7 Bad Reasons to Redesign Your Website

by 7 08/16/2013

Here at Madtown, we hear all sorts of crazy reasons businesses use to justify the money they spend on new websites. Even worse are the reasons we hear from designers, trying to justify the (sometimes questionable) ways they’re bringing in paychecks.

The only problems a basic redesign can fix are design problems. But the problems most businesses are facing aren’t design-related at their core—more likely, they have to do with marketing, branding, sales, customer service, or tough competition.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking you have a design problem, because you probably don’t. And you can’t just slap a redesign band-aid on a website with internal damage.

The point of this article is not to convince you that you don’t need a new website. I couldn’t begin to count the number of businesses whose sites are in desperate need of a redesign.

But it’s not just because their sites are ugly, per se—it’s because they’re ineffective. They don’t grab people’s attention, they’re difficult to navigate, they don’t lead to sales…they just plain don’t work.

The only way to get websites to work through redesign, is to enter into the design process for the right reasons. And they better not be any of these:

1. It’s been awhile

You have an itch. You’re bored with your current look, and your competitors’ sites are starting to look pretty dang flashy. Time for a facelift!

comparison of two sites - one flashyUnless you love disposable marketing tactics that you throw out every few years, a dated website is not a reason for a redesign.

People aren’t going to be so wowed by your fresh new look that they’ll be suddenly galloping to the cash register, when they weren’t before. If anything, they’re going to be confused, wondering what has changed about your company that it necessitates a new look.

Think hard and ask yourself: what will happen if this redesign isn’t effective? If your traffic and sales don’t budge, will you regret it?

What you really need:

New websites can solve business problems. But boring design is not a business problem.

Ask yourself why you think the redesign needs to be done now. What’s the real motivator, outside of that itch you’re dying to scratch? What will happen if the redesign isn’t done right? Could you potentially lose business?

You’ll definitely lose money, assuming you hire a qualified web designer—will it be worth it?

Your job is to dig deep and uncover why you really need a new website, if at all.

If you find yourself circling back to the same reason over and over (“we just need to update the look”), it might be a good idea to wait. After all, this suggests that you have absolutely zero business problems, and why would you want to jeopardize that success?

2. To become more competitive

I get it. You’re intimidated by your competitors’ expensive, ultra-slick websites. Every time you see one of them revamp their site, an alarm goes off in your head. “We’re falling behind! Redesign: go, go, go!”

Businesses are constantly falling prey to the misinformed notion that a new website will make them more competitive.

Here’s the truth: design isn’t a competitive advantage, or a marketing strategy, or a business driver of any kind. It’s just the delivery service that takes your company’s values and personality—the true marketing meat—and feeds them to potential customers.

If visitors like what they see enough to bite, it’s because they like your company as portrayed through the design, not just the design itself.

Creating fancy new designs without an underlying strategy is like painting an abstract picture when someone asks for a drawing of a tree—it might look nice, but it’s pretty clear that you don’t know what you’re doing.

What you really need:

Becoming more competitive starts internally, with branding and company culture development. You first need to make the company itself more competitive, by aligning your values and getting your employees behind them, before worrying about how to reflect those values on your site.

3. To get more traffic

website traffic
Unless your website is poorly optimized (in which case you need SEO, not a new site), a new website isn’t going to bring in more meaningful, targeted traffic just because it’s new.

There’s no way to search “hot new websites” on Google, nor is anyone sitting around thinking, “I’d totally visit their site, if only it looked a little cooler.”

The only traffic your new website will attract is all your friends and family, after you proudly share the link with them on Facebook.

What you really need:

It’s not traffic that matters—it’s conversions. You need to figure out why your existing traffic isn’t leading to sales. Focus on making improvements to your company or your site (do your calls to action suck?) to convert existing traffic, rather than just adding to your vast pool of non-converters.

4. You want to start over

Your company’s not where you want it to be, and you think it needs something more dramatic than a few simple SEO tweaks. You want to wipe the slate clean, starting with your tired old website.

Too often, businesses think that a new website will make them a new company. But just because you drew a bridge on a map doesn’t mean that bridge now exists. (Are you loving the art metaphors?)

To be clear: I’m not including ownership swaps in this bucket. If you’re taking over an existing company, you bet that’s a good reason to redesign the website, assuming that you’re also making other fundamental changes to the company that need to be reflected online.

What you really need:

To recreate a company, you need to actually recreate the company. (How’s that for a nugget of wisdom?) You can’t just fiddle around with your website and hope the changes will trickle back into your business operations.

If your company doesn’t change on the inside, a drastic change to its outside appearance isn’t going to make any difference.

Recreating a company starts with internal branding: purpose, values, and company culture, for starters. If you can’t rattle these things off like you would your kids’ first names, you’re not there yet.

5. To generate more leads

“Leads” is one of those web terms that tends to get clients itchy for site redesigns. “Leads? What are these leads? We need those! Redesign: go, go, go!”

Sometimes, well-meaning business owners forget what actually makes leads happen. I’m talking about things like quality, shareable content, online relationships (think Twitter, not Match.com), and, well, selling things that people actually want.

Generating leads is a good thing, but it’s a bad reason to redesign your website. (Donating a kidney is a good thing, too, but that doesn’t mean you should walk into a hospital and request the procedure. Ideally, it’s a means to an end.)

Most of the time, what clients really need are leads that actually convert into sales—similar to the traffic situation of point 3. You need to focus on generating fewer leads of a higher quality, rather than wasting time going after totally useless ones.

6. People aren’t sticking around

You might think that if visitors aren’t staying on your site for very long, the site is ripe for a redesign. It’s easy to blame the most visible suspect, but fixing a surface-level problem only provides a surface-level solution.

Is your site giving its visitors what they want, when they want it? Does your site navigation make sense? Is your copy interesting and stimulating?

Spend some time with your Web Design 101 fundamentals and make sure you’ve crossed those T’s first.

What you really need:

Before you rush into a redesign, consider other aspects of your site that could be the culprits of high visitor turnover. Chances are that some fresh content, more potent calls to action, and small usability tweaks will generate a substantially larger ROI than a complete redesign would.

7. You’re looking for a one-and-done solution

You envision hiring a web designer, pressing the Go button on your hot new design, waving to said designer, and sailing off into the proverbial sunset of raging business success.

This one-and-done approach might have worked years ago, but it’s not enough anymore. In today’s competitive environment—especially given Google’s habit of changing the rules on a regular basis—there’s no such thing as “done” anymore.

Once a redesign goes live, the new site still needs testing and analysis, rewriting, design tweaks, SEO, branding, marketing, social media, AdWords…you get the point.

What you really need:

If you’re serious about a redesign that will actually make a difference in your business, make sure you find a long-term strategic partner who understands the playing field your site is getting thrown into.

Even more importantly, make sure that you are committed to the long-term success of the site. There is no magical potion that will turn your website into a prince. There is only hard work, smart analysis, and an endless supply of potential improvements.

Until you accept all this, you’ll be stuck in the same redesigning “strategy” year after year. Get a new website! New website sucks. Get another new website! Newer website also sucks. Repeat.

It’s time to break that cycle.

Go after what you need, not what you want

So many web designers are happily redesigning site after site, even though a redesign isn’t what the client really needs. But don’t expect them to tell you that—as long as their paychecks are rolling in, they’re happy. It’s you who’s making the mistake.

What designers really are great at is providing a unique perspective to clients’ business problems and use it to craft long-term strategies and solutions that solve branding and communication challenges, for good.

Make sure you’re taking the time to identify your true business problems and get those problems solved, rather than getting caught up in design details. Trust me: your business will thank you.

 

About 

Jay Baron is a Brand Strategist at Madtown. You can follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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7 COMMENTS

mebel jati

Nice post! keep write articles i really love your own post .

August 16, 2013 Reply

Ed Mandell

Nice article, you make a lot of good points.

The closing point is very good I.e. about identifying your true business problems.

August 22, 2013 Reply

Jadwiga Oglesbee

Great post, Jay! It’s really well-written and you raise some excellent points. Companies do often make the mistake of believing that a redesign can result in more sales, and better traffic. The next time someone goes ‘Redesign: Go, go go!’ I’m going to send them this post.

September 4, 2013 Reply

Ranjithk

Great post! keep it up… :)

September 5, 2013 Reply

Roger

Great information… Thanks for sharing such fabulous post with us.. Waiting for your next share.. Keep Writing..

November 6, 2013 Reply

Mebel Jati

great post, this is very interisting

November 27, 2013 Reply

FURNITURE JATI JEPARA

Great post, Jay! It’s really well-written and you raise some excellent points. Companies do often make the mistake of believing that a redesign can result in more sales, and better traffic. The next time someone goes ‘Redesign: Go, go go!’ I’m going to send them this post.

November 29, 2013 Reply


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