The E-Commerce Column

How Do You Know Your Site Needs to Be Redesigned?

E-Commerce website on a closing laptop screen

If you’ve been mulling over a possible redesign, you may be asking yourself, “does my site really even need it?”

After all, it’s not like you get a little alert or prompt telling you that your site could use a bit more than a fresh coat of paint. What you need is something more – a convenient checklist that you can look at and know when it’s time to redesign. Fortunately, we’ve created one just for you. Go ahead and print it out, then load up your website and ask yourself:

Is It Responsive?

This is the big question, and it has more than just an impact on your site. It can even affect your search engine rankings. Mobile responsive means that your site looks and loads equally well on a computer as it does on a smartphone or tablet. In other words, it’s “responsive” to whichever device is being used. Google looks at mobile responsiveness as one of many big ranking factors.

Customer shopping on a mobile phone

A word of warning: don’t just opt for “mobile friendly” or “mobile compatible” as this can mean that the design is compatible with current devices, but may not look good on future tablets or mobile phones.

Does it Have Features That Aren’t Used Anymore?

A lot can happen as a site grows and changes. Features that used to be prominent on the site can fall by the wayside. Examples may include older social networks (Pownce, anyone?) or even old integrations of social network features that no longer work (remember Facebook fan boxes?)

Wordpress sites in particular can be problematic, especially with older plugins that haven’t been updated in a while and may even be considered a security risk because of their older code. Redesigning and cleaning up a site gets ride of this old code, old features and other unused components so that they won’t drag down the site’s speed or cause potential security problems.

Which brings us to another point…

Does it Load Slowly?

Outdated plugins, old scripts and just plain big images can take a toll on your site’s loading time. And the slower it takes a site to load, the more visitors will simply give up and go elsewhere. A slow loading site has a major impact on your site’s conversion rate (or lack of it), and sometimes, it’s better to simply start over than try to go through all of the scripts and heavy images with a fine-tooth comb! If your site is loading slow on your desktop or laptop computer, you can bet it's painfully slow for users on their mobile devices.

Are Visitors Going Back the Homepage? Are They Coming to the Site at All?

And speaking of slow loading sites, you can tell a lot about a site if you look at the analytics behind it. Take a look at the bounce rate in particular. That’s the number of visitors who come to your page but leave without visiting any other pages. There is no “normal” bounce rate number since different industries, products and offers all affect that number.

Reviewing analtyic reports

But if yours is abnormally high, it means that visitors simply aren’t finding what they want beyond the home page. They could even be leaving before the page finishes loading. First, ask yourself if there’s a disconnect between what you offer and the people you’re getting to your site. A high bounce rate can be a symptom of yet another diagnoses – your site needs help, and fast.

By the same token, look at your traffic over time – over years if you can. Are you noticing a steady drop off as less and less people come to your pages? Maybe your market hasn’t changed, but people have. A redesign is not only a way to freshen up your pages and encourage more visits, but also should take into account new trends and best practices that help people find what they’re looking for faster and easier than before.

What Does the Copyright Notice Say in Your Footer?

This is a small thing, but nevertheless it can have a big impact. Take a look at the very bottom of your pages. What does the copyright notice say? If it’s something like 2013 (or worse, 2008), it’s definitely time for a redesign. Customers and visitors will see this number and immediately think that the site hasn’t been updated since then – which means it’s old, stale and out of date. They’ll then carry that impression over to the rest of your business, your services or your product itself – and that’s definitely not the impression you want them to have.

As you can see, there are a lot of issues that can point to making a redesign a priority. Thankfully, with the right team and the right experience, you can have a site that’s fast-loading, mobile responsive and connects with customers the way it should!

About the Author

Will StrohlWill Strohl

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