How Often Should You Update Your Web Design?

Choosing a great design is one of the best things you can do for your blog. Even though we’ve been told for most of our lives to never judge a book by its cover, many of us (myself included) quickly make judgments about a website purely based on how it looks.

A site with an amazing design but weak content can quickly trump a disorganized looking site with great content. Even if that ugly site reveals the secret to eternal youth – most of us wouldn’t scroll past the fold to find out, because in the blogging world, the way a site looks and the way it’s organized determines whether or not people will take the time to read the content.

With so much emphasis placed on design and navigation, it’s no wonder why some bloggers get “Design Anxiety” and switch designs every time they discover something new. Abruptly changing design too soon can confuse and cause you to lose your audience. Keeping a design long after its style has become dated can leave your audience feeling bored.

So today, I want to address the questions:

How often should you update your web design? How do you transition into a new design without startling your audience?

Before updating your blog’s design, here’s some things to consider:

Is it too soon?

Have you ever visited a cool site and then the next day, you go back to the site and it’s completely unrecognizable?

I have and many times, I’ve never gone back. People get used to the way things look. People get used to the way content is being presented and if the change is so different that they have to relearn how to use your site, many people won’t bother.

Don’t rush when choosing a design

I realize that blogging can be time intensive and that in the excitement to get things up and running quickly, a blogger may be tempted to quickly choose and settle on a theme that they think is really cool and because it has all the bells and whistles. It may look great, but it may not be as functional or as intuitive as needed.

It’s best to take your time to list your needs and then as you review your theme options, you’ll be able to eliminate the ones that don’t line up.

Is the design right for you and your blog?

I love technology and all the cool things you can add to a blog, but there are times when I’ve chosen a blog design only to be disappointed when it doesn’t match the sample – images don’t display right and the slide show looks odd – I’m even more disappointed when I’ve got to wade through confusing user manuals just to rectify the problem.

I’ve also discovered that no matter how much you like a design, some designs just aren’t appropriate for certain niches. You have to choose one that has the look and feel that is appropriate – a cute and whimsical design works just fine for someone who blogs about arts and crafts, but it lends no credibility to a freelancer who’s trying to attract clients.

Less is More

As the Evil Queen from Mirror Mirror said, “Bread is meat… less is more…” – part of that is true; less really is more. I’ve learned that despite how fun I want my site to be, the most important thing is for people to be able to find the content they are looking for – so that means any plugins or design elements that don’t contribute to that goal just aren’t necessary.

Once a year is a good time to update

I would recommend updating the design no sooner than once a year. You can wait longer – two or even three years is okay if your original design wasn’t already dated to begin with. Make sure you choose a design that you and your readers can live with for at least one year.

Maintain your Branding

Before Re-design

If you’re going to update your blog’s design, I highly recommend keeping the same logo and color schemes.

Your logo may end up being the only thing that lets a reader know that they are in the right place, so it’s best to update your logo after your design has been around for a while.

After Re-design

Avoid complete overhauls

Design updates don’t have to be a total overhaul; some small changes can go a long way. Keep some elements from the old design and integrate them with the new.

When I updated this blog’s design, I carefully considered the elements I wanted to keep.

The green and black colors were very dominant elements of my design and I wanted to keep that. I also wanted to keep the same font- Rockwell Bold – so that people would still feel at home.

How to transition into a new design

Announce it

Make an announcement before you begin the new design, but don’t assume everyone will read the announcement (that’s why total overhauls aren’t recommended). Send out an email to your list if you need to.

Create a “How to Navigate this Site” page

To help people become familiar with the new design, create a page that shows them how to use your new design. Point out what’s new and different from the old. Link to key pages that they can use to quickly find what they are looking for.

If you can’t do it, find a professional

If you don’t know how to make design changes or if you simply don’t have enough time, hire someone. Get a web design quote from several different designers. Ask to review their portfolios of completed designs and then compare rates.

These are just a few things to consider when trying to decide when is a good time to update your site. I’m sure there are more tips we can add here, so please feel free to share your ideas and experiences with updating a site’s design in the comments section.

About Kiesha Easley

This is my blog - where I love to encourage bloggers. My hope is that you'll leave this blog with more than you came with; you'll learn something new or will at least be engaged and entertained.
In addition to teaching others how to blog, I'm also a college instructor who teaches students how to write for mass media.
I've guest posted on Problogger, DIYThemes and many others. I'm also the author of Highly Favored, a blog devoted to Christian inspiration & encouragement. Please follow me on twitter @weblogbetter or on Facebook.

Comments

  1. Point that you bringing about branding seems more important for me.I think , it should not be change frequently. Changing between 2 years or 18 months is better on my sense.

  2. Hello there,
    I Have my own website and i have a change with the website after 2 years.It is looking better now but i am sure on that to have a announcement before overhauls on your blogs.

  3. Informative article. I did an overhaul of my blog earlier this year. I had a theme with a lot of bells and whistles (readers could choose their own color), but it was cluttered and slow to load. My new theme is clean and easier to read. I did a big announcement and am much happier with my new theme.

    So many sites are going with a clean, Pinterest-like look that it can be jarring when you happen upon a cluttered website.

  4. I’d say there is no answer that matches every case. But sure, if you want to make money with your website/blog/whatever, you should care about it and update it as often as possible :-)
    If its just a side project, don’t worry – a few times a month is enough if you push really good content. Depending on how far you want to go, the update frequency is up to the owner.

  5. Internet money making ideas says:

    i think anyone should change his/her blog color every 2 years.

  6. The real answer is probably more like…it depends. Many factors will shorten or lengthen the lifespan of your web design: The technical savvy of your audience, the frequency with which they visit, the complexity of your site, the amount of content that would need to be retooled, etc. Also, your site may not be the hub of your marketing efforts (though most websites are today). So the time frame of 2-3 years is only an average – but it is fairly common.

  7. many times, updating website design results in loss of traffic as redirects are not used properly. Its necessary to update design so as to give freshness but all SEO aspects must also be considered while updating the design…

  8. Thanks for your post! Even thought a lot of people drag their feet when it comes to redesigning their website, it’s always nice to put a ‘fresh face’ on your site.

    Keep up the great work!

  9. My car valeting site is only 6 months old and in that time I have redesigned the site three times. The first time I redesigned my site was when I changed from fromSerif to WordPress. I then did a further redesign about a month ago which kept the text and logo but changed the theme and framework. I think you can get away with it when you site is young but now I am happy with it any changes I do will be very minor and no major change for at least a year like you have advised above, great post

  10. I had to laugh like crazy … did you write this about me :) ? I redesigned, and I mean totally overhauled several times in the last year. I just can’t make up my mind :) Most feedback was positive so I didn’t worry too much but I hope to stick with what I just set up few days ago and not change it for awhile.

    • Kiesha Easley says:

      Hi Brankica! No I wasn’t talking about anyone in particular, really! :) But I’ve had to fight the urge myself countless times and now I’m at the point where I’m done stressing about it. To me a blog is always a work in progress – it doesn’t have to be perfect – some people will like it and some people won’t. But I’m doing my best not to run away the people who do :)

  11. Blog design is the KEY to any blog’s success (I really mean it)

    Online readers will choose another blog, even if your content is good, but if you’ve worst design elements like bad typography, worst navigation, excessive pop-up’s.

    Because most online readers have less attention spans.

    If you make it hard to read, your blog readers will find the way to EXIT (your blog design needs a redesign then!).

    I use Thesis for my blogs, and I’m really satisfied with my blog’s design.

    I admit that I often tweak my landing page. But whenever I make few changes, I get more conversion rates (so it’s working for me :))

    Great insights btw!

  12. I update my blogs design whenever I have spare time. I just don’t do a whole new design but little by little…try to improve and tweak my design as much as possible.

  13. I think it depends on the design, the site and your visitors, the complexity of you site structure and so on.
    Certainly it is very nice to have a “fresh face” on your site and for example wordpress with its themes makes it very easy to change the design, but i think the work you spent on this is otherwise better spent.

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  15. Wow.. what a nice and informative guideline.I also think that web design should be update once a year.but such update should be within the basic site structure you have already.

  16. Hi Kiesha

    The point that you make about the design being right for your blog. Applies to me. I have a design which I think is perfect for my niche. And I will never change it just for the sake of change. If it ain’t broken then don’t fix it.

  17. Google always has tricks up their sleeves. Web Design does boost SEO, but Google does not always reward those who keep their web design skills updated, by ranking their sites better in the SERP’s.

  18. I agree with everything you say here Kiesha, I have changed my blog design several times because I get bored with designs.

    I hope I have found a design that works for my readers and my taste,. It is simple yet elegant for my niche.

  19. I agree with the author’s points. And i consider sticking to a particular design to my blog. Frequent changing of the blog’s design also confuses the daily visitors.

  20. Changing between 2 years / 18 months or even more is better in my opinion.

    Nice article.

    Cheers.

  21. Hi Keisha,

    Great post with valuable observation. Updating web design need not be periodical. Before you think of doing such thing, you must see if it really is necessary for your blog/site. If the existing pattern is fine with your readers, you need not think of updating at all. It is not a mandatory step.

  22. I think its better to create more contents than busy with updating your web design

  23. Great article. I love to update my web design once a month. And i ask my readers about the new look.

  24. While I agree that we need to update the design of our sites, if necessary, I consider that in most of the cases, dramatic changes are good. Especially if we have loyal visitors, changing a familiar design might produce a negative result.

  25. If your site is starting to look “outdated” it is time to change design. If you do indeed announce it. It’s an marketing opportunity. So use it. The same rule apply for your branding. Your branding should fit your current business targeted to your current customers.

  26. Its right to change you site design after two year.But try to little change not whole website design its create problem your regular visitor to use.Improve efficiency like Google.

  27. Good tips. I recently update my blog design and i will leave it for 1 year.

  28. Yeah, That’s a great article.

    Many newbie bloggers update their designs every weeks/days or even hours.

    That’s a big silly mistake of them.

    Hope they would get some inspiration from here.

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  30. Hey Kiesha! Great post. It’s been exactly one year since I changed my blog’s design and I’ve been seriously considering a change. Good ideas here. Thanks for sharing.

  31. Your blog is very useful to all the people especially for Website Designers. So much important information is there in your site and my site is also having valuable information.

  32. Thanks for sharing your pretty knowledge, Many web designer companies and freelancer are dont know that, How Often Should You Update Your Web Design,.

  33. Thanks For sharing your knowledge, you are sharing perfect knowledge about update web design, If you want to be more credit and get more consumer by online then updating website design is very necessary.

  34. I usually update it every year before New Year comes. And I would love to surprise my followers on my design and looking forward that they will love it next year.

  35. Yeah. I update my site every month

  36. We are pretty fascinated together with information. There’s no doubt that it’s and so stimulating because of your specific guidelines and fascinating wording and terminology. Appreciate publishing illuminating written content

  37. I’m glad you mentioned updating websites. We see a lot of websites that haven’t been updated in years. Websites, just like everything else in life, become old and outdated. And an outdated website can send the wrong message about your business. So it’s best to at least revisit the design every year to see if it’s still up to date and relevant.

  38. I agree with this article, however I must pointed out that the most crucial thing to do when you decide to change your design is UX testing. We did that couple of times and every new version of website was built on the basis of usability testing that we did before.

    We learn a lot each time and decide what and how to change. At the end, new design have to help users.

    Best.

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