For a business, a makeover is can be both a necessity and a nightmare. It’s a necessity because as Generation Z comes of age, businesses have to figure out a way to appeal to a generation that was practically raised on a steady diet of memes and offbeat, sometimes verging on the absurd, humors. It’s a nightmare because trying to do the very thing I just described above isn’t easy and you’re risking alienating your loyal millenial and Generation X customers. Having to achieve this balance between having to change and not alienating people is much easier said than done.
Changes are never easy, both in the part of the entity undergoing that change and in the part of the entity witnessing that change. This universal truth is applicable in almost every facet of our live, including in the world of web development. Changes to a website can leave users feeling disoriented but at the same time, as new technologies and trends are introduced, it wouldn’t make sense for a business to still stick with the same website they’ve had over the years. The goal is to make these changes as seamless as possible, bringing necessary improvements to the website without alienating existing users.
The necessity of change
Nokia ruled the mobile phone world for a time before being usurped by BlackBerry which was then usurped by the iPhones and the Androids of the world. On the other hand, Netflix managed to successfully pivot from mailing DVDs into becoming the pop culture behemoth that they are now, with the phrase Netflix and chill entering our cultural lexicon. Change and the ability to adapt are necessary but survival of the fittest also dictates that not all of us will be able to make it through this period of change.
That might seem overly dramatic but we’ve already seen that happening in the world of web development as well. In the early years of the internet, Yahoo used to be a big deal when it comes to the world of internet but they failed to take the rise of smartphones seriously and as a result, they would probably end up as nothing more than a footnote when future historians are writing a book on the legacy of Google. There was also the case of MySpace, the social platform that will always holds a special place for me as the place where a girl from high school I had a major crush on wrote a love letter to me on her blog before Facebook came along and bulldozed everything in their path to dominance.
To sum up, the history of the world and specifically the internet is littered with websites and services that failed to adapt to the new normal. In the forever-changing world of web development, website redesigns are a necessity, especially for businesses running an e-commerce platform or other online services. As with everything in life however, making changes to a website isn’t always easy and it’s important for businesses to be made aware of the challenges that comes with a website redesign project so they can better prepare themselves when they’re put in that position.
Clearly define the scope of the redesign project
Are you trying to make your website more accessible for people with certain disabilities or are you just trying to make your website more user-friendly in general? The thing with a redesign project is that you need a clearly defined and specific set of goals or you risk losing focus of the project. Making your website more user-friendly is a noble goal but try coming up with a list of specific actions to do or functionalities to add in with your website order to achieve that goal. Having a list of specific goals to strive for can keep your project from being saddled with superfluous ideas and activities that are just going to drag the project down.
Keeping your identity intact
As a digital representation of your business, your website carries the heavy burden of being the online face of your business. As a result, it’s common for your customers to associate what they see in your website with your business. Given this fact, businesses are also keen on keeping this ‘identity’ intact when going through a website redesign project. This is especially important for businesses that rely on customers making repeated visits to their website, like a blog or an e-commerce platform.
The challenge here is for businesses to make changes and tweaks to their website without losing themselves in the process. The idea of identity is intangible; it is entirely possible for your new website to not look exactly the same while still being immediately recognizable. If however, this website redesign is being done as part of a larger identity makeover, you can throw this concern out of the window but if not, it might be a good idea to carry over certain aesthetic elements such as color schemes and/or the overall content and navigational layout from your old website.
Don’t make the redesign about you
Far too often, businesses uses a redesign project, for websites or something more comprehensive, as nothing more than a vanity project or a publicity stunt; changing simply for the sake of change. This isn’t a good idea as your idea of what looks good on your website might be very different to your users’ idea on the same thing. The simple truth is, it’s your users that are going to be spending more time interacting with your website, not you, so naturally, your website cater more to their needs.
Always be aware that the work doesn’t stop here
If your old website is version 1.0, the new one will be version 2.0. However, always be aware that it doesn’t stop there as there are still plenty of numbers we could use. What this means is that you should always leave room for future updates and additions to be added later on and to not lock yourself to a rigid platform that would make future revisions a lot harder than they have to. It’s also a good idea for you and/or your team to document their work so that if there’s any problem in the future and none of the original developers are around, you still have something to hold on to.