A Website Redesign is not a silver bullet..

by Matt Chatterley Matt Chatterley
Website Redesign is not a silver bullet! .. it takes more than a shiny new website to chase the werewolves away!

Redesigning existing websites makes up a significant proportion of our workload. Many organisations already have a web presence and we often get involved because they are looking to improve it.

However, one of our duties in these situations is to set realistic expectations and to make sure that our clients are aware of the potential pitfalls surrounding a website redesign - and how we can help to mitigate them.

On occasion we have even had clients referred to us for a website redesign, because it will help to "solve the problems with their business". In one case the business in question wasn't heavily web-based (nor something we believe ever would be), so this was a bit of a shock and unsurprisingly we advised the client to consider leaving their website alone and to spend the money elsewhere!

But surely, a website redesign can only improve things?

It's easy to assume that by redesigning your web presence, you'll be able to improve your Google Rankings, the amount of traffic received, the conversion rate achieved - or any other performance factors which you track.

However, when you make changes, until you try them out on a real audience, you can only estimate the outcome - sometimes even the smallest change, made for the right reasons, can cause conversion rates to plummet unexpectedly. Even the fact that there has been a change (irrespective of the actual change) can cause problems!

Issues arising from redesigning can include:

  • Removing a page without redirecting requests for it, causing "404" (missing page) errors - might break valuable links and land visitors on an error page (#2 on our list of 10 common website errors)
  • Moving or changing page elements which regular users rely on, causing confusion or irritation
  • Making things "look better" but sacrificing functionality or convenience

The specific pitfalls encountered will depend upon the website which being redesigned (and the business to which it belongs), but taking the right attitude to a redesign can help mitigate problems (make sure your web designer / web developer shares your point of view).

Always move forwards, but be ready to roll-back!

Many of the potential issues related to redesigning your website can be avoided if you ask yourself a few simple questions - you've seen us mention these before, because they're critical in so many situations!

  • What are your goals for your website?
  • How will this redesign help you to meet those goals better?
  • Why is it better to redesign than to improve the existing website?

And make sure you ask about split testing. It can be an expensive process to go through, but if your website is your livelihood, you probably don't want to be taking risks! We'll be touching on this more in the future, so if you're interested - stay tuned!

Want to discuss the issues raised in this post? Our inbox is always open! ยป

Comments (8)

  1. (Keywords Removed)

    I agree, redesigning of a website doesn't guarantee of any improvement of google PR. I believe you can change some portion of your site just for those regular visitors always having a fresh view on your site but not to redesign the whole website...

    by (Keywords Removed)
  2. (Keywords Removed)

    The sacrifice of making things look better for functionality is a major mistake. I just had to take a job where a designer made a layout of all images- umpf!

    Sure, that looks great in Photoshop- but it isn't so great for SEO.

    by (Keywords Removed)
  3. JarrredT

    I had an old boss change her information and get a new website thinking that it would make a huge difference in business, but she should have focused a little more on the little things that were dragging the site down to begin with.

    by JarrredT
  4. Bob

    I agree, making changes should be for the user's experience, not to improve your PR. PR will follow as your users naturally find your site valuable and promote it for you. If you put the focus on the users and good customer service, everything else will fall into place. It also helps to do some user testing with your more seasoned users before rolling out a major change.

    by Bob
  5. Ali

    I believe in any changes that are done to the should be done so users have a more pleasant browsing while they are on your site. @bob i agree with your point.

    by Ali
  6. Mr. Radio

    I think Bob nailed it. Sure you should build the new site for your current users - because if they're happy they'll tell everyone else and it'll spread.

    Don't focus on who you want to be visiting your site - focus on who does and make a sharp site redesign for them.

    by Mr. Radio (@westsidewill)
  7. Ian

    I agree that changing a website's design would not be very effective in making that website's PR higher. The thing which matters in making a website PR higher or lower is the content of the website so try to concentrate more and more on the content of the website rather than its design

    by Ian
  8. jill

    cool! i'll definitely keep these in mind. thanks!

    by jill

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