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Matthew Karge

WordPress Practice Director & Business Development Manager

Matt is the WordPress Practice Director and a Business Development Manager at Northwoods. He works with clients in many different industries, helping them to pursue a digital marketing path with the greatest amount of return. He’s always happy to meet over a cup of coffee (either in person or virtually!) to listen to your needs and provide as many resources as possible to help you succeed.

When Is it Time to Redesign Your WordPress Website?

March 28, 2022 | Matthew Karge, WordPress Practice Director & Business Development Manager

5 Minute Read

Redesign of a WordPress website takes time and costs money. It’s a tough decision for business owners. Internal site users and managers might press for a redesign because “our website looks old” or “it’s hard to change content.”

As a decision maker, should you just take their word for it? Do such concerns justify spending thousands of dollars and countless staff hours on a redesign? How do you know whether such disruption and expense are worthwhile?

Owners and decision makers don’t need to guess at the answers to these questions. Thankfully, there are several indicators of a genuine need for a redesign. Here are some of the red flags that will tip you off to the website fails that put your money and your brand identity at risk.

No One Knows Who Runs the Website Anymore

WordPress became the most-used content management system in the world because of its vast network of available them es and plugins. They’re easy to install and use. Businesses can build highly functional websites without breaking the bank or assembling a huge team of developers.

That’s a huge benefit, but a lot can go wrong – and go ever more wrong over time.

Every business must have a key person who understands how everything on the site works, from a technology and content standpoint. Don’t let staff turnover leave that position vacant for long. So, dear old Millie retired six months ago, and no one has taken on WordPress responsibility since she left? That’s a big red flag.

Recommendation: Sit down with your team. Ask them to explain how the website works from a technology and content perspective. If they don’t know, start thinking about redesigning your WordPress site.

You Pay a Vendor to Make Basic Changes to Your Website

WordPress comes packed with an ever-expanding library of easy-to-use tools to manage content without a developer. On top of this, WordPress has a massive support community found on YouTube and blogs created by subject matter experts from around the world. No business should ever have to pay a vendor to make basic content changes to their website.

Businesses rely on vendors for content management for two reasons: 1) They have no desire to manage their website and instead outsource it for convenience, or 2) They can’t figure out how to make content changes.

Businesses that don’t know how to use their WordPress website likely have a poorly developed and/or unnecessarily complex website. Regardless of the reason, this is a red flag that should point a business toward a website redesign.

Recommendation: Speak with the vendor who built your website and ask them to train key team members to make content changes. If the vendor balks or the process seems absurdly complex, start thinking about redesigning your WordPress website.

Plugins and Themes Aren’t Supported

WordPress releases updates every month, including feature changes and security patches. WordPress shares its roadmap for the world to see. This openness allows third-party developers to update their own codes to match. (View WordPress’ updates and roadmap.) Businesses should actively update their websites to guard against potential security risks and to provide staff with the best tools available.

WordPress themes and plugins can become a problem if they lack proper support. Third parties, ranging from an individual or a team of developers, develop most themes and plugins. They may charge for a license to cover their expenses or may provide the code for free.

Regardless of licensure, the team or individual behind the plugin could stop supporting it. When the updates stop coming, themes and plugins on your site become liabilities.

Businesses that continue to use unsupported themes and plugins leave themselves open to security threats and/or broken functionality. Replace any unsupported themes and/or plugins, find replacements, or start thinking about a website redesign.

Recommendation: WordPress offers a library of themes and plugins with important information that details how often each receives support and to what version of WordPress they apply. Log into your WordPress dashboard to review your theme and plugins and confirm their ongoing support.

The Website Is Slow

Business websites must provide quality content fast. Websites that load slowly tend to drive off prospective customers. Google has made site speed a Website Core Vital, so slow loads can drive you down in search results.

A mix of items affect the speed of WordPress websites. Tools that optimize image sizes and clean up code can make a big impact on website speed. In some cases, such tools might not be enough. If they fall short, the website requires much more effort -- another red flag waving toward a WordPress website redesign.

Excessive updates, plugins, and media files can add up to code bloat, which clean-up can’t fix. You know how cellphone updates, over years, tend to slow down the phone? The same is true of WordPress websites.

Recommendation: Test several pages of your website with the Page Speed Insights tool. If the scores are poor, work with your team or a qualified vendor to see if a clean up tool can speed up the website. If not, start thinking about a website redesign.

The Website No Longer Reflects Your Brand

Marketing teams often point to outdated design as a primary reason for a website redesign. The weight of this point depends on the industry. For example, high-end restaurants typically want the latest and greatest designs, to showcase their décor and beautifully styled food photography, which drive traffic to the restaurant. Manufacturers can get away with older, not so fashionable websites, as long as the information about their products and/or services is up to date.

The major red flag here: The website design doesn’t match your visual brand identity and isn’t aligned with any of your other marketing. If your billboards, TV advertising, and new logo feature dark blue, your website shouldn’t include shades of red.

Many prospects have their first interaction with your brand on your website. If that interaction fails to match across platforms, both traditional and digital, confusion can ensue, causing the prospect to go elsewhere.

This also goes deeper than look and feel. Phone numbers, addresses, key marketing messages, and other content must be current and match across channels.  

Recommendation: If your website design doesn’t match your current brand identity, it’s time for a redesign.

Closing Thoughts

The most important thing to consider is that your website is the likely first experience a prospect will have with your business. If anything about that experience doesn’t match the image you want to project, start thinking about a redesign.

If you’re unsure where to start with a redesign or need specific assistance with your website, Northwoods’ expert WordPress team can help. Learn more about our WordPress services or contact us.