Spring Clean Your Website: Refresh the Design (Part 4)

[This article is part of a 4-part series on cleaning up your website. Check out the other articles on freshening up your design, copy and links.]

A house may be well-built, but the kitchen looks outdated, it’ll be hard to sell. Websites are the same way, which is why after you’ve cleaned up your links and website copy, you should think about cleaning up your design as part of your spring cleaning ritual. (We’ve been talking about spring cleaning your website all week – click here to see all the articles in the series.)

As you live with your website, you’ll make changes and upgrades to suit your organization’s goals. But those changes, made iteratively over time, don’t always synch up with the overall look of the thing. That’s why it’s important to step back a few times a year to make sure your site looks like a cohesive piece and still looks up to date.

For example, you might have added a picture here or an icon there to help address a need, but it might not fit overall. Or, you might have jumped on the bandwagon of a design trend that doesn’t hold up any more. I believe the Web 2.0 glassy effect is going to look as outdated as avocado-colored refrigerators in the near future.

It’s always a good idea to get an outside opinion on how your site looks and what can be done to improve it, but here’s a little checklist you can run through to see how messy it’s become over time:

  • Does your website fit the monitor? Many websites built a few years ago were built with smaller monitors in mind. As a result, when seen on today’s big monitors, they look either like tiny postage stamps in the middle of the screen, or they expand where there’s a wide open space in the middle. Make sure your sites fit modern monitors.
  • Do you have unified icons? You might be grabbing a graphic here to illustrate your e-mail and a graphic there to highlight your Facebook account. But do they match? Look for an icon set that matches to give your site a unified look.
  • Does your site match your branding? Your organization might have had the website designed two years ago, but only last month revamped all the print material. Make sure that you’re presenting the same branding everywhere, from your site to your print collateral to your Twitter account. If your other properties have been updated, it’s time to tweak your site to match.
  • Are you using CSS? If not, you should be. Cascading Style Sheets are the practical way to control the display of your website instead of using old-school HTML tags. Once you create a CSS, you need only make one tweak to change all the font around your entire website, for instance.
  • Do you have an Under Construction image anywhere? For heaven’s sake, if you do, get rid of it.

Make sure to read the other articles in our series on spring cleaning your website. Make sure you don’t miss anything by subscribing to the RSS news feed. Not sure what an RSS feed is? Click here.

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