Redesigning or creating a new website isn’t a piece of cake. It requires time, effort and collaboration from a team of people. There are aesthetic, and technical specifications that need to be met and what’s more, there needs to be a mutual understanding of project and business requirements between everyone involved, so that the project can run smoothly. Throw into the mix a tight budget and strict deadlines and suddenly it’s stressful before it has even begun.
Digital projects can get complicated and problems will inevitably arise. However good planning can help to solve them before they happen. So, to help you plan, here are four common mistakes people make when redesigning their website and how you can avoid them.
1. The redesign is based on what the business wants, rather than what the user wants
So your website needs a redesign. Why? One of the first things to do is consider what problems you are having with your current site, and how a redesign is going to help solve these problems. Some objectives to consider are:
- Do you need to generate more leads?
- Should your site primarily function as an information resource?
- Are you trying to implement, or increase, online sales?
A common mistake is that businesses will redesign their website based on what they want to see, rather than what the user wants to see. The problem with this, is that the website becomes crowded with self-promotional content that doesn’t appeal to visitor’s needs or interests, leaving them disengaged and leaving you with your objectives unaccomplished.
For example, if you sell apples, you can assume your target market wants to buy apples. Crowding your page with information about the history of apples, and how your business started selling apples probably isn’t the best way to make sales. So the question should be asked, how can you give your users the best, easiest, apple buying experience?
How to avoid this
Consider what the purpose of your website will be. What are the current problems you are having with your website, and how will a redesign solve them? For a redesign to be worth the investment, you should ask yourself:
- Is it going to improve the experience for my users?
- How will it give them a better experience?
2. Design is undervalued and/or underappreciated
In the digital age there is a misconception that design is easy. Design is hard. Design that looks good and is able to solve a problem, like improving website usability, is even harder.
Combine this with wanting a good reflection of your brand, a website that’s easy to navigate, a good experience for your users, and the list goes on! Often people will get caught up in little details, like what a button says, or where italics gets used, that they overlook other features that are more important and of greater influence.
People are very aware when things look out of place. Stock images, inconsistent image styles, blurry images, font sizes, font types, kerning, leading, colour differences etc. are not going to slip under the radar. They will be noticed and it won’t reflect positively. 52% of shoppers abandon sites and do not return because they dislike the overall aesthetics. Design is important.
How to avoid this
Design should be considered as an investment. Not a by-product, extra cost or add-on. Just like you would invest to refurbish a shopfront you are investing in one of the biggest public facing assets of your brand. Know what you are trying to achieve from each page, and trust your designer or agency to find the best way do it.
3. Content isn’t treated as a priority
Content should be one of the first things considered before there is even a kick-off meeting. If you are starting from scratch, consider what your audience would be searching for online and go from there. If you’re working with existing copy, now is the time to review and refine to help your users, and to help your search engine optimisation be the best it can.
Starting a project without having idea of content can lead to future problems and the issues usually fall into one of three situations:
- There is not enough content
This affects your search engine optimisation and may not provide enough information to people that have not heard of you, or that have found you organically.
- There is too much content
Research tells us people don’t read every word on a web page. Make your information scannable and easy to read.
- The content is irrelevant or unengaging
If you wouldn’t read your own content, people visiting your page probably aren’t going to.
How to avoid this
Create a content plan before you choose to redesign your website. Understand what your audience is looking for and know what you want to publish on your website in response, then polish and refine. If this too difficult to know ahead of time, try and set a word limit in the early design stages, so everyone involved in the project knows how much copy will be on each page.
4. Not maintaining content and becoming out-dated
The design is done, content is done, development is done and you’re managing your website, congrats! But the hard work continues.
As mentioned above, people can get caught up on the little things that, as a whole, probably won’t affect the end user too much. This happens because there is a mentality that after the website is live - that’s it - and there isn’t regular maintenance. This, however, shouldn’t be the case. Websites require regular maintenance and updating to stay relevant and optimised for search engines.
How often have you seen a blog on a website with the last published content being months or even years old? Or perhaps content on a homepage that is out-dated and makes references to dates in the past. This not only affects how people view your site and your brand, it can affect search engine optimisation and make it harder for people to find.
How to avoid this
The great thing about digital is that things can be changed relatively easily. Pages can be tested, refined, and re-evaluated. If something doesn’t work it can be changed and you can always try another method. However, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and money, if you can try and avoid these common website redesign mistakes in the first place. Start off on your best foot, and ensure someone takes accountability for your site on a long-term basis, and you’ll be much more likely to meet your business goals.
Have you been involved with a website redesign and experienced any of these challenges, or others? Let me know in the comments below!