For a web designer, redesigning an existing website can be an exciting as well as a challenging task. It’s challenging because you have to create a new design while retaining the already established brand and content. You have to restrain yourself from overdoing things that can affect the brand. This is not the case while you design a new website starting with a blank canvas.

For me redesigning a website is far more difficult than designing one from the scratch, but it is also motivating as well. Today i will be discussing why and when one should consider redesigning his or her website, and will try to explain with examples how we can do it without affecting the established brand and content.

What Should be the Goal of Redesigning a Website

The goal behind the redesigning of a website should be clear. You should not redesign your website just because you have just found out that blue is your favourite colour not the website’s green or because you are bored with the current design. It should be redesigned to impact your business. Remember your goals, that are to attract more visitors, generate more leads and get more sales. Your redesign efforts should be focused on achieving and improving these goals. Once you have clarity about your goals you will spend less time worrying about the colors of your website and more about improving your marketing results.

There will always be a cost attached to the redesigning of your website, so you should have valid reasons for such a spending. Here are a few reasons why you should consider redesigning your website

  • The website is too old, created using outdated web design practices that are negatively effecting the user experience.
  • The current website is not user-friendly.
  • The website is too slow and a redesign can increase its speed and performance.
  • You can increase the user traffic to the website and increase the site’s profit through redesign.
  • There is clearly something wrong with the current design of your website. This can be checked by gathering objective information about your website e.g by data analysis.
  • You can increase the user experience by adopting new features that the current website lacks.

Find and Protect Your Assets

Many times redesigning has a negative impact on the marketing results of a website. The reason behind this is the lack of understanding on part of the web designer and the web owner about the current assets that a website has. These assets have taken years to build up and they assist your prospects in finding your website and help you in turning them into customers. They can be anything from great content, inbound links to individual pages, keywords your website rank for and conversion tools. It’s your job to find them and protect them by conveying them to your web designer. Keep in mind in most of the cases a great web designer is not a marketing expert, so it’s your job to guide him in this regard.

Decide on Whether to go for a Complete Redesign or a Partial One

Once you have found out the issue that is hampering the performance of your website, ask yourself can this issue be solved by realigning or redesigning a few parts of the site or do you require a complete redesign. I recommend that you take the advice of a good web designer or marketing expert for this.

A complete redesign will take a lot more time and will cost you a lot more, so you should consider partial redesign if it can solve the issues faced by your website. For example if you think that your Call to Action button is not properly designed or placed then you can ask your designer to concentrate on this part of your website. Similarly if the form of your website is affecting the user experience then your designer can focus to improve it.

Examples of Good Redesign

Here are a few real world examples of rightly redesigned websites. One thing to notice in nearly all of them is that the designer has paid special attention towards maintaining the established brand identity during the redesign process.

Plaxo
Old

New

One thing that is common in both the older and the newer design of Plaxo is the simplicity. The improvements in the newer design includes the better placed and designed Call to Action which provides the user with a clear guideline to what he is supposed to do next. The newer design also includes a video tour of the website.

Smashing Magazine
Old

New

The newer design of Smashing magazine has a long horizontal navigation with all the categories for which one can find the articles for on the website. The new background, font selection and a larger search bar gives it a much more modern outlook.

5th Column Digital Design
Old

New

The older design for this freelance web design business was creative but yet quite basic in its look and feel. With the redesign it has a much more suitable navigation and a clean design. The inclusion of the slider in the header and the option of login is enhancing the user experience of the new design.

Example of Bad Redesign

Here are some of the examples of redesign gone bad.
Clay Ant Creative
Old

New

As you can see the old design was a lot more attractive and had a good structure and well placed navigation as compared to the new one. Yes the new design looks a lot more creative but its entirely different to the old design, which means it has lost the brand identity.

Hicks Design
Old

New

In this case the older design was much more clean and user friendly. The newer design with a longer homepage is not as user friendly because the user will find it difficult to scroll that much. The older design had all the necessary features, navigation, introduction and contact information. The portfolio was also showcased in a gorgeous manner, so there was no obvious need for a redesign of this website.