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7 Common Pitfalls to Avoid During a Website Redesign

Your website’s current design won’t last forever. As new web technologies and trends emerge, it will eventually become outdated. Fortunately, you can keep your website up to date by redesigning it. If you’re going to redesign your website, though, you should avoid the seven following pitfalls.

 

1) Using a Free Template

Avoid using a free template when redesigning your website. Templates themselves aren’t inherently problematic. Some dynamic content management systems (CMSs) actually require them. WordPress and Drupal, for example, require the use of a theme, which is essentially a site-wide template.

The problem with free templates, as well as free themes, is that they are typically used on hundreds or thousands of websites. If you redesign your website with a free template, it will look the same as many other sites. Furthermore, many free templates contain security vulnerabilities that can make your website a target for cyber attacks. You can still redesign your website with a template, but choose a premium theme that offers a high level of security and deep customisation options.

 

2) Deleting Content

Don’t make the mistake of deleting content during your website’s design. Content is what attracts users to your website. Most users will visit your website to access and read its content. Deleting content removes this incentive, resulting in less website traffic.

If there are multiple pages with similar content, you can consolidate them. Consolidation will preserve the content while allowing users to access it more easily. You can move all of the similar content to one page, followed by deleting the other pages.

 

3) Confusing Navigation

Navigation is an essential component of your website’s design. While visiting your website, users will move from page to page by clicking menu links. If your website’s new design suffers from confusing navigation, you can expect lower engagement. Users will visit click fewer links, visit fewer pages and spend less time reading your website’s content.

For clear and easy-to-use navigation, follow these tips:

  • Use short but descriptive text for menu links that accurately reflects the pages to which they point.
  • Design menu links in a larger font size than that of your website’s body text.
  • Add a homepage link to the top of your website’s design.
  • Place links to the privacy policy and terms and conditions pages in the footer.
  • Include a search bar or field in an easy-to-see location of your website’s design.
  • Ensure that each page has at least one internal link, such as a menu link, pointing to it.
  • Users will expect to see the ‘contact us’ link on the far right of the navigation – don’t be tempted to move it.

 

4) Neglecting to Update Meta Tags

You’ll need to update your website’s meta tags during the redesign. Most redesigns involve a complete overhaul of the website’s code. As you change your website’s code, you’ll probably remove its meta tags. Changing the theme of a WordPress website, for example, will typically result in the loss of any custom meta tags. Even if your website doesn’t use a theme or template, redesigning it will likely remove its meta tags.

To retain your website’s search rankings during the redesign, you’ll need to update its meta tags. There are two basic meta tags that are vital to search engine optimisation (SEO): title and description. The title tag serves as the title for a given page, whereas the description tag serves as the page’s description. When indexing your website, search engines will use them to create the text for your site’s listings.

 

5) Using a Separate Mobile Design

Another pitfall to avoid is using a separate mobile design. In addition to a primary design, some webmasters create a second design specifically for users of smartphones and other mobile users. Known as a separate mobile design, it usually features the same layout and the same menu links. Mobile designs are simply optimised to render in a mobile-friendly way.

Rather than using a separate mobile design, you should stick with a responsive design. Responsive designs are those that adjust automatically based on the user’s device.  A responsive design is an easier solution since it consists of a single design.

 

6) Overlooking Speed

Don’t ignore speed when redesigning your website. Redesigning your website will almost certainly affect its speed. It will make your website either faster or slower. Some designs, of course, will have a more pronounced impact on your website’s speed than others.

Before fully committing to a new design, test it using a speed checker tool. There are several free speed checker tools available online, including Pingdom, Google PageSpeed Insights and GTmetrix. After completing a new design, deploy it on your website and then use one of these speed checker tools. If the design slows down your website, you may want to optimise or replace it.

 

7) Failure to Use Redirects

If you’re redesigning your website with a different URL structure, you should use redirects. URL structure is the format for page addresses. Maybe your website’s pages currently use numerical-based addresses and you want to switch them to descriptive, word-based addresses. Regardless, if you’re going to change the URL structure when redesigning your website, it’s important to use redirects.

Without redirects, any links featuring the old addresses will fail to work. Whether the links are located on your website or another site, they won’t direct users to the right pages. Instead, users who click them will receive an error message in their web browsers.

Redirects will maintain the function of all your website’s links. If you change a page’s address, you can add a 301 redirect to your website’s .htaccess file. With a 301 redirect in place, users who click any links featuring the page’s old address will be redirected to the page’s new address.

Your website’s design affects more than just its aesthetics; it affects your site’s performance. By replacing your website’s outdated design with a newer and more modern design, your site’s performance will improve.

 

If you need help to redesign your website, reach out to us.

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Posted by Alex Stevens