Designing a website can be tricky, but redesigning an existing site brings a whole new host of problems. Your customers are used to the layout and overall design of your site, but you know that it desperately needs to be updated. How can you find the balance between what works and what doesn’t?
These seven tips are here to help make the transition from old site to new as smooth and effective as possible in 2020.
Analyze Your Current Site
Any solid redesign plan begins with an honest analysis of your current site. After all, if you’re working on a redesign, there must be a reason for it.
As you start to put together your design changes, it’s important to take a point-blank look at what you’re working with.
Your analysis should:
- Identify weaknesses in site design or features.
- Highlight off-trend design decisions that need updating.
- Pinpoint features that can be upgraded.
- Take customer feedback into account.
Know Your Audience
Speaking of customer feedback, one of the main ways to make sure that you keep your existing audience is to know who that audience is. This may require extra market research, though you likely have already done some market research for your company in the past.
In the interests of not only keeping the existing audience but gaining new customers, it’s important to keep on top of the changing trends and updated expectations of your market.
This may seem complicated, but one of the best ways to ensure that you keep tapped into your audience’s expectations is to be straightforward about it. Ask for feedback. Send out surveys to your customers, both those who simply visit the site and those who actually complete a purchase. Ask their opinions on the services you provide, as well as how the site functions and its visual appeal.
Surveys are the perfect opportunity to really build your understanding of where your customers are coming from. But make sure not to overwhelm them with questions! Customers are much more likely to reply to surveys that tell them up front that there are only a few questions (no more than five is preferable) or which let them know the estimated time to complete the survey (if you can keep it three minutes and under, you’ll probably have more willing participants).
Figure Out What Works – And Keep It
After your honest analysis and your customer feedback, it’s time to turn that information into facts that will help guide you in your redesign.
Of course, your personal analysis and the majority of the customer feedback may not completely agree at all times. When in doubt, remember that your customers are the ones who are using the site on a regular basis, and you want to retain them. The old saying, “The customer is always right,” was coined for a reason.
This tip may require a little more tweaking over time, but it’s definitely recommended if you want to keep your customers through your site redesign.
Stick To Your Branding
Visual redesign is a fun and exciting way to pep up your site, but there’s a definite warning that goes along with it: straying too far from your established branding can result in a cognitive disconnect in your customers. It could even make them back out of your site without really engaging, simply because they feel that they’ve come to the wrong site.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ever update your branding. Changing things up now and then keeps your brand fresh and exciting, and allows you to adapt the feeling, tone, and personality of your brand with your evolving company. But a too-different change, sprung without warning, can cause your visitors to drop off.
Make sure to include basic elements, such as your company logo in the top left corner, in order to reassure visitors that they’re in the right place.
Lower Page Load Times
One of the best ways to ensure that your visitors realize that you’re doing the redesign for their benefit is to optimize the entire page for better load times. This is especially important if you’re making drastic changes to the visual elements, especially if you’re including more images that might take longer to load.
A current customer might like how you redesigned the site, but be turned off if the new design inhibits their ability to navigate the site in a timely manner. Aim to make loading times better, rather than worse, with each new redesign.
Update Visual Elements And Styles
Styles come and go — it’s just a fact. It’s impossible to pick one site design and stick with it, year in and year out, without getting dated.
On the other hand, website design trends are somewhat “in the eye of the beholder.” Just because a certain trend is predicted to be big this coming year, doesn’t mean that you should automatically include it. Make sure to go back to your brand personality, and keep new designs on-message.
Again, straying too far from your established brand could turn existing customers away. Keep your redesign harmonious with your old design, making it a continuation of the old site rather than a complete reboot.
Announce Major Site Redesigns
At times, sites really need a drastic redesign. You might even need to throw out basically every element from the design of the past, in order to bring your site up to date and provide an optimized user experience.
If that’s the case, one of the suggested ways to avoid shedding customers over those big changes is to announce the site redesign ahead of time, and then acknowledge it for some time after. You can do this via social media, offering a countdown to the unveiling of the new site and using it as an opportunity to build anticipation and excitement. It’s definitely recommended that you include an acknowledgement on the site as well, just in case any customers have missed the announcement and are taken aback when they visit the site.
In case you want to hire a professional team to redesign you website, here is the “Top UX Agencies” list, based on DesignRush.