Is it time for a website redesign, or can you fix up the website you already have?
If your website is WordPress, it may be best to migrate your content into a new theme. Relatively quickly, a new theme can dramatically improve the appearance and performance of your website.
However, not all WordPress websites migrate easily. This is especially true if the previous theme featured a great deal of customization.
It’s also quite possible that your current website isn’t powered by a Content Management System (like WordPress). If that’s the case, achieving a new look will probably require custom coding.
Working with the original web designer – you may be able to tweak the current website to make it more appealing. But hiring a new web designer to work with someone else’s code is more complicated. In those instances, the new web designer will be in favour of a website redesign whereby they’re able to start anew.
Regardless of your current situation, you can consider the following points in order to help decide whether you need a complete website redesign.
Are You Embarrassed By Your Current Website?
The easiest way to know you need a total website redesign is if you’re ashamed of your current website. If you have negative feelings about your current website, the design is probably pretty out of date.
Web design trends evolve over the years. As time goes on, what was popular in the past loses its appeal.
Examples of web design choices that are no longer “cool” include:
Fixed-Width (Boxed) Layouts
Back before massive desktop displays, fixed-width websites were the norm. But desktop computer screens are huge now. I’m typing this out on a 27″ iMac at the moment.
Websites look way better when they’re able to stretch and fill the width of the screen:
If your site is still in boxed layout, consider a website redesign featuring full-width content.
Solid Colour Backgrounds
Solid colour backgrounds usually look bad. They tend to clash with the website logo and photography. You might not need a website redesign if all it takes is a new background colour (white) to modernize your design.
Black, white, off-white, and light grey backgrounds are going to lead to better looking website designs. Try to reserve the use of bold colours for buttons you want your users to click on (“calls to action”).
Old Font Choices
Browsers couldn’t always render fancy fonts. There was a time when web designers were limited to using a very small handful of fonts.
Georgia and Arial dominated the internet as the main serif and sans-serif font selections. When web designers wanted to mix things up, they didn’t have many fonts to choose from. And so Courier and the dreaded Comic Sans became widely used.
Today, Google Fonts gives web designers access to a list of 915 fonts and growing. With 19 billion downloads, it’s clear that web designers everywhere are putting these to good use!
Does your website’s font look old? You may be able to avoid a total website rebuild simply by switching to a more modern font.
If you still find yourself headed for a website redesign, be sure to choose a font that aligns with your branding.
Try to avoid letting an out-of-date logo influence the look of a new website. If your logo and branding looks dated, fix that first. I cover this in greater detail in my Top 5 Web Design Mistakes To Avoid At All Costs article.
You Need a Redesign If Your Website Isn’t Responsive
How does your current website look on a phone? Does it reformat nicely to display on small screens, or is it a total hassle to navigate? Are features of the website broken or problematic?
A quick way to determine whether your website is mobile-friendly is to input your website into the Google Mobile-Friendly Test.
Of all the reasons you may want to completely redo your website, mobile-friendliness is arguably the most urgent. According to Statcounter.com, 51.65% of global users are accessing the internet by mobile phone, 44.6% by desktop computer, and 3.75% by tablet.
If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re probably losing over half of your visitors!
You’re looking at a total website redesign if your current site isn’t responsive.
Look at the HTML Version and Copyright Year.
Sniffing out a stale website can be as easy as scrolling to the bottom of the page and looking at the copyright year. Sometimes the year isn’t dynamic, meaning it doesn’t automatically update on its own. If nobody remembers to manually update the year, you’re telling the world that you have an old website.
For this reason I actually prefer to avoid including a year with the copyright information.
Another way to gauge the age of a website is to right click, and “view page source”. At the very top of the code, you can view the version of the code used. This first tag is the “doctype”.
On the surface, having out of date HTML may not seem like that big a problem. But, old code could be holding your website back from getting a better position in Google search results.
In 2014, HTML5 was released as a recommendation by the W3C. HTML5 allows search engines like Google to better understand the content and structure of your website. This helps your website rank better in Google Search results.
So, if you want to outrank your competition in Google, make sure to leverage the HTML5 <!DOCTYPE html> tag.
With a modern logo/branding, and a website already built with WordPress – a redesign might not be necessary. Updating the theme could be enough to refresh the look and feel of your website.
However, web designers will favour starting with a fresh redesign for older websites when:
- The existing code is out of date (copyright year and doctype are good indicators of code freshness)
- The website layout is boxed, broken, or non-responsive
- Undesirable design elements (fonts, backgrounds, images and graphics) make working with the existing website unruly
If you have any questions about your website leave a comment below or contact me and I’ll do my best to help!