Websites have come a long way since the first web page went live on August 6, 1991. From low-speed websites that were entirely text-based to high-speed, mobile-responsive homepages that feature videos, photos, and other visual elements in addition to text, the Internet and web pages have quickly evolved. As a web development company, we thought it would be fun to take a step back in time and analyze the evolution of websites and provide some tips for redesigning your website.
Web Design History
The first webpages published in the early 90s really took into consideration user experience. Web developers understood that Internet speed was very slow, so they wanted to ensure that nothing on the website made the page run slower. A lesson can be learned from these early websites. Although they may not have looked the best, the fact that they really took user experience into account is crucial. While today’s internet can display media-rich sites, there are limitations.
The mid-90s brought a new era of web design. Web designers were able to get a bit creative and play around with different layouts, graphics, GIFs, animation, colors, and more. These websites did not focus on user experience as table-based design causes slow page-load times. The takeaway from mid-90s websites is that it started to bring up the conversation regarding page structure.
By the late-90s, Flash was introduced to the web design world. New features such as color-changing navigations, bright colors, 3D buttons, and more were implemented in web design. During this period of web design, importance was placed on navigation through websites. This spawned discipline around UI. Now, it is not recommended to utilize Flash in web design as it has a negative impact on SEO efforts.
In the early 2000s, CSS, a new element of web design was introduced. This enabled web designers and content writers to work separately, as content and design could be developed separately. The introduction of CSS enabled websites to be easier to update and maintain. The biggest element to take away from this era of web design is focusing on usability of the website.
During the mid-2000s, web design started to look more akin to websites of today. Focus was placed on multimedia applications, interactive content, social media, icons, and typography. Key takeaway from this period was the transition of focus from solely design to content and SEO.
Websites of today are minimalistic, modern, and visually appealing. Focus is placed on user experience, mobile-responsiveness, and providing relevant content to the target audience.
Signs It’s Time for a Website Redesign
When was the last time that you updated your website? As you have read above, there have been multiple phases in web design’s history. If your website is older than 3-5 years, you should consider redesigning. Need help deciding on if it is actually time for a website redesign, answer the following questions:
- Is your website mobile-responsive? As of August 2016, Google reported that more than 50% of search queries are done on mobile devices. That is a large percentage and means that your target audience most likely has transitioned to viewing websites on mobile devices. If your website is not mobile-responsive, you could be driving away potential consumers.
- Do you use Flash on your website? We mentioned above that Flash is terrible for SEO purposes. In addition, smart phones do not support Flash websites, meaning your site will not be mobile-responsive. If that does not have you convinced, Google, Bing, and Yahoo do not have the capability to index it, which will make it difficult for SEO and people to actually find your website. If you need more convincing, people that visit the website need to install a plugin to view the content, which is terrible for user experience.
- Does your website look outdated? Take an objective look at your website, how does it look to you compared to competitors’ websites? If it looks outdated, it might be time to freshen up your look. Believe it or not, but according to Adobe, 38% of people will leave a website if the content and layout is not visually appealing.
- How long does it take for your website to load? If your website takes longer than 3 seconds to load, you have lost about 40% of people visiting your site. It is crucial to have a fast loading site, especially in the age of multi-tasking. People do not have as much time to spend waiting around for a website to load. If your competitor’s site loads faster than yours, you have lost business.
- Have you recently rebranded? After being in business for years, it is likely that some of your service offerings have updated. In addition, you might have undergone a rebranding to better align your current organizational goals with brand perception. If either is the case, it is important to update your website to reflect your new goals.
- Do you have difficulty updating your website? Is your website run on a content management system (CMS)? If the answer to that question is no, it is time that your company updates its website. Running your website on a content management system will make your life so much easier as the website will be easy to update and maintain. This also allows marketers to update and publish content without waiting on web developers.
Website Redesign Benefits
As your business grows and evolves, it is increasingly important to properly represent your organization on your website. There are numerous benefits to updating your content and website to reflect changes in your organization, including:
- Positive, SEO benefits. Updating your website with relevant content and a modern design is great for SEO. Writing quality blog posts and website content showcases your ability to be a thought leader. If you need to redesign your website to place more prominence on a blog section, do it! The SEO benefits are immense.
- Be proud of sharing your website on social media. Most organizations are on social media. One of the key benefits of social media is its ability to drive traffic back to your website. Are you hesitant towards sharing your website on social media? If so, you should definitely update your website. You should be proud of every piece of collateral that represents your business.
- Increased trust from your audience. Your organization should be positioned as the resource hub for your industry and target audience. Updating your website to better fit the needs of your audience and industry will help them trust you more.
- Better user experience. As noted above, websites have evolved through the years. Part of the reason behind that is to continue improving user experience. Redesigning your website to match the direction of UX is crucial to increasing it.
Do you want your website to be a positive reflection of your business? Kraus Marketing specializes in website design, marketing, and branding. Our team of creative professionals can create an updated, responsive website. Our websites are built on content management systems (CMS), such as WordPress. Contact our team for more information.