Often business people want to redesign their website. When they ask to do this, I always reply that there's no such thing as a redesign. A redesign of a website is simply a repackaging, taking the same content and putting it in a new dress. Or taking the same software or function and adding some make-up.
There are only a handful of reasons to even entertain the thought of it:
1. The current site doesn't work. It's broken.
2. The current site is no longer effectively selling your product or service.
3. It's outdated and ugly.
4. You woke up and decided to change everything for the sake of changing things.
5. Somebody told you it was a good idea.
Here's a breakdown of those reasons, and whether or not redesign is the solution.
1. If the current site is broken: If it's broken, you've got to fix it. Building the site correctly from the ground up is a smarter use of money, and will most likely cost less. Build it with the latest technology, optimized for search, easier updating and better functionality
2. If the site is no longer effectively selling your product or service: Why repackage something that doesn't sell? A good web-developer will tell you why it's not selling - he just needs to look at the data. Let him show you why it's not working, then have him give you the alternatives.
3. If it's outdated and ugly: This is pretty self-explanatory but I've seen a lot of "ugly" sites sell a lot of products; don't base your decision on ugly - that's a matter of opinion. I've told many people with ugly sites not to touch them. If the site sells, who cares what it look like? Outdated is a different story. You can't compete with today's sites using outdated technology.
4. If you woke up and decided to change everything: Realize when you call a web developer, you're not going to be happy with anything he does. You'll be wasting your money and driving some poor developer nuts for nothing.
5. If somebody told you to redesign your website: Odds are, that person is a web designer - not a web developer. There's a huge difference between the two. A web designer will give you exactly what you ask for - the colors, the content, the pictures - the exact website you tell him to build. A web developer will tell you honestly if and why you're wrong about all of those things. A developer will tell you your bio is great, but it doesn't sell you, or your photos just won't work, and the reason for building the site according to his recommendations. Honestly, if you knew the exact site you needed to have with the colors, content, and pictures, you wouldn't really need to hire someone.
When is it time to redesign?
If your site isn't selling, it's possible that tweaking the content, navigational tools or other elements will help. But before you decide a paint job is the answer, consult a web developer, who can provide an objective opinion based on quantifiable data.
When is it time to build anew?
If your site is broken or outdated, it may be time to tear it down and rebuild, using all the new technology that has become available in the past five years or so.
Joe Thomas is the founder and owner of Left Brain Digital (www.leftbraindigital.com), a web development company. He's an award-winning web designer/developer with years of experience in print, web design and development.