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Monday, January 28, 2008

When Is Website Redesigning Needed?

By Jim Olivero

Redesigning a website is a stressful undertaking. However, effective website redesign can have a positive impact on a business. While there are certainly advantages, change for the sake of change is pointless.

So often, websites grow over time, and they need to be redesigned because the information within them needs to be condensed or reorganized. Many business owners go through this same process. There are, of course, advantages and disadvantages to redesigning your site. Depending on how it was set up originally, converting a lot of pages may take weeks, and that's after the new design is finished and approved. People who come back to your site that haven't visited it in a while will be greeted by a look that is unfamiliar to them.

Ask yourself the following questions to see whether it's time for a website redesign:

1. Has your business changed or grown?

If your business is no longer the same as it was when you designed your site, chances are, it needs to be redesigned to reflect the change.

2. Has the size of the site grown substantially?

If your site continues to grow, like most business sites, you need to evaluate whether it's still meeting your objectives. As you add new products and services you need to re-organize your information. In addition, you should consider adding multimedia information (audio, video) to sharpen your message.

3. Is some of the content outdated or unnecessary?

Does your website have up-to-date content? Someone should be revising spec sheets, changing promotion dates and adding new material weekly. If your website appears static, it looks like you're not a serious business.

4. Is the information on your site user-friendly?

If you cringe when you read your site text, or if you regularly get questions on your site text from visitors, re-structuring your copy or rewriting it can help fix these problems. If you've been adding to your site over time and the navigation has become unwieldy or confusing, this could be another pressing reason to redesign your site.

5. Is the most important content buried below?

Here's where you need to do an "easy to buy" audit. By that I mean you need to evaluate how easy it is to find information and actually buy your products. This sounds like common sense, but we've all purchased online and know that it can sometimes be frustrating.

6. Are you using the latest technology, instead of hard-coding?

If you created your website more than 18 months ago, you are probably due for a technology update. This is also true if you started with a very basic site and "hard-coded" everything. Ask your webmaster whether he has some suggestions. You can be sure he will.

7. Are you getting good results in the Search Engines?

Poor rankings in the Search Engines can be a result of not optimizing your site well. Poor search engine ranking can also be a result of bad design choices or coding on your site. Make sure that your site isn't designed using frames and that the text is coded in HTML. Flash sites are also more difficult to optimize for Search Engines.

8. Does the home page design suit your current business objectives?

Does your website communicate the depth and breadth of your current business? If you have changed the focus of your services, added new products or want to communicate a different face to your visitors, consider an overall redesign for your website.

As with every other avenue in life, things become outdated and old-fashioned. It doesn't matter how well your last website design was, you will have to replace it in time. While the above might not be exhaustive, it should provide good guidelines to decide if its time for a website redesign.

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