There are many reasons to redesign your website, but the two major ones are when the original design becomes outdated and when the site becomes less user-friendly than it once was (or it’s not up to the current standards for site usability). Usually these two reasons go hand in hand.
We recommend a business site redesign every 2-3 years. This may not seem like a very long time, but here in the web world things move very quickly. Design trends and usability standards can sometimes change from month to month.
Let’s take a look at one of Blizzard’s recent redesigns and see how an overhaul of both the site form and site function benefited the client.
We took on The Rusty Parrot Lodge & Spa of Jackson, Wyoming as a client in 2004. They purchased marketing, maintenance and hosting plans with us. Another company had recently built their site and so it was relatively fresh and fucntional.
During the course of the next 4 years the site grew considerably. Problems with it surfaced as we added new pages, content and images. A blog was also added, which had a different set of navigation and code to maintain than the main site.
When the Rusty Parrot management decided it was time for a redesign in late 2007, Blizzard was excited to take on the project. Together with the client we developed a long list of things that needed to be changed.
The Rusty Parrot is one of the most luxurious and unique properties in Jackson. They’ve won countless awards for their high level of service and are known for their friendly staff. However, the look and feel of the old site did not convey the quality of the property.
Additionally, the old website did not properly showcase the natural beauty of Jackson, Wyoming. Nestled at the base of the Teton Mountains, anyone who has ever visited this part of the country knows that it is stunning.
From a usability standpoint, the navigation was somewhat tricky to use. Several levels of fly-outs on the main menu proved to be overwhelming and sometimes difficult to click on. Users could easily become confused when looking for specific information.
Technically, the site was cumbersome to maintain. Originally built in Microsoft FrontPage, there were hundreds of lines of excess code per page, making design and content changes more time-intensive than they should have been. Also, there was no content management system implemented to allow the Rusty Parrot staff to do some of the updates themselves.
Changes to the aesthetics of the site include an updated layout that is restricted to 800 pixels wide, fitting the vast majority of monitors, unlike the old site. The new design also floats in the middle of the screen instead of being left aligned.
On the old homepage, several small photos were laid out randomly all over the screen. On the new one large, professional photos rotate one at a time in a slide show. The darker green background conveys a mountain feel better than the former lime green background. The page footer was condensed to include only the most relevant contact information, unlike the old footer which was almost 600 pixels wide and contained a lot of unnecessary text.
The resulting look and feel of the new design is much more unified and clean. The new photos “wow” the user in a way that the old site never did. The buttons are classier and more subtle. The finished product is much more elegant and contemporary than the old website.
Usability-wise, the navigation was completely reworked. Abandoning the old fly-out style of menu, the new site incorporates a multi-tier system of navigation that only shows the buttons that are relevant to the area of the site that the user is currently on. When you click one of the main buttons at the top left of the page, it takes you to a new page that displays a submenu to the left of the content. For instance, when you click on “Lodging”, a submenu appears that includes only the buttons “Rooms”, “Rates” and “Around the Lodge”. Studies have shown that this style of navigation is easier for the visitor to use and understand than the old fly-out method.
Finally, the new site was designed using WordPress, which is an open-source blogging software product that can also be used for content management. The main site and the blog (“Local Reviews”) now share one set of code and navigation, which is less time consuming to maintain. Additionally, the Rusty Parrot’s staff can now make changes to the content and photos of the site without contacting Blizzard all the time, which will in save them money in the long run.
The website went live in April 2008 and the management has been extremely pleased with the results thus far. Jim Promo, the general manager, commented on what he likes best about the redesign. “I think the site is much more representative of the property than the old one. The new look is also more contemporary in feel, which will impart a fresh look for out repeat visitors.”
A site redesign is one of the top ways to convert site visitors to customers. The Rusty Parrot is already seeing the results as their reservations increase