Designing a website is a long, arduous process. No matter who helps you design it, you will have to go through extensive testing and coding to ensure it fits your needs. That's why many businesses wait long, maybe too long, to update their website. Yet, more often than not, that update is necessary. Whether you're not responsive in the age of Mobilegeddon or simply want to update the look and usability of your site, you've likely thought about a web redesign once or twice. And more likely than not, that's the right choice! As long as you avoid these 11 embarrassing Faux Pas you better not make when redesigning your website.
1) Don't Start Over
When you redesign your website, it's tempting to start from scratch. But don't! More likely than not, some features on your website (content, layout, navigational structure, etc.) are actually well-liked. Scratching everything you currently have entirely creates more work than necessary and risks worsening your new site.
2) Pick the Right Developer
You may think this is obvious, but too many businesses still fall into this trap: the cheapest developer isn't always the best. Instead of falling for price or flattering words, request previous design examples and inform yourself about the developer's design philosophy before making your choice.
3) Have a Plan
Nothing is worse than going into a major project like this without a specific plan that includes a timeline, budget, and resources needed. A good developer will help you create and adjust that plan, but you should still take the initiative to ensure everything fits within your business objective.
4) Navigation Confusion
A shiny new website that nobody can navigate is possibly even more frustrating than an outdated but easy-to-navigate site. Be sure that everything on your new site is structured well, has a natural home, and is necessary to the site's success.
5) No Search
Even the best navigation may not be intuitive to some users. That's why it's imperative to include a search bar on your website, which allows users to find what they need quickly. The better your website is optimized for certain keywords, the more easily these keywords - and their parent pages - can be found.
6) Accidental "Black Hat"
In 2015, almost no marketer tries "black hat" tactics like hidden text or keyword stuffing to cheat Google's algorithms. But that doesn't mean they're extinct: too often, simply not being aware of what Google likes and doesn't like, and accidentally implementing frowned-upon features into your site, can hurt your SEO.
7) Too Responsive
Responsive design is on every marketer's mind. But don't forget about desktop devices! While mobile internet usage has officially overtaken its desktop counterpart, almost half of all internet users still use desktop and laptop computers to browse the internet. So while responsive design is important, make sure it looks as good on a 21 inch screen than on a 4.5 inch alternative.
The greatest concept may not work well in practice. That's why you should never publish a version of your site that has only been tested a little bit - instead, go through thorough usability and coding tests and benchmarks to ensure your site's readability, navigation and load speed are up to par.
At the same time, you don't want to test so much that it delays your release date and break your budget. Once test results begin to become consistent, it's time to publish the site. You can still continue your tests with "real" users and adjust accordingly.
10) Fancy Fonts
Adjusting fonts means walking a tight rope: you want your content to stand out, but at the same time you don't want it to be unreadable. When in doubt, prioritize your site's readability by sticking to simple web fonts like Times New Roman, George or Verdana.
11) Image Tomfoolery
We've all read the article that visual content is the nonplus ultra in digital marketing today. But that doesn't mean any image works, and that there couldn't be too much of a good thing. Instead of plastering your website with any images you can find, only post the ones that are actually relevant to the specific text and enhance your written content. Also, ensure that all of your images have ALT text attached to them, which helps your Google ratings and website usability.
All of the above Faux Pas seem like obvious issues. Unfortunately, we run into clients who are committing or have experienced at least one of them much too often. So as you're planning your website redesign, make sure you stay on point, avoid mistakes and your website will be humming with new visitors sooner than you know it.
Oh, and one more thing: A good developer can guide you through the entire process, helping you avoid mistakes from the initial concept planning all the way to the rollout. So once you're ready for a new site, contact us for help!