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Website looking dated? Time for a redesign Add to ...

It’s redesign time for your company website.

As the Web increasingly becomes the way consumers get information about products and services, more companies are realizing their websites need to be well-designed, have clear messaging and meet expectations – whether it’s to deliver information or sell.

At the same time, the social media boom is having a big effect as a lot of corporate social media activity focuses on driving traffic to websites.

That means many companies are recognizing that they’d be smart to refresh their sites, and kick what they have to offer up a notch.

During economic boom times, many companies did little or nothing to update their sites because they didn’t have many reasons to do so. It was the ‘don’t fix what ain’t broke’ approach. In tighter times, many didn’t want to spend the money or had other things on their plates.

Now, many companies find themselves with dated, tired-looking sites that desperately need to be refreshed.

The challenge in overhauling a Web site, or even just giving it a fresh coat of paint, is coming up with a design that reflects your brand.

By its very nature, design is a subjective exercise, which can make it challenging to create something just works.

For anyone considering a website redesign, here are a few rules:

1. When sifting through Web designers to come up with your winner, review their portfolios to determine if their work and style align with your vision.

Be critical. If you don’t like what you see, move on.

If their work is appealing, ask for a meeting to get a sense of fit, including how they like to work and the processes used.

Ask for references to get more information and insight about how other projects happened.

2. Before starting a Web design project, select a number of sites that you like. They don’t need to all hew to the same theme but it helps to pick sites that have the look and feel you’re after.

At the same time, pick sites that have particular features you like. As well, ask the designer for sites they like to get a better sense of their taste.

3. Make sure there is a structured process. It should start with an initial meeting, followed by a brainstorming/information session, and then by wireframes and mockups before you get to actually creating the design.

Along the way, there should be opportunities to make changes and tweaks.

4. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you don’t like the project’s direction, particularly during the early stages. At the end of the day, you want your site to work for you, so if the process or design isn’t, say something.

5. The cost of a Web design can be small or huge, depending on your needs. Establish a budget before you start so a designer knows what he or she has to work with.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Mark Evans is a principal with ME Consulting , a content and social media strategic and tactical consultancy that creates and delivers ‘stories’ for companies looking to capture the attention of customers, bloggers, the media, business partners, employees and investors. Mark has worked with three start-ups – Blanketware, b5Media and PlanetEye – so he understands how they operate and what they need to do to be successful. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshUniversity and meshmarketing conferences.

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