Is It Time for You to Redesign Your Site?

Is It Time for a Redesign?Nothing beats the thrill of a new website or blog. You have a beautiful banner and color scheme, the latest gadgets and pages or posts just waiting for you to fill them up with content.

In the fast-paced world of the internet, though, websites and blogs become quickly outdated. Last year’s trends may not be the ‘in’ thing anymore, and sometimes the current year’s trends aren’t either.

When you start to think about having your site redesigned, it’s not always easy to pinpoint exactly why you need that change. You could end up with a site or blog that’s worse than what you have now.

You need a plan. But to know where you need to be, you have to know where you are right now. And you need to know that you’re planning an overhaul for the right reasons. Here are four to start with.

What’s Your Brand Looking Like?

Your business should have a brand when you begin, a look and ‘feel’ that impacts potential customers in a good way. It develops a voice and conveys a message. You might start with a great brand image in mind, but sometimes time starts to push at a change.

You may have begun with the brand image you believed would impact corporations, with slick boardrooms and expensive suits. Then you realized that your business is more casual, or that you want to work with a different type of clientele.

Or, perhaps you realized that the image you created is attracting a different type of audience than the one you expected. How did you end up there?

Remember, you’re not branding for yourself. Your brand is designed for your visitors, your customers and your clients. They’re the ones landing on your site and contacting you.

Your site look should reflect more of the image they like.

Is Your Layout Outdated?

It’s easy to spot an outdated website or blog. Maybe it’s a narrow site built for old computer monitors and not the current wide screens used today. Colors and images affect that dated look, too.

Worse, maybe your layout looks like something right out of the 80s. You know the ones: yucky colors, a blocky look, navigation down the left side, mostly all text and a bunch of links. Woo.

Today’s sites and blogs are better organized, both in visible layout and behind the scenes. Designs are richer with more appealing colors that convey credibility and pictures are sharp and crisp. They use conventionscurrent with today’s trends.

When today’s conventions don’t appear on a site, it shows.

Where’s Your Technology?

What’s your site like to use? Do you still rely on a webmaster to change a word or add a new page? Is your site a money pit, sucking cash away each time you need a tiny tweak? Is it static and heavy or hard to change and update?

Welcome to the 21st century. WordPress isn’t just for blogs anymore.

Using WordPress as a ‘static’ site or a content management system provides site owners and users with a great deal of control. Webmasters are a dying breed, too, as focus shifts to place power in the hands of the site owners.

As it should be.

With a CMS, you can change your content at any time. Adding pages is a breeze, and you can toss in widgets and plugins for extra fun, too. Feeling like a new look? Changing your layout or look is often only a few mouse clicks away.

Plus, all that time saved is money saved, too. No webmaster, no money pit and no frustrations.

Are You Changing Direction?

Sometimes you need a redesign when you realize that the entire focus of the site has changed. Many people start a blog or an online business on a whim, or as an experiment to see if they could really make it with their idea.

Maybe you began with a personal blog that turned into a viable business. Maybe you began with a business, started blogging and that blog took off instead. Maybe you were just experimenting with building sites, someone noticed your skills and you find yourself with a potential service-based venture on your hands.

The bottom line is that your site doesn’t represent what you do any more.

Examine the audience you attracted and the people you want to attract. Try to think of what you need to change about your site to accomplish the goal of getting more interest and keeping it going.

Do you need a portfolio page? Do you need ebook downloads or video classes? Do you need a blog or want to get rid of the blog you have?

A redesign is all about redirection. It’s about thinking on the moment visitors land, what they see, and where you want them to go next. How will visitors use the site? Probably not the way you expect them to, so put some thought into the potential paths they might take.

Not an easy task. The days of slapping up a site are gone, if you want to reach your goals. But is thinking through what your site looks like now, how it’s used and where you want to be worth the effort?


Now it’s your turn: Can you think of more reasons a site might need an overhaul or a change? Toss out your thoughts and let’s see how many reasons we can come up with!

Post by Agent X

Agent X is the name many mysterious and intriguing people take on when they guest post at our site. Their mission is to slip in like a thief in the night, leave you with entertaining, valuable and useful content, and slip away again - without getting caught.

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  1. Perfect timing and oh so true…This is where guys like you come in handy :)
    .-= Nathan Hangen´s last blog ..Why You Need a Blog =-.

  2. Oh heavens, how many tweaks and changes have we done since my site went up in January? For me, being fairly new in what I was doing with the site, a lot of the changes were made as I changed how I did business, and the site needed to reflect that.

    My biggest change (and hopefully the last for awhile!) was puting the blog in the backseat and having the business more to the forefront. That was because James pointed out that the blog visitors don’t buy, it was more important that visitors could see what I did and sold than that they read the blog.

    Working well so far. :-)
    .-= Melinda | WAHM Biz Builder´s last blog ..New Month = New Goals =-.

  3. sign sigh…. I just got my design finalized after oogles of brain-churning sessions with my designer and m already planning a revamp 😛

    do u call it normal!!???
    .-= Write a Writing´s last blog ..How to Write Creatively =-.

  4. I’d say a site needs a redesign when it goes through a major shift of some sort. When I took Someday Syndrome from a personal journal to a business blog, I need to make a strong visual change as well.

    For example, say Men with Pens split into two subblogs (in a FWJ way) – one subblog focusing on design and the other on writing (heaven forbid!!!), I’d say the whole thing would need a redesign.
    .-= Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome´s last blog ..Happiness Found: Stacy Brice Interview =-.

  5. @Nathan: Ha! Do we know our stuff, or what? Glad you found it useful.

    @Mel: You’ve made quite a few improvements to your site, and all for the better. Good job on that! Amazing what a little reorganization can do for boosting sales, eh?

    @Write a Writing: A website is a constantly evolving work in progress. The work is never done, so yeah, I’d say that’s normal 😉 The thing to remember is not to overwork it and see where your results from the last change go first before you dive in again.

    @Alex: Yup, that does happen, but I don’t think the entire site would need a redesign. If the parent site is set up well, there’s no reason why the child sites can’t mirror that.

  6. I think you got most of it covered Harry. Hmmmm…. I guess on the SEO side, if Google made a major change in the way they do the rankings.

    oh and btw, don’t say that to webmasters. They no like!

  7. @James F: Hehe, I was one of those webmasters for years and I’m glad more people are using CMS for their sites. No need for webmasters to worry though, there’s still plenty of folks out there who don’t want to be bothered even when the site is set up to be as user friendly as WordPress is.

  8. I wonder sometimes, with Sushi Day, whether we should redesign it or not (its 3rd birthday is coming up soon). Every few months Son says we should redesign it, but then, he’s never happy with his designs (we’re already on the 4th new design for a soon-to-be-launched application we’ve been working on!)

    But since it’s a pretty well-established brand (at least for our readers) and I’m not revamping the purpose of Sushi Day, I don’t think it’s necessary. At least, not yet.

    Then again, sometimes I look at it and wonder if it’s gotten old and boring… but perhaps I just look at it too much. I don’t think it’s outdated yet (and hey, there’s nothing wrong with stuff from the 80s! 😉 )… I’m just not sure. All I know is I’m not willing to have a new design that would force me to give up that awesome RSS button you made for me. 😀
    .-= Allison Day´s last blog ..Red Dragon Roll =-.

  9. Good piece. While I believe in continuous improvement, one can swing from an outdated, static blog/website to constantly changing the look and feel, to the point of pissing off visitors. So where’s the balance?

    P.S. “CMS” is noted midway in your blog but not explained.
    .-= Jim Taggart´s last blog ..Obama’s War: Will He Succeed? =-.

  10. It will be interesting to see how things evolve with trends, though. I think there has been somewhat of an evolution in site design – nowadays owners and designers are putting far more thought into what their visitors and customers want, and not what they “think” will work or what is “internety”.

    I believe the late 90’s and early 2000’s designs suffered from not having the client focus more than using any outdated trends. They tended to build for the internet itself (as in using techy designs and everything bad you mentioned) rather than the readers.

    However, now that designers have wised up and are designing for clients and readers of sites, we may see a bit more timelessness in designs. If you build for the right reasons rather than just going along with the crowd, your design might have a longer lifespan.

    P.S. @ Jim: “FDR” is noted in your latest post but not explained. 😛
    .-= Patrick Vuleta´s last blog ..Using the law to protect your own land =-.

  11. My biggest challenge with design is I instinctively want to regress back to the days when everyone accessed the Internet the way the gods meant it be done – with a command line terminal! And don’t forget those cool lens flares that everyone used in the 1990s too! :)

    Luckily, I’ve taught myself how to recognize when I’m being comfortable in my design…and how to then kick it up a notch. But wow, it took a loooooooong time for that….
    .-= Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach´s last blog ..9 Soul-Searingly Wondrous (yet Amazingly Effective) Steps To Add Video To Your Optin Page Part II =-.

  12. As a writer, the content of a professional website is at least as important as its aesthetic design.

    If you’re redesigning your website, you might as well look at the actual content and style of writing as well. For example:

    – is it benefit-driven?
    – does each page have a clear call to action?
    – is it free of grammatical and typographics errors?
    – does your personality shine through?

    I have a free checklist for freelancers who want to review their professional websites. There’s no opt-in or anything required. If it’s ok to link to it here, then here’s the link:

    If not, then please feel free to remove it. Thanks!
    .-= Lexi Rodrigo´s last blog ..To Win On Elance, You Need to Sell Yourself =-.

  13. @ Lexi – Cool to see you here, cheers! And that’s a fine link to add, no problem.

    I had to grin when you left your comment – poor copy is one of the biggest reasons sites don’t do well and don’t get their message across to the people they want as customers.

    No customers, no sales. No business.

    It’s one of the reasons that we offer a rewriting service – it’s like the copywriting version of the redesign that saves the world!

  14. Redesigning web site early to follow the latest trends could be to expensive for a small business as good trendy and modern design always cost many dollars. Also there is a risk that you may lost (or improve :)) your positions on Google with new page layout.
    Nevertheless, I think we have to redesign sites at least every 2-3 years as new Windows OS version appears, LOL! I.e. NT Style (gray style) -> XP Style (green\blue plastic style) -> Vista (Glossy style) -> Windows 7 (Dark … style).

  15. @Lexi & @James
    Your comments reminded me of a time when I worked for a Canadian IT Professional Association. A new group was forming called the Association of Web Professionals (this was back in 1997) and they wanted to create a certification program.

    Being a content manager, I asked them about the content component of the program and I was told that content didn’t matter – that the technology was the key and that the technology would bring people in.

    Well, needless to say they were gone within a year and all the people who thought the same way they did fell with the DOTcom bubble bursting…
    .-= Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome´s last blog ..August is Happiness Happens Month: Win a Book! =-.

  16. @alexfayle And don’t forget the HTML writers guild! Ah, memories…. :)
    .-= Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach´s last blog ..9 Soul-Searingly Wondrous (yet Amazingly Effective) Steps To Add Video To Your Optin Page Part II =-.

  17. Hi Harry. When thinking about optimizing a landing page or blog, I often times do what they say to do in business, think in reverse. Start with what it is you ultimately want your visitors to do and write that down. Then come up with a design based around that notion. Everything should lead your visitors to the doors you want them to open. If it’s not leading them to where you want them to go, then don’t put it. I’m working on that for my blog as we speak.

    As for a reason to overhaul your site, I’d say we could also add “conversion rate” to the list. One of the best ways to increase conversions is to test and tweak. Rename your “Categories” to “Blog Topics”; shorten up the header; make your header bigger; experiment with color schemes; try different backgrounds; try different themes; etc.

    Or perhaps your site isn’t consistent and you need to reorganize things so that you’re not confusing your visitor.

    just my 2 cents.
    .-= John Hoff – WpBlogHost´s last blog ..Creating A Blog Supermodel: Professionalism & Production Quality =-.

  18. Heh… as a webmaster, I gotta admit- it did hurt a little to read that we’re a dying breed. I’d prefer to think that the field is evolving.
    That said, this article offers some great advice. I’m a huge fan of WordPress, too- with so many great plugins and templates, I’d definitely recommend it to any small business in need of a makeover. Anything’s better than 80’s style sites!
    .-= Kim´s last blog ..The Evolution of Small Business Tech Support =-.

  19. Timely post. I am in the middle of a major site overhaul for several reasons. It is looking tired and has a number of visual flaws. The layout is not SE friendly, the navigation really sucks (not even I can find my way around), and – horror of horrors – the pages are on a very clunky table template from my learning days, which has had many Bandaids slapped on (at least it is not a frame site with javascript snow flakes). Naturally, a growing site which wants an occasional face lift, is a nightmare to run on that kind of structure. Although I will stick with a hand-built site, the new global CSS template will make changes a lot easier, and address all the other issues, as well as be leaner code. A lot of my visitors live in rural areas, many are off-gridders, so page weight is still an issue where connections are slow. My main reason for a site overhaul would therefore be technical. Hopefully it will also be more enticing.

    One question I have been grappling with though – the page width. I would like to make it wider, but what with all the tiny netbooks now flooding the market?
    .-= judyofthewoods´s last blog ..Foraging in June =-.

  20. @Dr. Box: The trick with trends is to use them in such a way they become timeless. Deciding on a redesign every two or three years isn’t unusual and it sounds reasonable to me.

    @Alex: Oh, that’s funny. Content doesn’t matter…sheesh. It *all* matters and has to work together if the site’s going to be a success.

    @Barbara: Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

    @John H: Having an idea where you want people to go and how to get them there is important. I think there’s a program out there that will actually track the cursor on the page from each visitor to show you exactly where they’re going and what they’re clicking on. One thing that many designers/developers have found is the visitors rarely use the page in the way it was intended.

    @Kim: Evolve or die. Hey, it happened to the dinosaurs, it could happen to us too. Now, if only someone would finally pull the plug on IE6…

    @Judy: Sounds like you know exactly what needs to be done to get your site up to par. With page width, I’m not entirely sure how those new mini-screens are going to fit into all this. There are so many variables for size. We’ve got huge monster screens for some folks, average screens for other, mini-screens, mobile phones…and there’s no way we can accommodate every single one of them with a single standard. Unless we all start doing what people did for Flash and frames; start offering an alternate site to view. But that could get costly.

    No easy answer there.

  21. This seems to be more and more of an issue. Starting with a good foundation helps but sometimes a site just needs a bulldozer when its time to upgrade. I am curious to learn which CMS packages address site re-designs the best.

  22. Harry
    Clicktale analytics. It’s one that I use.

    There’s a really cool Firefox add-on I use called Ghostery which tells you which analytics programs (and more) people are using on their sites. It’s a great way to find new toys out there for your site which others are using. Not sure if you’ve heard of it or not.
    .-= John Hoff – WpBlogHost´s last blog ..A-List Bloggers & Everyday Bloggers, They Do Things Differently =-.

  23. One of the biggest reasons my clients ever re-design their sites is informational overload. I think we are all guilty of it at one time or another. We start our site, it is kind of bare and then over time we add to it. A blog here, a video, articles, new services, new packages, then before you know it the site is cluttered and has TOO much information for the average visitor. That is not necessarily a bad thing as long as it is laid out properly and focuses on your sales funnel. However, if it is not laid out properly you could lose tons of sales, because nobody knows where to go or what to do next.
    .-= Heather Villa´s last blog ..Weekend Reading: My fav’s from this week: 8.7.09 =-.

  24. Some of the big boys website don’t consider to redesign. Design a website is better to make it general and simple, so it will match with any theme.
    .-= Ruri@Free article directory´s last blog ..What You Should Know About Colon Cancer Alternative Treatments =-.


  1. At Long Last, Link Love says:

    […] There are big changes ahead for the Inkwell. Dave wants to redesign our old sites about as often as Sean wants to start a new one. Ahead of our pending changes comes this wonderful post from the Men (and one woman) With Pens about knowing when (and why) you should redesign your site. […]

  2. Are You Due For a New Website Design? | SMALL BUSINESS CEO says:

    […] a complete website overhaul?  Men With Pens answers that question in their newest article, “Is It Time For You To Redesign Your Site?“.  In the article they give four major reasons why you may need to consider a site […]

  3. […] for a complete website overhaul?  Men With Pens answers that question in their newest article, “Is It Time For You To Redesign Your Site?“.  In the article they give four major reasons why you may need to consider a site […]

  4. […] a complete website overhaul?  Men With Pens answers that question in their newest article, “Is It Time For You To Redesign Your Site?“.  In the article they give four major reasons why you may need to consider a site […]

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