My company specializes in web content. We do copywriting, SEO, web strategy, online marketing, social media — stuff like that. But sometimes when someone comes to us for content or SEO changes to their website, they need design changes. And sometimes the smartest thing is just to start over.
This issue arose at the Amazon affiliate forum. People often come to ask for advice about their websites, and in one case an honest individual said, “Hire a designer.” I said that was good advice. With thousands of excellent websites online, I said, there’s no reason for anyone to choose to shop at an ugly one.
It’s possible that this was tactless of me.
Someone else came along and castigated me. This, she said, didn’t constitute useful advice. If I could see something wrong with a person’s website, I should give them some good advice, not tell them to hire a designer.
But, you know, sometimes there aren’t any small changes that will fix the problem. Take the website Tom and I are working on right now. This is how it currently looks:
Now, there are specific changes a person could make. Getting the photos from the bottom of the page to where people can see them, switching to a more standard style of navigation, breaking up the text so the lines aren’t so long… But the truth is, doing each of those things and yet keeping the basic design wouldn’t result in an attractive website.
Since the code was also outdated and the content needed work, it makes sense for the client to start over. We sent a photographer to get attractive new pictures of the client’s office, showing the care they put into their building and the up to date equipment they use, as well as the friendly, professional staff. We wrote new text that would help new patients find the company. We fixed the site to deliver forms as PDF downloads, a move that fits better with the office’s workflow than their previous arrangement.
You can see the new site’s mock up at the top of this post. The redesign will transform their website. The small changes? Nope.
If you’re investing time and money — even if it’s money in the sense of the money you could have spent doing something else with the time you’re putting in — on a website, you should be honest with yourself about its overall quality. There are a lot of posts at this blog about small things that really will make a difference to your website, if the basic foundation of the site is good. I’ll list some of them in a minute.
But first, before you put time into making those small changes, ask yourself — and someone else if you can’t tell — whether your website is good enough now that small changes will do what you need to do in order to get your money’s worth from your site. If you decide that it’s pretty good overall and just needs some tweaking to perform the way you want it to, then have a look at these posts. One of them may be just what you need.