While it’s common for businesses to update their website regularly—whether it’s to update their product offering, change a few photos or graphics, or redo their logo—in some cases, a complete redesign is necessary. But this can be an overwhelming project on its own.
Unlike a simple website update that only requires a few changes, a complete redesign is about changing any or all of the following:
- The way information is structured and presented on your site,
- the overall look of multiple pages on your website,
- the software that runs your website,
- and how visitors use your website.
Because of the scope of a redesign, it’s often seen as a burden for small business owners. It can be expensive and time-consuming. Also, if your website has an online store and other advanced features, it’s difficult to redo it yourself if you’re not technically proficient.
How do you know when it’s really time for redesign or if an unscrupulous designer is just pushing extra services at you? Below is a checklist that gives you an idea about what signs to watch out for before you order a redesign.
Why You Should Redesign Your Website
While your site doesn’t need to have all the following criteria before you get a redesign, how many items you check from the list gives you an idea about how urgent your redesign is. Checking one item from the list below is “concerning”, checking multiple items means redesigning is a must, and checking all items calls for an emergency redesign.
Here are the signs that should tell you whether your website should be redesigned or not:
1. The Site Takes More Than Two Seconds to Load
If a page on your site doesn’t load completely in two seconds, then you know it’s too slow. If your site takes longer than two seconds to load completely, you can’t expect potential customers to wait around for it. You run the risk of missing out on leads and sales.
Test your site speed manually by opening and browsing it on mobile devices and desktop computers. Your site should load fast on all devices. You can also use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to check for load speed and find areas of improvement.
2. Your Social Media Shares Don’t Look Good
When you share your site on social media, the links need to look good. The link’s thumbnail should be eye-catching. The title of the link and the description should also have useful copy that gives readers an idea of what your sharing is about. Check out these examples to see social shares that work well:
But if you share a link from your site on Twitter or Facebook and find no presentable thumbnails, title, or description, then it’s time to review your site for an update. After all, it’s likely that 31-percent of your website traffic comes from social media. Make a good first impression by presenting your site well.
3. Some of the Features or Content Don’t Display Properly
If you haven’t visited your own website in a while, it’s possible that on your next visit, it will look something like this:
Your logo and other images might not be displayed right, interactive features might have glitches, or your content doesn’t display as you intended.
While some of these things can be fixed with a simple update, in other cases they are a symptom of a larger problem. It could be that your site is running on scripts or other software that is no longer supported. If your site’s current design is several years old, it might no longer be compatible with newer devices or browsers.
4. Your Site Is Difficult to Use on Mobile
Check how your website looks when loaded on different types of mobile devices—including smartphones and tablets. Consider:
- Is the site’s text legible?
- Do the images appear correctly?
- Is the site easy to navigate on a smaller screen?
If you want a second opinion or don’t have a variety of mobile devices at your disposal, you can also use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to check your site.
Having a mobile-friendly site is important because mobile devices overtook desktop several years ago as the device that people most use for web browsing. Check your own website analytics for mobile users. What percentage of your visitors come from mobile devices? If it’s a significant percentage, it’s worth redesigning with mobile users in mind.
Plus, with Google’s “mobile-first” indexing, the way your mobile website is made can greatly affect how your site appears on search results.
You can request your web designer to specifically make you a mobile-friendly site, or you can use ready-made mobile friendly templates.
5. You’re Not Seeing Any Business Results
Does your website bring in sales and leads? Is it contributing towards your business goals? If the answer to both questions is “No,” then it’s time to consider a redesign that contributes to your small business.
Just be clear about the what you'll use to measure success:
- Is it the number of leads or sales?
- Is it your conversion rate?
- Is it a low shopping cart abandonment rate?
- Is it to increase the value of each order?
By picking specific key metrics, your redesign will have a more focused objective and you can tell whether it works or not.
If you need more details on how to meet your business goals via your website, here are some helpful resources to start with:
- What Are KPIs and How to Use Them in Your Small Business?Andrew Blackman25 Jul 2022
- How to Make Your Website Convert Better Than CompetitorsBrad Smith16 Aug 2016
- Content Marketing Metrics: How to Measure Your ROIAndrew Blackman23 Jun 2023
6. Visitors Quickly Leave the Site
For some websites, they work best when users visit multiple pages or stay on the site for a long time. If you run a blog, you usually want people to read and share your articles. If you have an eCommerce site, you want people to browse through your products, pick several of them to buy, and follow through on the purchase. If this is the case for your site, users should be sticking around for more than a few seconds.
There are a few metrics you can use to figure out if users leave your site too quickly:
- Bounce Rate. Simply put, a bounce is when a user visits a page on your site and doesn't visit other pages. Your bounce rate is the number of bounces divided by the number of sessions on your site. Google Analytics provides more context on bounce rates here. Keep in mind that if users leave your site quickly but you still meet your business goals, then you don’t have anything to worry about.
- Pages/Session. This is the average number of pages that users view per session. The higher this number, the more pages your average user views when looking at your site.
- Behavior Flow. This can give you a better idea about how thoroughly users go through your website, especially if the above metrics aren't as relevant to your needs. For more information on behavior flow, check out this overview from Google Analytics.
If you’re using Google Analytics, you can find this data under Audience > Overview. For more information on how to understand visitor behavior via your site's analytics, here are some useful guides to start with:
- How to Make Your First Customer Journey Map (Quick Guide)Lauren Holliday22 Aug 2016
- What “Avg. Time on Page” Really ShowsMichael James Williams03 Mar 2016
- When a Bounce is Not a BounceMichael James Williams01 Mar 2016
- Why a High Bounce Rate Isn’t Necessarily a Bad ThingMichael James Williams23 Feb 2016
7. People Can’t Find What They Are Looking For
When potential customers visit your site, they should be able to quickly figure out what to do. If they’re looking for specific information, they can find what they’re looking for in a couple of minutes. If they are trying to buy, subscribe, or inquire, they should be able to do it without outside help. Otherwise, you need an overhaul to make your navigation easier.
Do you get many calls or emails about information that is already on the website? If so, this is a sign that people are having difficulty finding what they need on your site.
8. Your Top Competitors Have Redesigned Their Sites
Unless you’re a designer, it’s hard to tell if your site looks outdated. One way to find out is to check the websites of your competitors and other similar companies in your industry. Consider:
- Have they recently changed their designs?
- Do their designs look wildly different from yours?
Note the text size, colors, and graphic styles they use. If they recently redesigned and these elements are too different from yours, consider getting the feedback of a professional designer.
Outdated design isn't just about aesthetics. They provide subtle signals to your audience. A fresh design lets them know that you've kept up with the times and that your business is thriving.
In general, if your website’s current look was created five years ago, design trends have probably changed enough for your site to look outdated.
9. Your Brand, Products, or Services Have Changed
It’s also possible that your site is no longer representative of your company. Here are some signs that this might be the case:
- The company photos on your site no longer feature current staff or facilities (or are stock photos).
- Your target market has shifted to another market since your current design was made.
- Your top selling products or services have changed.
- When compared with your site, your most recent printed branding materials have new information or a different look.
If any of the above is true, you should work with a designer who has some experience with rebranding.
For finding new looks for simple websites, check out our featured WordPress themes on ThemeForest. You can find professional themes or website templates that are currently trending, such as the leading WordPress theme Avada:
Here are some top WordPress theme designs to browse though, to find one that better suits your business and brand:
- 25 Best WordPress Corporate and Business Themes for Entrepreneurs for 2022Brenda Barron13 Dec 2021
Or learn more about how to choose the right website template for your business:
10. Your Site Isn’t Secure
There are some websites that are especially vulnerable to attacks, such as those that run on content management systems, or eCommerce sites that send or receive payment. In the case of an attack, customer data might get stolen, your website could be held hostage, or strange content such as unwanted ads or links might start appearing on your site.
These kinds of attacks are costly for small businesses. After an attack, 60-percent of small businesses are unable to survive for more than six months. While a redesign will not fix the problem, usually it’s needed if you have to redo your site from the ground up. Otherwise, the existing vulnerabilities might still be present.
How Often Should You Redesign Your Website?
There’s no hard rule on when redesigns should happen. It depends on your industry, the number of pages on your site, the features on your site, and what your site’s purpose is.
For basic websites that only have a handful of pages and no eCommerce features, you can do a routine checkup every six months. But if your site is more advanced—has eCommerce features, or a frequently updated blog posts, or gets tens of thousands of visitors per month—then you should consider doing a monthly checkup.
Once it's time for a regular review of your site design, the checklist above list will help you keep track of whether a major change is necessary or if just a few modifications is all you need.
Editorial Note: This content was originally published in 2017. We're sharing it again because our editors have determined that this information is still accurate and relevant.