4 Clear Signs Your Website Needs a Redesign
ADRIENNE WOLTER | 5 AUG 2015
Like it or not, the first impression of your business that your web visitors get is going to come straight from the design of your website.
Are you giving a good impression, or leaving your visitors with a bad one? How can you even tell?
If you are trying to decide whether or not to redesign your website, the first question that may come to mind is whether or not your site looks “modern” enough.
This may be an important concern, but in and of itself it is often not a good enough gauge of whether you need to redesign.
Trends come and go, and what looks super modern right now might look really tacky in just a year or two. Plus, these modern designs are uncharted territory – they might not even engage your visitors as much as you’d hope they do.
So looking modern for the sake of looking modern is out. What next?
Well, here are four clear signs that your site needs a redesign, with the proof to back them up.
1. It Doesn’t Appeal to Your Target Audience
If your website does not appeal to your target audience, you aren’t going to sell anything.
It’s harsh, but it’s true. Your visitors are making snap judgments about your website from the moment it loads (and usually sooner, as you’ll see later).
One study found that users form an opinion of a website in as little as 50 milliseconds (one twentieth of a second). If that initial impression is favorable, they’re more likely to stay around; according to Gitte Lindgaard, the author of that study, that’s because of cognitive bias.
If their initial impression is a good one, they want to keep looking to prove to themselves that they made a good judgment, and they are less likely to see minor faults in the underlying content.
If your website is appealing to your target audience, you’ve already won half the battle.
Last year, FontShop underwent a redesign. It was unique among redesigns because they initially released the new design in an incomplete state. According to FontShop’s project manager, Ivo Gabrowitsch, this was so that they could elicit user feedback on the new design.
As it turned out, feedback was enormously positive, and they used what constructive criticism there was to come up with a user-approved and far more user-friendly design.
If your visitors’ initial impression of your website is bad, well, they probably won’t stick around to see if the content makes up for it.
If your website doesn’t appeal to your target audience, you need a redesign.
2. It Doesn’t Have a Strong Enough Call to Action
Your website needs to have a goal, and you need to be guiding your visitors to it. Strengthening your call-to-action (CTA) is one of the easiest ways to decrease your bounce rate.
In some cases, people will find what they need and still bounce, and that’s okay. Blogs have notoriously high bounce rates (at least, ones that show full posts on the main page). If you have a brick and mortar store and your visitors go to your website to find your hours, find them right on your homepage, and leave, that’s not a bad bounce.
But the same is not true if you own an eCommerce site. If you are selling something, you absolutely don’t want your visitors to bounce. You want them to stay a while, look around, and eventually check out.
Popular eCommerce websites swap out CTAs all the time, and they have pinpointed the exact words, phrases, and offers that excite their audience.
For example, Target.com prioritizes their shipping deal, since much of their audience could otherwise opt to just shop in-store instead:
Dating sites are great places to find strong copy, too. Look how simple and effective the OkCupid homepage is:
Does your homepage make it this clear where you want your visitors to go? Are you guiding them to where the great deals are, or giving them a clear path of where to go next?
If not, you need a redesign.
3. It’s Slow
Few things will send away more visitors than a website that doesn’t load fast enough.
Exactly how fast is “fast enough?” According to KissMetrics, half of people on the web expect websites to load in under two seconds, and many will abandon a site if it doesn’t load in three.
Yet, the average website takes about seven seconds to load on a desktop and over ten on mobile. If that’s not compelling enough for you, consider this: Amazon found that for them, a 100-millisecond decrease in load time translated into a 1% increase in revenue.
Midway through June, Instagram rolled out brand new profile and hashtag pages that are markedly faster than previously. The desktop design now closely mirrors the smartphone apps, with a stark white background and all the attention on the photos. According to a speed test, the profile for Starbucks loads in just 1.78 seconds.
Here are a few quick ways you can usually speed up an existing website:
- Optimize your images to make the filesizes smaller
- Externally link your CSS so that the files only have to load one time
- If you’re running WordPress, use a plugin to cache your pages so they don’t need to dynamically generate over and over
If those things won’t work, and your website takes well over 2 or 3 seconds to load, you need a redesign.
4. It’s Not Mobile-Friendly
If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you are basically doing the same thing. Only you’re doing it to people who are most likely on the move and don’t have a desktop nearby to hop onto.
More people than ever are accessing the web on their mobile devices. At the start of 2014, mobile internet use overtook desktop internet use for the first time in the United States.
According to data from Shopify, 50.3% of all eCommerce traffic in 2014 came from mobile devices, and although total sales from desktops are still higher, the growth in mobile sales is outpacing desktop sales 3 to 1.
If that’s still not enough to convince you, maybe this is. Back in April of this year, in a move many people around the web called “Mobilegeddon,” Google began taking mobile-friendliness into account as a ranking symbol.
That means, if your site does not work or is hard to read or navigate on mobile, Google might not show it as high up in the search results for people searching on mobile. It makes sense – why would they want to serve up their users hard to read webpages?
It took until spring of this year, but ESPN finally redid their website so it works well on mobile devices. This is pretty important when you get 2.3 million visits per hour. While the redesign has been met with heavy criticism for being too busy, the responsive design does finally give their users a consistent experience across all kinds of devices.
Mobile internet browsing isn’t going to go away. Your users are going to want to visit your site on their devices. Will you be ready for them?
If your website presents a poor user experience on mobile, you need a redesign.
There are lots of reasons to redesign an aging website, but these four present the greatest need.
If your site doesn’t appeal to your target audience, has a weak (or nonexistent) CTA, is painfully slow, or doesn’t work on mobile, don’t wait: it’s time to redesign. Your visitors (and your bottom line) will thank you!