The tech landscape is an exciting place to be in great part because it evolves so rapidly. Online business and the way brands connect with their customers shifts all the time as new trends emerge. That’s why your website needs to be regularly evaluated, and likely also might need some periodic tweaking to adapt and keep pace. In this article, we address how to gauge whether you need a website refresh, and a few key insights to keep in mind when sprucing up your site.
Website Redesign vs Website Refresh
The first distinction we need to make is between a redesign and a refresh. They sound similar, but they have different priorities and scopes.
A redesign involves a bigger, more time-consuming, and more expensive overhaul of your website. Here are some reasons you might find yourself in need of a full website redesign:
Your Site is Outdated
As online business tools evolve, the way that brands present their website needs to change, too. A decade in tech lingo is an entire era of innovation, which means that if you made your website 10 years ago, it’s simply unable to reflect modern trends and anticipate the needs that customers are used to today. Candidly, if it’s been more than 3 years, it’s worth a serious evaluation, as well, if your website is due for a redesign.
Your Business Has Grown
Organizations can grow and evolve quickly. It’s not uncommon that your business today is very different from what it was a few years ago. From your team to your product offering, to how you position yourself in the competitive landscape, or to awards and recognition you’ve attained, it’s important to make sure that your website isn’t just a reflection of where you were. Your website should reflect who you are now, and where you’re going.
Another major reason that you might need a website redesign is that you’re rebranding your business. Your branding is essentially your company’s voice. It’s your unique style of communicating that you maintain across all your channels. When that changes, so does your entire site. Rebranding requires widespread revamping across the whole site.
You Need New Tech
A huge advantage of doing business online is the arsenal of tools you have access to. These are weapons that your brand can use to implement, measure, and improve your operations while communicating with customers in ways that are most useful for them. But sometimes, your website isn’t compatible with the tech you need. That’s where a website redesign comes in, enabling your brand to harness a variety of new technologies that let you level up online.
Similarly, it’s important to assess how your website was built, and if that’s still the best solution going forward. Back in the day, it was cool to have a truly custom-built website, using all the code from scratch. But guess what we’ve learned? Those sites are difficult to grow and update, and they lock you into whoever your initial programmer was. If your website isn’t easy for you to use, update, and scale, it’s time to think about a website redesign.
Your Website is Slow
To be blunt, your website needs to be fast. Google requires it if you want your website to show up in its search results, and your customers will bounce from your website if it takes forever to load. If your website speeds aren’t up to snuff, it could be a variety of factors from your website host, to how your website is built, or a number of other factors. A good tool to use to check your website speed is www.gtmetrix.com. If you don’t get an “A” grade, it’s time to think about how you can improve that score, including potentially considering a website redesign. For more on this topic, check out our video on how to diagnose and improve website speed.
While a website redesign is a more comprehensive, foundational process, a refresh is simpler and more straightforward. Think of it as spring cleaning! Out with the old, in with the new. Here’s how to know if your site is due for a refresh.
You Have New Content
One major way that brands build and leverage their reach is through content. It’s a smart way to tell the world what you’re about while generating interest in your brand, but it requires high-level web design to implement that content. For example, if you have a brand new team or new products, you’re obviously going to have to update your pages. However, new content can also include blogs and web copy that are search engine optimized to make it easy for both Google and your clients to find your site.
You’ve Created a New Logo
While a new logo is not as full-scale of a change as an actual rebranding, it’s enough of an update to warrant a website refresh. You need technically skilled web developers to deploy the new logo throughout your website. It needs to be scaled to fit across any device or browser size, and oriented correctly.
You Have New Images
An effective communication strategy that clients love is expressing yourself through images. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? You can tell a story with the right image, so it’s important that your website is kept up to date with unique and relevant visuals. This might mean that it’s time to improve your stock image game, if you’re using them, or even to transition away from stock images altogether.
A few quick tips:
- When adding in new images, don’t forget to use high-quality photos that look great on any size device
- Compress the images to reduce their file size, so they load faster. Imagecompressor.com is a great, free tool that makes this easy.
- Be sure to include titles and alt tags with all images–great for accessibility and search engine optimization!
You Want to Try New Fonts, Typography, or Colors
Brand aesthetics should never be overlooked as impactful factors in web design. Most companies pick their look when they start, and then stick to it forever. This isn’t what you want to do. You want to stay fresh, relevant, and modern. That means experimenting with fonts, typography, and colors while maintaining loyalty to your unique brand identity. Updated aesthetics is a solid reason for a website refresh.
You Want to Improve User Experience
The final reason your site might need a refresh is your dedication to delivering a stellar user experience. This is a diverse aspect of web design. It encompasses navigation, calls-to-action, menus, website speed, and chatbot functionality. These are all critical assets of your website, and it takes a refresh to optimize each one well.
Website Refresh Tips
To recap, while a redesign is a full-scale effort, a refresh has many more use cases. It’s an agile way to improve the value of your website. You can deploy different site components: new aesthetics, content, hierarchies, and images. Use your imagination and play with the user experience, improve accessibility, and minimize delays.
We’ve distilled the top insights for your website refresh.
Evaluate Your Site
The first step to implementing an effective refresh is evaluating your current site. You need to know exactly what changes you want to make, and how best to make them. Content is a key component. It’s a way of providing value to your consumers outside of your product or service, building a connection with the consumer. That’s why it’s such an important aspect to update.
Adding to this, you always want to have your content discoverable by search engines — that’s how people find you. Make sure you’re using relevant and updated keywords to help with search rankings. The art and science of helping your website be found in search engines like Google is known as SEO, or search engine optimization.
A good way to build your SEO is to start a blog. It’s a great way to help your website compete for top search rankings. It can also generate backlinks, which are external links directed to your site, building domain authority. In a nutshell, that’s how Google weighs your website’s authority on your topic.
Performing a content audit is an effective way of managing and improving your brand’s content strategy. It involves cataloging and gauging the performance of all your brand’s content. Content audits are great ways to draw insights into what kind of content is working and what needs some improvement.
Here’s how to perform a content audit:
Broadly carve out what you want to accomplish with your content audit. Do you want to realign your content strategy? Do you want to optimize for SEO? Figure out what it is you want to yield from the data you collect.
Gather and Catalog Your Content
Next, you want to start gathering and cataloging all your content. This means putting it all together in a systematic way, with the key metrics present. Tools like SEMRush, HubSpot, and Screaming Frog can help you with this. Alternatively, you can just paste the URLs and data into a spreadsheet.
Analyze Your Findings
To make your audit extra useful, you want to ask questions about the data. What content was missing that consumers would’ve liked to see? Which content isn’t doing as well as you’d like? Is there content that performed exceptionally well? Can older content be reworked and repurposed into new material? Those are just a few key questions to help you get started.
Finally, you want to take action. You need to take these insights and make decisions about content strategy moving forward. You may need to edit certain content, explore other topics more deeply, or delete some pieces altogether. Whatever it is, come up with 3 to 5 actionable statements to move forward with.
Along with the steps above, check out Buddy’s video covering how to do a simple website audit. We cover some additional tips and things to consider.
Check Out the Competition
While refreshing your site, it pays to learn about your competitors. In any niche or industry, the market is all about competition. Performing competitor analysis can help your brand understand how to do better. It guides decision-making processes by shining a light on the positive and negative.
If you’re really motivated to do a thorough assessment of your competitors, using the good ol’ fashioned SWOT analysis that they teach in business school is wonderful. But, as a first step, just taking a look at your competitors’ websites is a great starting point.
Think about what you like and don’t like about their sites. Judging by their websites, if you were a potential customer that really didn’t know the ins and outs of your industry as you do, which company would they think is the market leader?
Further, think about who clearly describes their products or services and why they’re the obvious choice to go with, compared to which websites are confusing, unclear, or that make you really dig to find information and answers.
This strategy gives you a big-picture look at where you stand in relation to your competitors. It’s a basic but impactful way of analyzing your competitors, and it’s certainly not the only one. You can analyze your competitors’ voice and copy, their ad spend, their business model, and virtually any part of their business. Your goal should be to have your website be better than your competitors’.
Be a Stranger
The next tip we have for a website refresh is to look at your website as if you’ve never seen or heard of your brand before. Pretend to be a first-time visitor on your own page. How does it feel, how does it look? Here are key factors to consider:
Is everything placed in a way that makes sense? Is each heading and tab located in a natural, easy-to-find place? Assess the site’s hierarchy while keeping in mind that it needs to make sense to many different users.
Next, you want to consider the site’s navigability. Is it simple and easy? Or is there some confusion making it unclear how to move through the website? Can you intuitively find information? Have your team weigh in with their feedback.
Another big question with website design is whether the site is compatible with mobile devices. Many consumers these days access their favorite websites from their phones. If the site doesn’t translate to the mobile screen, the images and text will look misaligned or cut off, and that business risks losing customers. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Here’s a helpful video on what it means for your website to be mobile responsive.
Still pretending to be a first-time visitor to your site, consider the website’s aesthetics. This means branding, typography, fonts, and colors. Everything creative about the website. Is it modern? Clean? Those are the qualities that customers respond to.
Like we mentioned before, images are a great way to communicate with your consumers. They tell a whole story that words just can’t capture. As you’re examining your site with the critical eye of a first-time visitor, be honest with yourself about how relevant and interesting your visuals are. If you’re looking for good photos, here’s some tips on finding professional stock photos.
Putting it all together
Taken as a whole, as you review your own website, ask yourself:
- If you were visiting your website for the first time, would you quickly and clearly “get” what your business is, and what product or service you offer?
- Does your website look credible, like an industry leader? When you visit your site, do you think “this business clearly knows its stuff”, or, would you want to check out some other competitors, to make sure you’re going with the best?
- Does the copy make sense? Is it filled with jargon and fluff, or can you quickly understand the key points?
- Is there a clear call to action? Is it obvious what the next step should be, like buttons to get in touch, fill out a form, or make a purchase?
If your website is lacking in any of these areas, it might be time to consider a refresh.
Are You Ready to Level Up Your Site?
A website refresh can be an effective way to take your business to the next level. It provides consumers with a direct and accessible way to interact with your brand. If your website is out-of-date, with old branding, stock images, or otherwise falling behind your competitors, a website refresh can fix those problems, and elevate your brand’s online presence.
Buddy Web Design and Development is a small team of experts in website redesigns and website refreshes. We work closely with clients to understand their unique business goals, then focus our efforts to provide an outstanding end result with a great customer experience. If you’re interested in exploring some updates to your website, get in touch to have a conversation at www.BuddyWDD.com.