Redesigning a website is far from simple. Some redesigns require starting from scratch, while others may use the framework of the current site for a firm refresh. Regardless of your process, take a look at the three biggest red flags that can arise when considering a website redesign.
You’re not considering the goal.
Don’t always get distracted by the shiny red ball. Sure, you know your website is outdated and in need of a visual refresh, but don’t spend all this time on a redesign for the sake of a redesign.
Use your time wisely and do your research. Research trends in the web design world, what users do and don’t like, costs, best practices, worst practices, and more. Research gives you a solid foundation of information to back up your goal and build your website.
So yes, a shiny red ball is cool, but do you need it? Maybe.
What goals will it accomplish on your website? How will it help accomplish the overall goal? Would it be effective for your primary audience? What would it be used for? Would it even be used at all? Is it just for decoration?
If the answer to a majority of those questions sounds something like, “I don’t know, but it looks cool,” stop.
Sadly, that answer isn’t enough justification to keep the shiny red ball or incorporate it into your design. You can’t add things that don’t align with the overall objectives of the website. If you don’t focus on the end goal, you’ll get lost and distracted in the clutter.
You want to fix things that don’t actually need fixing.
Don’t go crazy and change everything about your website—with some exceptions, because some people really should just change everything. If something worked well in the past, keep it. Too much change can scare people. Users must be able to still recognize that the redesigned website is your brand. They should still be in familiar territory.
For example, Snapchat got huge backlash recently over their past few app updates/changes. They changed too much, too suddenly and created problems for their users. The change was too large, too fast, and they actually lost quite a few users who felt betrayed by Snapchat. (As a result, more users moved over to Instagram Stories instead).
On the other hand, look at YouTube. If you went back to 2005 when they first started, and compared that website to today’s website, you would be shocked at how much has changed! And we all barely noticed it.
How? YouTube made these changes slowly, over time, piece by piece. Over the years, they simply adjusted and adapted to the trends of the World Wide Web environment to improve their site.
Also remember you will never please everyone, but when changes are subtle and make sense, users are more likely to be willing to adopt the new site.
You’ve forgotten about your user.
Who will be using your website on a weekly basis? Maybe even day to day? They’re the target audience that you need to design for. A website redesign is exciting, but don’t get caught up in only the aesthetics when considering a website redesign.
Redesigning a website isn’t simply about shapes, colors, and fonts. Those all need consideration, but your website serves a function/service to its users. User-centered design should be the main focus in the redesign process.
You’re trying to give your website a visual refresh, not make it more difficult for the user to navigate. Mock up a prototype and ask your peers to navigate to a page or complete a task. Your peers might express some navigational flaws that you didn’t even notice. What seems obvious to you may seem counterintuitive to someone else.
Never forget about the user.