It's important to make the right decisions for your website redesign— before you dive in head first. Design, navigation, performance, and compliance should all be carefully considered.

What are some major design mistakes with website redesigns?

An unclear (or lack of) value proposition can be a big mistake. Who you are, what you do, why someone should care, and how you are different should be front and center on your home page. Any other significant page should be helping the user understand what's there and why they should care. 

Another thing to stay away from is length text blocks. Long paragraphs that aren't broken up, either by bullet points or other ways of distributing text on a web page, can be damaging. White space and visual hierarchy are also crucial. 

Different headings can be beneficial so that a user can easily scan the page, see what's important, and parse through it quickly. Headers are especially important in this day and age because of how scroll-heavy mobile devices are.

These things become vital when we remember that a website's purpose is to garner more leads and receive engagement on your content. If you have too many calls to action or the hierarchy is unclear, the website will not serve your business well.

What "flashy" things should you avoid in your redesign?

Auto-rotating sliders are prone to a concept called "banner blindness." This concept is when people see the sliders as ads and don't visually parse them. Even for the first slide in the rotation, viewer comprehension varies. 

When the user doesn't expect something to happen and it's out of their control, like an auto-rotating slider, this can be a deterrent. Users have their own goals they want to accomplish while on the site, and the slider is a distraction to those. 

Using intricate design patterns that aren't easily recognizable or understood can occasionally have a negative impact because they're confusing for users to absorb at first glance. Taking into account the different experiences and screen sizes of mobile is another thing that's commonly forgotten. What looks pretty and navigable on desktop will not always look as good on mobile, which is very scroll-forward. 

What are some best practices in terms of navigation?

Prioritizing the navigation bar and knowing what you want users to access easily is vital for every site. If you load up your navbar with too many options, the user will become distracted, making them less likely to convert as you intended. 

If you have a large site, utilizing breadcrumbs is a good idea. Breadcrumbs make sure the user knows where they are on the site and how to get back to the Home or About Us page when they want to. 

Finally, you generally want to avoid using two different navigation patterns on the same page. For example, some sites have primary navigation across the top and then a secondary side panel with more navigation options. This becomes confusing for users and can cause them to abandon the site. Stick to one navigation method

What kinds of things have an impact on website performance?

Adding lots of large, high-quality images that aren't necessarily tying back to a clear call to action can impact performance. Quality of images is important— and one of the most frustrating things is having a great image or asset slowing down your site. This can happen if an image is not optimized correctly. 

There are solutions outside dealing with a blurry image. Instead, we usually recommend using a CDN. A CDN will hold high-quality images on a separate server and separately send them to the site from how you're hosting it. Pairing this together with your website will allow you to host these images at an extremely high quality while increasing site speed. 

If a CDN isn't an option, there are other things you can do, like compressing images as you upload them onto the site itself. Content management systems, such as Drupal and WordPress, are continually making sure that they're optimizing images uploaded to sites. There are many great plugins, modules, and functionality within the site that allow for images to be optimized correctly. 

Google is continuing to shift more weight behind page and site performance for rankings within the search engine's results pages. As we see this shift continuing to evolve, Google's taking into account new factors, like server response times, and things that go beyond optimizing the content on your page. Rankings are starting to rely heavily on the infrastructure used to serve the page to your site visitors. And again, that's where a CDN can come in handy

What types of legal issues do you need to keep in mind when building and designing a site?

Content origination, where you get your content, is something to watch out for. You need to make sure that you have the rights to that content and that it's not duplicated across other sites. There are sites out there that could scrape your content and put it on their website. This can be done by a bot viewing your RSS feed or other specific access points to the site, which then copies your content word for word onto another site. 

Luckily, this issue can usually be handled quickly through a few steps. First, contact the site directly and ask them to remove the content. In most cases, the content will get taken down. If this doesn't work, usually, there's a hosting provider for the website in question. You can try contacting the provider and discussing it with them.

Generally, unless you're running a content syndication site or are investing seriously into content generation, the cost of preventative services isn't going to outweigh the benefit to you. We suggest keeping an eye on Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics as the "cheapest" way to combat this issue

How should you consider compliance during your website redesign?

Compliance is a very complex but necessary topic and is time-consuming, to say the least. The bottom line is that data privacy is evolving on a week-by-week basis. It's going to be vital that you have a trusted third-party vendor or agency who can help ensure that your website and your digital platforms are in compliance. 

Speaking specifically to ADA, the Americans with Disabilities Act, there has been a flurry of lawsuits coming to private businesses recently. Landmark rulings have found that websites should be treated just like any other public facility. Just as you have to install a handicap ramp at your brick and mortar business, you have to make sure that your business's digital presence is also accessible to people with disabilities

Watch our YouTube playlist on the do's and don'ts of website redesigns:

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