Website Redesign – The Beginning of the End

You know something is wrong with your website. You are not sure how to fix it or how it got to this point, so you engage a consultant or web expert to help you solve the problem.  Their first suggestion is we need to rebuild or redesign the website and your problems will be solved.  Or will it?

I have been reading some of the articles over the past week describing the fate of and how the company became so undervalued.  Some articles have also cited how other once popular sites, like MySpace and Reddit came to a similar fate.  What I find interesting is that both stories mark the beginning of the end with a website redesign.

We have also seen a new crop of customers this year coming to us to fix website problems following a disastrous website redesign.  Complaints following the redesign range from 100% sales drop to drop two pages on the search results to a steady decline in traffic.  So how did a project that was meant to move the business forward get to the point where it was hurting the business?  Our customers shared some of the same mistakes as Digg and MySpace.

Website Redesign Gone Bad

No business rationale for the redesign

Before you sign up for your next website,  ask yourself why you are doing this.  If the best answer you can come up with is “it’s time for a change”, think for a minute.  If you go to a network meeting and meet 10 web designers,  all 10 will find something on your website that they want to fix.  But will it solve your problem?  Change the site because its not working, not because you were talked into it.

Did not protect the things they were already doing right

Are you selling product? Is your site attracting visitors?  You may be thinking about a redesign because you want even more. Before you make widespread changes to your site, be very clear about what is working and where the source of the problems are found. Make sure that key content and features are maintained in the new version and that you are clear about possible impact to search rankings.

More worried about the look then the users

During a redesign project,  I see a lot of business owners focus on the wrong thing.  They are worried about spacing, and fonts and colors,  but fail to test whether or not someone can purchase something from their store.  I have also seen simple websites that were very easy to use and well used by customers,  succumb to over-marketing and become just a commercial that people change the channel on. Instead of worrying about how good you look, make sure your customers can still find it easy to do business with you.

Good reasons for a website redesign do exist.  If you are having problems with your website,  there are many steps that can be taken to help solve the problem before choosing to redesign.  Redesign because you need to,  not because you just need a chance,  you might reverse all of your hard won successes.