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Factors to consider when tweaking, updating or overhauling your website


Creating a responsive design for content-rich news websites can never be an easy task – at least not for those who are at the editorial end of it. While designers and developers can sift through various options of code and play with the perfect color for the navigation bar, the editorial end struggles with how and where they would want to present their content – never an easy task given the plethora of options available. Web-design along with content plays a very crucial role in visitor’s conversion, be it Ecommerce, Brand or Local business site.

Initially opposed to constant changes and revamps to a website, my perception changed once I started working for one. As a visitor of a website, my demands were simple: Don’t change things around so much and so often that I get lost. As an editor, one can’t help but give in to the fact that change is crucial and sometimes needed very often. For a multi product site it is not advisable to change the template so often as it may increase the bounce rate because the existing traffic is already accustomed to the layout and the product placements.


Change is constant

Wanting to improve the look or presentation of a website is not a decision that can be made on a whim – especially not when you have about 30 million views a month. Nor is this decision ever based solely on aesthetic reasons. Behind every change or upgrade, the motivation remains the same: attract a larger audience and make them spend more time on your website. In order to make this happen, one has to find several ways to keep a reader engaged, and unfortunately quality content is not the only component that matters here. Presentation and navigation around that content plays a crucial role, so does the intrusiveness of advertisement placements and clever use of images.

But when do you know if you have gotten it right? Probably never. There is no perfect format, which once executed assures you a maximum audience. There may be several right formulae which, when implemented, could help achieve the goal. However, this is a constantly-evolving platform and to keep up with your readers, your competitors and trends in general, you need to continue making changes.

When do you know if that need arises? When a great idea strikes, perhaps, or when your statistics show great content being wasted in a side-lined spot or when your advertisements are being so intrusive that readers are boycotting your page altogether.


When is it too much?

That being said, constant overhauls are not good ideas either — especially those which are based completely on aesthetic designs. These are not only expensive but also reflect inconsistency. Aesthetics can definitely appeal to readers, but they cannot take the attention away from the quality of content. Whenever a news website makes major changes to its design, there is inevitably a drop in traffic. Readers may have difficulty navigating and frustration at being unable to keep up with the changes could lead to a drop in page views.


Striking the balance

A way to help viewers adjust to this change would be to offer a “tutorial” on how to navigate when a new design is launched. This would not only help viewers figure out where their preferred content is placed, but would also show commitment on the website’s part to keep its readers satisfied.

Having access to analytics, statistics and readers’ comments is a big help when it comes to thinking about design change. Resistance is always evident when a change is made and feedback from readers is initially full of anger and criticism with a few praises and encouraging words every now and then. The views change, however, over a period of time when readers begin to understand why the change was made and how it has changed their over-all viewing process.

A stagnant website is not an option. Different rules apply to different websites, but when it comes to a news website, content placement should be the biggest priority when embarking upon a major revamp. Often “sidelining” an article, placement-wise, was discouraging readers from clicking on it. When great content is being wasted — a change in design may be one of the ways to counter the situation.

Another factor that can often require a re-design is search engine optimization. When a website is not ranking well on search engines, it may indicate that an effort needs to be made to optimize, and for these purposes a change in design is often required. Search engine optimization is crucial as most people use search engines when they want to find something on internet.

It is also imperative that before making major changes live, the website is tested in various browsers, across different platforms and on a variety of devices. Since all these browsers are often updated, it is important to check if your website is appearing properly on all versions. With news websites, this is often tricky as there is often a restricted amount of space for headlines, thumbnails, teasers and other components of the page.

Over the last few years, the importance of social media has grown immensely and more so for news portals. Care must also be taken in ensuring all news items and multimedia content is presented in such a way that they are social- media friendly, and sharing them on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms is hassle-free. Interaction with readers is crucial for a news outlet, which provides content that is quick to generate debates — and for this, a feedback- friendly layout is necessary.

A daily news website generates a lot of content every day. The challenge is how to present it in a way without cramming the site and making it disorderly. There is no point in making a website so busy that it confuses people. With an increasing amount of content being published, the archives grow exponentially. Preservation and presentation of these is also crucial if pulling off a major design change. Keeping a page attractive along with serving the purpose (such as informing the reader with the maximum amount of news in one glimpse) can be challenging, and may require a few transformations over time. However, executing these intelligently will most likely help maintain the value of the site, financially as well as journalistically.

What do you think?

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Written by Sohail Qaisar

Sohail Qaisar loves to write on topics like technology, check out his very interesting article on graphics cards, Nvidia or ATI. Contact him through: [email protected]

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