It’s a sensitive question. You’ve put your heart and soul into your website and it has performed for you over the years. It was with you during the lean startup years, and flourished as you gained new customers. It may be time to visit with a new designer.
How can you tell it might be time? There are a few alarms you should check for.
Analytics – Bounce Rates, Load Times, Decline in Traffic etc. Any or all of these are sign that you may need to consider your design. Don’t wait until you get visitor complaints because then it’s too late. There are many signs that could indicate a website could benefit from a redesign – identify the most immediate issue. If you can clearly define the biggest, most pressing issues these can be addressed during the redesign.
Don’t let it all go though! Unlike when you had to toss that deadbeat boyfriend to the curb, your original website may have elements you need to keep. If you have loyal fans it’s important to make sure you’re not throwing away a feature that is popular with your core audience. Remember a few years ago when Digg.com went through a huge backlash from their fans? http://www.theguardian.com/technology/pda/2010/aug/31/digg-redesign-revolt Their fans were not happy!
It’s not just a matter of throwing a new design on the front of old back end code either. “Maintaining an old codebase and integrating it with a new one is like dropping a Ferrari engine into a Fiat.” said Christopher Klundt, Co-Founder and President of StudyBlue. It’s a careful dance to finetune a newly designed site.
Blending the elements of brand messaging with featured content and user conversions requires constant testing and user feedback. House Edge believes strongly in the value of testing each element of a website to find the ideal blend of aesthetic and functionality. If you have any question about what you should or shouldn’t do with your new design, then test it!
The testing shouldn’t stop with the rollout of the new design. Some folks, including us, will tell you that’s just the beginning of the project. If your goal with the redesign was to decrease your bounce rate is the new design achieving that? What are the exit pages that users are leaving from? What can be done with these pages?
In the end the optimization of a website is a continual process. You test each feature and constantly monitor any customer feedback.