At some point in your website's life-cycle, it will likely be due for a #redesign. Whether you are looking to improve that site's visual appearance, add new features, or make a combination of these and other necessary changes, there are a number of common mistakes that you should work to avoid if you hope for that redesign to be a success.
Common missteps that can derail any website redesign process
1. Same Outdated Content, New Packaging
The most common misstep that I see with website redesign projects is when a company takes the time to revamp the visual appearance of that site, or even the platform that it is built upon, but they do nothing to address that site's outdated content. Quality content that is unique, timely, and relevant is the most important component of a successful website. Yes that site should look great and work well, but content is what attracts people to the site in the first place. It is also what keeps them coming back for future visits and what encourages them to share that site with others. If you launch a new website with an improved design, but you simply plug in the same outdated or poor content from your existing site, the results you get from that site will be mediocre at best.
Many times, companies take this "same content, new packaging" approach thinking that they will improve the appearance or functionality of the site first and then they can go in and "tweak the content" at a later date. As you have probably guessed, that "later date" never actually happens and the site is left with outdated content until it is time for another redesign and the cycle starts all over again.
2. Neglecting Mobile
On today's Web, visitors are using an incredible range of devices with a staggering number of different screen sizes. If you are launching a new website and you are not accounting for this diversity of devices and optimizing for mobile, then you are ignoring the present, and future, needs of an increasingly mobile-centric audience.
3. Ignoring Performance
Website visitors, mobile or otherwise, expect that site to load quickly. Sites that are slow-loading risk having visitors abandon their session and look elsewhere for what they need. This reality, as well as the fact that Google now places a significant emphasis on site speed, is why website performance should be at the top of your list of priorities for the new site. It is also one reason why you should avoid bloated template-drive website platforms that focus more on DIY ease of deployment than they do on optimizing speed.
4. Underestimating the Impact of Quality Design
Another reason to eschew cookie-cutter website templates is the lack of design originality that they bring to a project. Too often companies cut corners on design to save money on a project, but this is almost always a mistake. A site's design is about much more than "looking good." A web designer’s job is to craft a look and an experience that is best suited to meet your goals for a site and the needs of that site’s audience. This is nearly impossible to accomplish if you are arbitrarily choosing a design style from a template gallery based solely on what "looks nice" as opposed to what is the right direction for your site from a strategic standpoint.
5. Failure to Test
Another commonly ignored need of website projects is testing. This includes performance testing and quality assurance, but it should also include user testing of some kind. Yes, budgets may be stretched thin, but neglecting to do any testing on a site is basically rolling the dice and hoping for the best. If it works, then great, but if it does not, then the cost of recovering from that misstep is likely to be far greater than the cost of having tested your ideas earlier in the process.
6. Failure to Plan Post-Launch
The launch of a new website is an exciting time, but it is only the first step in a successful website plan. To truly capitalize on a quality new website, you must have a plan for the post-launch time of that site. This includes having metrics that you are trying to meet, a way to monitor the site's traffic and analytics, and a plan for continued improvements on the site as needed based on the data you collect.
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