We relaunched the Digital Davidson website this week. The previous design had been in place since January 2014 and a redesign felt long overdue. So how often should you refresh the look of your website? I think the answer to that depends on how your core business may have changed and whether you think you can improve on the current site. In our case, a redesign was deemed essential because of both of these factors.
So are you considering redesigning your website? I’ll now briefly run through the 7 reasons why we decided our website needed more than just a new lick of paint.
1. To communicate a change of focus for the business
As our business continues to mature, it has become evident that we’re doing much more than building websites. We’ve always tried to communicate that we provide digital marketing services, but many of the promotional services we offer are now built in to the websites we create. It seemed timely to emphasise our four main service areas; WordPress development (including design), training, maintenance and promotion.
We have been able to do this through a strapline that appears on every page on the site, the headline on the homepage and by simplifying the site architecture. We believe that this communicates that we’re not just in the business of building websites that clients ask for. We go the extra mile to create, maintain and promote websites that fulfil their objectives, and provide any training required.
2. To improve performance
The time it takes content to load in web broswers (Chrome, FireFox etc) has a significant impact on how well it ranks on search engine results pages (SERPs). It’s not the only factor of course but it’s one that shouldn’t be ignored.
By changing the framework upon which our site has been built, and selecting an efficient theme, we have significantly reduced the page load time.
3. Mobile first
Our website has always been responsive, which means it’s as easy to use on mobile or tablet devices as on desktops and laptops, but the latest version feels like a huge improvement. The content is organised more intelligently for mobile devices. Many website redesigns are driven by the increased usage of mobile devices and the threat of penalties from Google announced earlier this year which could demote your content on the SERPs. Recent research suggests over 50% of online searches in the UK take place on mobile, so many companies are thinking mobile first when it comes to redesign strategies – and we’re no different.
4. To revaluate your content
A redesign provides you with an opportunity to revisit your existing content and assess how it’s being used. That may be as simple as reorganising your navigation, or may be an more involved process whereby you choose to merge some of your existing content that overlaps. You should try to avoid targeting the same keyword on more than one piece of content on your site. Use your analytics package to discover which content is more popular and which is less so. If you’re maintaining a blog you may want to consider the categories you’ve assigned. You may decide to reduce the amount of categories and reassign your existing posts.
We felt strongly that there was too much content on our site so trimmed it down and amalgamated some pages.
5. To highlight key calls-to-action
It’s very important to make it clear when anyone arrives on your website, what it is your want them to do when they get there. This is not only important for you, but for your visitors too, or they will bounce (leave the site after visiting just the one page). The landing page will not necessarily be your homepage either, so you need to consider how to convey your key calls-to-action on all pages of your site. This might mean you employ a sidebar, or rework your menu, or perhaps add content to your footer.
A redesign is a great opportunity to draw attention to what it is you want people to do, which in our case is to contact us or join our mailing list – so we’ve made those links prominent throughout the site.
6. It doesn’t work
You may decide a redesign is essential because your existing site just doesn’t work! It may be the theme you selected wasn’t actually appropriate to the content you created. Or there may be technical deficiencies in the theme itself. We certainly felt there was room for improvement, and that the theme we had employed didn’t do the job for us. For example, the sidebar that applied to pages did not apply to posts, which seems like a major shortcoming.
7. Remind people you’re still there!
If you don’t refresh your website from time to time or are not updating it with new content regularly, you may experience reduction in traffic, because visitors may feel it’s dormant. By updating the theme on your website you’ve got a reason to communicate with your network again – a bit like we are doing here!
Once you’ve redesigned your site and tested it thoroughly don’t forget to apply redirects for any content you may have amended or removed, and you’ll need to submit a revised sitemap to the search engines to make them aware of the new structure of your site. You should also consider re-branding your social media channels in line with the redesign.
If you’d like to discuss a redesign of your website then please do get in touch.
Many thanks to Jürgen for allowing us to use his photo.