There comes a time in the life of every webmaster where he or she decides to go down the redesign route. I’m a big believer in the refreshing of a site every few years, websites need to move with the times after all. But, let’s be honest, it is a bit of a menial task if you’re not a web designer or if you don’t particularly enjoy web design and development.
So for most it’s something that’s put off until the last minute or until it becomes an absolute necessity. Whatever your reasons and whether you enjoy web design or not, this article is for you. We’re going to discuss a number of things but primarily the focus will be things you need to remember when undergoing a redesign.
Obviously this is by no means a complete list, each site is different and each site will have different things that need to be considered in order to not only partake in a successful re-design but also a relaunch too as if you’re not careful that is where a lot of the problems can happen. So, let’s get started –
If you’re building a website in 2016, a responsive web design is a must. It is a well known fact that 60% of all website traffic comes via a mobile phone or tablet device and having a website that does not render correctly on these devices is quite frankly, insane.
Getting a responsive design is extremely easy given there are so many frameworks out there such as Bootstrap, not to mention the thousands of HTML5 or WordPress themes that come fully responsive, right out of the box. There is really no excuse not to have a responsive design. Google have also started favouring mobile responsive websites in their mobile search so you could also be losing out on raw traffic if you don’t have a responsive design.
Add Information, Don’t Remove It
The current information on your website is what yields your current traffic. You have to be very careful what you change or remove when redesigning your website. In my opinion, you should always add to your website, not delete and if you do need to make changes to your content you should do it gradually over time, not all at once so if there is any issues you know what to put it down to.
Typically, the more information on your website the more traffic you’re likely to receive so if you can make your new website as content rich as possible you’ll stand the best chance of success.
Feedback is Important
When it comes to figuring out what works and what doesn’t in terms of design and usability, there is really nobody better to ask than your existing user base. They’ll be used to the site, they’ll know what they want to see and they’ll know what is good/bad, what are the pros and cons in comparison to the old design etc.
If you’ve done the design yourself, you’ll no doubt be a bit blind and will probably think your new site build is better than it really is. The feedback of unbiased third parties is truly invaluable and if you want to REALLY know what people think of your site then these are the people you’ll need to ask.
301 Dead Pages
A 301 redirect tells the search engines that your page has moved to a new location. If you remove any old pages or even simply rename then you need to make sure you have the necessary 301 redirect rules in place.
It is always wise to do a soft launch of any project. It’s at launch time when you spot both the major issues and small niggles which might not be that important but need to be addressed nonetheless. A soft launch will allow you to check for all these issues before you truly “go live” so it’s most definitely something which should be considered.
Trends change like the weather in web design. There is a reason each website looks a little bit like the next one. It’s like a newspaper layout, people stick to the tried and test option and very rarely stray outside the norm. There is a good article I read here that goes over some of the more common design trends that are floating about currently although as I say this is subject to change. If you’re reading this in 6 months time there will no doubt be more weird and wonderful styles to choose from.