Although every redesign is different, there are a few common requests that designers hear when working on a project. Some of these requests may follow trends, while others are more evergreen.
Let’s look at a few of the most common factors in a redesign, and some examples of how these elements might look on a completed website.
A new navigation is one of the most common requests of those seeking a website redesign. It’s usually a sign of a growth: initially, simple menus or sidebars will fit most categories or product options, but as new pages are created, they simply won’t fit.
Redesigning the navigation usually involves the creation of a new menu or set of options at the top or side of the website. Navigation at the top is most common, but some sites with many options, categories, or products may choose to supplement this with an additional menu on the side or even the bottom. Also, redesigned navigational options usually include the addition of “breadcrumbs,” or small on-page indications that show where a user is on a website.
Here’s an example of a breadcrumb in action on Harrisburg community magazine TheBurg:
The ideal website navigation should be fully integrated with the CMS so that any new pages or options can be added easily without modifying code or doing any kind of manual development. New additions should also be easy to sort or change in lists, again without any custom coding, so that anyone managing the website can easily grow the navigation as the website grows.
Here are two examples from Warren CAT (which has multiple options, both top menu and on-page navigation) and Pour My Beer (which has a very simple top menu):
If you run an ecommerce website, or have a large amount of content available for visitors, you are probably already considering this option. However, if you’re on the fence about redesigning your navigation, ask a few customers how they feel about it. Are they able to find what they want easily? Is it clear and simple? If not, start thinking about changing your menus and links to better accommodate their needs.
Redesigned Checkout Process
Is your cart abandonment rate sky-high? Are your products being purchased, but just not from your website? If this is the case, your shopping cart may be to blame.
Your checkout process can literally make a break a sale. If a customer is ready to purchase, but can’t figure out how, or has trouble along the way, they won’t hesitate to leave your site for a competitor. A redesigned shopping cart and checkout is a common request for this very reason: website owners want to convert shoppers into customers, and will do anything to keep them on the site.
Some ecommerce websites rely on simple one page checkout systems, and there is data to support a reduction in abandon rates if a single page is used. On the other hand, there is also data to support a reduction by those who switch to simple, multi-page checkouts. So which method is right for you will depend on a variety of factors, including whether or not you require account signup or how much information your customers are asked to provide.
Here’s a redesigned shopping cart and checkout process on Ceramcor:
Before redesigning your checkout or shopping cart, look carefully at the data you have available. Are customers leaving your checkout immediately? If so, this could show that the process is too complicated. But if they are simply leaving as soon as they see the page with shipping fees and options, you probably have an issue that can’t be solved by a redesign. In this case, knowing where the abandonment happens is the only way you can answer the question of “why?”
Responsive or Mobile-Friendly Design
Responsive design is rapidly becoming a must-have element of websites. Many sites, large and small, are being redesigned to better support browsers and devices of many sizes, and capitalize on the growing trend of mobile ecommerce.
If you aren’t familiar with responsive design, it’s website design that properly scales content to display on browser of any size, whether it’s on a cell phone or a large computer monitor. Responsive design ensures that your site’s content appears correctly, and is easy to read, regardless of the device used to access it. It also provides a consistent experience between browsers, so that someone who visits your site from different devices is able to find what they are looking for without a struggle.
Here’s an example of a responsive website designed for Bricco, an Italian restaurant. The first image is of the website as it appears on a computer monitor, while the second is its appearance on a smaller resolution or on a tablet.
An alternative to responsive design is a secondary “mobile website” that displays for cell phone or tablet users. If your website has a large navigation, or is determined to be too complex or complicated to convert to responsive, you may want to invest in this option instead.
The way that a mobile website works is first by determining how a visitor is accessing your site. If the browser sends a signal that it is being used on a mobile device, the website can automatically change to the mobile version. If you visit a website on your cell phone, and see “m.” in front of the URL, this means you are seeing the mobile version. Mobile versions typically have simplified navigation and options, allowing you to easily access the most important content or features.
For example, here are the Ocean City, New Jersey desktop and mobile websites:
As you can see, the mobile version is reduced to provide the most relevant content for those accessing the website from their phone. This is also important because this particular site may be visited by those traveling or on-the-go, so putting the most commonly accessed or desired pages on the mobile homepage ensures that visitors can find what they want very quickly.
If you are experiencing high bounce rates or cart abandons on mobile devices, you should consider investing in responsive design, or at least a mobile version of your website. This can keep visitors on your site for longer and improve their visit, all the while ensuring a consistent experience between different devices.
If your site looks like it’s stuck in the early 2000s—or seems even older—chances are good that a majority of this is due to your graphics. While a few changes to color and layout can make a big difference, you can potentially have an even bigger impact on the “newness” of your website by updating your logo, homepage graphics, product images, and so on.
Updating your graphics and images can change the entire look and feel of a site, even if the navigation and general structure stays the same. Many sites rely on homepages with easily modified “content blocks” that allow promotional or seasonal images to be swapped in and out, or scrolling banner images that link to different portions of the website. Using options like these gives you the flexibility to essentially redesign your homepage whenever you like.
Here are two examples of this from David’s Furniture and Gate to Garage:
To achieve the graphical portion of a redesign, you will need to work closely with a graphic designer, or the graphic design portion of your chosen agency. Don’t be afraid to take risks, but avoid making any changes that could isolate your audience: someone shopping for a tractor would probably leave a website with flash animation or enormous photos that would better suit a women’s fashion outlet. If your audience wants information above all else, make sure your graphics don’t hide it!
Modern Design Elements
Website design trends are constantly changing. What is trendy now may be old news in a few years, or even just a few months. It’s common for design agencies to hear the word “modern” in their client requests, but what this means can be vastly different to everyone, and the meaning changes frequently.
If you want your website design to last a long time with only a few simple changes, modifications, or refreshes, avoid following every trend too closely. Your visitors may be impressed by modern design, but keep in mind that they have reasons for being there – and if your design elements stop them from finding what they want or performing an action, they’re going to leave.
Above all else, do what will help your customers. Yes, rolling out a responsive site with parallax scrolling and incredibly large graphics might earn you a few links or even design awards. But if it won’t solve any problems, or make it easier for visitors to do what they came there to do, is it really worth it? Strive to find a balance between functional and fun without losing sight of your goals.
Better Calls to Action
No matter what kind of website you have, chances are good that you have a call to action of some kind on it. “Add to cart” is a call to action, and so is “contact us,” “click here to download,” or any other message that encourages action to be taken.
If you’re not seeing enough clicks or completions surrounding your calls to action, or CTAs, your website design may be contributing. If your CTA is buried or difficult to locate, or doesn’t stand out from the surrounding content, you may want to consider altering your design to better support these crucial messages.
For ecommerce sites, this may be as simple as changing the color of your “add to cart” button, making it more visible, or moving it elsewhere on your product pages. You should also ensure that your CTAs have enough support – for example, making product price more visible by the “add to cart” option, or clearly stating what happens after someone clicks the “contact us” option on your site.
Although better CTAs are sometimes a simple matter of rewriting your copy or making small changes to your approach, sometimes a redesign is the best way to drive clicks and actions. If your most important CTA isn’t having any affect—whether it’s “add to cart” or “sign up” or something else—consider changing the design to give it more power and attention.
Finally, for website owners who really want to impress their visitors, or make their site stand out from the competition, some special effects or features may be requested. This can include everything from flash animation to an image gallery to horizontal scrolling.
Typically, whenever any special effects or features are requested, special development or design requests will need to be made. These features can add significant time to a redesign – as well as cost. This is especially true if the requests you make are outside the scope of what the company you are working with can cover.
The Fitness U website has a simple homepage flash animation that explains the benefits of its gym:
You can also see a special interactive map in action on the Rex Energy site:
Avoid implementing any special effects or custom development simply because you think they’re “cool.” Every single element of your website should be inspired by data and customer needs. So if a flash animation or room designer tool will benefit them, go for it! But think carefully before you commit to any special effects or custom development, because if it doesn’t work, you’ll still be stuck with the bill.
Now that we’ve covered these common elements of a website redesign, and given you a few examples of what a redesign might include, let’s take a look at the cost of a new site design—and why it’s so hard to get an answer to the question of “how much will this all cost?”