Website Evolution Is Replacing Regular Redesign Projects
For the last few decades, companies have been putting line items in their budgets every 2–5 years for a website redesign. These projects are highly involved requiring months of attention from your marketing teams as you reimagine your entire online presence.
But today, websites are a constantly evolving aspect of your company’s marketing and communication strategies. Instead of spending months focused on overhauling your website’s design, functionality and content, the new trend is to constantly adjust your website.
Learn more about how to alter your company’s process away from redesigns and into constant evolution.
What is Website Evolution?
Instead of viewing website changes as one big project, you instead take it one step at a time, with minor updates here and there. There are many reasons why you might want to evolve your website during a regular calendar year, including product changes, adjustments to your brand guidelines, and changes in industry trends.
Evolution instead of overhauls are happening in all aspects of marketing and communication today. For example, brand guidelines are now living documents that evolve as your brand evolves.
Here are some helpful examples of how to evolve your website that demonstrate the benefits you’ll reap from engaging in this valuable activity.
1. Small Changes Can Have Large Impacts
If you make a big investment, you’re more likely to get that money back in revenue and new customer relationships, right? Not always. Sometimes small changes can have a large impact and if you wait to make those changes, you’ll miss out on that change’s impacts.
And that’s today’s problem with the concept of website overhauls. They require waiting around for big changes instead of tweaking small aspects of your website now.
Ever notice how every time you visit the Amazon website items are in slightly different places? This is a change management strategy that Amazon uses to improve their app and website incrementally over time without confusing their customers or making it challenging for people to find what they are looking for.
If you’ve been a magazine subscriber for a while, you’ve probably also seen these incremental changes. Instead of revamping the full magazine every few years, the designers make changes as they need to. Gone are the days of a full redesign. Now featured sections in magazines get reimagined regularly for ease of readability and consumption.
2. As Technology Changes, So Can Your Website
Technology is ever evolving. So shouldn’t your website evolve too? If you wait 2–5 years to redesign your full site, you might become known as the most outdated website in the industry and that isn’t how you want your customers to think of you.
When you take an evolution approach, you instead get the opportunity to have the most modern functionality. As new plugins or extensions come out, you can vet and implement them quickly to start taking advantage of all they have to offer.
For example, if your company was using Salesforce and expanded its use cases into additional areas of your business, you wouldn’t need to wait around for the next redesign project to start interacting with your customers the way you want to and the way your customers enjoy.
3. Ability to De-emphasize Content Based on Trends/Insights
Every time a website visitor comes to your website, you should be learning. If you aren’t learning, you’re missing out on opportunities to grow. Your industry is also always reporting on these insights.
When we think about website changes, we likely think about adding new content. But sometimes it is also about moving things around and de-emphasizing areas of your website based on what you’ve learned.
For example, websites used to proudly display their social media channels at the top of the page or in a drawer on the right of the page. But then we learned that this means that your visitors are going off on to those platforms, getting distracted and never interacting with the content on our websites that are more impactful.
Now you’ll find social media buttons at the bottom of webpages instead, which takes some mild website evolution. If you wait until a big redesign project to make that move, you’d be continuing to lose website visitors to social media.
4. Test and Retest What Works
Website changes can be based on a hypothesis. But then they might not provide the results you’re expecting. A minor tweak here or a move to a different location over there can deliver what you’re looking for.
Focusing on constant evolution allows you to test and retest features, functionality and content to find what resonates best with your audience.
Ways to Aid in Constant Website Evolution
Now you know why website evolution is so important, here are some ways you can better encourage regular website evolution within your organization.
1. Facilitate Internal Idea Sharing with an Email Address
To make it easier for your team to log and manage ideas for your website, consider creating an internal email address where they can send thoughts for new content or functionality on an ongoing basis. Make sure your website team members all have access to the email account to view and collaborate on the ideas.
As sales or customer service log customer inquiries or complaints, they can send the idea for new website functions to your website team while the thoughts are fresh in their minds.
Or when the marketing team adds new automation software to their tools, they can make requests for new forms, analytics or customization software that integrates with these tools.
That way, feedback and complaints become future successes. Want to learn more about how to view feedback and complaints as opportunities and areas to succeed at? Listen to the Triple Bottom Line podcast featuring Andi Simon, a corporate anthropologist.
2. Start with the Right Technology
One reason why many companies lean on website redesign projects is because they don’t have the right foundation to do minor tweaks. Out-of-the-box templates are a major culprit for an inability to pivot and grow a website presence.
These free or low-cost templates come with bloated code that won’t adapt to new needs and requirements. That code can make it so that extensions or plugins with new technology simply don’t work or break aspects of your website.
And these codebases are more challenging to update as you want to make small tweaks here and there. It’s better to start with a template that meets your unique needs and leaves room for ongoing growth.
3. Start using the Gutenberg Editor for WordPress Websites
If your website runs on WordPress, it’s finally time to move to the Gutenberg editor. At first, this editor was pretty rough and challenging for administrators to use. But at this point, it’s user-friendly. And to use the most modern tools and technology on your website, you’ll need to be using the Gutenberg editor.
Everything is built around this editor now, which means failing to use it could mean you need a major website redesign project to modernize your online identity.
4. View the Lifecycle of Your Website Differently
Historically, we viewed websites as a temporary solution for 2–5 years until the next redesign project. But we must start viewing websites differently. Now websites can last up to 10 years with regular evolution and maintenance.
When building out your website, if you can view it as a 10-year investment and leave room for improvements, you’ll enjoy greater benefits from the site and be nimbler to respond to customer interests and needs.
At Design Positive, we help brands make new friends by building strategic, long-term websites that can evolve as needed, while doing it all in an access-to-all approach.