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The Old Site Looks Stale and Needs “Freshened Up” with Modern Look

Another reason we hear from prospects about site redesign goes along the lines of…

“Our old site looks stale and needs “freshened up” with a modern look.”

Now, if it is only 600 pixels wide and 400 pixels high, or is trying to run a gif animation, or something else from the 1990s, then this point has enough merit to not quibble with. There is no use in looking like your site hasn’t been thought about in 15 years.

But is it something built in the last 3 years or so? Then dig deeper for the reasons.

This “reason” needs deconstructed for value.

One thing that association web site folks have to remember is that THEY are probably looking at their web site more often than anyone else. Repetition can build comfort, and it can also eventually bore the visitor. So first thing you need to do with such a comment is determine whether this is coming from somebody that has looked at the site 205 times, or somebody that has looked at it 5 times. If the site looks “stale” to a new visitor, then this is a valid point. And if a daily visitor says it, perhaps the first thing you need to review is whether you have many daily visitors in Google Analytics. That can help place that comment in perspective.

Secondly – is it stale due to design and layout, or is it functionality, or is it stale due to content, or a bit of everything? A new graphic layout isn’t going to solve a content issue, only content is going to do that. So, as in the last “reason”, we need definition. “Freshened up” is a comment that always catches my ear. It often converts to “let’s make this look different but let’s not think about it very much.” Some might call it window dressing.

“Modern look” can have a couple of meanings. It can mean that the site stands out because it looks old with the technology/design used.  Fair enough. Or maybe they could have just fell in love with a cool design they saw elsewhere. In either case, the focus is on appearance.

This all needs to be incorporated into a bigger question about web site purpose and web site usability.

I’ve heard many times over the past several years the term “modern look” being equated with the use of scrollers/sliders. More images per page, as if it were a panacea. There are strategic reasons to use a scroller or slider and if appropriate they should be implemented WITH THAT STRATEGY. If you are going to use something that takes up valuable space on your site, get the biggest bang for the buck for that space. Incorporate messaging that entices, link to whatever content or specify whatever action is appropriate. But the value of a slider or scroller isn’t the appearance. It is the messaging strategy.

And realize that such things have been around for years. Same holds true for accordion/folder applications for front pages, where the front page continues to grow within the browser.  Or adding some social media feed.  Sometimes “modern” is more about the currency of the realization of the commenter, rather than the currency of the reality of the comment.

You probably are seeing a theme here in these posts. If you start with goals for your web site that are strategic and measurable, it will lead you to the options for the appearance. 

Otherwise, it may just be window dressing.

Next Post In This Series Deals With “Site’s software is failing or being decommissioned and needs replaced.”

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Kessler Freedman, Inc.