Website Redesign vs. Relaunch: Making the Decision

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No two websites will necessarily benefit equally from the same level or type of revision. There are some scenarios in which our Houston web design firm recommends a full website relaunch to clients, and other situations that warrant a simpler website redesign treatment (some may call this “tweaking” the website). What is the difference, and which option is your site ready for?

First, we must acknowledge that there are some similarities between the two. Both will involve putting a new skin on the website, with a different layout and graphics – perhaps even new colors and fonts. Both will most likely include technical upgrades such as re-coding, a reduction in externally referenced files, and an improvement in website speed. But beyond that, there are some differences that give legs to the website redesign vs. relaunch argument. Anyone contemplating whether to redesign or relaunch should ask themselves:

Does the brand need an image overhaul? If so, then a full relaunch is a good course of action. A relaunch will involve a total overhaul of the brand’s web properties, including the primary website, any accompanying blogs and social properties. This can be concurrent with the brand’s image upgrade.

Is the website just outdated? If everything else is on track for the brand, then simply putting a new skin on the website may be all the change that is needed.

Is the site too slow? It may be because of Flash. Removing all Flash features from the site can increase speed times, which may help the site’s Google rankings improve. This can be part of a website redesign or a relaunch.

Is the sitemap dirty? If there are too many bad URL redirects, such as 404, 302 and 500 errors, then the answer is yes, it is time for a sitemap cleanup. It may also be time for a relaunch, especially if there are other co-existing image problems with the brand’s web properties.

If you decide that a relaunch is in order, here are some best practices guidelines:

Set a timeline for the project. A relaunch should take a specified amount of time – and that time frame should be as narrow as possible. Leaving things hanging for too long will not do the brand any favors. For example, it may be feasible to budget 30 days for a relaunch, leaving the current website up for as long as possible while the design work is done on the back end.

Keep the construction site out of view. Make sure that the development environment and beta sections of the site are not seen by search engines. If that gets indexed, it will be considered duplicate content and be penalized by Google. There should also be no live copies on other servers that are search engine visible. A high end web design firm can help a business avoid making the development site visible to Google.

Notify users of the relaunch. If there will be an “under construction” or “we’re making improvements” sign on the domain for a day or two (it shouldn’t be there for much longer than that), be sure to tell users that is going to happen. Keeping the focus on the positive aspects of the relaunch will prevent unnecessary user frustration.

Promote the relaunch as an event. The bigger deal the brand makes about its new image, the more consumers will respond to it. If a brand devotes a blog post to telling users about its impending relaunch – then, follows up with a post-launch blog post, social media updates and even puts out a press release about the relaunch – that can be sufficient hoopla to make the relaunch a bonafide, potentially effective image boosting campaign, in and of itself. The notion that perception of growth begets more growth can most definitely work to a brand’s advantage in this case.

Still not sure if you need a website redesign or relaunch?

Sometimes, it is still difficult for a business owner to choose between a website redesign and a relaunch. If this is the case, the brand can contact the Houston web design team at Crest Media for a free website consultation.


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