352 Inc. / Digital Strategy / March 9th, 2012

8 Reasons Not To Redesign Your Website

This is a guest post by Chris Horton.

As the principle place of online residency, your website needs to do more than just look good. Today’s Internet marketing is content-driven and customer-focused. Increasingly, businesses are scrapping elaborate “brochure” websites in favor of functional redesigns that attract target prospects and generate leads. By doing so, companies are better able to align their websites with their core business goals.

But you shouldn’t redesign for the sake of redesigning. Too many think that the freshness and “wow factor” of a new website will increase excitement over your brand. While this may prove to be true in the short-run, it will likely do more harm than good. As Saint Bernard of Clairvaux once noted, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Here are some popular justifications for website redesign that should be avoided:

1. Our CEO/Owner wants to do it.

Hey, I get it: They’re the head honcho and may be signing your paycheck, but if a redesign moves forward for such a flimsy reason, chances are you’ll be out on the street when the company can’t make payroll.

2. It’s been 12 months since our last redesign.

A classic example of form over substance. It’s not a teeth cleaning. Habitual site redesigns often do more harm than good to a brand because it projects instability to your user base. Stability builds trust. If your company tends to be trigger happy with redesign, you may want to repurpose that restless energy into others channels, like repainting the lobby: it’s cheaper and less risky.

3. We want to improve branding.

When properly executed in conjunction with a comprehensive online marketing strategy, this can be a legitimate reason for redesigning your site. Unfortunately, it usually isn’t.

4. We have a new corporate look and feel.

Again, if the redesign is part of a comprehensive rebranding effort, then go for it. If, on the other hand, your company has merely tinkered with the corporate culture, you’re better off lobbying for casual Friday.

5. We want to look cutting edge.

Who doesn’t?  Though having a Lamborghini Diablo of a website would surely impress, come bonus time you’ll appreciate your Toyota Camry site that is attracting prospects, generating leads and converting sales.

6. We’re tired of the old website.

Eventually the excitement of a new website will turn into boredom. It may be that your old website needs to improve its practical functionality. Are you blogging and producing other rich content that users find interesting and helpful? Is your web copy optimized for SEO? Is your site an island, or is it integrated with your social and mobile marketing channels? You get the picture.  As my mother used to say, “Don’t through the baby out with the bathwater.”

7. The design/marketing team wants to.

The accountants want receipts, the sales manager wants more leads, and everyone wants a raise. If the design or marketing team has a concrete vision as to how to engage and provides value to your target audience that will lead to lead generation and eventually sales, full steam ahead. If not, maybe have them collaborate and create a brochure or something.

8. We want to emulate a competitor’s website.

I’m all for gathering competitive intelligence, but you’re better off analyzing the needs of your user base or target audience. Don’t follow the herd, follow your prospects.

In an era where the Internet is fast becoming the primary source of consumer research and purchasing decision, using SEO to drive traffic to a brochure site is not enough.  Your website should be calibrated to connect with relevant prospects, produce viable leads, and convert those leads into sales.

If, however, you’ve got some extra money burning a hole in your pocket, give me a call. I’ve got some swampland in Florida for sale…

About the Author
Chris Horton is an Internet blogger and active tech enthusiast. He is currently consulting for Minneapolis-based Internet Marketing Company SyneCore Technologies, where he edits the Marketing Technology For Growth blog.