When Is It Time for a New Website?

July 20, 2015

Written By: Pauline Rubin

The world is constantly changing and along with it, so are the demands of your clients. A website is a vital tool in the promotion of your business, and keeping your web presence current is essential to attracting new customers. So inevitably you have to ask: When is it time for a website redesign?

Recently, we redesigned the websites for Sherm’s Catering and Truly Yoga Studio based on three criteria:

  1. Make the site more visually appealing and user-friendly
  2. Create a site that is responsive to all devices
  3. Improve page performance, particularly page speed and SEO

Does your site appeal to your potential customers?

One of the most important reasons to redesign your website is to make it more attractive to potential customers. The web is constantly changing, and a website that was appealing a few years ago probably looks dated now. Having an up to date, well-designed website shows your customers that you’re invested in your business and want the best possible online experience for your customers. It’s an indication of success and trustworthiness for your business.

Sherm's Catering Before and After Website Redesign
Sherm’s Catering Before and After Website Redesign

 

Sherm’s Catering is a well known catering business in New Castle County, Delaware, that wanted to rebrand the look and feel of the website to specifically appeal to brides-to-be. The look of the original website was very dark and not image-driven. Taking a look at popular wedding websites likes The Knot and WeddingWire, you’ll see that many brides are attracted to a lighter, cleaner, and more image-heavy design. We focused on the food photography through a slideshow and full-width banner images throughout the website. We utilized the red and black from the previous design but balanced it out with large amounts of white and light gray.

Truly Yoga Before and After Website Redesign
Truly Yoga Before and After Website Redesign

 

Truly Yoga is a new vinyasa-style yoga studio in Pike Creek, Delaware, that was looking to bring its brand to the next level through a website redesign that highlighted the inviting and friendly nature of the studio. For this website, we wanted to make the website feel youthful and welcoming through inviting imagery, friendly copy-writing, and an emphasis on the studio’s values. We kept the design clean but colorful by utilizing the bright teal and orange from the logo. Truly Yoga uses a software system called MindBody for class scheduling, payments, sign-ups, and everything else day-to-day in the business. We designed and built the website to integrate the MindBody API where necessary. For example, Truly Yoga schedules classes in MindBody and they are automatically shown on the website, no need to maintain two class lists.

Is your website user-friendly?

A website is a tool to give information to users, so they shouldn’t have to struggle to find important details like your phone number or address. You also don’t want to present too much information at once because it can overwhelm the user and create a crowded, cluttered layout. You must strategically choose what information should be featured and use visual hierarchy to draw attention to that information, as well as organize it by importance.

Both websites needed help with content structure and organization. They presented the user with too many options and content that was not grouped together in a cohesive and easily navigable way. In our redesign, we combined several pages to streamline the user’s experience and featured the most important information on the homepage. Additionally, on the Truly Yoga Studio website, we added class descriptions to the “Schedule” page so users didn’t have to click back to the “Classes” page, creating an easier experience for the user.

Look at your website as if you’ve never seen it before. Do you immediately know what the primary message is? Can you find important information (like contact details) easily? Is the navigation and subsequent pages organized in a cohesive and logical way? If you answered no to any of these questions, it may be time to evaluate the user experience design of your website.

Is your website responsive?

Having a website that works well on mobile devices has become a business necessity. As you are probably aware, Google has been penalizing websites that are not mobile-friendly with lower rankings. (You can check your website using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.)

The number of U.S mobile users who have a smartphone is set to more than triple between 2011 and 2017 to almost 80 percent of all mobile users. This means that the number of overall smartphone users is forecast to top 200 million by 2017.

Responsive design goes beyond having a mobile website. It is developing a website that provides an easily readable and navigable experience on any device, regardless of screen size (from desktop computer monitors to tablets to mobile phones). You can test a site’s responsiveness through various websites such as Responsive Test and Responsinator.

User split by device type is around 50% mobile. Proof that if your site is not responsive it's time for a website redesign.
Mobile users vs. desktop users on Sherm’s Catering (left) and Truly Yoga Studio (right)

The original website for Sherm’s Catering was not responsive. Instead, a second mobile site was in place. Having a separate mobile site was causing three issues. First, this website only displayed on phones, so users on tablets or other smaller-sized devices were not getting the best website experience possible. Second, having two different versions of your website slows down the user experience due to redirects. It also negatively affects SEO because each website is counted separately in Google’s algorithm, resulting in a lower rank for both sites. Lastly, the website was not consistent with design of the desktop site, using different colors and a different logo.

The original website for Truly Yoga Studio was also not responsive nor was a second mobile-friendly website in place. Our analytics show that an average of 65% of website visitors to Truly Yoga Studio’s website are using a mobile phone or tablet, so almost half of the people on the website were pinch-zooming and struggling to navigate the site. Also, the lack of a mobile-friendly website significantly damaged the site’s Google ranking on mobile devices, resulting in poor SEO.

How well does your site perform?

Designing the websites responsively kept Google’s algorithm from separating the mobile users from the desktop users when analyzing the Sherm’s website traffic, resulting in better SEO and a higher ranking. It also benefited the Truly Yoga Studio website by preventing Google from lowering its ranking because it was not mobile-friendly. The Google Algorithm’s goal is to rank content that satisfies the user. If your site isn’t mobile friendly and it frsutrates the user, they will not spend time on the site and your site will be penalized. On top of that, Google has declared that mobile un-friendly sites will be further penalized in the future.

Does your website have the basics of SEO implemented? Learn about the basics by reading Google’s SEO Starter Guide. The main focus is to make sure:

  • Every page has a page title
  • Every page has a page description
  • Your site URLs (site structure) are human-friendly
  • You have a sitemap
  • Your content is relevant and not bloated

If you’re on WordPress, a simple way to ensure the basic necessities of SEO are met is to install the WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast. We use this plugin on all WordPress sites we build. It allows the user to easily edit the basic SEO necessities like page titles, descriptions, and sitemaps.

Improving a website’s SEO is only one part to the page performance equation. Another key factor is optimizing how quickly your website will load, which results in a better user experience. With almost half of users accessing websites via mobile (possibly in areas with poor internet connections), it is imperative to do everything possible to make sure your page doesn’t require a long loading time. Image Optimization is a huge part of page speed. Now that websites are becoming increasingly visually centered, with full screen background images, full width image sections, and high resolution images for high resolution displays, it is very easy to bloat your site with un-optimized images. After building and launching Sherm’s Catering and Truly Yoga, we dove into page speed optimization and drove the site load times to under 2.5 seconds.

Page speed results for Sherm's Catering (left) and Truly Yoga Studio (right) after website redesign
Page speed results for Sherm’s Catering (left) and Truly Yoga Studio (right)

 

To read about our page speed optimization process in detail, check out this case study we did of Carvertise’s website. You can also check your website’s page speed using Google’s PageSpeed Insights or Pingdom Speed Test (source of the screenshots above).

Is it time for you to redesign your site?

Staying relevant in the changing landscape of web design trends is a constant struggle, and there is no set rule for how often you should redesign your website. However, you should be evaluating your website at least once a year to see how it can be improved. Look at competitors, industry trends, and how well your website is performing to determine if it is time for a website redesign.

 

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