Website New Design, Redesign or Refresh?
I am often approached and asked to create a new website for a company. My first question is always: “Why?” After we go through the concerns which range from “It sucks” to “It’s not making me any money” to “It’s broken”, I consider these concerns, take a quick look and judge if the design looks up to date or not and then make a determination for a new design, a redesign or a refresh.
New Website Design: Strategic Graphic and Content Plan
I recommend a new design when the site is obviously outdated and there is little to no content on the site. This new design is like starting afresh and going back to the drawing board. A new design requires a strategic approach with short term and long term business objectives considered in the planning for the content to be implemented. If done correctly, a new website design can be one of the more intense things a company goes through in defining their messaging and their businesses. Those who have done it correctly and well take a great deal of pride and accomplishment in the outcome. And typically they see the results they would expect from such an investment.
In all three of the following examples, the next step involved a new design. This new design was required primarily because the company was still working out its messaging for the audience, had not invested in a content plan, and was spending too much time between designs before seeking their next update.
1998 – New Design
2002 – New Design
2005 – New Design
A Website Redesign: New Graphic Design
When making a determination on which direction to go, if I see obvious thought and planning put into the content, it is seldom I recommend a brand new design. I probe deeper into the concerns the owner has and get to what is usually one or two direct concerns. I recommend redesigns when there has been a fundamental shift in the business offering or a significant change in the business direction or mission, but the overall business remains the same. I also recommend redesigns when the site is content rich, but the current design is fundamentally flawed or seriously outdated.
But ultimately, the big difference between redesign and a new design is usually the content. In a redesign, much if not all of the content survives the redesign process. So the major change is in the look and feel of the site, not the bulk of the content of the site.
Continuing with the above examples, the owner went through one final new design and created a site (2007) which was very content rich and contained a better refined message. When Parker Web started working with the client in late 2009, instead of creating an entirely new design, we redesigned the existing site leaving most of the content structure in place and focusing our time working on a high quality look to go with the quality content. The resulting website redesign (2010) was a significantly smaller investment than a new design, but achieved the desired results.
2007 – New Design
2010 – Website Redesign
A Website Refresh: A Graphic Update
A website refresh is something I seldom see sold in the marketplace, but it is a very effective way to keep your site fresh and up to date. Usually the refresh candidate owner is actively involved in their site, their content is fresh and rich and their traffic is at expected levels. The owner is concerned that their look is getting a bit dated and perhaps some basic layouts need to be changed. On the whole the site is acceptable, but not exceptional.
A website refresh takes into consideration current graphic trends and also looks at current content trends and, using the current site as its basis, creates a fresh look. Using the same site as above, a refresh was done in 2013. The refresh relied heavily on the previous design and incorporated new trends in user expectations and some improved product focus. This was again even less expensive than a full redesign and was designed, approved and implemented in less than two weeks.
2013 – Website Refresh
Website Maintenance is Key
When Ramsey Chain partnered with Parker Web in 2009, they quickly discovered the value in establishing a high quality core of graphics and content and then the value of ongoing maintenance versus doing complete redesigns every few years. By working with a partner that can provide ongoing updates, content additions, minor graphic changes and other needs, it is more likely that a refresh will suffice over a complete redesign and it is seldom, if ever, that a brand new design will required.