4 Ways the Traditional Website Redesign Process Hurts You & What to Do About It

We have all had that feeling. “Ugh, my website really sucks.” It could be because you got tired of the way it looks or it is under-performing. Maybe the CMS you are on finally frustrated you enough to scrap the whole thing. It is time for a website redesign.

You are not alone. Most businesses go through a website redesign once every 3-5 years and it is a good thing. Strategies change, tastes change, technology changes. All of this and more has an effect on how you and your users feel about your website.

Before jumping into a website redesign and calling your favourite designers, there are some things you should know. Almost every redesign project faces obstacles, and in website redesign, almost every project will face most of the following:

Your Website Redesign Process Doesn’t Include Your Target Audience

Websites are often about what you want. You want it to look a certain way and that’s what it’s going to be! Usually, your target audience doesn’t get a say in what is necessary or good even though they are the ones that look at it every day. Often we forget about why we have a website to begin with and double down on what we perceive to be cool or trendy. Our websites don’t need to be cool or trendy, they need to market your business, get leads, and provide great customer experiences.

Have you asked what your current users would like from the new website? If you don’t take their needs into consideration you risk losing their business. I want you to think of a website you interact with on a frequent basis. Now, what if tomorrow you went to that website and everything was completely different? And worse yet, the problems you had with their old website are still there!

Think carefully about your website redesign from the point of view of your current clients. Even if you have a business where clients don’t need to visit your site often, your clients liked what they saw. Whatever is currently working on your website worked for them and you don’t want to lose that.

Talk to them and find out what works and what doesn’t. You don’t want your brand new website to turn away potential clients because you scrapped the good things with the bad. This can be difficult when what you want to do is not what they want to do. But if you want a performing website, you need to cater to your target audience.      

Website Redesigns Don’t Have
a Positive ROI

I am sorry to tell you this, but you will probably lose money. Unless you are reworking your website for fundamental tech or product reasons, a new look is probably not going to boost your profit as much as you think. Good design and development cost a lot of money upfront and, while it is a worthwhile investment, a website redesign is very unlikely to suddenly save your business.

However, if you get a constant stream of visitors on a weekly basis, there are things you can do during the website redesign process that will make it more likely to affect ROI. As I said, this is barring any fundamental changes to the technology or your product. If you have to change your website because you have to, then you don’t have a choice.

Focus on your copy, layout, and make sure the website follows marketing practices. Envision your website as a road towards the goals you want visitors to complete. How do you rate the performance of your website, anyway?  

Whatever performance metrics you want to focus on you want to make sure the new website is all about getting those numbers up. If your goal is attracting leads, make sure you got some nice lead magnets (free downloads, worksheets etc) for them all over the site. If you are looking for more customers directly through your site, make sure the site communicates clearly the strength of your product and makes it easy for people to purchase. Simpler is always better.

But, you will still probably never make that money back.

It Will Take Forever

Think about how long you want to spend on the redesign process, and then double it. That will be the most realistic number of when the project will be completed. Any project has a really hard time meeting the set deadline. There are just too many things that can go wrong.

You could forget to provide copy for certain pages. Maybe sourcing that perfect image for the “Team” page took a whole afternoon rather than the fifteen minutes you had planned it to. But it looks great! Maybe the CMS bugged out or your host decided to crap itself.

You can’t plan for most of these things and you shouldn’t worry about them either. Because you doubled the planned time it would take. Even then, you were ready for it to go on for even longer and everything is cool. Around 7 months, though, you start to worry.

The problem isn’t so much that it can take a long time. It’s seeing your old website still online for the whole process that will bother you. The issue here is that traditional web redesign usually works by designing and building everything separately and then launching everything at once. And sometimes those delays can be a huge problem.

The inflexible nature of web redesign projects can extend the deadlines much longer as designers and developers struggle to keep up with changes. In the worst case, when the new site is launched it might be too late in addressing any of the problems that it was supposed to address. Instead, you have a slew of other problems, new problems, and it is back to the drawing board for the next website design. Which we will start on next week, of course.

It’s Done When It Launches

Finally, the new site is complete and is about to launch! You were diligent and professional and most of the deadlines were met. All in all, it was a successful project. You send the designers and developers home with high-fives and then sit with a cigar and a tumbler of whiskey, looking at analytics. Anytime now those numbers are going to up as people bask in the glory of your functional and amazing looking website.

Except they don’t.

The awesome lead generating form that is supposed to pop up only shows its face half the time. You click around your website and you have ten other ideas of how to make it better. In your inbox, you see emails that confirm what you are thinking. You start to stress. The cigar is unlit but still in your mouth – long forgotten. On the notepad next to you are fifteen things you would change about your website right now.

Yep. This happens. Traditional web design is all about getting the site done and up and then it’s finished. Except for your website to be truly amazing and your number one marketer, you absolutely can’t do that. Your website should be a living, breathing thing. It should be ready to change at any time to better serve your clients, visitors, and business.

How to Avoid These Obstacles

There’s a different web redesign process in town and it’s called GDD. It stands for Growth Driven Design and it attempts to solve the biggest problems that come with the traditional web design process.

In short, GDD treats your website like a living thing, constantly changing it based on feedback and data to eventually optimize everything. In GDD, we also start small with a basic but fully functional and good looking website and then add to it on a monthly basis based on what changes will have the highest impact. Because the workload is spread out over many months rather than set at the beginning, the upfront costs are lower. Additionally, because it is a data-driven approach, you will be able to tell if the website redesign is improving the bottom line.

Growth Driven Design is, we believe, the future for serious online businesses. It removes the inflexibility of traditional web design, provides ROI, starts at a lower upfront cost, and the process is designed to meet all deadlines. If you would rather do a traditional redesign of your web page, we can do that to. But I can’t promise we will finish on time, stay within budget, or that you will like it after. Not our fault, just the process.