How to tell if your small business website is ready for a redesign and what to include in that project

how to tell when its time for a website redesign and what steps to take project timeline

Fun fact: did you know that 75% of visitors judge a company's credibility based on their website?

Crazy, right? If that stat doesn't convince you that it's time to take an honest look at your website, then please, go back and read it again. Website design matters big time!!!

If you already have a website for your small business but know on some level that it's time for an upgrade, it might be time for a website redesign. Website redesigns can be an overwhelming thought because there are a lot of moving parts and things to consider. So many businesses put it off....and off....and off....until years have passed and their websites are embarrassing and do not function anymore. 

Don't let that be you!

The good news is that not every website redesign project needs to be a huge ordeal. This is especially true if you go into the project understanding the WHY and have a good idea of HOW you'll make those changes happen.

In today's article, I'm going to walk you through the considerations around website redesign projects. You'll learn how to tell if your website is overdue for a redesign, how to make the redesign updates effectively, and what steps to take and prioritize in your website redesign project.

Let's get started!

How often should you redesign your business' website?

There is no hard rule on when or how often you should update your website (yay!) but experts recommend that you check in and evaluate your website at least every two years. Industry standard is to do a website redesign roughly every 2-4 years, sometimes more often if your products or offerings have been overhauled or you have pivoted your business goals.

Instead of a self-imposed timeline surrounding a potential website redesign, let your business goals and user considerations drive the project. We'll discuss what those are below.

Website redesigns shouldn't be a bandaid solution

Let's be clear: website redesign projects are not a quick-fix solution to your business' problem. 

Before you being a website redesign project, you should have an thorough understanding about why you are looking to redesign your website. This will help keep your project focused and on track. 

Consider the pain points you're looking to solve with a website redesign and let that guide your process.

Here are a few reasons you might want to update your website:

  • it isn't responsive and doesn't meet modern browsing standards
  • functionality is limited
  • design is outdated or straight-up ugly
  • the navigation is confusing to users
  • products/offerings have changed
  • your website does nothing to support your business development
  • the website doesn't fit with new branding
  • parts of the website are broken or aren't displaying correctly

Once you figure out your pain points, you'll have a clear understanding of why you want to being a website redesign project. From here, you'll know what you need to check off in order to consider this project a success. It'll also influence the platform you use, the template/theme you choose, how you integrate social media, etc.

Factors that drive website redesigns

We covered a few of the pain points that drive website redesigns above but let's take a closer look at some of the elements that make up those pain points. These are all important factors that lead to a successful website when addressed. It's important to address all parts of a website, not just a few, if you want it to look good and function properly.

User Experience

When someone visits your website, your business and offerings should be clear from the get-go. Consider the following:

  • What do you want to share with them from the start?
  • What should they be able to take away from your business at first glance? 
  • How can you make that clear to them?

By outlining the journey you want visitors to take around your website, you can see where the gaps are in your existing website and how those can be improved by a redesign project.

When you consider user experience, it's also important to look at tone and messaging on your website. How you communicate with your audience is just as important as what you have to say. If your wording and content doesn't fit with what you want to portray, it's time to change your copy.

Another thing to consider is whether or not you are referencing services/products that are no longer offered or have been renamed. By being consistent across your website, you will avoid a load of confusion. I suggest doing a full audit of the content on your site and seeing if/when you need to change the business offerings you reference.

Your goal should always be to speed up and facilitate the user experience and if you are deliberate in this step, you'll have a successful website redesign.

Responsive Design

In this day and age, responsive websites are a MUST. This means that a website automatically adjusts to display correctly on all sized devices (e.g., desktops, iPads, smart phones, etc.)

Google says that 52% of smartphone users say a bad mobile experience will make them less likely to engage with a company, so you do not want to be left behind with a website that isn't responsive. Think of the potential lost business!

I recommend that my clients use Squarespace and this is especially true for those considering a website redesign. If you're going to begin that project, it's best to pick the platform that will work for you in the long run! 

Related: Choosing the right Squarespace template

Slow load speed

If a website is slow to load, odds are that a user will get frustrated or worse, leave your website. There are many reasons why a site might not be quick to load but often it's because updates are not being made on the back end or file sizes haven't been compressed. 

When users can't use your website correctly and content doesn't load as expected, they will not be champions of your brand or have a lot of faith in your business.

Google offers a great tool to check your website's load speed which you can access here.

Content doesn't display correctly

Have you ever been on a website where the photos don't display? How annoying is that?!

How about that time when you went to submit a form and instead got a failure message? So annoying!

What about the total lack of social media integration? Painfully old school. 

When the content on your website doesn't load properly, your website needs a fix. It could be that your website uses Flash which isn't always compatible with Apple in which case you're excluding an enormous amount of users from accessing your website correctly. Luckily this isn't a problem if you choose Squarespace and modern file formats but that might not be where you are right now. If your website isn't displaying content correctly, it's important to figure out why that is and how you can fix it.

Poor SEO

If it has been years since your website launched or was last redesigned, odds are that your website is not optimized for search engines like Google. SEO takes time and effort to improve and if you aren't working on a modern platform, your efforts will be in vain. Along those lines, if your website content is out of date or isn't laid out in a way that makes for a positive user experience, you won't have much luck with SEO either!

One of the things I love about Squarespace is how intuitive their SEO process is and this is another reason why I recommend using the platform if you're going to take part in a website redesign project.

Related: My Squarespace SEO Series has a bunch of excellent articles and tutorials on this topic.

Websites as credibility builders for your business

We mentioned above that it's okay so let a few years pass between major website redesigns, but like most things in life, there's always a disclaimer to include.

First of all, consider the fact that your website is your business' home base online and it's often the first point of contact future customers have with your brand. When someone visits your website for the first time, what image are you putting out?

When people visit bad websites, they subconsciously wonder why the website is clearly outdated or unattended. From there, visitors wonder whether that is a reflection of the services provided or level of attention they can expect to receive as clients of that business. No bueno! 

If you look at your website as more than just a information platform and instead think about how it can support and build your business, you will grow your credibility by default. 

Redesigning a website while leveraging existing content

Now that you're convinced that your website needs a facelift, it's time to look at how you will address the content on your website. By this I mean the text and images/graphics that populate your site.

Perhaps you'll be in the ideal situation where you like most of the content that exists on your website (meaning it's up to date and generally well structured), but aesthetically and functionally the site is not modern. This is great news because you can change up how your site looks and plunk in the existing content that you worked so hard on already. Not only will this save you heaps of time, it'll also make the process much smoother since you don't have to reinvent the wheel.

Branding your redesigned website

Branding really does go hand in hand with most website redesign projects.

Think of it this way: if you're putting all this effort into cleaning up the content of your site and what you're putting out online, don't you want it to look good and have a cohesive design? YES, the answer is YES!!

Deliberate branding of your website will help build the connection between your business and your audience, as well as current and potential clients. Think about who you're trying to attract. Would they vibe better with your business if you revamped the website's aesthetic, not just the layout or structure? In most cases, the answer is yes.

Things to consider when looking at branding for a website redesign project include:

  • your logo - could it use a revamp?
  • is the colour palette cohesive and professional? does it connect with your industry?
  • are you making use of white space?
  • have you included high quality photography?
  • is your branding consistent across platforms (e.g., website, social media, email signature, marketing materials, etc.)?

If you're considering a website redesign, please take a look at branding while you're at it because the two really go hand in hand.

Final Thoughts

If you read through the article above and had noticed yourself nodding along to the questions asked, congratulations! You're probably due for a website redesign. 

To begin, outline your pain points and goals for the project. Think about what you want to fix and how you want users to interact with your website. Next up, review the content on your website (give all text & images a full audit) to make sure you are communicating properly with visitors and clients. From there, it might be time to change platforms or update your template/theme for a better user experience. This should go hand in hand with branding so that you have a completely updated look across all channels (website, social media, etc.).

Shameless plug: check out my Design & Development package to see if this is right for you and your website redesign project!


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Charlotte O'Hara

Vancouver