Experience over 20 years has taught us that for most businesses, a website redesign turns out to be more expensive than we think, and takes a lot longer than we planned for. I’ve always suggested annual audits, with a designer budgeted to sort out SEO, structural or aesthetic issues that may have come up during the year. That way, restarting from scratch might only need to be a once in 10- or 20-year project.
What might we need to consider asking the designer to improve? Firstly, I’d suggest examining the mobile performance. New mobile devices with different screen sizes appear on the market all the time, and a site needs to be tested thoroughly on everything from old, low-resolution smartphones to the latest large-size tablets. At the same time, it’s a reminder to do some thorough site response speed testing using the many tools available. If response is getting worse, not better, there’ll be work to do. It could be because of the content, or the back end.
How is the site doing in the search engine results? Is its setup limiting what we know needs to be done, like writing great titles and descriptions? Do we have SSL, accurate sitemaps and all the other technical requirements?
What about the design? Does this look tired? Does it match with our current company image? Giving it a refresh needn’t cost much if the CMS and structure is staying the same. Image carousels have – thank goodness – had their day, if they ever had one. Users want a focus on navigation and expect it to be far easier than they once did. Just look at the biggest sites in the world, which have had millions of user journeys to examine in settling on their design. Shouldn’t our sites be as good?
Finally, is everything still working? It’s so easy for a form to break, or for the search function to go wrong. All this can be checked and fixed without breaking the bank, but it’s an exercise that needs to be done properly.