I recently redesigned my website and I am just so pleased that I did. I am now truly excited when I type in my domain name! I have to admit that I do like to tinker with my website. I want my site to be fresh and, as a website designer, I need to be up to speed on all the latest trends.
Tinkering away, I started to wonder about how often organisations should update their website designs. If you are not in the website development business, you may dread the very idea.
However, as painful as the prospect may feel, letting your website become stale and outdated is far more damaging to your brand.
It may be that you only need to tweak things a little. It may be that you need a more radical overhaul.
Either way, here are 10 ways to tell if your website needs a redesign
Writing the content for all of your web pages was almost certainly a mammoth task. Indeed, I have worked with many clients for whom this job was almost overwhelming. I can completely understand this as it is, obviously, important to get it right.
However, things change and over time your business will grow and develop. What you penned at the start may no longer reflect where you are now. It is all too easy to leave outdated content up on your website that, if not updated, could end up costing you money.
Don’t be afraid to update your content. This task has so many benefits as well as significant SEO advantages. One little word of warning… I always advise my clients to copy and save the existing content that they have on their websites before replacing it with new text. This just provides a safety net in case you need to refer back.
Much in the same way as your content changes over time, your brand’s visual identity develops too. The colours and fonts that you loved at the start of your business may no longer be the best for your organisation today.
I love colour theory. It is so fascinating to think that a particular colour can trigger a specific emotional response in a person.
When I first created my website for www.picpresents.com, I went for a red/white/grey colour scheme. I loved the way that the red popped out on screen. However, before long, I started to feel that my red theme wasn’t really, well, me. By that I mean, it felt a little impersonal and corporate.
I decided to go back to the drawing board. I looked at a lots of different colour palates and decided that blue was the way to go for me. I played around with various shades and looked into different fonts and picked the combination that you can see today. My aim was to pick a colour that felt professional, clear-cut and approachable.
Of course, changing your colour scheme is a big deal as you don’t want to lose the brand identity that you have worked so hard to build. However, it may just be a matter of taking your brand colours and adding some new complimentary shades.
If you need inspiration on colours, I would heartily recommend you take a look at Colourlovers. Search for a particular colour and you will find a stream of complementary combinations. Click on the palate that best represents your business and you will see a breakdown with all of the HEX codes that you will need.
If you want to change the fonts on your website, I would suggest that you look around the web and find fonts that you like. There are various tools that can help you identify the fonts that you are looking at. I use Google’s WhatFont extension, for example. Once you have downloaded this app, click on it and hover over the text whenever you want to know the identity of a font.
The general rule with fonts is to choose two - one for your headlines and one for your body text. Your main aim, always, is to make sure that your text is readable. It sounds obvious but it is worth emphasizing all the same.
Poor Quality Images
Okay, so I could write a tome about the importance of visuals in website development. They are just so important both as a design tool and as a means to convey essential information. Did you know that humans process visuals 60,000 times faster than text? Did you also know that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual? Pretty powerful stuff!
Many websites are now making the most of images. Too much text can feel overwhelming and off putting. However, a large, stunning image can really make a viewer sit up and take notice of what you are trying to convey.
Of course, a jumble of images is not what makes for good web design. Your images should be clean and clear, relevant and of high quality. Don’t only focus on the images on your home or landing pages. Think also about using more visuals in your blog posts too.
My website features a moving visual (more details below) and so I have decided to have fun with the images on my blog. And it is fun let me tell you! I am no graphic designer and yet I have created hundreds of visual designs for my own business and for my clients too.
Now, you may be wondering how I have done this. Well, I use three awesome online design tools - Canva, PicMonkey and Pixabay. You can read more about them by clicking here to read my blog post about How To Create Awesome Visuals With These Free Online Tools.
Take a look at your website, have you made the best use of visuals? If not, it is probably time for a redesign.
Visitors need to be able to navigate their way around your website with ease. Make no mistake, if it is at all unclear where people need to go to find out key information, you will lose them. You have seconds to play with here. Sometimes less.
Your first task is to look at your navigation bar. Is it clean-cut and concise? Your business has a lot to offer but you should only have a few options on display. By clicking those navigation options, your visitors may well see a drop down menu of further information or they may be able to drill down further into your site for more details. Whatever the case, your main navigation bar should fit neatly on one line.
I always recommend that you should pretend to be a new visitor when you assess how easy it is to navigate your website. What information would that person need on their first visit? Does your site lead visitors down a sensible path always offering more information when it is needed? Can that visitor find his or her way back easily?
Perhaps try this exercise out for yourself. If it feels frustrating to get to the crux of what you offer or if you can’t return to your homepage easily you may need to redesign your site so as not to alienate potential customers.
Responsive web design is critical as more and more of us are using our mobiles and tablets to browse online. Have you checked how your website looks on a phone or tablet? Does your web design translate well on all screen sizes?
My visitors have two choices when it comes to mobile viewing - the standard view or the mobile view. The mobile view presents my content in a simple, easy to read style. I can also choose to install a mobile express page so that a visitor to my mobile website can get all of my key information and contact details without having to search or expand the pages.
While the mobile view is best for content consumption, for looks, I prefer the standard view.
No Social Skills
In my previous blog post (Why Our Obsession With Social Media Numbers Is Dangerous For Business) I talked about how important it is to funnel the connections you make on social media to your own website.
The opposite is true also. Does your website offer your visitors lots of opportunities to find you on your social media networks? You can do this by adding social media buttons onto key areas of your website pages.
For example, you could place these buttons in the sidebar, header or the footer of your website. When your visitor clicks one of these buttons, he or she will be taken to your page on the appropriate social media platform.
Your website may well have a selection of social media buttons ready for you to install. If not, you can grab some simple code by searching for the widgets offered by the social media platforms that you want to promote. Once you have customised the widget with your own profile URL you can generate the code, copy and then paste onto your website page.
If you would like to customise your social media buttons to fit in with your brand’s own colour scheme, consider creating your own! I have created my own social media buttons on my website. Using Canva, I simply took my logo and placed a social media icon at the centre. I then uploaded this image onto my website and linked it with my social media URLs.
Not only do you want to promote your social media activity and encourage visitors to follow you, but you also want to make it easy for your visitors to share your content on their social networks.
You can do this by making sure that your website has clear and visible social sharing buttons. You can place these buttons at the end of a blog post, for example, or perhaps at the end of a description of a product or service.
Alternatively, and this is what I have done, you can add a floating bank of social sharing buttons to your website. There are many providers out there offering this service. In a recent blog post, Jimdo’s Mark Miller mentioned AddThis as a good option.
I have used Shareaholic’s floating share buttons. You can see on my website that, as you scroll down, the buttons scroll down with you. By installing Shareaholic onto my website, my visitors can easily share my content.
Just one more thing while we are on this topic, if you have used stunning images throughout your website, make sure you offer your visitors the ability to click on a 'Pin It' button in order to share them on Pinterest straight from your website. (For more information, see our recent blog post: 5 Ways To Make Your Website Pinterest Friendly.)
Video is an incredibly powerful tool. Indeed, Cisco recently reported that, by 2017, video will account for 69% of all consumer led internet traffic.
Video can help you promote your products and services and engage with your customers and clients. It can drive traffic to your website and keep it there. So, if you have not investigated the potential of video for your business you may well be missing a trick.
You don’t have to have a product to sell in order to use video in your business. Video is also a great way to tell stories, to showcase great testimonials and to explain just what your business offers.
Once you have made a video for your business, you can upload it to an online channel such as YouTube or Vimeo and then take the link that this will generate and copy it onto your website. Alternatively, grab your video’s embed code and paste it into the appropriate part of your website.
There are many services out there that offer you the ability to create great videos. I love Animoto, for example. You can also use the video making software on your PC, Mac, or, if you want to record your screen, you can download free software such as Jing.
I use Camtasia. This software is not free but for a relatively small amount you can make some awesome videos and online tutorials.
You can also use video as a part of your website design. As I mentioned earlier, I have used video for my website background. I just love the effect and think that we will see an increasing number of websites making great use of video backgrounds in the future.
What no Widgets?
A recent blog post from Jimdo (20 Widgets To Improve Your Website) really made me think about how important it is to keep up to date with all the latest widgets on offer. If you haven’t looked into the widgets available for your site, now is the time.
Widgets are simply bits of code that, once pasted onto your website, allow your visitor to do or see something new. For example, if you have a newsletter, you can install a widget that will create a sign-up box for new subscriptions - you can also you can create a calendar or a web form and we have already looked at some great social media widgets.
Another widget that I love is Disqus. This allows the readers of my blog posts to comment and share their own stories.
Jimdo’s Miller explains that “Adding the right widget can take a ho-hum website and make it much more functional and user-friendly”. Go on and try a widget or two! Let me know how you get on.
Engagement is certainly a buzzy word at the moment (overuse alert!). However, many websites do not offer enough opportunities to make contact with their visitors. You can easily rectify this in a number of different ways.
The first, and perhaps simplest, is to ensure that you have a ‘Contact’ page on your website and that that contact information is all up-to-date. Consider including a web form here to make it easy for visitors to send you a message.
In addition, you can utilise a widget such as Disqus to allow your blog visitors to comment on your content.
You can also install a customer service tool onto your website such as SnapEngage, Olark or UserLike. These will allow you to have live chats with your website visitors. This can be extremely powerful as customers often want answers in real time! By using these online tools, you can wow your clients with your awesome customer service!
I hope that you have found this post useful. If you have a comment or a question, please do feel free to leave it in the box below!
Take care, Jane x