Is It Time To Redesign Your Site?

You probably run a website/blog, or are thinking about it but have you wondered when it’s the right time to do a total redesign of the layout  Before you go through the effort of redesigning your site ask your self “Why do I need to go through a redesign of my site?”.

Are you thinking of a redesign just for the sake of it?  If you answered yes to that question, then you probably it’s not the right time for the redesign.   Remember, a design serves a specific purpose.  If you are not sure whether to do an overhaul of your site, keep in mind that your current site design has a specific purpose.  If that purpose is no longer being served, then go through the process of a redesign.  You should remember that your users/visitors are used to a particular design and if you make drastic changes that alter functionality there is a high probability that they will not return.  There is nothing worse than changing something that works and works well.  Keep in mind “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” and if you don’t heed my words and go through a redesign for the heck of it at least follow the KISS principle – KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID.  Don’t go overboard, OK?

Depending on what type of a redesign you are contemplating, it could be a simple as changing the theme of your blog or forum or it could get more involved if it’s a static site.  In those cases unless you’ve coded your site very well by using a modular approach, your redesign will take ages!!!  Trust me, I’ve been there.

Now on the other hand if your website has had the same website design since the start of the Internet then perhaps it is time to do a redesign.  The last thing you want to happen to your site is visitors leaving without looking at your A+ content just because the design is old.

Performing a site redesign is performing plastic surgery on it.  Your website loses its current identity (for the better -hopefully- or [shudder] worse) and your regular visitors might not recognize your new design at first glance.  You risk losing them just because they thought they landed on the wrong page.  Hence, it is very  important that you retain a characteristic feature from your old layout. Perhaps it is the logo of your site; perhaps it is the same text style for the title for your site.

Redesigning your site, or moving to a custom theme could even help you!  John Chow talked about the effect the new site design had on his site in his 2007 Year In Review post.

A new blog theme, that is customized will cost you money.  Though few companies advertise their prices, since customization is just that – you can expect to spend around $1,000 or more for something that works well.

Can you do it on the cheap?  Well.. I am looking at a site redesign, and figured I could do it for less by posting the project on ELance and other sites.  Was I ever wrong.  I was very specific as to what I wanted and even provided a layout – not one bidder was experienced in doing the work.  It’s like hiring someone to write articles/posts for you and paying them $5.00 per article – you get crappy content.  Pay more, and you will get something that is well written that you feel you can put your name to.

As with all the PLR content I’ve ever purchased, I’ve always had to put in just as much time in researching the topic in order to clean-up the text so that it is presentable and contains information that will add value for my visitors and readers.

The other option is to look at a theme from a professional designer.  There are plenty out there, and one name that comes up in many of my travels through the blogosphere is Themes by Adii.  His Premium News Themes are sharp, but a little pricey depending on what flavor you want or need.

If you are really, really up to the challenge – you could code your own WordPress Theme.  There is a lot of information out there on just how to do this:

  • http://codex.wordpress.org/Theme_Development/
  • http://www.cypherhackz.net/archives/2006/12/13/make-your-own-wordpress-theme-part-1/
  • http://www.yvoschaap.com/wpthemegen/ – an interesting tool that helps you create your WordPress Theme online
  • http://www.jonathanwold.com/tutorials/wordpress_theme/
  • http://www.wpdesigner.com/2007/02/19/so-you-want-to-create-wordpress-themes-huh/

A tool that I found just recently is called Canvas.  You can download it here – http://www.freshpursuits.com/canvas/.

From the website of Canvas:

It’s time you broke the mold. Canvas brings the freedom to express yourself through design without needing to know CSS or PHP. With Canvas and Ink for WordPress, you can easily rearrange, reconfigure, and colorize your entire blog without ever touching a line of code.

What can Canvas do?  Here is some more information:

  • Include content from your favorite online services seamlessly and easily. With Canvas, the freshest content from sites like Flickr, Digg, and del.icio.us automatically finds its way to your front page.
  • Canvas uses a powerful form-driven GUI so you never have to dig into a file to change how your blog behaves. You’ll be able to make your blog look like it was made by a professional, without even breaking a sweat.
  • Canvas was written from scratch by Karsten Temme and Yasser Dahab, two regular guys trying to bring a bit of creativity to the digital world.
  • Canvas 1.2 uses CSS to define zones rather than PHP functions, so themes can easily be made Canvas compatible by using adding a few simple CSS classes. Themes can easily be designed to work with or without Canvas!

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited about this tool!

I have downloaded this tool and will play around with it to see what it can do and will follow this post up later this week with a review of Canvas.  I will be experimenting with Canvas on a subdomain at OIBO – you can see what I’m doing with WordPress themes by visiting http://themes.oibo.org – in fact if you go there now you will see a custom theme that I am currently working on (when I get free time).

Stay tuned over the next few days for a review of Canvas and what I’ve been able to put together in a short period of time!

Mohamed Bhimji DOT COM OIBO

About Rob 'n Mo

I'm a man of mystery. I like anonymity, but on the WWW there is not much of it...
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