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Restyling a website: how and when to do it

Published by in Web design ·
You already have a website: it's been live for a few years, and you're generally satisfied with it ... are you really?

Because on second thought, it's not quite as beautiful as the one you saw the other day and you liked so much. Most of all, you could emphasize the forms a little more to get more subscriptions, and maybe replace product photos to increase its sales.

Basically, there are some things that could be updated after all. Maybe now’s the time to think about restyling your website.

When to restyle your website

Do you like tests? Then think about your website and try to answer these questions.

[Don't worry: it won't take much time and you could be rewarded with some very interesting discoveries. ]

Let’s start.

  1. Look at your Home Page as if you've never seen it before: do you still like it?
  2. Carefully read again the text on all your pages: is the information still correct and current?
  3. Think of a piece of information a user might search for on your website: is the path to find it easy and intuitive?
  4. Open your website on your smartphone and try to navigate it: does everything work properly?
  5. Think of your website goals: sales, collecting contacts, introducing yourself... Is your site effective?

If you answered “Yes” to every answer, and you were sincere and objective: congratulations! Your website is perfect: keep it updated and it will bring you great satisfaction.

If, on the other hand, you answered “No,” or your “Yes” was strained and half-hearted for most of these questions, that means the time has come: your website needs to be restyled.

How to restyle your website

I know. Just hearing “I need to re-do my website” strikes fear in the hearts of many. Excuses pile up, it takes too long or costs too much or I’d rather believe that my site can keep working the way it is: but if I don’t improve myself I’ll just miss out on things.

Restyling a website doesn’t have to be as hard as you imagine: as usual, all you need is a plan and the right tools.

So here are 8 tips to make sure restyling your website doesn't turn into a disaster in terms of time, money, and results.

Analyze the competition

We don't mean copy them, but understand what they're doing, how they're doing it, and what you can do differently, possibly adding value for users.

Search engines have strict rules and users are creatures of habit: understanding which of your competitors are ranked highly by Google and by users and seeing how their websites are set up will give you lots of interesting insights to reflect on, which you might add into your own site.  

Analyze your target audience

In the end, your site needs to please your users, not you. If you know what they value, but especially what their problems are and which ones you could solve, you’ve hit the jackpot!

This information can reveal what you should communicate and how: your message is much more convincing if you tell your users about the advantages you offer rather than just describing your products/services.

Evaluate the potential of your old website

Don't get ahead of yourself: we're not saying you should toss or change everything about your old website. If there are pages that “work” because they receive a lot of traffic or because they convert - meaning they lead users to do what you want them to do: sign up, purchase, etc. - think carefully about whether it’s worth changing them. Maybe all they need is a touch up to align them with the new design.

Google Analytics can help you: if you set it up correctly, parameters like the number of visits, bounce rates, and targets can help you tell the difference between the pages you should keep and those you can delete.   

Work on the structure

A good structure is essential for your website’s success: first of all, because it impacts user experience; second, because it has a positive influence on how search engines rank you.

Remember that if you can structure your pages right, not only will users find the information they're looking for without getting lost, but you’ll also be able to direct them where you want them to go: towards CTAs (Call to Action, meaning the buttons/links) that lead to conversions.

Develop your new design

Sure, it's your website, but you’re not the only one who needs to like it: above all, your users should like it. Another important thing: your website can be trendy, but it should especially be functional. So consider design, but only as long as it doesn’t interfere with reaching the goals you've set yourself.

With that in mind, here are some hints to keep in mind when developing your site’s design:
  • Introducing yourself
    When landing on your page, users should immediately understand who you are, what you do, for whom, and why. You only have a few seconds to grab users’ attention before they escape to other sites.
  • Top of the page
    That’s what users see immediately as soon as they land on your page. Make it appealing to convince people to keep reading the page. Here, more than anywhere else, the titles and high-quality images, are important.
  • Images
    It’s pretty obvious, but images are very important when you restyle a website.People see them first, and react in a split-second: “I like this” or “I don't like this”.
    You need high-quality images that are consistent with your brand, which can tell a story or evoke emotions.
  • Font
    Often underestimated, the choice of font is actually very important because it helps define your website’s graphic layout and it determines how legible your content is.
    Lately there’s been a lot of emphasis on typography. Don’t try to be overly original: you can be daring with some text, but overall you should focus on fonts, sizes, and colorways that are easy to read.
  • CTA
    As we said above: CTAs are literally the interactive parts of the site. That means buttons with text like: “Purchase”, “Register”, “Follow us on Facebook”, etc.
    If you build your pages right, the CTAs will be what guides your visitors’ attention. To create a good button, you don't need to be shy or original: people should immediately recognize the button, understand what it's asking them to do, and hopefully click on it to do so.

Write the content

Your old content probably can't be carried over untouched: some things are bound to have changed over the years.
Restyling the site is a good opportunity to update the content. If you can, don't limit yourself to updating information: re-work the quality of the text too. Good web copy should satisfy both readers and Google: meaning it should be correct, fluid, and persuasive, but also well-structured and optimized for SEO rules.    

Make your website responsive

Do I still need to explain how important it is for a website to display correctly and be easy to navigate on both desktops and smartphones? I doubt it, after all we all expect them to do so now.

If your site isn't responsive yet, it’s the right time to think about it. Like good texts and beautiful images, both people and search engines alike appreciate mobile-friendly pages. So why discount this?    

Set up 301 Redirects

Update some pages, eliminate those that don't work, add pages with new content: that’s how restyling works.

But the pages you remove can't just disappear: these pages, have earned a certain value in time for search engines, and you absolutely don't want to lose this value. The solution is to use 301 Redirects.

301 Redirect is the command that you give your website’s host server, so that anybody who types in the address of an old page is automatically redirected to a new page, ideally one that’s relevant to the same topic. This means you can avoid generating 404 Errors (Page not found), Google is happy, and you don't lose organic traffic.

Conclusion

My boss says it best: “Standing still means losing out”. It’s true: especially online, where everything changes from one day to the next, spurred by innovation and constantly evolving trends.

It’s clear that a website can’t remain the same forever: it needs to evolve and adapt to changes, not only according to the identity and goals it represents, but also to demands and expectations of its target audience.

In other words, don’t perceive restyling your website as an obstacle to overcome, but rather as an opportunity to stop and reflect, take stock, and set off again with renewed energy.


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