For those of us who know our website is dated, below are five tips when preparing for the redesign process.
Developing a personal or business website can an arduous and time-consuming process. In addition to deciding on matters such as layout, design, functionality, aesthetics and content, to name a few, many of us are dependent on web designers and developers to take us from concept to reality. Thereafter, we struggle to keep the site up to date, and hopefully relevant to our audience.
However, having successfully launched our website back in the day, the truth is that website features and functionality have evolved considerably over the past few years. More importantly, website visitors’ expectations of how they will experience and be engaged on a website have also changed.
This coming January, ICT Pulse will be five years old, and we believe the site is due for some freshening up. As the team prepares itself to debate – and hopefully eventually agree on – how best our platform can be improved, below are five tips we will be using to guide our deliberations.
1. The site ought be aligned with or support overarching purpose or goals
While it is great for an individual or business to have a website, invariably, it ought to serve a purpose. In preparation for the redesign process, that purpose ought to be reviewed against the your personal or your organisation’s strategic goals and objectives, which may have changed since the site was first launched.
2. Strategic goals for the website (itself) should also be established.
In keeping with determining the purpose of the website, strategic goals and objectives for the site should also be clearly established. During the redesign process, it is easy for the initial concept to veer off course, as new ideas and inputs emerge. Having concrete goals and objectives can keep the discussions centred and focussed, so that the final outcome meet the requirements that had been set.
3. Not every website trend must be followed
Without a doubt, and as indicated above, new and ingenious website features have emerged over the past several years. Although generally they serve either to enhance the user experience, or to improve the website development (backend) process, it may not be possible (or advisable) to try to incorporate them all into just one site. Each feature serves a purpose, which may support or undermine the goals and objectives of the website; thus they should be carefully considered within that context and prudently selected.
4. Focus on the visitor experience
Although it is critical for the website to be aligned with one’s personal objectives, or that of your organisation, that cannot be the sole focus. The user experience – how visitors to the site will engage it, and the impression that will be made – must also be carefully considered.
An example of a situation where the developing team’s approach and the user expectation may be at variance with each other, is with respect to how information is organised. The development team may prefer a high hierarchical structure where users mine down to through several web pages to the information they are looking for. However, users today tend to prefer finding information in as few clicks as possible. Hence, sites that adopt the development team’s approach solely can be seen as unwieldy and not especially user-friendly, with users getting frustrated and going to another website for their needs.
5. Invite visitor feedback
Finally, in order to get a better sense of what your website visitors might want or need, it is strongly recommended that the development team invite feedback and comments from site visitors, which can be considered during the redesign process. The survey can be as simple or as complicated as the team sees fit, but the point remains: most websites aim to attract traffic, and to the extent that users are happy with the site, makes achieving that objective more likely.
Image credit: Salvatore Vuono (FreeDigitalPhotos.net)