So you have your website running, you are building up a decent community, your users are generally happy but you feel it is time for a site redesign. Sounds like a natural progression for your site, right? Well … perhaps.
Time and time again I have seen sites herald in a new design which is plainly awful. Often the owner of the site will insist that the new design is fantastic, even if the users disagree. After all, the chances are you are the person who has slaved for days, weeks or months on the new design – and then your visitors simply do not understand the greatness of the new look!
First and foremost always remember – your visitors are the key to your success. If they are not happy they will go elsewhere. Some small concerns are only natural if a site has been massively redesigned – often your users will get used to such changes. However, if a huge overhaul does not go down well and users are still complaining weeks later then something needs to be done.
Ideally you do not want things to reach this stage – it is important to plan a new design time and time again before even starting to put it into action. Ask yourself the following key questions:
- Why do you want to redesign the site?
- How will the redesign improve the user experience?
A redesign should be done for the users – not for your own ego. Sure, your website may not be the most attractive in the world but if the users love it, and it is still attracting an increasing amount of traffic perhaps it is not as bad as you thought. You also need to keep your search engine positions in mind when undergoing a redesign. You may rank great in the search engines right now but how will this rank be affected after the redesign?
If you are running a community website, it may be a good idea to get your users involved in the site redesign. For example you could post mock-ups and invite comments from your users. This way, not only do your members feel more involved in the community but they are also likely to aid your design from a user’s perspective.
In conclusion I would always say that redesigns can be a positive thing – if done in the right way and for the right reasons. Your site’s design is a reflection of your online brand – tinker with this only after much thought and planning and always remember – your site must always benefit your users, not your ego. It is no good having a website that may look fantastic but that your members find impossible to use.
Go ahead and do that redesign, but make sure that you are doing it for the right reasons and make sure that you do it properly!