You’ve decided that your website needs some help. Maybe the site structure could be better, maybe you need to add some content and copy, maybe the aesthetic just needs some revamping, or maybe you need to re-do just about everything. So where do you start?

Not all websites will need to be completely redesigned, which can cost you time and money. But being afraid to make significant changes may leave you in the same position as before. Either way, you need to take your site’s redesign seriously and approach it from multiple angles.

Your website is your first impression.

And you have 50 milliseconds to make that first impression a good one. That’s the time it takes for a user to form an opinion about your website and decide whether or not to stay.

No matter how great your product or service is, it won’t do you much good if they’re immediately turned off by a poorly designed website. Your website is your chance to show your audience your credibility, professionalism, and openness to connect with customers. If you’ve decided it doesn’t fulfill these goals, then it may be time for a makeover. But before you start, ask yourself these questions so you can figure out how much of a re-design your site truly needs.

What functionality problems does your website have?

Think of functionality as being how easy it is for users to do or find what they want on your site. How easy is it to read the content, or find the contact information, or move from page to page. Can users easily navigate your site or be easily redirected to your social media pages?

According to Huff Industrial Marketing, KoMarketing, & BuyerZone, when on a company’s homepage, 86% of visitors want to see information about the company’s products and services, and 64% of them want to see contact information. These two straightforward pieces of information should be clear and easy for users to find right away.

No matter how beautiful your website is, if the basic functionality and structure of your site is confusing or hard to use and navigate, then it might be turning visitors away.

Does your website load quickly?

Another huge factor in the functionality of your website according to The State of Content: Expectation on the Rise (by Adobe) is the loading time of the site and media.

39% of consumers will stop engaging with a website if the images won’t load or take too long to load.

You could have a stunning homepage with a full-screen background image or video, but if that media doesn’t load quickly, viewers could give up on your site before they even see it.

Also make sure your images are saved in the most optimal format. Life Hacker says that PNG, JPEG and GIF are the best for the web. JPEG is best used for still images or photographs with lots of color and shading. GIF is best for those funny animations where color quality isn’t a huge deal. PNG-8 is the most optimal for logos and images with transparency. PNG-24 is great for complex photographs, but the large file size means it usually isn’t more optimal than a JPEG.

Another great thing to look into (as recommended by Google) is using vector graphics for images that have a lot of simple geometric shapes and not a “complicated scene” like what your average image has going on. Vector graphics are great for logos, icons, shapes, etc. because they will look clean and sharp at any zoom setting and resolution.

Go through your media, and figure out where you can cut file sizes or use a different format to decrease the load time of your website. The less time you keep those visitors waiting, the more likely they’ll want to peruse other areas of your site!

With fresh eyes, would it make you want to buy or use your product or service?

Take a moment to step back and try to view the site as if you were a consumer visiting your page for the first time. Employee bias aside, would you truly want to use the product or service? Even get some actual consumers, friends, family members, colleagues, etc. to take a look at the website and ask them the same thing.

If the answer is commonly no or maybe, then think about where your website is lacking in terms of design and copy writing.

Is there a lack of professionalism?

  • Grammar mistakes, inappropriate tone or writing style
  • Unprofessional or hard to read fonts, cheesy or unprofessional looking graphics, outdated or clashing color schemes

Is it boring? Lacking Emotion or the brand’s story?

  • Dry, voiceless writing
  • No call to action
  • Incomplete or incorrect information
  • Cookie cutter or boring design

Make sure everything on your site is professional and appropriate for your industry and business, but also make sure it isn’t too cut and dry. Your website should tell your brand’s story, appeal to emotion (customer’s wants & needs), along with providing detailed and complete information.

In some cases just the visual design or the writing will need a change, but usually, these two things are intertwined and both may need a little TLC.

Is your SEO optimal?

A large focus of any website re-design should be on SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. If you’re going to dedicate the time and money into a website re-design, make sure your audience will be able to find you once it’s done!

SEO is the process of increasing organic traffic to your site by making sure it is visible to and ranked high on search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo!, etc. If you’ve already made sure the structure of your site is easily navigable and the content of your site is highly relevant to your company and industry, then you’re already part way there to ensuring the success of your SEO. Search Engine Watch says that Google rewards sites that are user friendly and have a large amount of quality, original content over sites that are just stuffed full of keywords.

Google’s Webmaster Guidelines detail simple back-end or coding techniques you can do like making sure all your meta tags, alt attributes and <title> elements are detailed, descriptive and accurate. This will help search engines pull your website from the pile when someone searches something related to the descriptions of your content. Google also rewards mobile-friendly sites in its search results, so it’s extremely important that your website can preform well on various devices, not just on a laptop or desktop.

If you’re a local business, making sure you rank high in your geographic area is also important. You should include the city and state in descriptions, use your true physical contact information (and have it match the city you want to rank high in), claim a business page on Google and Bing, and get some reviews.

SEO encompasses many different elements of your website and these are just a few. If you know your site needs some help, but SEO seems daunting to you, then it may be beneficial to invest in working with a Denver SEO company that can help optimize your site.

Your company’s website is extremely valuable to the success of your business because it is the face and voice of your company. It’s your first impression and often first point of contact with consumers, making it an important aspect of your marketing and branding strategy. Be sure it represents your business well, increases your reach, and turns visitors into customers. You may or may not need a completely new website, but by asking yourself these questions, you can figure out what you need to improve on and to what extend you need to change things.