By Blair Collins-Thomas

In this day and age it can be hard to come up with a way to keep your online presence feeling modern and relevant. Especially when you consider the technological advances that certain desirable aspects and functions of a website come and go like the tide.

One thing you cannot underestimate, is the amount of tasks that need to be worked on. Colors, content, fonts, branding, logo, purpose, SEO, redirects, target audience, etc. There are so many things to think about, but whether you are braving this expedition alone, or have brought in external help, you can be well informed about the benefits and a smart approach to make the process as smooth as possible.

Before you jump straight in on a whim and believe it will be perfect, consider the effects of your strategy on your rankings and users. In your pursuit of a ‘great website’ you could turn an ‘ok’ functioning site into an unusable mess. These tips will help you avoid that by redesigning your website without driving away your target audience.

1. SEO

HTTP is dead, long live HTTPS. As Google recently announced and has been slowly rolling out since 2016, any website without HTTPS will be heavily penalized and users will be advised not to use said site. Also, if a page is already performing well and continually providing a strong stream of users to your site, then don’t change it too much — ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ Finally, consider creating a custom 404 page for users who happen to find a broken link, it helps keep them on your site and helps spread the message that you are trying to improve.

2. Design

It might be hard to ignore the urge to simply want a cool new design, you must spend time considering the aim of this website. Is it to grow a brand, convert visits into purchases, share information? Knowing your aim will help you make quicker and more suitable decisions. If it is to encourage users to buy an item, make the journey from homepage to purchase as short as possible.

3. Mobile

Mobile is the main choice of consumers when browsing the Internet, with over 50% of all Internet requests provided by mobile phones in the first half of 2018. To ensure basic mobile compatibility, focus on the user experience, don’t use flash as it won’t be available on most of your users phones, focus on using HTML5 instead. Space any buttons in a manner that you won’t spend half your time clicking the incorrect link and zooming in on the site to be able to read the text.

4. Imagery and Branding

If you’re completely changing the color scheme and styling of your website, it is almost certain you will need a new logo, so be aware of the potential extra costs involved. An old logo that contrasts sharply with new designs or one that hasn’t been changed Microsoft Paint was your chosen design tool, will send across the wrong messages. Videos and high-quality imagery are wonderful, but the size of these files will certainly slow your site speed down, too. Focus on selecting only the most necessary imagery and compressing the images so they don’t infringe on site statistics.

5. Browser Compatibility

Google Chrome leads the browser market with just over 50% market share, yet there are people out there who still use Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer/Edge, and Chrome-based browsers such as Opera and Vivaldi. It could be that your main audience are in these groups, so checking for any compatibility/display issues within these browsers is essential, albeit time consuming.

When it comes to more technical elements you need to focus on page speed. This is still deemed as one of the most important aspects for users. Google’s Page Speed Insights can give you a good understanding of how your site is performing. Anything beyond three seconds is proven to drive your audience in the wrong direction.

While undertaking this task bear in mind the effect it will have on current performance. Expect fluctuations in your site’s analytics and be prepared to adjust and respond accordingly. If you run into trouble, keep it simple and ensure you leave the site in a functioning state and don’t be too worried about bringing in help, often it is exactly what is needed.