At some stage, most designers or developers will want to overhaul their existing website. It may be that your site looks OK, but is a complete pain to maintain. Perhaps you’ve plenty of content but your visitors needs a PhD in navigation to find their way around the site. Or it could be the case that your site looks like it is wearing the web design equivalent of a pair of legwarmers and a batwing cardigan, i.e. completely out of date.
If you’re thinking about a re-design of your existing website, some questions to ask yourself include:
- Does the site do what I originally wanted it to do? And if it does, then do I still want it to do that?
- Has the audience for the site changed?
- Does the site pass accessibility and usability checks at the W3.org site?
- Do I still like the look?
- Has my little site that started with 3 pages become a behemoth? Do I need help maintaining it?
The answers to these questions can help you determine if your site needs a small update or a complete overhaul. If you designed and developed your site a few years ago, you may not have had the opportunity (or cash) to set up your site using a Content Management System (CMS). A few years ago a CMS was considered a specialist piece of kit, but today, thanks to Open Source applications anyone can have one.
Here are five tips to keep in mind when planning your redesign.
1. Simplicity = Good.
Both in terms of functionality and design, it’s hard to go wrong with a clean and simple site.
2. Know your audience.
Use applications such as Google Analytics on your existing site to see where your visitors are coming from, what browser’s they are using and where they go on your site. This can help you figure out exactly what they want.
3. Who are you?
What are you telling your visitors about yourself? If the visitor can’t figure out what your site is about pretty quickly, there is a strong chance you’ll lose them.
4. Get and stay usable.
It’s OK to try something different but don’t confuse or annoy users by creating a website that is so off the wall it’s unusable.
5. Trendy is not necessarily good.
Designs that may seem very cool now, can go out of date very quickly. Good design is timeless and doesn’t depend on the latest font to prop it up.
Below you can see the homepage of the Apple.com website from May 1998, and it still looks pretty good to me. (The width of the content was actually this narrow.)
Redesigning your site takes time and effort, but by spending some time auditing and planning what you want to do with your site, you can streamline the process. Hopefully some of the tips and questions here can help you get started.
What other tips would you add to the list? What other questions should a designer or developer ask themselves before starting a redesign?
Image Credit: Kabils