Sometimes, it’s hard to know whether you actually need a new website. It can be tempting to consider a brand new website project when you’re tired of looking at your current website, but it isn’t always necessary. More often than not, you can actually improve what you already have and still see some really great results.
This list should serve as a guide to help you reach a decision. If some members of your team are all for a new website but some are uncertain, spend some time discussing the following questions together before you start calling web design agencies.
We hope this guide is useful if you are trying to decide if you need a new website in 2020.
1. Is your website a good representation of your business?
Ask yourself: are you proud of how your website looks? Do you feel like it accurately reflects your company, or are you embarrassed to show your site to clients? If your website’s current design is not showing your business in the best light – or worse, if your web design doesn’t match your company’s new branding, it might be time for an upgrade.
We built a website for a company last year, who told us in our first meeting that they were embarrassed to show potential clients their website. Even if they gave an outstanding sales pitch, they felt like the appearance of the website was a huge detractor. Their business is highly unique and extremely professional, but their old site wasn’t giving that impression. Your website is one of the faces of your company, so it is important that you feel confident about it.
However, if your website is in fairly good shape but just missing key pieces of information (for example, a section on your new app or product), then this may be easy to add to your existing site. If the design isn’t the core issue, then don’t bin your current design in order to resolve a different problem.
2. Is there a major piece of functionality missing?
Perhaps the biggest issue with your existing site is that it’s missing a core piece of functionality. You might want to upgrade your web shop, or give users the ability to use elastic search to explore your website’s content.
If you are just looking for one or two new pieces of functionality, it is unlikely that you will need to start from scratch. Instead, start a discussion with your web agency about how you can incorporate this new functionality into what you’ve already got. Any good agency should be able to judge whether the request is a simple add-on, or if it would be more prudent to begin a redesign process.
3. What is your website’s carbon footprint?
The climate crisis is on everyone’s radar as we enter into the next decade. More and more, greening the web is becoming a topic of focus. At Wholegrain Digital, we strongly believe that we all have a part to play in this. This is why we have developed our free website carbon calculator tool, which allows you to measure the carbon emissions of your website.
If your website is scoring badly on the calculator, it is important to learn why. There are many ways that you can reduce your website’s carbon footprint without the help of a developer, or with some minor back end work. However, if your website is badly built with bloated code, starting from scratch could be a fantastic way to dramatically cut the amount of energy your website uses. This probably won’t be enough to justify a redesign process alone, but it is a great thing to focus on when the time comes.
4. How well do you know your user journeys?
You wouldn’t start building a road without knowing where it is going to lead. Similarly, you shouldn’t build a website without knowing what your users are going to use it for, and how you are going to take them there. Careful UX planning is essential for your website. You need to plan out user journeys and make sure that all are catered for in the best way possible.
You should reflect on the last web design process you went through as a team and how much user journeys were considered, if at all! If you weren’t part of the original web design process, find someone in your organisation who was, or ask someone to conduct a UX review of your existing website.
5. Do you know why your site isn’t converting leads?
The more data you can use to inform your decisions, the more likely they are to benefit your company. If the numbers are showing that your site is converting less and less leads, this is something you will need to address sooner rather than later.
Before you dive head first into a new project, it’s important to understand any issues on your current site deeply. Using tools such as HotJar, you can monitor visitors interacting with your website, and set up user funnels to find out exactly where your customers are dropping off. This can help you pinpoint pages with high bounce rates or sections of your site that are confusing users, so that you can determine whether or not a quick fix is needed.
6. Does your website meet accessibility standards?
Online accessibility has always been important. Did you know that up to 19% of working age adults in the UK have some form of disability or impairment, according to Scope UK? We need to make sure that the internet is usable for everyone.
This is becoming more highly regulated. Last new, new regulations were announced in the UK. All public sector websites will need to meet accessibility requirements by September 2020, unless they have a good reason not to. These laws are likely to become more and more commonplace in the next few years.
Conduct an accessibility review of your existing site to test if it complies with WCAG 2.1 AA standards. Wholegrain Digital offers WordPress accessibility audits for those curious to see how their website performs.
7. How long has it been since your site was built?
Websites are never “finished”. They need to be maintained, updated and continuously redeveloped. Technology moves fast and so do website trends. While we don’t believe it’s necessary to redesign your site from scratch every few years, a refreshed design may be the right way to go if your site is more than five years old and has not been maintained carefully.
At a minimum, you should feel confident that your site meets all of the following:
- Work well on mobiles and tablets
- Works well on all major browsers
- Looks modern
- Feels and is secure for users
- Meets the standard set by your competitors
- Loads quickly
8. Are your team happy with the current CMS?
One of the most common things we hear from clients when we take on a new project is that their internal team is sick of using their current CMS. It is so important that your website functions well, so that your team can get their work done as efficiently as possible.
Wanting to change CMS is one of the most common reasons for starting a web design project. However, there are also things you can do to tidy up the back end of your existing CMS; it depends on what you need. If you’re fed up with your CMS and want more flexibility and control over your site, then a new, custom-built website is probably what you need most. But if the back end is sluggish, there are some things a developer can do to make it work properly again.
9. What is your budget?
You should only take on a new website project if it is financially viable. Websites don’t have to cost the sun and the moon, but they are an expense that you’ll need to fit into your budget. It’s also worth remembering that it will cost your team time; meetings, content writing, SEO optimisation and ongoing testing are all things you need to consider.
If you don’t have the budget, or team resources are already stretched to the max, don’t put yourself under pressure. Figure out a longer term strategy and work out how you can improve your current site in the short term.
Designing and developing a new site should be a positive experience, not a stressful one, so you should do it when you really feel ready!
It’s important to ask yourself how long it has been since you gave your website a little TLC. For most organisations, a website will be one of your most important investments. Given that we spend more and more time online, many of your customers will have their first interaction with you online. It is crucial that you feel confident about how your website performs.
But at the same time, you shouldn’t feel pressured to redesign your website from scratch because of one or two hiccups. More often than not, your web design agency should be able to work with what you already have to improve the CMS for both your internal team and your end users.
There will come a time when your website needs a total refresh, but make sure that this comes at the right time. Your business, and your team, will thank you!