Living with your first website design can be like living with that familiar and safe pair of curtains you’ve had hanging in your house for years. They looked fantastic when they first graced your windows and at first you couldn’t resist having the odd sneaky peak to congratulate yourself on your good taste. With something so familiar and comforting, how do you get a fresh pair of eyes to review said curtains and realise you need a spanking new pair!
The web moves at such a remarkable rate that designs and trends are changing on almost a weekly basis. Take for example the Sun Microsystems website, as one of the oldest domains out there we thought it was the obvious choice to demonstrate our point. The first screenshot was the first version of the site I could find (circa 1996) and the second is from today (2008). What if Sun had never renewed their site? What would it have done to their popularity if they had kept the original, basic design? The new incarnation of the site is fresh, interesting, informative, easy to navigate and modern looking. It can easily hold its own against its competitors.
So, to go back to the original point…how do you know that your site needs a facelift and where can you go for help.
An unbiased public opinion
Forums such as the Web Designer Forum allow you to submit your site for review by other forum members. Advice is normally very helpful and will give you unbiased opinions on design and layout. Forums such as SEO Refugee are invaluable sources of honest feedback on the SEO viability of your website and is also well worth a look.
Evaluate the competition
Comparing your website to the competition’s is another way to get a feel for the state of your current site. How does your navigation fare? Is the user directed to where you want them to be? What about the colours and images? Are they fresh and clean? Treat the Sun images above as if they were two different companies. You can tell with a very quick look that the second screenshot is more modern, fresh and more likely to hold the users attention. Put yourself in the browser’s shoes, if you had the option of both sites above, which would you be more likely to stay on?
Family and Friends
I’ve found in the past that family and friends are usually too loyal to offer contructive criticism! I have managed to get round this by starting my opinion request with “I don’t like X about my site, what do you think?” rather than “do you like my site”. Starting by showing you are unsure of the design usually gives those close to you the go ahead to say what they really think!
Get the professional view
Bear in mind though that nothing will beat a professional viewpoint. PoLR provide a free website healthcheck to all potential clients and will give you a straightforward, easy to read report covering all aspects of your website from web design and general feeling of the site to SEO, usability and potential money making avenues to explore.
If you want to make sure your website is fit-for-purpose, please contact us to request your free website healthcheck and see what we can do for you.