It’s All In the Planning
Remember the last time you redid your website? If you’re like most of the people we talk to, it was a painful process, and one you aren’t anxious to repeat anytime soon. And we get it; as a web design company ourselves, we know how projects can get bogged down and go from exciting to laborious in a few short weeks. But if it’s time, it’s time, no matter what.
There’s not really a set time frame for websites and website design refreshes. A lot of folks (mostly people in the web design business) will say they should be redone every 2-3 years, but I can tell you we have sites that have been out there for 6+ years and are still performing great. With proper upkeep and regular software updates, you can certainly extend the life of a well-executed website.
Another factor that is definitely working in your favor is that we are in a real lull in terms of website design. There haven’t been any big movements in design, such as the move from skeuomorphism to flat design, and there really haven’t been many upheavals in terms of technology. There’s no guarantee that there isn’t a big shift on the horizon, but as of right now, we’re not seeing one.
There is a big problem area for a lot of today’s sites, and that’s site speed. Google’s Core Web Vitals update has been out there since June 2021, and today, most sites fail these tests.
The problem is exacerbated by the fact that so many websites are built with a CMS such as WordPress. These systems require massive amounts of code, and they are often overlaid with pre-made themes that usually suffer from code bloat themselves. It would take a magician to streamline these sites to pass the Core Web Vitals targets.
But site speed isn’t always the panacea that people hope it will be. If your site isn’t performing, it’s hard to say that site speed will solve the issues; it could be a myriad of factors. Get professional feedback on your site, and make sure you’re tackling the real problem.
When we see sites that are begging for a refresh, it’s typically because of the Frankenstein effect. This happens over time, as people add, edit and update websites without a comprehensive plan. That isn’t meant as a slam; it even happens here at ForeFront. We suspect that we might need another page on the site, and soon enough, we have a brand new page. BUT … we didn’t really map out how it fits within the structure, where it makes the most sense in terms of navigation and, oh, by the way, we don’t have any more pictures in the style of the other pages, so let’s just use these instead. You get the idea. Over time, even the best websites start to look cluttered and raggedy (pardon the technical term there).
The other factor to consider is conversions. Trust me, your users will let you know when your site isn’t up to par. Unfortunately, that feedback isn’t so much actual feedback as lack thereof. You should be maniacal about tracking your website conversions, and as soon as you see a systemic drop, it’s time to act.
So When Should I Plan For A Redesign?
Well, as with so many other things, the time to plan is when you don’t have to, and you don’t have a loaded gun pointed at you. This is the typical situation that we see:
People start grumbling about the website, and how tired they are of the current one
The marketing people put less priority on making website updates, since they are pretty sure there will be a new one soon
Users start to make comments about missing or hard-to-find information
No one updates the site anymore because it’s hopelessly outdated
The best way to keep from falling into that trap? As soon as you notice that things are starting to look cobbled together on your site, start creating a new, cohesive sitemap. Make sure that pages are where they should be, that the information and content is consistent, and that you’re putting the same amount of thought into the new material as you put into the original site build (which people typically don’t).
You might even be able to get out ahead of the issue, and right the ship before a redo is needed. It’s also not a bad idea to get your web agency involved, since the team there should have more of a practiced eye for these types of things.
If it’s obvious that a redesign is what the doctor ordered, then go back to that sitemap and start compiling content. Our project managers will tell you that the No. 1 phase that gets people hung up is content. Creating (or even editing) content is a time-consuming process, and when you assign something like that to a person who already has a 40-hour work week and tell them they are on a deadline, well, you’ll likely have an issue. But if you start this process early, you’ll have plenty of time to really think through the content you have, the content you need, and how you can best compile it and prepare it.
Again, this is a great time to get your web agency involved. Here at ForeFront, we have project managers to recommend software (we 💜 Slickplan), content writers to help out with the process, SEO experts and so on. And most agencies will be happy to simply provide guidelines and advice to make the process easier. After all, the better the content, the better the site, and no one enjoys content that is slammed together just to meet a deadline.
Ready For A Website Redesign?
Honestly, if you’re asking the question, it’s probably because you already suspect that it’s time. Whether conversions have dropped, your competitors have upped their game or you’ve just grown to loathe looking at your site, it’s probably time to start planning. We’re happy to review your site and get you some feedback or to get you started on the process. Just hit us up and let us know!