Website Design – How and Why?

2 Questions You Should Ask Yourself About Your Website

In this post, I will answer two important questions that I’m often asked by business owners and managers. How often should we redesign our website?…and…How should we approach our website redesign?

Question #1: How often should we redesign our website?

There is no absolute right or wrong answer to this question. Due to the constantly changing web technologies and the majority of small business websites that I encounter, my conventional wisdom would say every 2 to 3 years. However, each small business website is uniquely different. I’m a strong believer in timeless and simplistic web design. If a website was strategically conceived with the user (customer) in mind, then it will have a longer shelf life. If it utilizes time-tested graphic design best-practices such as appropriate use of white space, color, typography, graphics, etc…then it becomes “timeless”, and may not require an “extreme makeover” for several years.

One of the best examples of this is Khoi Vinh’s famous website, Subtraction.com. Khoi is the former design director at NYTimes.com and by all accounts, a pioneer in terms of user experience design. He designed the Subtraction.com user interface nearly a decade ago, but it still looks modern according to today’s standards. His user interface is timeless and simplistic. It masterfully utilizes white space, color, typography, and graphics in a way that makes a ton of information scannable and pleasing to the eye.

Timeless design is the first aspect to consider, because people are visual. More importantly, no matter how timeless a website design may be, small business owners and managers should also think in terms of their website’s performance. This will require an in-depth understanding of its user-friendliness, functionality and analytics. I have previously written about the importance of having a shift in paradigm thinking, to longer think of your small business website as merely a “website”….. but to think of it as your “eBusiness”. This is vital to online success.  When you acquire an intimate understanding of how your customers perceive and interact with your website, it propels you into the realm of eBusiness management. This intelligence will empower you to answer ‘question #1’ for yourself, with absolute certainty.

Question #2: How should we approach our website redesign?

This is truly a great question. The process that I recommend is a four phase approach.

The first phase is the “planning phase”. During this phase, you should conduct all the necessary project research. This includes studying your website analytics and existing web pages to ascertain what worked well and what did not work well. It also includes studying your competitors websites. I recommend having creative brainstorming sessions to identify designs elements that you think will be advantageous to your new website. Finally, you need to determine what outsource required to create the new website such as a photographer, videographer, copywriter, digital marketing consultant, developers, designers, etc.

The second phase is the “design & development phase”. During this phase, your project team will begin by wireframing your new website. Once the wireframes have been approved, the web designers, copywriters, and developers will be creating your new website simultaneously.

The third phase is the “usability testing phase”. During this phase, every page of your website is rigorously tested for usability and quality assurance. This includes internal and external testers.

The fourth phase is the “launch phase”. There is no better time to create a huge buzz and drive a lot of traffic to a website, than when you launch a new website. The launch of a website should be like the grand opening of a new brick-and-mortar business. You should use everything in your digital marketing tool belt to drive awareness, traffic and sales during your launch.

All the best,

Anthony

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