There tends to be an all-or-nothing approach driven into our heads about web redesigns – either you redesign the whole thing, or you don't.
- What about refreshing the design of the homepage?
- Are you even telling a story when visitors get to your site? Sometimes you need a copy refresh more than a redesign.
- Does someone know what you do within the first few seconds of visiting your site, or is that message stuck in a website slider that has already lost their attention?
These are just a few of the questions that can determine whether your site needs to be scrapped, or if ongoing optimization would be a better route.
Radical redesigns are risky. Redesigns often change page structure, URLs (which need to be redirected), content, layout and design. They are not truly based on data since dramatic design decisions are often made that cannot be tested and are instead based on the designer's intuition. Besides having SEO and traffic impacts, these dramatic decisions can affect conversion rates, or how often users on your site perform valuable activities, such as filling out the contact form, clicking on the "buy" button on a product, eCommerce check-out, donating, etc.
A radical redesign is better when:
- Your rate of return for optimizing is severely diminished.
- You're running on an unsupported platform, the vendor lock-in is too great and costly, or the technology is outdated (i.e. Flash).
- The design is awful site-wide, affecting your brand. However, this too can often be brought up to better standards without scrapping the site entirely and migrating to a totally new website.
- There's not much traffic, and digital impact analysis reveals too many problems that just aren't worth gradual optimization.
Digital Impact Optimization, an evolutionary model, is a better route to follow whenever possible. Don't let yourself be sold into a redesign just because you're frustrated – sometimes, there is hope for the current site, and its very existence, analytics and traffic are more valuable than you think.