“Should I redesign my website?” is a question we all ask ourselves from time to time. It’s also a question we all avoid asking ourselves from time to time. Every three years seems to be the answer industry experts most throw out, but that’s not a hard and fast rule, of course.
To help you decide, here are six smaller questions that can help you answer the big one:
“Should I Redesign My Website?”
Is it doing its job? Before you create or redesign a website, the very first decision to make is the site’s purpose. What do you want it to do? There are any number of reasons to have or update a website, such as any combination of these:
- Build the brand
- Sell goods or services or collect donations
- Support customers
- Create community
- Establish credibility
First, prioritize the reason why you need a site in the first place. Then, consider how well your existing site is delivering on these goals. This question is best answered with the help of data, whether that’s your bottom line, Google Analytics, intercept surveys, customer surveys, or one-on-one interviews. Your gut reaction may or may not be spot on. The only way to know, however, is to look at the data.
Does it support our messaging strategy? If you’ve read our blog before, you know that we believe your messaging strategy—or, as we call it, your Focus & Messaging Framework—should drive everything about your organization. In this context specifically, you should ask yourself if your website clearly, authentically, and compellingly:
- Explains why your work is important, why you care about it, and why anyone else should, too.
- Differentiates what you do from all the other options people have (including inaction). One way to determine that is through a Messaging Audit.
- Brings to life your brand’s personality attributes. If your organization were a person, would it be described as academic, light-hearted, irreverent, creative, or analytical? Whatever the answer to those questions, your website should project those personality attributes.
Have people become blind to it? Have you ever moved into a new home and noticed something you hated? You probably said to yourself, “Oh, I’ll have to change that soon.” Fast-forward five years, and you no longer even see it, let alone have the will to change it. The same phenomenon happens with websites. Does your homepage look fundamentally the same as it did two years ago? If that’s the case, they most likely will miss seeing a lot of your content. Instead, they will just glaze right over it.
Is it built for mobile, speed, and accessibility? If your website doesn’t seamlessly work on phones and tablets, you can stop looking for the answer to the question, “Should I Redesign My Website?” The answer is a resounding absolutely, without a doubt, yes! ASAP! Additionally, you should make certain that all its pages load quickly, all the links work, and that it scores adequately on an accessibility test, such as the one from Auditzy. Besides demonstrating basic respect for your visitors, it can help them find it.
Can people find it? Like most things, websites aren’t of much use if no one can find them. How does your site rank in web searches? In addition to backlinks and prudent use of keywords, search engines look at speed and accessibility. Granted, optimizing your site for search engine optimization (SEO) can be done without redesigning your website. However, if SEO isn’t working, there are probably a lot of other elements of the site that aren’t either.
Does leaving it the same send a message? There is a lot to be said for change. There’s a lot to be said for not changing. If you don’t update your site from time to time, will your audience think you are cheap, over-extended, stagnant, or disengaged? Or, if you do redesign your website frequently, will they think you are erratic, unsure of yourself, easily distracted, or undisciplined? Thinking about how not redesigning your site at this particular time will read with your audiences is an important consideration, too.
Once you’ve answered the “Should I Redesign My Website?” with an affirmative, here is one absolute: You must first stop and confirm that your messaging strategy is up-to-date. No matter how great your visuals, prose, or user interface are, if your website is not in support of your messaging strategy, it’s all for naught.
Need help deciding? We’re happy to help you both figure it out and make it happen. Simply get in touch.