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Simple updates can make the difference between a mediocre and a successful website.

Listen to this Design Journal Entry:

Plenty of business owners wonder exactly how often they should be redesigning and updating their website. While there is not a definite answer to this question, there are a few things that website owners can do to determine whether their website is due for an update.

The first thing that you should look at is your website’s overall design. Does the design appear dated? Is the website easy to navigate? These two factors  have a large impact on a potential customer or visitor’s opinion of a business, specially if the looks of it is not professional enough.

While a website does not have to be full of fancy flash  components – which I do not recommend – or dazzling graphics, it is important that the website does not appear old or outdated – unless the design is meant to be based in an artistic vintage or art Deco feel to it – . A website that merely consists of a simple layout and text, will not impress any visitor and will immediately make them push the ‘close’ button. However, a website that is attractive to look at, while offering easy navigation, its clean and well proportionate, will quickly earn the respect of visitors.

When determining if a redesign is necessary, you will need to evaluate your website’s usability and success. A successful website will make it easy for a visitor to find exactly what he or she is looking for. Search boxes, site maps, and clear links to corresponding pages will help visitors find their way around the site. If a visitor could not easily navigate back to the home page from any of the site’s web pages, then the site is due for an update. Additionally, if a visitor could not easily find exactly that they are looking for within the first few minutes of being on the website, then a redesign very necessary.

You should also determine the specific purpose of your website. If you are trying to sell a product or have customers submit personal contact information, examine how successful your website is in meeting your goal. If only three of every hundred visitors are carrying out the desired action, then your website is in serious need of a redesign. Simply making a few changes to the websites design or content can make a significant difference in a website’s success.

Website owners should also realize that a successful website is an ongoing project. The internet is constantly changing. New competitive websites are continuously being created and those that cannot keep up, will soon notice decreased traffic and business. If you want to own a successful website, you will need to frequently evaluate your website’s current and past results, perhaps as often as every few weeks or months.

Most websites will require simple maintenance on a regular basis. This maintenance includes fixing broken links, altering ineffective design components, and adding high quality content to the website. These simple updates can make the difference between a mediocre and a successful website.

Additionally, before deciding on a complete design overhaul, website owners need to evaluate their visitors. If a website sees mostly new visitors, then a big change in design is not likely to produce a negative effect. However, if a majority of a site’s visitors are repeat visitors, especially those that visit the site once or more a week, than a large change in design can be detrimental.

People generally do not like unexpected change. Therefore, if a website has a faithful following, it may benefit more from a similar, but updated design, rather than giving the website a complete makeover. However, in either case, website owners need to be sure to carefully evaluate and maintain their site, in order to effectively determine when changes need to be made to their website’s design.

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