Website refresh or redesign:

Is it time for a spring clean?

Website refresh or redesign:

In a lot of cases, your website is the very first impression people get of your brand. It's a key arm of your marketing strategy, and vital for a successful online presence. So it needs to do some serious heavy lifting to make a good impression.

Websites that are slow to load, don’t work on mobile, riddled with broken links and just generally look outdated can do more harm to your reputation than not having a website at all. 

Of course, regularly updating a website should be standard anyway to make sure your SEO is in good shape. 

But from time to time, you might also need a refresh of your website. Like your home, it needs regular organising to make sure it stays welcoming for visitors.  

And there’ll also come a point where you need a full website redesign. Think of this as more of a deep spring clean to show your business in its best possible light. 

In this article, we’ll look at the differences between a refresh and a redesign, and we’ll consider how to choose which is right for you and look at some clear signs you’re due a full spring clean. 

Website redesign VS website refresh

In the industry, some use the terms 'website refresh' and 'website redesign' interchangeably. But in reality, they're quite different when it comes to updating a website. Let's take a look...

Website Refresh

When we talk about a website refresh, we’re referring to minor changes. Those that improve user experience (UX) and your website’s general functionality. 

So, we’re talking:

Content updates

  • New imagery
  • Updated video content
  • Rewritten web copy

Minor look and feel enhancements

  • Changes to button placement and size
  • Changing the positioning of imagery, headings and other elements
  • Altering backgrounds and general decluttering

UX improvements

  • Menu navigation changes
  • Fixing broken links
  • Adding more internal links

Website Redesign

On the other hand, a website redesign is much more involved. A redesign is for when you want to go beyond a general refresh and change the entire look and feel of your website. 

Website redesigns offer:

  • Layout overhaul
  • Reworking content and messaging structure
  • Usability and accessibility improvements
  • New design and aesthetics

All to improve your website’s performance and functionality.

How do I know which is right for me?

A lot of things will influence whether you choose to go for a website refresh or a full redesign. To make this decision easier, you should start by examining your business goals. Consider what you want your website to do for you.

You should also take a close look at your analytics. Do a full audit of your website’s overall performance. Look at loading times, responsiveness and user navigation paths. That way, you’ll be able to identify where your current problems lie. And you can decide whether a website redesign might be the way to go. 

Things to consider

Your business goals

Look at your business goals.

  • Where do you see your business going?
  • Will your website – in its current state – help you get there?
  • Does it reflect your values and support your objectives? If not, it might be time for a full redesign.

Your timescales

Got a launch coming up? Want your website to look slick in time for that annual conference?

If you’re really up against it time-wise, you might need to go for a refresh. You can always revisit and invest in a website redesign once you have more time. 

Your budget

As a website redesign is much more in-depth, you’ll need a bigger budget than you would for a refresh. It might be tempting to opt for a website refresh for this reason.

But beware of cutting corners if your website is no longer serving your business goals. Simply updating a website might not get you where you need to be. 

Remember this: Marketing – and that includes your website – is something you need to allocate proper investment to. That’s if you want to grow and reach your goals.

Your audience

Does your website currently meet your visitors’ needs? If you don’t know the answer to this, you could always take the time to do some testing.

There are fairly low-cost user testing tools and services you could look into to help you find out. If it turns out that the answer is yes, you might only need some small tweaks.

In that case, a website refresh could be all you need. But if the answer is no, it’s probably time for a redesign. 

Timeframes

Website refresh: Can be done in stages

Website redesign: Could take weeks or months

Site age

Website refresh: Best for websites under three years old, that operate well

Website redesign: Best for websites over five years old

Investment

Website refresh: Low cost

Website redesign: Can be expensive

Functionality

Website refresh: Doesn’t affect the site’s functionality

Website redesign: Might need a full content management system (CMS) overhaul

Analytics

Website refresh: Best for websites with a low bounce rate

Website redesign: Best for websites with a high bounce rate

Overall

Website refresh: Easy to implement quickly, with a smaller time and budget commitment

Website redesign: A more involved and in-depth project. But offers more profound and lasting improvements.

Signs that your website is due a redesign

So, other than considering your time and budget, how do you decide whether you need a light touch or a deeper spring clean?

Your site doesn’t work on mobile

If your website isn’t mobile responsive, it means it doesn’t adjust its layout for the device you’re using to view it.

Since a sizeable chunk of your visitors will be visiting from a mobile or tablet, you need to be aware of this. Make sure your website adjusts its layout to fit different screen sizes. 

What this means is:

  • Text that can be read easily
  • Buttons and links that you can tap
  • Not having to scroll from side to side to read a page
  • An easy zooming feature

As over 96% of global internet users browse on mobile, this is not something you can afford to ignore. 

Sites that aren’t mobile responsive only frustrate visitors. You don’t want them bouncing off your site in search of something more user-friendly. 

Plus, mobile responsive sites rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). So if you’re behind the curve on this one, it might be time for a redesign. 

Your navigation is a nightmare

Assuming people can find your website, and it’s ranking well on search, what’s the user experience (UX) like once they arrive?

Ask yourself:

  • Is your site easy to navigate around?
  • What’s the customer experience like? Can users find what they’re looking for?
  • Do they know where they are on your site without having to hunt around too much?
  • Is it easy to get back to the homepage?
  • Have you got all the pages your audience needs?
  • Are there clear and relevant calls to action (CTAs)?

If you can’t answer ‘yes’ to the questions above, it might be time for a full overhaul. 

You’re not getting enough traffic, leads, and conversions

Good websites are more than just a reflection of your brand. They serve as a valuable marketing asset, and when they work properly, they should be bringing in healthy volumes of traffic. And a good proportion of that traffic should translate into leads and conversions. 

So we’re talking:

  • SEO strategy (tech, on-page, and off-page) to bring traffic and leads
  • Well-structured messaging, content and copy. For converting those leads into customers or clients.

If you’re not getting the traffic, leads or conversions you’d like, maybe it’s time for a website redesign. 

Now it’s worth noting that other things can affect traffic depending on your industry. For example, a lot of e-commerce brands would expect to see peaks and troughs at particular times of the year. In the UK, the run-up to Christmas is a particularly busy time for these kinds of businesses. 

So you’d need to consider these factors before you make any big decisions. But once you’ve analysed your data, not just during industry quiet periods, and you’re still not happy, it could be time for big changes.

You’ve got a high bounce rate

Your bounce rate is the percentage of unengaged sessions on your website. So this means:

  • a session that lasts less than 10 seconds
  • and doesn’t include viewing a second page
  • or doesn’t include a conversion event. 

For example, if a visitor lands on a blog post, and it isn’t useful to them, they might close their browser. That would be a bounce if it happens within 10 seconds.

If, however, they click on a link that takes them to a second page on your site, it wouldn’t be a bounce.

Or, if they click a button to learn more or go to your contact page, that wouldn’t be a bounce either. 

Basically, search engines want to know if the content on your site is useful and helpful. If people leave your site in under 10 seconds, it could indicate that they’re not getting what they need. And if your content isn’t useful, Google won’t rank it highly. A bounce rate of 40% or lower is generally considered good. But if your bounce rate is over 56%, it’s a sign that you should consider a website redesign to improve engagement.

Your pages are too slow to load

You’ve got about 3 seconds for your web pages to load before a lot of visitors move away in frustration. With loading times listed as a confirmed ranking factor for Google, you need to pay attention to this. 

If your website loading speed is sluggish, it will affect where you feature in search results. You’ll find that after a while you’ll slip down the rankings. 

Slow loading times across your site are a good indication that you might need a redesign. 

Your web developers will overhaul things like plugin use, and media size and quality. They can also implement lazy loading. This technique delays some items on your pages from loading until a user scrolls to them. This can help speed things up.

Dead ends caused by broken links can annoy and frustrate your users. More often than not, broken links will increase your bounce rate too. 

But there are plenty of tools you can use to help you identify where they are on your website. Then you can set about replacing or deleting them to improve UX. 

Another way to fix broken links is by setting up redirects. Although be cautious about setting up too many. Too many redirects to the same page can cause problems. They can end up slowing down your site.

So we’d recommend getting some expert help with this. Especially if you have a large site.

You’ve got tired design and branding

Not everyone has a keen design eye. For this reason, some people struggle to make a decision about a redesign. 

If that’s you, consider this: Imagine inviting potential clients to your physical place of work. Are you proud of your decor? Is your colour scheme bright and welcoming? Or is it getting tired, with peeling paint and poor lighting?

If you’re proud to present your physical space to visitors, is your online space serving you in the same way?

Things to consider:

  • Does the tone of your web copy reflect your brand values?
  • Is all imagery and media up-to-date or are you still relying on stock photography and video?
  • Are your colour scheme and graphics consistent across your website and social media? And are they accessible for those with low vision?
  • Did you jump on a web design trend a few years back that has now fallen out of favour? Some designs are timeless, but some get old pretty quickly and can make your site seem outdated.
  • Is there a mismatch between text and imagery on your site? You want a good balance here. Too text-heavy above the fold, for example, can be off-putting. There should be a good mix of text, images, videos, icons and graphics.
  • Have you relied too long on a specific WordPress theme? While pre-made themes can seem like a cost-effective way to go, they can kick up their own problems.
    • The free themes are way too basic, and you can end up with an unimpressive website.
    • But the paid themes can be a bit faddy. And a lot of them don’t have intuitive calls to action which doesn’t work well for many businesses.
    • This is where a custom website, built by experts with your specific business goals in mind is the best option.

Your content isn’t very engaging

If your content doesn’t engage your audience, you’ll know. You’ll have a high bounce rate, and you won’t be seeing the conversions you need to meet your business goals. 

When visitors land on your website, your content needs to give them what they need. So, it needs to answer their search intent. It needs to serve them up whatever motivated them to visit your website in the first place. 

Otherwise, they have no reason to stay. And they’ll go off in search of something better. 

Things to consider:

  • Your portfolio. If you haven’t updated your website with recent projects, then it might look like you’re no longer operating. Or visitors might lose trust that you’re able to do regular, high-quality work.
  • Testimonials. Like your portfolios, you’ll also want to keep your testimonials relevant and fresh. Again, it helps establish trust with that vital social proof.
  • Blog posts. Not only does regular blogging help your SEO, but it also shows visitors you’re on top of the latest trends. This helps establish your brand as an industry expert and thought leader.
  • Pricing and service details. It’s disappointing to make an enquiry with a price in mind, only to find that now it’s something quite different. Make sure you don’t have old prices on your website.
  • The same goes for product and service descriptions. Make sure you describe everything accurately too. Otherwise, you’ll annoy your potential customers.
  • Dates and timely content. The digital landscape is fast-moving. Try to avoid wording and other types of content that age quickly. For example, a lot of websites are still talking about coming out of the Covid lockdown.
  • That kind of content is very quickly outdated. And it can give the impression that you’ve ceased trading if it’s among your more recent articles.

Where should I start?

If you think you're in need of a website redesign or refresh, we'd recommend starting with a website audit. 

When we do audits for clients, we start with assessing your analytics. We do this to identify problem areas to prioritise.

Next, we look at all aspects of your content, design and user experience.

From this analysis, we bring you a full report of our findings and recommendations for design changes. Ask us about our website audit services.

From there, you can decide whether to go for a website refresh or a full redesign. A refresh could include SEO improvements, imagery updates, fresh blog content, and fixing broken links. 

Post refresh, we’d recommend an ongoing website maintenance package. This will make sure your website doesn’t quickly become outdated moving forward. 

If our audit suggests you’d be better off with a redesign, we can help you prepare for that. Trying to handle a full redesign yourself could be incredibly time-consuming.

Doing it yourself can become so overwhelming that many people end up putting it on the back burner. Meanwhile, your website becomes even more outdated – and user experience plummets, along with your search ranking. 

For this reason, we’d always recommend working with experienced web design and development specialists. We can advise you on the best solution for your needs. Bringing you a successful website that both functions properly and looks great! 

Need a custom website built from scratch? We know some people who can help you with that…

How can we help?

Our expert team of designers and developers are ready to help. 

Get in touch with us today for…

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