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You might not need a redesign after all

Find out why you might not need to spend money on an expensive redesign project

When your website gets outdated or stops performing well, it’s time to start looking for an agency that can redesign your website from the ground up. At least that’s the most common reaction. Once you’ve gone through the agonizing process of choosing an agency to work with, the redesign process is very time-consuming, requires a significant financial investment, and leaves plenty of room for error.

There are agencies like Dumbwaiter, Odopod, and Huge that specialize in this type of effort and are experts at getting their clients positive results. Sometimes a total redesign is necessary to improve the customer experience and set the client’s business apart from their competition.

But that solution isn’t for everyone.

Many agencies like the ones I listed above are now being called on to offer small, iterative changes instead of large redesign efforts. Making small improvements to your website over time can offer big results for a small investment, at least until the next big redesign is required.

Having said that, I’ve compiled a list of 5 things you can do to improve your website without undergoing a complete redesign.

1. Revise Your Messaging

Your website probably has some taglines from ages past that just aren’t cutting it anymore. More specifically, they aren’t effectively converting viewers into leads. Consider revising the messaging and language used throughout your website to be more refined and relevant to your target audience. This will make your content easier to navigate and lower the barrier to entry. You should see an increase in conversions, page views, and web traffic in general.

2. Conduct A/B Testing

For those of you who are unfamiliar, A/B testing is when you test two options to see which one performs better. Fancy design firms will spend lots of time doing numerous A/B tests where the results end up looking like the NFL playoff bracket. However, your A/B testing could be as simple as sending a limited number of people to an online form where they can answer some questions about both options. No matter how the testing is conducted, knowing what images, taglines, and button names will help convert more visitors into customers is invaluable and completely free.

3. Update the Design

Perhaps the most common reason for a website redesign is that the “design” is simply out of date. More modern aesthetics and conventions have become commonplace and your website from 2005 is just downright unprofessional. In a digitally-driven world, an outdated website is the fastest way for your business to lose the trust and respect of it’s potential customers. But there is a lightweight solution to this problem.

You can simply hire a freelance designer to take exactly what you have today and get it ready for tomorrow. Unlike a total website redesign, there is no strategy here. It’s all about taking your current website and making it look better. You can outsource the implementation to a freelance developer, or if you have a technical staff member, you can keep the work in-house and save even more money.

4. Simplify Everything

Everything in our modern technical world revolves around the concept of simplification. Websites now have big full-width images and large one-line headings. We have seen “flat design” become a revolutionary trend. Mobile apps are all about minimalism and ease of use. The word “intuitive” has never been used more frequently. Your website should be no exception to these modern conventions.

To improve your website without a total redesign, you can hire a copyrighter to simplify your website’s content. Have an internal meeting to establish a few simple goals your company is trying to meet and then strategize what small adjustments you can make to your website to help meet those goals. You might be surprised at how much you can improve your website by simply removing unnecessary content.

5. Leverage Google Analytics

Google Analytics is, in my opinion, the most valuable tool you can possess for your website and it is completely free. You’ll need a @gmail address to sign up, but the installation is very simple. You just paste some code at the bottom of every page you want to track and login into your dashboard.

Within a few days, you will begin to see tons of valuable data pertaining to your visitors such as their geographic location, what browser they use, how long they stay on your website, what page is most viewed, and so on. Using this information, you can begin to strategize the best way to make the changes I’ve suggested above based on real information instead of blindly guessing at what might work.

Complete website redesigns are sometimes necessary, but they often require a large financial investment and leave lots of room for error. If you aren’t ready or able to hire a firm to guide you through that complex process, try using these suggestions to make the biggest improvements with the least amount of effort.

About Matt Olpinski
Matt is the President of Matthew’s Design Co. and teachers thousands of freelancers how to succeed through his personal blog and newsletter.