What Not to Do When Redesigning a Website

Blog Web Redesign

7 Ways to avoid tanking your brand

Ah, the website redesign. It’s like that enormous, looming DIY project you know you need to attack but don’t know how to begin. Or are afraid you don’t have the time, resources or budget to properly execute your vision. But ignoring those rotting floorboards or that major roof repair? Yeah… that never works out too well, does it? And it certainly doesn’t work out well for clunky, outdated websites with poor loading times – especially when you consider that 60 percent of a potential customer’s decision is made based on what they’ve learned about your brand online. So, relax. Let’s talk through some other bad ideas and before you know it, you may start coming up with some good ones for your website.

1. Don’t think you don’t need it

Here’s a brutal truth: website years are like dog years. They don’t work the same way as a typical calendar year. Because technology evolves so rapidly, websites (and all of their functionality, UX features and design trends) become out-of-date fairly quickly. A good rule of thumb is that you should refresh your website every three years… and allow yourself a good year to plan, build and launch.

2. Don’t fix what’s not broken

Look at your Google Analytics to get the stats on your most visited pages, elements with the most clicks, bounce rates, average time spent on your site and all the other factors that indicate what aspects are currently performing well. You can also do some simple usability testing to learn how strong your online brand presence is and how your site ranks in terms of UX. This legwork can help focus your efforts so you can build on current successes.

3. Don’t ignore the trends

Your redesign should feel relevant, so consider incorporating current web design trends. Do your research and see what jibes with your brand. Illustration? Unexpected typography? One trend that can be tweaked to fit pretty much any brand is the use of animation. Small touches like menu and hover animations actually help users more easily navigate your site. Scroll-based animation, like we developed for the City of Hudson, adds interest and helps you tell a more engaging story.

Note: Having a responsive website is NOT a trend! It’s a must. Especially since nearly eight in 10 consumers say they’d stop engaging with digital content that doesn’t display well on their device. Oh, and Google prioritizes responsive sites in its rankings, so yeah... do it! 

4. Don’t forget what it’s like to be a user

Yes, your website is your central hub of information for anyone wanting to learn about you. No, that does not mean you should cram the equivalent of Moby Dick onto your site. Users scan. Keep the content direct and always guide them toward action (think buttons, text links, live chats, etc.). Leave adequate white space around text and titles. Use more video. Another must is optimizing your images to improve load times. Even a two second delay in load time can result in abandonment rates as high as 87 percent. Yikes.

5. Don’t underestimate the copy

In many instances, clients want to just pull the copy from their existing website and plop it into their shiny new one. Here’s the rub: it often doesn’t fit. And I don’t just mean the site map. A refreshed look and feel infused with visual storytelling and modern design trends most likely will need cleaner, lighter copy that also incorporates a refreshed brand voice. New functionalities may also require additional copy. Also, copy tends to take a lot longer to develop than you think it will, so leave plenty of time in your schedule.

6. Don’t make promises you can’t keep

Speaking of copy, adding a blog or news section is a great way to ensure you’re frequently updating your site to improve your SEO rankings. However, only add these pages if you’re sure you have someone on your team (or an awesome partner!) who can stay ahead of content generation. Otherwise, your brand will just end up looking lazy or overwhelmed. Similarly, don’t include social icons in your footer if you don’t actively maintain your social channels. If a potential client clicks on your Twitter icon only to see you haven’t tweeted since a random Rubber Ducks game in 2016, is that really helping anyone?

7. Don’t lose your brand

Redesigning your website is a big change, and one that comes with visual and messaging shifts. It’s important that these shifts are organic and true to who you are as a brand and not just done for the sake of looking sharp or feeling modern. This is a great time to assess your brand’s core values, traits, mission statements and any other guiding principles you have in documented form. Your brand guidelines will also be important during this process. If the team decides a refresh is in order, make sure these items are updated as well. Consistency is key.

Right! Now you know what not to do. Interested in having a conversation about all the things you want to make sure you are doing when it’s time to redesign your website? Drop us a message. You can also take a look at this snazzy site we recently updated.

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