Starting out, before we can get into what an SME should be focusing on when redesigning their site, we first need to establish why an SME should be redesigning their site and how to tell if your site is in need of a refresh.
Redesigning a website to be more user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing can increase the success of a website a hundred times over (See Niebler, 2015: 4 Great Reasons to Redesign Your Website).
So, what should you be looking for when deciding if your website needs a makeover?
1.Your site is outdated
With technology moving at the speed it is, a website designed back in 2003 is not going to be as functional, responsive and successful as the websites designed for web 2.0 (See Edwards: How to Know if Your Website Is Outdated). Modern day consumers look for a sleek, well designed website when browsing and an outdated design could be detrimental in communicating the businesses value (Garrett, 2010). A potential customer looking at a page that looks as though the company may have gone out of business vs. an up to date, modern page could be the difference between them choosing the services of a competitor over you.
2. Your site isn’t mobile optimised
Mobile is massive! In 2015 mobile overtook the desktop with more Google searches taking place on mobile devices than desktops, laptops and tablet devices, making it the primary screen for searchers (See Sterling, 2015: It’s Official: Google Says More Searches Now On Mobile Than On Desktop). This means that if your site isn’t optimised for mobile, your business is likely to lose out to competitors that are. Not only does an un-optimised site irritate visitors with them have to zoom, scroll and click various links to find the information they need, if your site isn’t optimised you could be missing out on rankings from Google who now boost mobile friendly sites up on search results (See Google, 2015: Rolling out the Mobile-Friendly Update).
3. Your site is unproductive
An obvious reason, but if your site isn’t gaining conversions then you will need to think about why. Are there visible calls to action? A website is no longer a brochure of services but a tool to convert visitors into customers and a way to engage and build a relationship with clients. Looking further into unproductive websites, it may be that a lack of focus on search engine optimisation (SEO) efforts is to blame. Companies that continuously engage in SEO efforts see an increase of 76.5% in organic traffic (visitors that find the site without paid search advertisements such as Pay per Click or PPC), so it’s definitely something that shouldn’t be ignored (See Ballard, 2015: 9 Reasons You Should Redesign Your Website Today).
Let’s take a look at some examples;
Here you can see the website is very cluttered, making the site likely to be less functional and less engaging to the visitor. The overall design is dated and lacking the sleek, simplicity that the modern consumer is looking for. Due to the small pictures, large body of text and sidebar navigation this site is most likely not optimised for mobile and will be difficult to view from a mobile screen without zooming and scrolling, which may frustrate visitors and lead them to finding a different site. Finally, there are no strong calls to action to help convert leads but rather the site is acting as a brochure to inform the visitor rather than engage with them. Overall, a webpage that would definitely benefit from a makeover!
This website, though well designed and more modern than the previous site, is not optimised for mobile. Visitors are going to have to zoom out, scroll, zoom back in to read text and 61% of visitors will leave a site is it is not mobile friendly (See Tabita, 2015: Mobile SEO: 6 Steps to a Mobile-Friendly Website) and go to a competitor site. Here the site needs to separate designs, one for desktop and one for mobile, in order to stay high in Google search rankings and engage visitors.
Finally, this site looks great! It’s simple, well designed and modern with clear calls to action and mobile optimised.
So how can we tell this site needs redesigning?
Well, we can’t just by looking at it. Only by analysing the metrics of the site such as conversion rates, bounce rates and search rankings will the company be able to tell how functional the site is (See Ballard, 2015: 9 Reasons You Should Redesign Your Website Today). Using analytics is highly beneficial for small companies to see how productive their site is as without it the webpage could be secretly failing.
Overall, appearance isn’t everything when it comes to deciding if your website needs an overhaul. While aesthetics are very important with the modern day consumer, other factors such as mobile optimised for Google search and functionality are also very important and all three factors need to be taken into consideration when making the decision to redesign your website, if your site is failing at even one of these factors, then a redesign could be on the cards!
Ballard, J. (2015). 9 Reasons You Should Redesign Your Website Today. Pulse LinkedIn. [Online] Available at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/9-reasons-you-should-redesign-your-website-today-jon-ballard
Edwards, C. (No Date). How to Know if Your Website Is Outdated. Demand Media. [Online] Available at: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/website-outdated-45999.html
Garrett, J. J. (2010). Elements of user experience, the: user-centered design for the web and beyond. Pearson Education.
Google. (2015). Rolling Out Mobile-Friendly Updates. Google Webmaster. [Online] Available at: https://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/rolling-out-mobile-friendly-update.html
Neibler, B. (2015). 4 Great Reasons to Redesign Your Website. The Site Edge. [Online] Available at: http://thesiteedge.com/4-great-reasons-to-redesign-your-website
Sterling, G. (2015). It’s Official: Google Says More Searches Now On Mobile Than On Desktop. Search Engine Land.com [Online] Available at: http://searchengineland.com/its-official-google-says-more-searches-now-on-mobile-than-on-desktop-220369
Tabita, J. (2015). Mobile SEO: 6 Steps to a Mobile-Friendly Website. Sitepoint. [Online] Available at: http://www.sitepoint.com/mobile-seo-6-steps-mobile-friendly-website/