Redesign: When Its Time for a Change
Aweb presence is now a must for almost any business. According to Mary Elges
of Pinnacle Decision Systems (www.pinndec.com), a computer consulting and
software development company, The web has grown up so much in the last
couple of years, with faster connection speeds, new development technologies
and browser enhancements, [that] many of the older, static or frame developed
websites now look outdated. She offers the following suggestions for
freshening up a website:
Clear look and feel. When the Internet first
started, it was geared more toward technical people, and many early websites
reflected that. The current standard is for a website to have a clean, understandable,
and consistent look and feel.
Updated content. Update your content at least
quarterly, if not more often. One of the worst mistakes to make is to allow
your site to be static with no change. When someone visits your site a second
time and sees that the information remains unchanged, chances are they will
not come back.
Simple navigation. If you make your navigation
difficult to follow, visitors will not only get frustrated and have problems
finding information on your site, they also wont return. Online users
have become accustomed to a certain style of navigation and site structure
that avoids confusion and allows them to easily take full advantage of the
Not just text. Unlike the simple webpages
of the Internets early days, today you need a hook to keep visitors
coming back for more. This can be done by incorporating newer technologies
such as Macromedia Flash, motion graphics, news feeds, and other ideas so
that the site never gets stale. Strike a balance between design and content
so users with slower connections or older equipment dont get frustrated.
Make it interactive. An attractive website
can be an expensive proposition, but there are ways to provide low-cost
interactivity. For example, design a member portion of the website for newsletters
and forums, or create a database for visitors to log personal information.
Optimize for search engines. If a website
isnt properly coded, the search engines spiders will never find
it, and neither will visitors. Pay attention to the code, especially webpage
titles, when redesigning a site.
Elges says that a redesign is more than a matter of fixing problems.
She recommends approaching website redesign with the same strategic planning
used with other marketing materials:
Budget. First figure out how much money is
available. A complex site, with many pages and a lot of interactivity, will
be more expensive. Databases and custom graphics, which can make a website
unique, also cost more.
Know the audience. Knowing the websites
target audience affects its look and the technologies employed. For example,
the website for a company that provides information to a broad audience
needs to look and function consistently in all of the major browsers and
be fast enough to be downloaded by the slowest. The visitors to the website
of a business-to-business company, on the other hand, probably use broadband
connections, so the website can use graphics and new technologies more intensively.
Content management. A websites complexity
is a big factor in its ongoing maintenance. Elges company has designed
sites for companies that let the clients maintain their own content through
databases, web-based forms, and other tools, but she points out that such
decisions need to be addressed before starting to build the site.
Elges final recommendation is to take the time to choose the right
person or company to do the redesign project. She doesnt recommend in-house
website design: Since todays standard website goes far beyond
brochureware and static displays, you really need a professional to make sure
that its designed and coded for optimum performance.
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