engine rankings?
The last consideration is a major one. You must avoid losing rankings at all costs. This could have a very negative effect on your business. What can you do? For starters, keep your old site‘s meta descriptions or keywords and title tags.
In general, the most common reasons for redesigning are: updating as to meet web standards, repositioning in the online market place, re-branding products or the company as a whole, improving underperformance, and enhancing the feel and look of the website.
Consider Your Audience
If you have a loyal audience, making dramatic changes to the design may make it impossible to return traffic. You can add as many new elements as you want, but the new site should not be rendered unrecognizable. Make sure you sustain a few key elements, like your trademark, ‘about us‘ information, or anything your readers know. If you have succeeded in positioning the logo to begin with, it could probably carry the transition. If not, pinpoint the elements that are the key markers of the site. They can include color schemes, icons, photos, and more. Use them in the new design. It is recommended that they remain in the same place. You may want to move the logo on the new site, for example to the upper left-hand corner. What you don‘t realize is that this is an extremely common place for a logo and may actually result in it being less memorable. If you want to put it there, you need an extra special design.
It is important that your website is accessible to different groups comprising your readership. The Americans with Disabilities Act (section 508), for example, sets the rules to ensure that your site can be accessed by disabled users.
Play It Safe
Keep in mind that a common risk of redesigning a site is losing content. This is why you should take measures to back up the old site. Back up your databases and files as frequently as you can. It is recommended that you equip the new site with a development environment. This will prevent debug info displays on the new live site.
Be sure that once you‘re through with redesigning, the new design will quickly become old in your eyes. When this will happen depends on how you redesign it. Review your site‘s current strengths and weaknesses, brainstorm and write ideas down, and pinpoint the reasons why people are visiting it now. You may also want to determine whether it is an attention-getter, do some studies on your competitors, and most importantly, establish your target audience – current and future.