Redesign: Complete Overhaul or Just Upgrades?


Redesigning a website can be a huge project. In most cases, a complete redesign means starting from the ground up, which can be every bit as time consuming as designing a brand new website. The other option is to make smaller changes to update and upgrade the design rather than starting from scratch. Which is best for you?

Factors to Consider:

How old is the current design?

The age of the current design may be a factor that will sway you one way or another. Most sites tend to make fairly major changes every year or two to keep things fresh and interesting for visitors. If your site has remained largely the same for several years you may want to just go ahead with a complete redesign. On the other hand, if the current design was done fairly recently, you may want to make only minor updates. Not only will frequent redesigns cost more money, but they can also have negative effects if the visitors are not receiving a consistent message.

What quality is the design?

An obvious factor that should be considered is the quality of the current design and the potential quality of a redesign. A redesigned site should always be a step up in quality in some way. You’re not going to want to change from a high quality design to one that is not as good. Can a redesign improve the site, or are you better off with what you have now?

In what condition is the code?

If you are planning to avoid a complete redesign by making some minor changes, even this can be a nightmare if the existing code is a mess. In this case, you’ll be better off starting over and creating clean code that will be easier to maintain. Table-based design is a good example of this. Even minor changes can be extremely difficult or even impossible without reconstructing the whole layout. CSS-based designs are of course much more flexible.

What effect will it have on branding?

Ideally, your website will play a large role in the branding of you business and in developing a particular image of your business in the eyes of your visitors. Does your current design do an effective job of contributing to the branding of your business? Will a complete redesign allow you to improve the branding, or will it have negative impacts by making changes. The ultimate purpose of a website is not to look good, but rather to benefit the business and provide visitors will a valuable experience on the site. Sometimes even a better design will not be able to do these things more effectively.

What other factors, such as the business’s image, have changed since the last design?

Businesses are always evolving. Has the business experienced major changes in products and services, a logo change, a slogan change, color scheme changes, etc. that are now longer accurately reflected by the current design? When business change direction there is usually a need for major changes to the website that may not be feasible without a complete redesign.

What do visitors say about the design?

Do you get positive feedback from your visitors about the current design? Do you get a lot of comments about areas that could be improved? Don’t forget to take your visitors’ options into consideration when deciding what type of redesign is best.

In what ways could you possibly improve the current design without completely redoing everything?

Is it even possible to improve current design without a complete overhaul? Some options to consider are using different and more effective graphics, higher quality photos, a new logo design, a change in color scheme, changes in fonts and typography, updated icons, etc. Will these things help to improve your website, or would it still be lacking in other ways?

What is the budget?

Of course, you will also need to consider how much money you are able to spend on the website. A complete redesign will usually be more expensive, but it may also be more effective. Determine how much money is available for the project so that you don’t waste your time on options that really aren’t even possible, and so that you don’t avoid going with an option that is actually affordable.

What content/pages will need to be added?

If there is a significant amount of content that needs to be added to the site to keep it current, a complete redesign may be necessary. This won’t always be the case, so make sure you evaluate you particular situation. Will the content that needs to be added fit within the design and navigational structure of the current site?

About Steven Snell

Steven Snell is a web designer and freelance writer. He maintains a blog at VandelayDesign.com that focuses on web design and related topics.
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