If you think your website needs freshening up because it’s beginning to look dated and not as dynamic or interesting as other websites you’ve seen – then perhaps it’s time to give your site a website makeover. I imagine there are zillions of thoughts that immediately come rushing into your mind. What will happen to my excellent Google ranking? What about all the content I’ve published on my blog? How will my customers recognize my website if I have changed the look and design? Are you worried that you might need to re-load and publish all your products into your online store?
Take a slow, deep breath out! Your Google ranking shouldn’t change, because we’re just discussing refreshing the front end of your website, for a new look. Just because you’re updating your website it doesn’t necessarily mean you will lose any content. Your customers will still know they are on your website because they will still type in the same www address (your URL), and recognize your logo and distinctive marketing messages.
Your website makeover is like starting a house renovation project
To better understand the key elements which make up your website from a web developer’s perspective, consider thinking about your website as renovating a virtual house. The foundations and outside cladding of your house is your content management system. The interior and floor plan for your home is your theme. The furniture is the equivalent of your content, navigation and links.
You can do some minor renovating by re-painting the walls a different color (in website terms – changing the colors used on your website or changing the font etc).
But if you wanted to do a more extensive renovation and intended to remove a few walls, add in more windows, modify the floor plan (essentially; changing the navigation, combining page content or making your website mobile responsive) – you would most likely need to use a new theme to achieve this.
Decide from the outset, the budget you have set aside to start this website makeover – like any renovation project, set down a plan and then get some quotes.
Setting your website construction budget
There are many ways you can give your website a makeover without building an entirely new one. Some options may be cheap, and others may be more expensive and require you to work closely with your web professional to help achieve your desired upgrade.
The best way to help you decide if you are getting value for money is by contacting several web agencies/developers, and discussing your requirements with them. Ask them to provide an obligation free quote. Decide whether you are comfortable with the amount being charged. Ask them for a few recent referees of similar sized projects, and check in with their clients on how the project went.
Expand your website dimensions through larger images, font size and modernize font type
Many modern looking websites use large images to attract people to look and remain on their sites for longer. This is because the current design trend shows people are generally more attracted to photos/images than text. However, the images do need to be optimized and load quickly on the web page. People who arrive on your website do not want to want to wait around for an image to load. They want to see the page they land on opens quickly, and be able to easily locate information. Google recommends that web pages take no longer than four seconds to open.
The same principle applies to font size and type. Choose a font which is both easy to read on screen and quick to scan. Test a range of different fonts and see whether you have any preferences for one over another. Check how the font looks on different sized devices i.e. your laptop, smart phone or tablet/iPad. Ask others for their feedback. Is it the right size and type of font? Can they easily scan your text on a screen? Make sure the font you have decided to use on your website is a Google Font, so it will display correctly and optimize in any browser.
New coat of paint – redesign your logo
You may decide it’s time to give your logo a new look by hiring a graphic designer to update your current one, or create a new logo. The new logo needs to work on all your marketing material i.e. your business cards, any fliers you have printed, your website and all your social media networks.
Decide if you want to continue using your existing colors used in the branding and marketing for your business, or whether the graphic designer has carte blanche to choose their own color combinations and create an entirely new logo look.
Alter the floor plan – make your website mobile responsive
If your website was designed before 2008, the chances are your website is not mobile responsive i.e. able to automatically re-size and configure for accessing on different size screen resolutions. In 2013, Google announced it would be de-grading websites in their search results rankings that were not mobile responsive. The technical revolution for making website responsive was necessary, as an increasing number of people were now accessing websites on smaller screen sizes and wanted the same operability they experienced on their larger screens/computer monitors.
Make sure your website is mobile responsive. Using an internal scrolling method to navigate through your website is old-school and inaccessible for smart phones. You may need to discuss with your web developers how to re-configure your menu so you don’t lose the content, but instead replace the functionality.
Renovate and update the style – change the theme
Usually, upgrading a website’s theme i.e. changing the look and design of a website, would not be as expensive as building an entirely new website. This is because, you already have existing navigation, content, links and icons to your social media accounts – already in place.
But if you want to combine page content, you may harm your SEO, as other website owners may have hard-coded links to one of your pages that you intend to delete. Look at your analytics to see how highly the page ranks, before removing/archiving it. Check to see whether the page receives a large volume of traffic. It is often better to archive content than delete entirely, so searching will still locate the content, rather than leave a trail of broken links and page not found errors on your website.
Refresh, renovate and remain current
To give your website customers an enjoyable experience, ensure your website always feels modern and keeps up with the styles and trends. Continue to renovate and give your website a modern makeover every few years. A dated website displaying small images, an old-style font type, outdated inaccurate content and broken links is not a good reflection of your business.