Your website is an incredibly important and powerful online tool. First off, it’s your business’s calling card. When someone arrives on your site, they way it looks will influence whether they stay or bounce out. Your brand is (at least it should be) well reflected in your website design. An outdated website creates a bad user-experience. Websites need to be fast, clean and well organized in order to convince your traffic that you are worth doing business with. We can all spot a website that hasn’t been updated since the late 90s (think scrolling banners, bad graphics, never ending pages of text, etc…), and your website at least needs to look current. Sometimes this means a major overhaul, and other times a few simple tweaks will suffice.
If you run an e-commerce site, you at least need to be routinely updating the site (even if that doesn’t mean doing a radical redesign). If you ran a spring special and are still promoting it in September, that doesn’t lend a lot of credibility to your site and doesn’t instill trust with your traffic. It makes you look like a lazy site owner who can’t be bothered to keep the information on their site accurate. Why should anyone trust their purchase to you?
You can make little tweaks to your site to keep it looking fresh and exciting without completely scrapping it. Think of the Google logo—it is constantly changing to reflect special occasions. It’s a simple change that makes for a new site design. Why not create a few versions of your logo and rotate them on your site to give it a new look? (Keep in mind that your brand still needs to be accurately reflected!)
One of the most important things to remember when redesigning your website is that you don’t want to take away from the goals of your website. Don’t let the messaging get overshadowed by your design! Design is very subjective. What one person likes another person may hate. You can’t please everyone, but you need to make sure every has all the information they need to convert, regardless of your design style.
If you are looking to do a major site redesign, I would recommend doing it in phases. If your site undergoes a dramatic change overnight, people might not realize that it’s still your site. When I redesigned this blog last year, my bounce rate went way up for the first few days. The site didn’t look like what people were expecting, so they thought they had arrived on the wrong site. You don’t want your traffic to leave because they think they’re in the wrong place. If you implement you changes over a longer period of time, you give your website visitors a chance to get used to the changes.