Back in 2005, you took your business online with the latest and most cutting edge eCommerce technologies. Now, almost half a decade later, your website is still chugging along, but that once shiny layer of digital paint is now showing signs of age.
Does this story sound familiar?
Standards, styles, and best practices on the web change at lightning speed, and although your website may still be completely functional, you may be warding off potential customers and clients unknowingly. Here are 5 questions you need to ask yourself to see if your website needs a redesign, pronto.
Question 1: In terms of speed, how fast is your website? Youâ€™ve worked hard to get your visitors to show up at your websiteâ€™s door â€“ donâ€™t put them to sleep with long load times. Numerous studies have been conducted and all of them have found the same result: Longer load times = less visitors = less business.
A study conducted by Akamai in 2006 found that if your website takes longer than four seconds to fully load, 33%, or one-third, of all visitors will abandon your site. Additionally, Amazon found that a 100ms increase in site load time would result in a 1% decrease in sales, while Google found that an increase of 500ms on load time would directly result in a drop in traffic and revenue by 20%.
Whatever numbers you go by, the one takeaway is that your website needs to load, fast. Try optimizing your website by compressing images for the web, aggregating and cleaning out your CSS, and removing old, unnecessary content to reduce HTTP requests. You can also try switching webhosts if loading issues persist.
Question 2: Does your website lack consistency? Although it may not seem like it, consistency in major elements on all pages of your site is a must. Elements like navigation, fonts and colors, URL format, and editorial style should show consistency throughout your website as it shows your professionalism and attention to detail when conducting business.
If your site is riddled with typos, mismatching font sizes, and non-loading images, not only will it impact the credibility of your website but can also negatively affect your search engine optimization strategy, which can result in lowered sales.
Sites like Yahoo!, eBay, and the BBC have hundreds if not thousands of pages online at any given time, yet almost all of those pages have a similar feel, design, and editorial style. Browse through, compare, and take notes, and see if your website maintains a solid level of consistency when compared to some major leaguers.
Question 3: Does your website scream sensory overload? Donâ€™t try to throw text, imagery, links, icons, buttons, ads, or whatever else at your visitor right off the bat. Information overload will prevent you from surfacing the most important information on your website while delivering a load of clutter your visitor will have to sift through. Youâ€™ll be shocked to see how quickly a set of eyes can glaze over. (Check out this info-mess here.)
Take a minute to review the different types of information hierarchies used today at webdesignfromscratch.com, and while youâ€™re at it, analyze how the information on your website is organized. Matching the contents of your website up with the right information architecture will not only produce more efficient visitors but will also produce more efficient shoppers as well.
Question 4: Does your website look old-school? Technologies arenâ€™t the only thing that evolve at a break-neck pace online â€“ styles do too. Whatever style was hot back in â€™05 probably isnâ€™t whatâ€™s hot right now. Hereâ€™s how Message Web Designs explains it:
Just like hairstyles, websites date. What was all the rage a couple of years ago is now seen as passÃ©â€¦ Sometimes this is down to design trends – like the 3D buttons and interfaces that were so popular a few years back when graphics tools made it easy to create bevel and emboss styles. Other times it’s because the web is maturing and web designers develop a better understanding of what visitors want. For instance, Flash intro pages were all the rage until web designers realised that users didn’t like them and wanted to get straight to the content. Flash introductions are the beehive hairdo of the web design world: dated, impractical and utterly pointless.
Question 5: Does your website render perfectly? And by perfectly, I mean perfectly, in all browsers on all operating systems, and on all platforms with no text overlapping and no extra scroll bars anywhere, etc. You absolutely do not want to degrade your customerâ€™s user experience based on their choice of browser, regardless of if itâ€™s Internet Explorer on Windows, Firefox on Mac, or even Safari on iPhone.
You donâ€™t need to install every browser and operating system ever created to test out browser compatibility. Check out 9 Tools For Multi-Browser Web Development to take a quick snapshot of how your website may look through another userâ€™s shoes â€“ you might be shocked at the results.
So, how’d your website do? If you need to revamp your website, don’t fret. Whether it’s a minor facelift or major reconstruction job, there are tens of thousands of web designers and programmers available on Elance for a redesign of any size.