In this day and age, a website is integral to a company’s success and just about everyone already has some type of web presence. More often than not, we are redesigning existing sites for our clients. Of course we get work from companies that are rebranding, merging, or funded startups where we do get a clean slate, but more than half our work is a web redesign. So we have experience in making the improvement a sensible, empowering and motivating leap forward. In some cases this involves dynamic functionality as well as the visual change but for this post we will be focusing more on the visual (the dynamic nature of a site is almost always unique, but when we discuss the look, we can apply that philosophy across any project).
Much like the approach to a design from scratch, we focus our efforts on the following pieces of the puzzle to recognize business value form web redesign projects. The difference is that we will take into consideration improvements in these specific areas:
- Visual Aesthetic
- Usability – Navigation & Site Architecture
Visual Aesthetics in a Web Redesign Project
The visual look of a web site says A LOT. The first impression is always vital and more often than none, it will stick with the visitor for as long as they hear your name. Think about brands you know and what comes to mind. Imagery? Color? Pepsi=Blue. Coke=Red. Colors act as an identifier but we need to take it to the next level. Choosing the right colors for the right feeling is important as well as keeping in line with the brand itself. Overall creating the right aesthetic alignment is vital to representing the company in their market and for their audience. Overall, resonating with them to generate a memorable experience is key. All that being said, when we think about a redesign, we have a chance to make another significant impression. It will still be a first impression for some, but it will be the second for others and thats a great opportunity to renew their understanding of who you are or further impress them. Interesting how that works huh? Welcome to the ever-changing world of the web.
We should also address trends and modernism in design. Its not always great to jump on the bandwagon in design since most of the time trends eventually feel dated, but since the web changes so fast we can often pull it off. I would never recommend creating a look that someone else has or just adopting the styles that every other designer does. I believe in delivering unique solutions to clients. But there is always stylistic treatments that communicate awareness of modern design to an audience. Everything from the choice of typeface, to color palette, to the use of a grid. So modernizing your site so its in tune with the latest styles of design can be important for your image. It will ultimately help with positioning your company or brand as being progressive.
The Potential Business Value
Usability – Navigation & Architecture in Web Redesign
One of the most important considerations for any site is usability. Allowing visitors to get where they need to in the fastest way possible is vital. This does not mean putting links everywhere on everypage with large flashing buttons. What it does mean is that you should design with intuition. Make sensible decisions about the organization and use the aesthetic to create hierarchy and pace to the visit. This is where visual design and navigation should be woven seemlessly together. Be aware that information overload is frustrating and scary for visitors. You have about 5 seconds before you lose them if they are new visitors so navigation should be found easily and understood easily. The most effective navigation is always a mix of both what vistors are used to and what makes sense in your design.
Redesign is an opportunity to improve this area. These things can almost always be improved. As you get to know your business more, or if your business changes, the structure of the site architecture can change. You should also take the time to assess the traffic and statistics for your site to see which pages were most visited or the paths chosen to get to a certain page and take that into consideration when re-evaluating your information architecture.
The Potential Business Value
Functionality & Web Redesign Projects
Functionality, while often relative to the type of project, can be crucial in a redesign. This is the chance to make your site a tool for your business. Obviously there are many ways to improve functionality, but the first step is to asses what you really need your site to do for you. (thats a whole other discussion for another day… coming soon!) Social networking and other forms of social media may be on the agenda for your company but for the sake of touching on something that we think everyone can benefit from we will talk about the step toward content management and applications.
Using a CMS (content management system) to manage content has become common practice for many. Whether its a custom system with bells and whistles created specifically to handle exactly what you need, if its a basic system sold out of the box, or a free open source publication tool like WordPress or Moveable Type with a CMS plugin, just about everyone can benefit from a CMS. With the options that exist right now, you can find a system thats most appropriate and/or cost effective for your company. A discussion about what your site needs to do for your business will get you started in choosing the right type of system.
Applications are another consideration for your site. Do you need users to interact with your site? Does there need to be an exchange of information? Do you need to process information that you collect from visitors or even your own employees? These are questions that require very specific answers with specific solutions. Technology has advanced to a point where many previously offline processes can be managed over the web and taking advantage of those changes can be incredibly beneficial. Things we couldn’t do yesteryear are now possible…. All your dreams will come true now. Where have you been? ; )
The Potential Values
Content’s Impact on Redesign Projects
The last value offered in a redesign is the opportunity to revise site wide content. Most likely your business has changed over the last few years. A redesign is an opportunity to refresh your identity, and assess whether or not the content you are providing is important and worthwhile to your audience. Make sure your content is speaking in the tone that reflects who you are. You could change this anytime you like but it has more of an impact if its done in conjunction with a visual change. But its not just about identity and perception on the web,
its also writing your content with SEO (search engine optimization) in mind. This is a strategic process that should be given attention on an ongoing basis.
The Potential Business Value
Conclusions About the Business Value of a Web Redesign Project
A redesign can impact your business in whatever way you choose. It can be with a refreshed professional look, manageable content, enhanced functionality… or idealistically, all of the above together. It can also be used to motivate and unify your employees, strengthening your brand internally as well as externally. The beauty of the web is that its ever-changing. Take advantage of the latest technologies to better empower your business. Audiences are becoming more accessible everyday as we depend more and more on the internet in today’s world. A redesign is an opportunity to make your site a more powerful means of communication with your audience. You should always be evaluating your site’s role in reaching your business goals. The question to always ask yourself is: Am I effectively using my site to connect with my audience in ways that will contribute to the growth of my business?