I’ve been doing web development for a very long time and have witnessed the same website mistake being made over and over again. I actually cringe when I hear the words “we just had our website redesigned” and the words that typically follow. “We don’t get any traffic”, “we lost search engine rankings”, “we get some traffic but not sales”. So, what went wrong?
Let’s begin with the big picture. When things aren’t working you either throw them away or attempt to fix them. Typically, a business owner identifies the website as not performing and they instantly think it looks dated and needs a redisign but don’t really address the underlying issues that need to take place in order for a website to be successful. Worse yet, technical mistakes are typically made when migrating the website into a new structure. Yes, the new website typically looks a bit better and everyone feels satisfied for a few years until they continue in this never ending cycle or redesigns. The truth is, a successful website takes a lot of ongoing effort and strategy begins before the website is even built. Below are some things to be aware of when you redisign a website.
Migrating a website to a new structure takes planning and steps must be taken to ensure it is done correctly. A common mistake I see is failing to implement 301 redirects from the old website links to the new website pages. This means all the old links on other websites, social media and print go to a 404 error page rather than to the corresponding new webpage. This is a major SEO ( search engine optimization) blunder as you want to pass rank from the old web page to the new page. Another common issue I see is failure to implement URL canonicalization which is another SEO blunder.
One of the pitfalls of a redisign is copying into the latest web design trends. Your newly redesigned website might be cool today but not so cool next year. Do you have the budget or resources to redisign your website every time a new trend appears? Did you pick the wrong CMS system? Does your 5-10 page website really need a CMS system? A CMS does offer many useful plugins that can save on development time. However, you are talking a relatively simple website and putting it into a exorbitant amount of code and creating a dynamic, database driven website. Numerous problems can arise and I have seen companies with a CMS system spend more time and money on their websites than a static HTML / CSS equivalent websites. I won’t even mention security holes or the fact that your ever growing database and plugins will eventually turn your speed performance to a crawl. Frameworks are very popular these days since web designers can develop content quicker, but they do come with a price. The load speed time of your website is important for multiple reasons. Make sure the person that created or monitors your website is technical enough to identify and fix load speed issues.
When you think of redisign you think of a graphic artist with creativity, right? Not so fast. A properly redesigned website should be developed by a team of people including business owners, marketing, programmers, SEO and graphic designers. If you’re a small business, ensure the person the that creates the website is either technical enough on the other issues (extremely rare) or you have another person that can fill the void and make sure mistakes are not made. Before you even start with wire frames or building the website, the SEO and marketing team should do keyword research and explore competition to see how much effort is required in your industry and a strategy to become competitive.
Were you limited on funds and went with the lowest bid for you redesigned website? Buyer beware as the phrase “you get what you pay for” comes into play. The cheap route could destroy your business and cost you plenty in legal fees. Are you sure the images, sounds, video, and code of the website are not copyright protected by somebody else? Even if you paid a pretty penny for your website, are you sure your web person purchased content such as images from a reputable source, or even purchased images? It’s a good idea to have the company purchase all content that is used on the website so the company is the clear owner and has a record if any problems arise. If any coding was done on the website besides HTML and CSS are you sure the code / database is secure? Typically, a programmer that takes a project at a very low cost is either inexperienced and may not be aware of security holes or will not spend extra time to ensure the code is secure.
Article by a website design company in Santa Cruz
First seen here and written by Astriden.