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How Often Should You 'Re-Skin' Your Company's Website?

How Often Should You 'Re-Skin' Your Company's Website?
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As your company evolves, you may find that the website you began your business with no longer accurately reflects your vision or your products and services. In this instance, a re-skin -- otherwise known as changes to the layout, visual appearance, and/or other elements -- can help you preserve the aspects of your website that are still relevant, while expanding on or updating those that are not. Like any design process, re-skinning can be time-consuming, and a successful result depends on strategic implementation. If you are deciding whether or not to re-skin your company's website, first ask yourself these three questions: 

When should I re-skin my website?

There is no specific period of time (such as six months, a year, or two years) that calls for re-skinning your website. Instead, consider re-skinning when your branding changes (i.e. you have a new color scheme or logo), when your content changes (for example, a new product launch), or when your messaging changes significantly. If your site metrics suggest that interaction is declining, re-skinning may again be justified.

Related: Redesigning Your Website in 2015? Start By Asking These 5 Questions.

If you are deciding whether or not to combine a re-skin with a rebuild of your website’s platform, functionality, and core architecture, first ensure that the re-skin will improve the likelihood of meeting your overall goal (which is ideally based on prior testing). You do not always have to -- or want to -- do both a rebuild and a re-skin, especially if the change is likely to be too drastic for your current customers. The existing look and feel of your website may not justify a re-skin, or it may be cost- or time-prohibitive to address a rebuild and a re-skin at the same time. While it is typically less expensive to complete both tasks at once, this ultimately depends on whether you can afford their combined cost.     

How can re-skinning my website benefit me?

While it is important to note that a re-skin will not improve (and should not be used to improve) poor website functionality like lagging performance or unclear navigation, it can enhance user experience. It can also strengthen engagement with repeat visitors who have begun to lose interest, as well as create a more positive first impression of your company, and highlight new products, services, and information.

Related: 10 Questions to Ask When Managing Your Company's Online Reputation

What should I avoid when re-skinning my website?

If your website is performing well, but you need to re-skin it to reflect new branding or content, take care to avoid alienating your current visitors. If they cannot find information on your new website, you may quickly lose their traffic. Similarly, if your website is performing well with new visitors, try to resist “fixing” it for the sheer sake of change. A/B testing is a great way to ensure that whatever changes you do make are truly more successful than your website’s current iteration. Finally, identify which content is most important to your website before you re-skin it, as the removal or reorganization of this information may negatively impact your organic traffic. 

As the above paragraphs demonstrate, re-skinning your company’s website may not be necessary in every situation, or you may not be in a position to devote resources to a redesign. Luckily, there are steps you can take to minimize the need for frequent re-skins.

Related: The Juice Behind Your Website

For instance, you can produce content like articles or blog posts on industry news or subjects that are relevant to your product or service. Highlight this content, as well as any other new information, with a call-to-action, a rotating banner or header, or a “What’s New?” section. Even if you do not have new content, varying the images on your homepage can keep it fresh and interesting. With this infusion of new material and the occasional re-skin, you can build an ongoing relationship with your customers and leads, and you can ensure that your company remains at the forefront of their minds.