Let’s discuss the key problems websites come up against and some signs that it may be high time for a change.
Poor user experience
When we design sites at Pixel Kicks we tend to do so with the intended user(s) in mind from the beginning. If we’re creating a website for an e-commerce store with a bunch of different user groups, we’ll spend time in workshop sessions mapping out all the potential destinations and options that users can choose from.
From there it’s a case of refining it and making sure users don’t get lost or frustrated. The process helps us identify where problems might occur for a user, and how we can keep them flowing through the site. For a simple brochure site it’s less important to do this step as the end goal is much simpler; to view the projects and make contact.
This is all well and good for a new website, but aside from asking your users directly how can you tell if your existing website is underperforming?
Low conversion rates and high bounce rates
A good metric to follow is your conversion rates and bounce rates, particularly for product-focused websites. You may see repeat patterns with users leaving pages, dropping out of checkout processes and not adding products to their carts after browsing a product page. These are usually indicators that something isn’t right and that’s not considering the product being too expensive for them!
A heatmap tool like HotJar is particularly useful for discovering where your customers may be coming across something that’s either too difficult to use or just simply broken. This could be a simple fix like a plugin has become outdated, or worse; it could be because the user pattern is frustrating for your user to use.
Don’t forget to take into consideration your split between mobile users and desktop users. What works fine on desktop may be a horrible experience on mobile. And there is a 70%+ chance mobile is the way people are interacting with your website.
Mobile friendliness and general best practices
“Everybody puts their history into their work” — Erik Spiekermann, Helvetica [a film by Gary Hustwitt, 2007]
Design is ever-changing, as are the devices we use every day. Trends change year to year; what’s in one year might be old the next. It’s not just visual design that goes through these motions. The psychological, system-based laws of design change too.
As designers, we learn through our experiences and through metric-based results. We can see when our ideas work and when they fail. When approaching a new problem, we call upon a mental library of patterns we develop over our careers that help us solve problems. Over time, new and improved user patterns and ideas are brought forward into the design community, and sometimes this once-okay design might render a hindrance or annoyance to your user. The more we get used to how things work, the more things that don’t work that way annoy us. This is known as Jakob’s Law in User Experience land.
When we design a website at Pixel Kicks, we tend to stay away from trends. Trends are of their time, and they usually date very fast. Yes, you may really like the Apple AirPods product page. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if your site could look and work like that too? (I’m being sarcastic here if you couldn’t tell).
According to StatCounter, mobile accounts for 54% of the market share worldwide, compared with 43% of users sitting at a computer (Desktop vs Mobile vs Tablet Market Share Worldwide – August 2023). If your website is designed poorly or as an afterthought for mobile users they’ll more than likely find the experience frustrating and lacking. It’s no longer viable to get by with an okay mobile experience, and you should be looking to your potential digital partner for the same level of care given to mobile user experience and designs as for desktop.
The design is just… old
Similarly, over time design that was inherently good practice and maybe a little unique becomes dated.
We can easily remember iOS at launch. When the iPhone first came out, everything was designed to look kinda glassy. Icons were stylised with realistic shadows and light reflections. The Notes app had that brown leather journal texture across the header bar (yuck). This became known as Skeuomorphism.
Over time, the design has matured into what it is today; flat, a bit soft with rounded edges combined with bright pops of colour. In general a refined user experience, if not boring to look at. It just exists in the background. We’re all familiar with it I’m sure.
If you were to design a website now that utilised Skeuomorphism and you weren’t doing it deliberately to invoke a reaction, it would fall flat.
Think about your own experiences. When you’re shopping for something, do you trust the newer more modern-looking website, or the older — built with Wix — looking business?
This feels somewhat obvious to state… but if your company has just undergone a rebranding exercise then this usually goes hand-in-hand with a website redesign to bring in the new era. It’s important that time is spent here making sure the design of the new website aligns well with the new brand.
If you worked with a branding agency on the rebrand, it may be necessary to co-partner with a specialist digital agency that offers best-in-class digital solutions for the various touch points of the new brand. At Pixel Kicks we’ve done this numerous times. We’re always happy to work alongside your existing partners and keep everyone involved. If anything, the collaboration results in a better end product.
So when is the right time? How do you know when you should be considering a website redesign? Hopefully the above has given you some insight into when is the right time for your business, and that you can feel more confident pitching the project to your superiors armed with the right information.
¹ How many websites do you think exist out there as clones of that AirPods page? 50? 100? 250?
² I use trust here very deliberately. Much of our habits as consumers are based around inherent trust. We don’t know anything about most of the businesses we interact with daily, so just that tiny inkling of being more trustworthy to your customer is a massive foot through the door.
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