With many kinds of marketing material, the trigger for a new web design might be rebranding, new services/business goals or simply changing graphic design trends.
When it comes to websites, the way people actually access, view and use them are very rapidly changing as well.
Let's take the example of a web design from 2012.
At the time 92% of users were on a desktop or laptop computer. The most common web browser was Internet Explorer 8. The most popular screen was a 1024x768 resolution monitor (with little variation outside of that). The average broadband connection meant an MP3 taking about 3 minutes to download.
For website design in 2012, that meant
- most websites took a “one size fits all” approach and were designed to fit neatly into that 1024x768 resolution screen.
- there was no effort to produce a smartphone optimised site. Presentation was limited by the abilities of Internet Explorer 8 (for example, no animation effects).
- video and large format imagery was used very sparingly so that page load times could kept down.
Fast forward to a 2016 web design
Almost half of visits are on mobile devices. Most laptop and desktop displays are widescreen but there is a huge variation in different display sizes and proportions. A significant minority have HD screens. Most users are on Internet Explorer 11 or Google Chrome (which can handle all kinds of sophisticated visual effects including animation). Broadband connections are about 3 times faster.
For present-day websites, that can mean
- accommodating a wide range of screens from big desktop monitors to tiny high-resolution smartphone screens (and users expect the website to look good in all of those formats)
- making use of the visual effects allowed by modern browsers – so subtle animation and more varied typography
- taking advantage of faster broadband speeds to use higher quality imagery and even video as an integral part of the design.
In short, what would have provided a good experience for 90% of users in 2012, would nowadays provide a good experience for at most 50% of users.
That's likely to translate into less time on site, a higher bounce rate, less credibility and fewer leads.
What does the future hold?
Over the last few years the massive increase in smartphone and tablet usage has lead to responsive design - a substantially different approach to website building from what came before.
Happily, things have stabilized a little and there's no obvious similar upheaval on the horizon. But the nature of these things is that you don't necessarily know when such a shift is about to arrive.
Even without such radical changes a website will need to be redesigned from time to time if it is to remain effective in the long term.
That leads to the question of “How often should we redesign our site?” - a substantial enough question to warrant it's own blog post. Like this? Sign up to our mailing list to be notified by email of further posts.
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