As a website owner, you may have come to the decision that your website needs a redesign. But how do you decide what to change and to what extent, as well as what else might need to change - or not.
A good place to start is imagining a website as comprised of several layers. Once a website is conceptually broken into discrete parts, it is easier to see why a website redesign may consist of several components or just one or two - and in varying degrees.
layers of a website
Let’s start with visual design. Visual design is a website’s colors, textures, graphics, and fonts - or what gives a website its “look and feel”.
example color palette
Visual design will always be involved in any redesign project to some extent, but the role it plays will depend on factors such as:
Whether a company’s brand has changed recently.
Whether the current website’s color palette and design elements are sufficient to support the goals of the redesign.
Whether the current application of the company’s brand is suitable for the redesign.
Depending on factors such as the above, the visual design may involve a few tweaks, a reassessment of the existing design, or a complete “rethink” of how to use the company’s brand.
Something to consider is that changes in the visual design that require no or minimal changes on other layers, will be fairly simple to implement. Therefore, constraining changes as much as possible during a redesign to only the visual layer can be a cost effective way to upgrade the design of a website.
A website’s layout refers to the organization of images, graphics, and text on a web page and in relation to each other. Additionally, layout defines the width and height of pages, and sections within pages, as well as the division of content within the layout.
example wireframe of a website layout
Deciding to change a website’s layout is one of the most important considerations during a redesign. Layout changes inevitably require changes to other layers, which may not have been anticipated before the changes occurred.
Before you toss out your website’s current layout or start making significant layout changes, consider such factors as:
Is my business the same as during the last design project?
Do I want the website’s content to stay the same?
Do elements in the existing layout also exist in more modern layouts?
“Yes” answers suggest fewer layout changes, while “nos” suggest the opposite.
Content includes all the text and images found on a website. Content should always be factored into decisions about website redesigns. Unfortunately, discussions about content often take a back seat to other layers, such as the visual design or the choice of CMS. But by not taking content into account, often designs are created that do not support the content available or a new CMS is chosen without the understanding that all content will need to be reentered once the project is completed.
Content will always have an effect on visual design, layout, and choice of CMS. In fact, a website’s layout is largely determined by the content available at the time. So if the content is not changing, should the layout change? Alternatively, if the layout is changing significantly, will new content be available for the new layout. Factoring content into a redesign project will indicate what other layers should change or not.
CMS (or Content Management System)
example cms types
During a website redesign project, the question often arises whether to use the CMS on which the website is currently built or whether to switch to a new CMS. To wrap up this article, we’ll briefly discuss situations that may arise regarding the CMS.
Inappropriate CMS: If a website was built on an CMS that is inappropriate for your website, the answer to the question of whether to switch is obviously “yes.” But before you switch, it is important ask yourself why the CMS is inappropriate. Is it a content management issue? A development issue? Did your website outgrow the CMS or is the CMS now obsolete.
The answers to these questions may point you in the direction of a CMS with an easy to use content management interface or a CMS with a robust development framework.
Badly coded CMS: Before you switch to a different CMS during a redesign, ask yourself whether your current CMS is inappropriate or just badly coded. A badly coded CMS may be appropriate for what you need to do, but can still be difficult to use for both content management and development.
Moving to a new CMS can be a major undertaking. Before you switch, make sure you won’t be better off rebuilding on the same CMS, which may be much easier than switching to a new system entirely.
Focus is visual and minor layout changes only: If the focus of the project is visual and minor layout changes only, the CMS can probably be used as is. This scenario is particularly true in instances where visual design is the main focus of the project or when the overall layout of the website is not changing, such when a website is converted from a desktop design into a responsive design.
But double check that the website is well built overalll. Attempting to implement even a simple redesign on top of a defective website can have unforeseen, negative effects on the entire project.
If you are interested in exploring a redesign for your website, contact Avatar New York today.
Avatar New York is an innovating, award-winning web design New York firm dedicated to providing clients with responsive websites that help grow brands and convert visitors to customers. With an expertise in web development, branding, cloud hosting, mobile app development, and CMS and e-commerce solutions.